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Responding To A Negative Performance Review

Performance reviews are a regular part of employment. As an employee; while they can be stressful, performance reviews provide you and your supervisor the opportunity to talk about your contributions to the organization, as well as your goals - and the company’s goals. When a review is positive it can open the door to dialogs about advancement and possible economic rewards. But, not all performance reviews are positive, and not all negative reviews are deserved.

Here are five steps which can help you to respond professionally and proactively to a less than stellar performance review:

Forget Emotion.
Performance reviews can be emotional, and most supervisors expect an employee who is receiving a less than positive review to become defensive, argumentative, or upset. Instead, prepare yourself in advance for negative feedback. Process the possibility of a critical dialog and practice staying calm and reasonable. Your ability to remain neutral keeps the focus on your performance and positions you as a reasonable professional open to feedback.

Seek Clarification.
Although you may not agree, you need to understand why your performance is being viewed negatively. In a non-confrontation way, ask for clarification and additional information. If possible, ask for specific examples where your manager felt you missed the mark. Sometimes a deeper dialog can help your manager see that what they think is a habitual problem might have been an isolated incident. Asking questions also helps you see if your manager has legitimate reasons for the negative feedback.

Speak Up.
In the event that you feel the negative feedback has no basis, it is important to speak up. This does not mean engaging in a debate. Instead, offer additional information or a different perspective as to why a project did not go well, or an assignment was late. Also, if you did make an error it is important to own it. Making a single mistake does not mean that you are not a quality employee. In sharing your views be sure to distinguish between items that are within and outside of your control.

Seek Advice.
Often, managers and supervisors feel they have tried to guide employees to better performance only to have their advice ignored. “What specifically can I do in the next 90 days to enhance my performance?” By engaging your manager in a positive dialog you are involving them in an improvement plan. You will also learn more about their values, quality perceptions and expectations. And, your manager will see that you are eager to correct the situation.

End Positively.
Some bosses are better at criticizing than expressing appreciation. Before your review concludes, politely solicit some positive feedback. This will help remind your boss that you make positive contributions and will end the meeting on a positive note.

Even the best of employees will receive a few negative performance reviews during their career. The key to processing feedback regarding your skills and abilities is to remain calm, listen to the feedback, and then focus on ways to improve.