You Don’t Like Your Performance Review – Now What?

Feb 5, 2021 | Development

First Quarter is annual performance review season for many companies.  It’s an uncomfortable situation for both the giver and receiver of feedback, as I covered in a previous blog article.

What should you do if you don’t like what you hear during your review presentation?

Understand that you’re human.  As humans, we are all susceptible to Affirmation Bias. So, we undervalue or actively oppose input that contradicts our opinion.  This can lead to emotionally charged exchanges.

Here’s how to turn a negative experience into a positive career step.


Resistance is Futile
First, realize there is ZERO benefit to being defensive during a performance review.  Even though you feel cognitive dissonance setting in, now is not the time to wage a counterattack on your manager.

Instead, hear the input for what it is: a snapshot in time along the arc of your professional development.  Specific opportunities for improvement are offered as coachable moments to direct you toward growth.  Acknowledge the courage required of your manager to give feedback – especially when the message is not rosy.

If you don’t agree with what’s in your report and still feel hot under the collar, ask for a couple of days to reflect on their notes and schedule a follow-up meeting.  Give yourself time to calm down before you discuss your review.


Growth Mindset
Next, check your head game before plotting any rebuttals.

You can receive feedback in one of two ways; as a gift or as a slap.  The difference is within you, not the reviewer.

In her 2007 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Stanford researcher Carol Dweck, PhD examines two most-basic beliefs we hold about ourselves, the Fixed and Growth mindsets.

In a Fixed mindset, we believe that our qualities are permanently set, and we fight to prove ourselves correct, rather than learn from our mistakes.  Performance reviews feel like a personal attack to the Fixed mindset, because negative input is seen as an indictment of the individual’s character.

The Growth mindset says, “failure can be a painful experience. But it doesn’t define you. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from.”  This attitude decouples behaviors from self-worth – and actually, presents opportunities for the professional to create more value in the marketplace.



Ask for Collaboration
Once you have reframed the information contained in your performance review as a learning opportunity, leverage it for a planned advancement.  Embrace the feedback.  Thank the reviewer for identifying key performance issues that may position you to step into the next internal opening.

Ask, “What is the next step for me in the organization, and what is the plan to get me there?  Can I set up periodic development checks with you to hear specifics about how I’m progressing?”

Both the company and its employees benefit when there is a collaborative effort to place individuals in a succession plan.