why don't you

Why Don't You: Make the Most of a Bad Performance Review?

We've all been there: Your boss calls you into the big office and gives you a less-than-glowing performance review. From poor numbers to inefficiency at work, you can't exactly blame all those cat videos you've been watching in the office for your performance.

So, instead of heading home and complaining that your boss is an idiot, why don't you make the most of that bad performance review? Taking constructive criticism to heart and using it to prove your boss wrong makes the negativity worth it. Here's how.

Step One: Don't Play the Blame Game

Hey, you're human: Your natural inclination when your boss calls you out for something is to pass the blame onto someone else. You would have finished that project if your team hadn't slowed you down. You could have brought in better sales, but your mom was stressing you out.

Unfortunately, those people aren't the ones in the hot seat: You are. Take responsibility for your actions and acknowledge your part, even if you disagree with your boss' assessment. If you don't admit that you have responsibility, it's impossible to improve.

Step Two: Clarify Concerns

Before you head to the bathroom for a good cry, clarify your boss' position. Just hearing "You need to improve" isn't enough for you to be better. Instead, ask what exactly would be the markers for improvement, and how a lack of improvement might affect your employment. Is this bad performance review a first warning, or is it the last stop until Splitsville? Would you have a better shot at promotions and new responsibilities if you picked up the slack?

Make sure you and your boss are on the same page as to what needs to be done going forward.

Step Three: Ask for a Follow-Up Evaluation

Tell your boss that you want a follow-up evaluation and schedule it ASAP. That way, you know exactly how long you have to show improvement, and your boss knows that you're super serious about showing off your skills. six weeks to three months post-evaluation should be enough time for you to make a difference.

Step Four: Create an Action Plan

Now you need to put your money where your mouth is and prove that you can do better. Start by creating an action plan based on your boss' feedback. Okay, first, drown your sorrows and frustrations in a pint of Ben & Jerry's. After that, create your plan.

Your plan should be more than just abstract ideas; instead, it should be made up of concrete actions that you can execute to improve. It might be coming into work 20 minutes early, or asking your colleagues how you can improve. Maybe you make a commitment to volunteer for projects more, or promise yourself to be more patient with clients and customers.

Whatever you decide to do, just start. Show your boss that you can change and use the bad performance review as a way to make yourself more efficient and employable.

Step Five: Keep Your Own File

As you work toward improving, keep your own file or portfolio for the projects and impact that you've made. Not only can you show this to your boss at your follow-up meeting, but it gives you a chance to evaluate yourself. Maybe you're awesome at ideas, but not so great on follow-through. Or maybe it's your communication skills that are suffering, not your final product.

Creating your own file lets you recalibrate your efforts so you're on point and working on those weak spots. Hey, we all have 'em.

After your follow-up meeting with your boss, you should know where you stand. But here's the thing: If you've put forth a great effort and you've improved and your boss still isn't giving kudos, it might be time to check out other options.

Starting your own business or finding a job where your skillset is appreciated is definitely a better option to constantly hearing criticism from your boss. It's a two-way street: You try to be the best employee that you can be, and your boss appreciates the effort. Anything less than that might be the sign that you don't work well together.

So, if you get a bad performance review, remember that it's not the end of the world. Instead, use it as a catalyst for improvement... and maybe even the kick in the butt you need to walk out that door for good.

By Jae — Performance Reviewer

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