Getting a bad performance review is like getting a bad report card as kid. Only this time, you don’t get grounded — you might get fired. And have your entire professional life turned upside down. But before you freak out, know this: you can still turn this thing around. No one bats a thousand all the time, so use your negative review as fuel to get back on track. Here are 5 things we think you should do after getting a bad performance review.
1. Stay calm.
When you’re in the moment, hearing not-so-great things about yourself can leave you feeling embarrassed, sad or even angry. But it’s important that you try your absolute best to remain calm. Pay attention to what you’re being told, not how it’s making you feel. And if you dispute anything you’re hearing, make sure you address it after you’ve had some time to reflect. But don’t blow up in the middle of the review. Thoughtful, fact-based rebuttals will go further than a hot-headed, in-the-moment retort.
2. Allow yourself to feel bad.
So you’ve taken some time to reflect and it turns out, you’re not the model employee — at least in the eyes of your boss. That might leave you feeling a bit bummed, and it’s okay to sit in that disappointment for a while — but not too long. And if you need to mope, make sure you do it at home privately.
3. Make a plan to course correct.
After a respectable period of mourning, it’s time for action. Now that you know the areas that need to be improved, set some goals that will help you become a better employee. Then, create a plan that will guide you in achieving these goals. With a clear path forward, you’ll be much more likely to stay the course and improve before your next review. Make sure to share your plan with your boss and get their feedback. That way, they’ll know that you took your review seriously, and may be willing to lend a helping hand with getting you back on track.
4. Get ongoing feedback.
You may have been blindsided by your negative review this time, but with your new plan in place, that won’t happen again. Part of your course correction must include insisting upon more regular check-ins with your supervisor. Not only will you have a better picture of where you stand, but also your boss will see your genuine desire to improve.
5. Be consistent.
It’s one thing to say you’ll do better immediately after a bad review. But it’s another to remain as motivated as you need to be to perform at your highest levels and make that goal a reality. So make sure you’re diligent about sticking to your plan. And unfortunately, due to a phenomenon called confirmatory bias where we’re much more likely to notice things that confirm our beliefs vs. dispel them, it make take a while for your boss to notice your hard work. But stick with it, and this time next year after your review, you’ll be grinning ear to ear.