It’s time to view your bad performance review in a positive light. A bad review is a hard thing to process, but let it drive you to be better instead of bringing you down. Think about it: you have all the information on what you need to improve on at the ready in your performance review – all you need to do now is act on it. And here’s how:
1. Know It’s Not Personal
The first step after a negative performance review is not an actionable one, but just as important. You need to breathe, keep calm and remind yourself that your bad review is nothing personal against you. You’re more than your work and one negative review doesn’t sum up your entire character. The reason performance reviews are given in the first place is so employees know what they need to improve on. Instead of feeling down about your performance review, approach it with a growth mindset and use it as a learning experience. Without criticism, you can’t become your best self.
That being said, the rare case where a negative performance review is personal always stems from a toxic work environment. No fair manager is going to rate their employee’s performances based on how much they like the employee as a person. So, even if the bad review is personal, it has nothing to do with you as a person and everything to do with the poor environment you’re in. Do some research on toxic workplaces and take into consideration the rest of your experiences at work. If it all lines up as toxic, the best thing for you to do is line up a new job and then leave.
2. Analyze & Ask
Squeeze as many details as you possibly can out of the review. Closely analyze it to note everything that you need to work on, particularly any suggestions for improvement. See if you agree with all of the points as well. If there’s anywhere your manager said you failed but you feel you were successful and have the evidence to back yourself up, it’s worth bringing that to your manager’s attention.
You should also speak to your manager and ask follow-up questions, ask for specific examples, ask for clarification on anything that confuses you, and most importantly, ask for specifics on what success would look like in your position. Take notes of all of this afterwards so you can refer back to it while you plan how you’ll improve.
Don’t be intimidated by the thought of having this conversation, either – sometimes, issues in the workplace can happen out of simple misunderstandings. For example, maybe certain expectations about your position were unclear to you. Having a conversation with your manager that nails down everything that’s expected of you and the ways in which you deviated will clear the way to your end goal – a performance review can’t always do that alone.
3. Create A Plan of Action
Now that you have all the information together, you can set goals for yourself. Set long-term goals regarding how your overall performance will look by the next review, and your short-term goals should be ways of getting yourself there. If you got the least sales out of everyone at your company, figure out specific ways you can get more sales – for example, could you do a better job at engaging with customers, or maybe change up the ways you engage with them?
When creating goals, use the S.M.A.R.T. system. This means that when you set goals, you’ll want to make sure each one is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. Using this criteria will help you make clear-cut goals that’ll bring you more success than vague, open-ended ones.
Remember to check in with yourself and keep track of how your goals are progressing. You can use anything to do this – a spreadsheet, a journal, your notes app. Jot down steps you’ve taken forward and backward. To go back to the prior sales example, maybe one day you have an amazing interaction with a guest that leads to a huge sale – write down everything you did to make that sale a success. If you lose a lot of customers in one day, write down what you felt you were doing wrong. Don’t be shy to ask for feedback from managers and peers throughout your journey as well. From there, you can constantly readjust your behavior and even tailor your S.M.A.R.T. goals to ones that’ll work best for you.
A bad performance review doesn’t define you and there’s no need to beat yourself up about it. If you’re concerned about it to begin with, this is a great sign – it means you’d like to move forward and better yourself. So, be optimistic about the review, set your S.M.A.R.T. goals and see success come to you in waves.
Need advice after your performance review? Book a Virtual Career Meeting with Style Nine to Five founder, Christie Lohr!
Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock