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How to bounce back after a bad performance review

Nobody likes to receive a negative performance review. Whether you were anticipating the bad news, or it was a total surprise, it stings. But handling the situation with maturity and professionalism can put you on the road to improving your next evaluation. Instead of regarding the comments as a personal affront, or letting them discourage you, see them as a guide for how you might up your game. Here are tips on how to get you back on track after a bad performance review.

Allow yourself to feel disappointed

Research suggests that by giving yourself a chance to experience the negative emotions associated with failure, you’ll be more motivated to do better next time. Feeling the pain now can act as powerful fuel to prevent yourself from making similar mistakes in the future. So, go ahead and mope at home.

Understand the comments

When developing an improvement plan, it is important to be clear about what things need to be changed and ideas for doing so. Listen carefully and ask specific questions. Be like an investigator – ask for examples of poor performance and what your manager would have liked to see instead.

Create an improvement plan

While goals are great, you’ll be much more likely to accomplish them if you have a strategy. Therefore, for each one, write out a step-by-step plan of action to guide your efforts. Once you’ve compiled your improvement plan, present it to your boss and ask for their feedback. This will show that you’re taking your review seriously. Start tracking your accomplishments so you can arrive at your next review with tangible evidence of your improvements using this handy worksheet.

Be consistent

Remember that improvement cannot simply be a temporary thing. To truly repair your reputation, you must consistently show that you’ve taken the feedback to heart and work hard to meet (or better yet, exceed) expectations. In time, the positive behaviour will be what people come to associate with you—not the no-longer-relevant negative review.

The worst thing you can do after a poor performance review is become angry, vengeful or unreasonable. Setbacks such as a poor performance review are a part of life, and many accomplished people have been on the receiving end of criticism. Make the decision to use the failure as a catalyst for professional development and commit to getting better. In a year’s time, you’ll walk out of your next performance review feeling awesome.

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