Just in Case: How to Handle a Less Than Fantastic Performance Review


Hopefully, your performance review will go remarkably well. But just in case, let’s discuss strategies to help you move through the process if things become somewhat complicated.

Don’t Panic

A less than stellar review —like any form of rejection is extremely unsettling. Make an attempt to get a hold of your emotions, handle the pressure and put the brakes on negative thoughts – at least for the time being. While phrases like “I’m going to be fired” or “I have absolutely no future here” may begin run through your head – try not to jump off that proverbial cliff.  Remind yourself that nearly everyone will have a less than glowing performance review at one time or another. They got through it – and so will you.

Extract the Positive

Admittedly, extracting the positive side of the coin can be quite difficult in the midst of  a review – but it is a skill that will serve you well over time. It may seem that the notion of “constructive criticism” is simply an oxymoron – but, we need people to tell us like it is. If you can manage to keep a cool head, at least you can leave with information that will help impact future performance and put you back in the driver’s seat.  Try to separate your feelings from the information presented and try to apply the information – even the negative bits – constructively.

Get Specific and Get Back on Track

If there is one thing to do in the event of a negative review, it is to ask the following question: “Will you please tell me exactly where my performance has gone off track?” You must leave the review knowing where the problem lies. Was it a specific project? Did you miss a deadline? An important metric? Is the problem interpersonal? Information is power – seize the moment.

Discuss Performance Goals

Was there a specific performance goal where you were falling short?  Now is the time to clear up all issues related to goals of your position. Is there a roadblock to achieving your set goals? If you have any doubts concerning the course set for you, voice your concerns and hammer out an understanding before you attempt to move forward.

Get Tough and Discuss Your Weaknesses

It is challenging, but talk about specific weaknesses and how those areas might affect your future. If a specific weakness is a deal breaker, discuss opportunities to improve your skills. Ask for the help you need to set things right. This could include training (internal & external) and mentoring opportunities available through your organization.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist teaches work survival strategies to organizations and individuals nationwide. You can find her on Twitter and Linkedin.

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