How To Handle A Bad Performance Review

Thursday, October 10, 2013

One of my clients recently received (what she classified as) a “bad performance review”.  She was visibly upset and defeated by this, which would be a common reaction for many people.  At the same time, she was not surprised.  She has not been happy in her job for a while and has felt that she was not in the right position to best utilize her skills or experience.  Yet, when the bad performance review came, she took it to heart, personalized it, and felt very bad about herself because of it.    Again, a very natural reaction, but one that I believe deserves more reflection and perhaps a different perspective.

First, the fact that you receive a bad review (or even a good review) should not ever define who you are.  It’s a reflection of your performance for a given period of time –not a reflection of the person you are.  Second, performance reviews are also reflections of other people’s perspectives.  If you allow the review and their opinion to define you and/or you identify yourself with it, you are giving away your power.   You are allowing someone else’s perspective to control how you feel about yourself.  Yes, this may be a natural reaction, but is also an opportunity to step back and put things in perspective.  What is the lesson behind this specific “bad” review?  What can you learn and take away from it?

For my client, the performance review became confirmation of what she already knew:  she didn’t want to be in that job and was planning to leave.  This review was confirmation of those feelings and also a push to take action on her plan to leave sooner rather than wait.  If the “bad” performance review comes and you are in a position, job, or company you want to remain with, take this as an opportunity to investigate what needs to change in the coming year.  What can you do differently to get better results?  Again, it’s about what you’re doing – not who you are.  And that, I believe, is the most important lesson behind receiving a bad performance review.  The lesson to not identify with it, not allow it to define you or defeat you.  Just because your performance faltered one year doesn’t change the fact that you are a wonderful talented person.  It doesn’t change the core of who you are – ever. 

Use the information to improve, if that is what you want, but don’t use it to define yourself and don’t allow it to take away your power.  Remember you control how you feel so don’t let anyone or anything ever steal that from you – especially an annual performance review.  

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