What to do if you had a Bad Performance Review, and it Wasn’t Your Fault

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

When I got my first performance review, I was terrified. It had been a tough few months at work and I thought the feedback would reflect this. I remember putting a lot of effort in to preparing for my performance review. But when it came through, it was far worse than I expected—and worst of all, it wasn’t my fault. My appraiser had used out of date information; incorrect information; and worse still, hadn’t looked at the evidence of my successful objective achievement from 360-degree feedback.

At first, I felt angry and frustrated. How could they think so little of me? But eventually, I realised that getting mad and blaming them wouldn’t help me in the long run – instead, I needed to take action to fix the situation. If you’re in a similar position and have received a bad performance review that wasn’t your fault, here are some tips on what to do next:

  1. Remain professional – A bad performance review isn’t easy to handle but it’s important to remain professional at all times. Don’t get angry or confrontational with your manager; instead listen carefully to their feedback and take notes if necessary. You may be able to address any issues later on down the line but for now, focus on staying calm and collected.
  2. Speak up – If you feel like there has been an unfair judgement made about your work or if you disagree with any of the points raised by your manager, then don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. Explain why you think the assessment is incorrect or unjustified and provide examples of where you feel they may have overstated or understated certain aspects of your job role or performance levels. This can help set things straight quickly without having to go through a lengthy dispute process down the line.
  3. Ask questions – A poor performance review doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is lost; sometimes it can provide valuable insight into how you can improve in future reviews. Ask clarifying questions such as ‘what areas do I need to work on?’, ‘how can I develop my skills further?’, ‘what resources are available to me?’ etc., so that you can gain more specific advice from your manager about how best to move forwards from here on out. Or take a look at this post titled 6 Powerful Questions To Ask In Your Performance Review.
  4. Take responsibility – As frustrating as it can be when something isn’t our fault, ultimately we are responsible for our own actions and behaviour within our job roles; regardless of whether we agree with the assessment given by someone else or not. So try not to dwell too much on who’s right or wrong – instead focus on taking responsibility for those areas which require improvement and work hard towards making positive changes where possible in order to show progress in future reviews going forward.
  5. Seek additional support – It’s understandable if after receiving a negative performance review you might feel disheartened or unmotivated; however there is no reason why this should hold you back from seeking out additional support where necessary in order to help get back on track again professionally speaking (e.g., talking with colleagues/mentors/friends/family etc.). Not only will this provide emotional support but also practical advice which may prove useful when attempting new tasks which were previously unfamiliar territory for yourself prior to receiving the review itself.
  6. Set goals – When dealing with a poor performance review it’s important not only look back at what went wrong but also look ahead towards setting realistic goals for yourself moving forwards within subsequent reviews (both short-term and long-term). Use any constructive criticism provided by your manager as well as any personal reflections generated during this time period too in order to identify areas which need improvement upon and create achievable targets accordingly; this way even if results aren’t immediate then at least there will be clear objectives outlined which serve as milestones along each step taken towards professional development and growth!
  7. Reassessment – Finally, depending upon circumstances (e.g., length of contract/company policy etc.), consider asking for a reassessment of your work once sufficient time has passed since receiving the initial negative report initially issued – this way managers are able assess progress made since then and present an updated evaluation based upon recent achievements rather than relying solely upon past mistakes alone

Ultimately, getting a bad performance review isn’t ideal especially when it’s undeservedly awarded; however taking ownership over one’s own development (regardless of external factors influencing outcomes!) plus proactively seeking out ways both internally and externally in order cope effectively with such setbacks should always remain top priority going forward.

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