Each week, TopResume’s career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions on Quora. We’ll be republishing those answers here. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for over 10 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.
Q: What should I do after a negative performance review?
“Performance reviews are just around the corner. Last year I was dealt some pretty nasty feedback — something about having a heart three times too small — and I have a feeling my boss isn’t changing his tune this time around. How do I prepare for this tough conversation?” — Mr. Grinch
Say thank you for your employee review
Hi Mr. G! The first thing you should do after your manager delivers your employee performance review is to say thank you. It doesn’t matter if you received a glowing review or if your boss’ words were hard to swallow; constructive feedback is one of the greatest gifts your manager can give you, provided you’re willing to listen. Remember, you can’t improve your performance if you don’t know where you stand, what you’re doing well, and where you’re falling short. However, feedback is only valuable if you’re willing to receive it with an open mind and act upon it.
Remember, perception is reality
You may not agree with all of the feedback you receive, but you still have to change your manager’s perception of your behavior. For instance, you probably didn’t intend to come off as argumentative in your project meetings; however, if your manager believes you’re being difficult, you can’t ignore his or her perception of your behavior — it’s hurting your performance. Perception is reality, and you’ll need to find a way to change how your actions are being perceived by your team in order to improve the situation.
Ask for specifics
If the feedback in your review was vague, ask your manager for more information. There’s nothing wrong with asking your boss to provide specific examples of the behavior he observed. If your manager can’t think of one on the fly, request that he let you know the next time he notices you slipping back into a bad habit as soon as it happens. That way you can take steps to course correct.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of how your performance is being evaluated. For instance, what metrics or key performance indicators (KPI) are being used and what are the goals? Different measures of success may include meeting or beating a sales quota, finishing a certain project on time or within budget, delivering an error-free project, and improving your personal customer rating.
Develop a career-development roadmap
Once you know what changes to make and what goals you need to hit, you can break them down into smaller, more digestible milestones and tasks that you can manage on a weekly or even daily basis. In addition, make a list of the resources available to help you turn the corner. Are there programs, webinars, online publications, or industry networking events that could help you strengthen a certain skill or learn more about a subject that’s important for your job? If there’s someone else on the team who’s really thriving, ask yourself what they’re doing differently. You may want to go as far as taking them out for a cup of coffee to pick their brain.
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