A Bad Review? Transform Your Behavior

Yikes! A Bad Review!! What to do?

Winter is the season when many employees have the previous year’s performance review. Obviously, the hope is that it goes well. But…what if yours is sub-par?

Getting a poor review can result in a host of reactions. I realize the first might be to fight it and defend yourself through examples of competence, etc.  However, once you take a defensive position, you will have stopped doing the one thing that could help as you navigate this review session: Listening!

Your supervisor has come prepared to tell you things that could help improve how you do your job. Are you ready to hear them? If so, you need to listen without bias. This means hearing what is being said without mentally preparing your counterarguments. This is not a courtroom!

Once you’ve digested the feedback, it’s now time to transform your behavior. I recommend enacting these steps:

Four Steps to Reverse a Bad Review

Step #1: Prioritize Behavior Shifts

You can’t change overnight. So, list the behaviors that need attention and prioritize them in a way that will have the most immediate impact. You may find that there are some that can be addressed more quickly than others, which will show your supervisor that you were listening and are implementing steps that address the feedback.

Step #2: Create Measurable Goals

If you get feedback that you don’t participate enough in meetings, it’s one thing to declare “I will participate in meetings.” Great…that’s a change in behavior. But how will you get there?  It’s better if you establish “I will present 2-3 salient points per meeting that forward the team’s thinking.” By doing this, you will know after each meeting whether or not you met the goal and demonstrated the behavior change.

Step #3: Get Agreement

In this step, your boss and you will agree on the steps you are taking to address the feedback. This does two things: affirms that their feedback was heard and appreciated while also giving you a benchmark by which you can be evaluated throughout the year. Make sure you schedule regular check-ins so that your progress can be evaluated. Don’t rely on your boss to do this! You need to be proactive and get these on the calendar.

Step #4: Define Actions

Finally, let your supervisor know the specific actions you are going to take this quarter. Walk them through HOW you will operationalize these areas of transformation via specific workstreams. Give him/her something to be on the lookout for so that they can witness your progress. For example: if you were observed as being too often on the sidelines and not on the playing field with others, during the next round of meetings with X Team, declare that you will facilitate these meetings, synthesize the next steps, and follow up with all team members on their obligations.

These four steps illustrate your commercial maturity in accepting a sub-standard review as a contribution NOT a criticism. Focus on the acknowledgment you’ll receive by transforming these behaviors by the end of the quarter. You’ve got this!