How to Handle a Negative Performance Review

No one wants to be told that they’re not performing well at work, especially when negative feedback wasn’t what you were expecting to hear. How do you recover from this negative review? Should you start packing up your desk and throw in the towel? Before you impulsively react, give the criticism a few days to sink in. Here is how to handle and bounce back after a negative performance review if you wish to keep your job.

Don’t get defensive or argue during the review.

Being able to take constructive criticism in a calm and professional manner is an admirable attribute. It’s natural to want to defend yourself when someone criticizes you, especially if you are blindsided. However, during your performance review, stay calm and try your hardest not to argue with your boss, even if you don’t agree. Just focus on listening to what your boss has to say, taking notes if you can.

Ask for a day or two to gather your thoughts.

If you weren’t expecting a poor performance review, you aren’t going to know how to respond on the spot, and you don’t want to talk out of anger. It’s wise to ask your boss for a day or two to absorb what was said before meeting again to discuss the next steps. During this time, think of questions you may have and ways you plan to improve based on what your boss had to say.

Don’t bring emotions back to your desk.

Coming back to face your team fuming and upset will only make the situation worse, and word will get back to your boss that you acted this way. Wait until you get home to sort out your feelings and go on with the rest of your work day as planned.

Set up another meeting to discuss.

After taking a day or two to gather your thoughts, meet with your boss again. Ask the questions you have and make sure you clearly understand your expectations if you didn’t before. If you need help prioritizing or possibly further training, now would be the time to ask. Propose what your plan is to meet your goals going forward. Talking these issues out with your boss will show that you care and want to do better. Avoiding your boss after the review will make them think that you aren’t interested in improving, jeopardizing your job.

Start documenting accomplishments.

While working on bettering your work ethic, start documenting when you complete a task or goal. This way, when you go to meet with your boss about your work performance next time, you have solid evidence of what was completed and when.

Ask for feedback more often.

If you were totally blindsided by your negative review, prevent it from happening again. Successful workers know exactly what is expected of them at all times, leaving no surprises when it comes to how well they are doing. Ask for feedback more often and form a more open line of communication with your boss.

Learn from it.

Experiencing the emotions that go along with a negative performance review will encourage you to do better in the future. Cheer up! Everyone makes mistakes. Learn from the negative review, remain positive, work hard to turn things around, and prove you are better than they say you are.