Bounce Back From A Poor Performance Review
Evaluate What Went Wrong, Then Turn It Around
By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer
Overheard at a not so pleasant performance review:
“Ms. Fielding, I’m sorry to report that your overall performance for the past 12 months is less than satisfactory.”
“Less than satisfactory?”
“Yes, you’ve failed to achieve your goals in several Key Result Areas.”
“But, but…I’m trying as hard as I can.”
“We can see this, Ms. Fielding. Except I have to let you know that if you don’t improve soon, we’ll have no choice but to act accordingly.”
The unfortunate Ms. Fielding. Is she destined to be downsized? Or are there ways to quickly turn things around.
An unsatisfactory review isn’t always a career stopper. Recovering may be possible if you’re willing to go the extra mile.
Evaluate What Went Wrong
First take a deep breath and refrain from acting in haste. Be honest with yourself instead. Think about how you ended up getting a bad review. Here are some of the usual contributing reasons:
· You worked hard but didn’t manage your priortities well enough. As a result you failed to meet your boss’s (or team’s) expectations in dealing with important matters first.
· You worked hard, managed your priorities rigorously, but didn’t communicate your successes sufficiently to be recognized.
· You worked hard, managed priorities and communicated properly, but your boss just plain dislikes you.
· You didn’t work hard enough, or the quality of your work was unacceptable.
Recovering from a career setback is part of a normal worklife. Depending on which one of the above categories applies, try the following to resolve the situation.
Improve How You Manage Priorities
If you worked hard but didn’t juggle priortities well, your boss or team is disappointed in you. They no longer trust you to focus on what’s most important. It doesn’t matter that you put in extra hours. Or that you’re liked by just about everyone.
To bounce back in this case means delivering the goods. Schedule a private talk with your supervisor. Have them tell you exactly which tasks and assignments they need you focus on. Ask what the deadlines are. Establish milestones and reporting dates.
If you need extra resources, or aren’t precisely clear about what’s expected of you, now’s the time to ask. You could also invest in a course on how to better manage your time.
Start Communicating Better (And More Often)
Lots of people are naturally shy about bragging at work. After all, you’re there to get the job done, so how can you boast if all you’re doing is what’s expected of you?
That kind of mindset leaves many good workers unrecognized. Today’s bosses are busy. They may not notice a quick email you send that informs them or your progress. A voicemail you leave can get buried among dozens of others.
Don’t let yourself get ignored. Practice the art of appropriate self-promotion. No need to be a braggart or get obnoxious. Reminding the people that matter of your achievements is a vital part of developing your reputation. You simply want to get credit for the work you do.
Try To Repair The Relationship With Your Supervisor
What could be more demotivating than a boss who doesn’t like you. Every workday seems like drudgery, knowing you’ll never get the performance review you deserve.
You could try escalating to a higher level in order to resolve the situation. But that could backfire, especially if you mishandle it. You’re probably better off attempting to improve the salvageable parts of your relationship with your boss.
Begin by making a list of where you and your boss already see eye to eye. These are areas you can leverage as you initiate repairs to the damaged portions. Don’t give up easily: there are even steps you can take to manage a horrible boss.
Work Smarter And Bring You’re A-Game
Sometimes people can grow complacent. Like if you’ve been in the job for a long time, or you used to be able to slack yet still do OK. Now you’re being told to pick up the pace - or else.
Does this mean you have to burn the midnight oil? Maybe not, if you get more strategic. This usually involves focusing on priorities and learning how to manage your time more efficiently.
It could turn out, however, that you do have to put in more hours. Or do grunt work that bores you. Maybe volunteer to be on committes, or give up working from home. Hopefully you can also boost your performance by working smarter. If not, it might be time to consider your other employment options.
Turn It Around, Or Else Move On
The above advice assumes that you want to keep your current job. If so, do make the effort (within reason) to turn things around. That way you can get the most out of your next performance review.
If, on the other hand, you’ve been noticing other signs that you’re in the wrong job, a change of venue might be in order. A bad performance review could be a canary in the coalmine. Don’t worry if you’re just not that into your present job. There could be other positions out there just waiting for someone like you.