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How to Deal with a Bad Annual Review

Suffering through a performance review can be uncomfortable in the best of circumstances—let alone when your performance has been judged subpar. Here's how to handle the worst case scenario.


  • Step 1: Stay calm. Don’t become defensive or angry. Don’t say anything you might regret later.
  • TIP: If you’re about to cry, hold one thumb firmly in the other hand. This acupressure trick will calm you down.
  • Step 2: If you think the evaluation is unjust, politely request examples of your failings. Address the individual scenarios your boss cites, but don't argue and try not to make excuses.
  • TIP: Take notes. It’s easy to forget things when you’re emotional.
  • Step 3: Ask what you can do to improve your performance. Take the opportunity to set goals with specific targets you can meet, so that you can prove your performance is improving.
  • Step 4: Ask what kind of time frame you will be given to shape up, if your boss doesn't volunteer this information.
  • Step 5: End on an upbeat note. Even if you're boiling with rage inside, thank the boss for his suggestions and say you look forward to proving what you can do.
  • Step 6: Put it behind you. The worst thing you can do is let a bad review paralyze you. Focus both on improving your performance and keeping an eye out for other job opportunities.
  • FACT: According to a survey, only three out of ten employees believe their company’s performance review system actually improves performance.

You Will Need

  • Self-control
  • A positive attitude

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