Bouncing Back from a Poor Performance Review

A poor performance review can be devastating, especially if it is unexpected. It can feel like a significant setback, stirring up disappointment, confusion, and even fear of losing your job. For sure, your confidence will be shaken.

If you happen to find yourself in a similar situation, here are actionable steps to help you recover and thrive:

1. Maintain your professionalism

It’s natural to feel defensive or angry, especially if you feel the review is unfair or inaccurate. But don’t react immediately. Instead, give yourself some space to reflect on what was said and to process the feedback.

Your best approach at the moment is to listen, ask questions, and gather as much detail as you can about why your boss gave you this review.

2. Request a follow-up meeting

Once you’ve calmed down—at least a day or two later—you should ask for another meeting with your boss to understand the review better.

It would be best to reassure your boss that you are not there to contest the review but rather to learn how to improve your performance. Come prepared with specific questions, and always ask for examples of what you should do differently.

3. Develop a performance improvement plan

Based on the feedback, pinpoint the areas you need to develop. Perhaps you must change certain behaviours, learn new skills, take further training, or try new approaches. Whatever the steps, work jointly with your boss to develop this action plan. This plan should contain measurable outcomes.

4. Obtain feedback from others

We often see ourselves differently from how others see us. This is why you should seek advice from trusted colleagues who have observed you in the workplace. Share the performance review comments with them and ask for their unbiased feedback. By the way, close friends or family will help comfort you, but they are not the best at giving objective advice.

5. Schedule regular check-ins

Unfortunately, most performance reviews are only done annually. If you’ve received a poor review, you cannot wait until next year to find out how you are doing. Ask for an interim review and schedule periodic meetings with your boss to discuss your progress.  They will appreciate your desire to get feedback on how things are going.

One last thing

Many successful people have failed at one time or another in their careers and used those failures to advance to bigger and better things. Remember, recovering from a poor performance review is not just about addressing the feedback but also about personal growth and resilience. The real test of your character is how you use your poor performance review to improve.