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Bad Performance Review? How to Rise Above It and Shine January 28, 2009

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Da Pinoy Employee, Working with Bosses and Officemates.
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Did you receive a bad performance review last year?  A performance review with a poor or so-so rating is tough — not just for you but also for your supervisor or manager.  Contrary to popular belief, most of them are not comfortable giving out performance reviews with low ratings.  First, they have to explain it and then discuss ways you can improve.  More importantly, they are often faced by irate, irritated or disbelieving subordinates who may either like to deny that their performance are less than stellar or are just blind to the fact that their showing last year is just not enough to earn them gold stars.

Now that the scores are in, can you still recover from a bad performance review?  Here are ways you can use a poor performance score and turn it around this year:

See it as an opportunity.
If you examine your performance review closely, you’ll find that it’s simply a summary of your strengths and weaknesses.  Look at the weak areas that pulled your score down.  What are these and why did they happen?  Were you always late in turning in reports?  Did you fail in your sales quota?  Did you lose a client due to negligence?  Have your skills failed to improve over the last 12 months?  Were you insubordinate? 

Instead of seeing these comments or low marks as an attack against you as a person, why not consider carefully where they’re coming from.  Try to view your report as objectively as you can by imagining yourself as your employer. 

If the poor performance rating is indeed deserved, instead of going into a mini-depression and blaming other stuff for what you clearly did (bad traffic jams, distracting office music, distracting officemates who are goodlooking, the boss’ new car, etc.), look at the comments as opportunities to improve yourself.  Nobody’s perfect, you know — not even your boss.  And he/she probably got to where he/she is because he/she treated his performance review as a wake up call.

Ask what you need to improve.
The common knee-jerk reaction among employees once they receive a low performance rating is surprise, followed by anger and disappointment.  If you feel that way, it’s normal.  But maybe this year you need to wake up and smell the paper.  Instead of harboring violent thoughts towards your super or manager, ask to discuss your review with them.  They’ll probably do this, anyway, which is an opportunity for you to find out why you got the rating you had.

Ask them why they thought you deserved such-and-such rating.  When they do speak, listen — don’t argue yet — just listen.  Chances are, they have a legitimate reason for giving you a low score.  Your performance last year could be lagging behind others in your department, you could have missed certain opportunities to make improvements or, in spite of every resource given you, you still failed to deliver.

The reason why you should listen is simple: your supervisor or manager will be communicating important clues as to their expectations of your work and performance.  If there are issues you don’t agree with, simply present your case.  Be businesslike in your approach.  Being too assertive about what you feel should be your rating will make you seem defensive or maybe — just maybe — out of touch. 

Ask for clarification.
If there are issues that seem vague to you, ask your boss to clarify or maybe present an example.  This will help set matters straight — either to make you realize that you do indeed need improvement or that your boss needs some clarification himself.  If the example is incorrect or unfair, calmly state an example of your own to counter it.  If it is correct, simply nod and take note of it as an area of improvement.

Make a list of your pluses and minuses.
Your performance review can be an excellent source of information regarding your strengths and weaknesses.  Identify areas where you show great potential and areas where you need a lot of improvement.  If you want that promotion or salary increase this year, you better have a clear understanding of what it is you can do and what else you can offer in the future.

Use your boss’ inputs.
If your boss gives you advice, listen to it and take note.  You might be able to use it to your advantage in the future.

Have a plan of action.
Never leave a discussion of your performance review without presenting a concrete course of action.  Talk to your supervisor about ways and means you can use to help you improve your performance this year.  If there are problems outlined in your appraisal, counter them with solutions instead of protests.  This makes it known that you are taking responsibility for your performance and are quite aware and capable of producing positive results in the end.

Have a deadline.
Now that you know the key areas you need to improve on, make a schedule of the steps you need to take so you can implement your plan of action.  The more concrete the steps, the better because they are easier to measure and assess.  Once you’ve implemented these, document them and then ask for a mini-assessment from your boss a month or two later.

A performance review/rating/appraisal can make anyone feel queasy and uncomfortable but it can be a very useful tool for you to improve yourself as a professional and increase your productivity in the workplace.  So use it wisely.



1. Philippine Jobs - October 14, 2009

This also means do not jump into conclusions. It’s rarely a good idea to share career plans with your bosses and colleagues until you have signed a new job offer, and neither does accepting a counter-offer from your present company. However, if the company clearly gives you a “go away” signal, then they should be happy to give you good references that describe your real contributions to the company.

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