Got Bad Reviews? Relax, it’s not the end of the world.

Learn from Dilbert.

Those of us deeply entrenched in the corporate jungle would agree that if there are two things we look forward to each year it would be our bonus and the quarterly/annual performance review. Whereas the former is usually  met with delightful anticipation, the latter perhaps, not quite so – depending on how you are rated by your immediate boss.

I am a big advocate of performance reviews.  You may have had some bad experiences with them, but you must see the merit in having some form of feedback mechanism on how big or small an impact your performance makes in the company you work for.

At some point during the course of your career you are likely to get an unflattering performance review. Depending on how bad you perceive the result to be, some of you may be inclined to immediately resign and shop for an employer than can appreciate your skills.  It is perhaps a solution, but probably a little drastic in most cases and may not at all solve the real problem.  Here are some tips to consider before you make any decision:

1. Evaluate what was actually said and try not to get too emotional – If your boss pointed out concerns regarding your performance, take a moment to focus on what was actually said.  In fact, try not to be hasty with your rebuttal and understand clearly where your Boss is coming from. Stay calm, and don’t take any remarks personally—even the ones that hurt or you feel are unfair. Above all, don’t argue or force him/her into a corner to defend his/her comments.

2. Win your Boss over – Getting a negative mark on your performance review doesn’t automatically mean the demise of your career. There is, in fact, an opportunity for you here to win your Boss over and possibly receive a second chance. Study your Boss’ comments regarding your accomplishments and subtly work into the conversation other accomplishments he may have overlooked. After you and your boss have gone over the positive comments, mention that you’re concerned about how the negative comments will affect your future in the company. If the negative comments outweigh the positive comments, ask your Boss to consider giving you a second chance and turn things around moving forward.

3. Thank your Boss for his honesty and file your rebuttal or appeal if you still feel he mis-graded you in some points – If you think that your boss’ critique was completely wrong and you have facts to back you up, then you certainly have the right to offer a rebuttal.  You may, however, consider doing this a few days later, when you have had an opportunity to calm down and look at the situation again, more objectively this time.  Gather your thoughts, put them in a logical order and once you are prepared, set a meeting with your Boss and present your thoughts with your emotions in check.

And lastly, PERFORM, PERFORM, and if possible, OUTPERFORM.


  1. Chris Kelley · June 21, 2012

    Good post. Lots of great points. Performance reviews are a great way for the boss to let the employee know how they’re doing. I believe any legitimate performance review needs to include postive feedback and negative feedback. Every employee does something well. Everyone can improve at something. The boss needs to be objective and word things carefuily. The employee needs to be unemotional and open minded, Chris Kelley – Framingham.

    • vickyras · June 21, 2012

      Hi Chris! Nice to see you again here.:) It’s time for our mid-year performance appraisal so I thought it might be good to blog about it. I agree: In this case, both the immediate superior and the reporting staff have to take performance appraisals seriously and be objective about it. Sure, there might be disagreements, and that’s pretty normal, but at the end of the day, it has to be about the output/performance and not the personalities involved. Have a great day and happy running!:)

  2. silver account · July 8, 2012

    Your boss may be ordered to grade on the curve, i.e., assign some employees the ?low? category even if everyone’s doing great. And, being human, he may assign those ratings to those who are least likely to speak up. A strong, carefully written rebuttal will clarify your strength of purpose.

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