A Bad Performance Appraisal in a Bad Economy

Performance appraisals tend be an unfavorable part of the job.  It is unfortunate because ongoing communication between a manager and employee should mean there is no question about your performance at any time, much less during the performance appraisal process. But this is for another blog.  For now let’s focus on the heavy stuff like overcoming a mix of a bad performance appraisal with a bad economy.


When you are on the receiving end of a less than stellar performance appraisal it may seem like the writing is on the wall and walking papers are soon to follow.  The good news is unless you are handed your pink slip at the same meeting, you can recover from a bad performance appraisal– if you want.  


Before your performance appraisal meeting you must make the decision about whether or not you are going to be open to feedback. 


Being open to feedback during the meeting includes open body language.  If you are telling yourself you are open to feedback but walk into the meeting with your hands crossed and sitting very far away, then you are not truly being open to the feedback you are about to be given.  People can sense a lot from your body language.  Go into the office with non-defensive body language such as facing your body towards your manager, good eye contact, etc.


Sharpen your listening skills.  Acknowledge the comments provided by your manager. Even if you do not agree, continue listening.  It would be a good idea to bring a notepad to the meeting so you can write down questions or points you would like clarification on later.  Once your manager has completed the feedback process, take that opportunity to ask questions.  This is not the time to “tell your side of the story”.  When it comes to your manager’s assessment of your performance there are not sides of the story.  (Now, if you feel that your manager is being biased or discriminatory that is something you should discuss with your HR department.)   Providing negative feedback is not an easy task for managers either, so allowing them to communicate without interruptions puts them at ease as well and will open up the dialogue even further.


Once the meeting is over walk out and immediately distract yourself with something else. If it is right before lunch go out and have a good meal.  If you have other pressing deadlines, get to work.  Let some time pass—a few hours to a day—then come back to the feedback you were given. Review your manager’s comments, think about those comments.  You may even want to discuss some sore points with someone else who can provide you with an objective perspective.


Once you have had time to reflect, it is time to create an action plan for moving forward.  Your manager made the comments for a particular reason.  Regardless of whether or not we always agree, our supervisors do have the last say when it comes to quality of performance. If you do want to recover from a bad performance review, especially in a time when layoffs are still very prevalent, then trust in your manager’s vision and work toward improving your performance.


Finally, follow up with your manager to let he or she know that you have given their comments a lot of thought and you are ready to improve your performance.


Putting the effort forward to turn around a poor performance appraisal could pay off big in the end!


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