What do you do if you think your performance review is wrong?

It’s time for your performance review, and whether you’re nervous or confident about the process, there’s always the possibility that you’ll disagree with your boss’s appraisal of your work. This isn’t just a problem for entry-level or mid-level personnel. Performance evaluations are conducted at all levels of an organization’s structure, and no matter what position an employee has, he or she may be graded as “underperforming” or “failing to meet objectives.”

But what if an employee doesn’t agree with their rating? Is there anything that can be done to correct an incorrect or unfair assessment? Is it true that once a boss hits “submit,” an employee’s fate is sealed?

Well he or she could accept it and try to work harder or perhaps make an attempt to change the manager’s mind. If you were in the situation, take a deep breath and remain calm. Before your make your decision, ask clarifying questions and try to elicit details that demonstrate your boss’s concerns and listen with an open mind. Don’t worry about defending yourself; instead, concentrate on hearing and comprehending what your boss is saying.

Your only purpose at this moment is to have a better grasp of her reservations about your job. Then consider why she views things the way she does. Is there any validity to her evaluation, if you’re being honest with yourself? Do you have facts that your supervisor doesn’t and that could influence her thinking?

Get more information. Instead of making assumptions, try to figure out why the review was written the way it was. Set up a meeting with the manager and explain that the evaluation was unexpected and that you would like to learn more about the review. Request specific instances of the negative issues raised, and be prepared to respond with examples of accomplishment and talking points. Gather all of the information and build a defense. Maintain an open mind. Consider the matter from the manager’s point of view. Getting defensive will make it difficult to have an open and fruitful discussion.

When the manager’s assessment isn’t adequate, seek out the opinions of others. While asking others with similar attitudes and who genuinely care about the assessee is a good idea, it isn’t adequate because their opinions will be slanted in favor of the employee and they will say nice things. This will not assist the employee in identifying his or her blind spots.

As a result, remember to ask others who were involved in the project at the same time as the employee to get a sense of their judgment. This will assist the employee in determining whether there are any previously unknown blind spots, and how he or she would have addressed the situation differently. It’s also possible that the manager overlooked some crucial information that could have swung the situation in the employee’s favor.

If you accept that there could be a gap then buckle down and work harder for next year. Make a conscious effort to learn from your mistakes and to listen to comments and make the improvements that have been requested. It takes a lot of effort and willpower to change one’s behavior because it is so easy to relapse to old habits. But keep in mind that if you’re consistent, you’ll be able to change your behavior. The boss will then have no reason to give the employee a negative review.

And if you are going to try to clarify the situation, you should disagree in a courteous and collaborative manner, but a decent supervisor will listen to your concerns. “I appreciate you talking to me about this,” you can reply if your manager is concerned that you aren’t pushing a product hard enough with clients, but you believe your method is more effective. My intuition has been that a hard sell won’t work, but if I can create a relationship with them first, they’ll be more receptive. I know my sales numbers didn’t meet our expectations this quarter, but I believe I’ll make up for it next quarter with higher sales.”

If the relationship with the manager and company is beyond repair after a particularly poor performance review, it may be advisable to start looking for work elsewhere after considering all of the above factors. Utilize all of the information obtained thus far and devise a strategy for thinking things through and feeling empowered. This could indicate that you need to develop more efficient ways to interact with your management, or that it’s time to look for greener pastures. Take the time to improve your resume and cover letter, and look for a position where you can succeed.

The important point is to be positive and look to learn from this experience to make yourself even stronger and better prepared for tomorrow.

Check out my related post: How to have a performance appraisal conversation?

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