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You walk out of a performance review with your boss and your cheeks are on fire — despite your best efforts at work, your contributions to the office have been roundly panned.
But before you lash out, take a deep breath and remember you have options on how to respond:
Don’t flip out
You’ll look super unprofessional — and this could be another strike against your credibility.
The Harvard Business Review recommends that you “reflect before you react,” so you don’t do something you’ll regret.
Mitchell Marks, professor of management at San Francisco State University and president of the consultancy JoiningForces.org tells the publication that it’s critical to “hold your emotions in check,” and that “there’s nothing to be gained by lashing out or putting down the system or the person delivering the review.”
Ditch feelings of insecurity as soon as possible
Take a few days to let the feedback sink in. If it helps, remember that giving the difficult feedback may have been as hard for your boss to give as it was for you to hear, says Sheila Heen, author of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well.
“When we ask people to list their most difficult conversations, feedback always comes up. It doesn’t matter who they are, where they are, what they do, or why they brought us in. They describe just how tough it is to give honest feedback, even when they know its sorely needed. They tell us about performance problems that go unaddressed for years and explain that when they finally give the feedback, it rarely goes well. The coworker is upset and defensive, and ends up less motivated, not more.” Heen writes.
Repressing feelings of anxiety is not the way to stop feeling insecure at work — address your shortcomings head on. Enroll in skills building classes or consider finding a mentor. Take the feedback as constructive criticism, and grow from it.
Figure out what you have to offer
Do your homework.
A Women 2.0 article recommends looking at “your options” when your boss serves you up a bad review.
“If you think your review is bad enough to mean bad news for your future at the company, do a job search and check your marketability. You need to know what your options are. Thinking about your value in the market is much healthier and more productive than ruminating about your boss’s reactions,” the site reports.
While it can be helpful to look at your peers and see how your skill set compares and where it falls short, be wary of comparing yourself to your coworkers in terms of your self worth or value — remember that you are a unique individual and you have your own race to run.
Proceed with a plan
Don’t be afraid of the hard work.
“In some cases, your boss might put you on a formal performance improvement plan. But if she doesn’t, it’s worth creating an informal one for yourself. For instance, you might decide that you’re going to work to develop a particular skill, seek mentoring from a senior colleague, sign up for a training class or proofread all your work twice before turning it in,” Green writes, before mentioning that you might want to schedule time with your supervisor in a month to talk about “progress you’ve made,” among other points.
If handled correctly, a bad performance review can be a blessing, not a curse. It can give you a reality check and show you where your external performance matches your internal perception — and where it falls short.
In the future, check in on your performance more often
“To gauge how you’re doing over the next several months, check in with your boss and get their input (you’ll likely want to schedule these check-ins into your plan if you don’t meet regularly). Not only will this give you vital information that’ll help you to continue to course-correct, it’ll demonstrate to your manager a genuine desire to improve. You might also want to ask some trusted co-workers for ongoing feedback. In addition to giving you an additional perspective on how you’re doing, your colleagues can act as accountability partners that’ll help you stay on track,” she writes.
This might just minimize the number of mistakes you make going forward.