One of the first steps may be to ask your boss if it would be possible to avoid having the review made part of your permanent record until you’ve had a chance to analyze the information in more detail. Is the information correct? Are there errors that need to be corrected?
If you previously received positive performance reviews, assess what about your performance may have changed. Do you have a new boss? Has something in your personal situation changed that is affecting your job performance? In some cases, it may be a simple misunderstanding: You were focused on objectives that you thought were important, but your boss was measuring your performance based on a different standard. Gaining clarity about how your performance will be assessed moving forward is critical to your future success with the company.
Second, you may want to ask your boss about the impact of the negative performance review. Is your job in jeopardy? Will you be put on probation? Are there specific measures you need to address in order to meet by a certain deadline to rectify the deficiencies that were identified? Make sure you are clear about next steps — what do you need to change or improve both immediately and in the future?
Lastly, ask to schedule a follow-up meeting — and set a specific date for that meeting. Continue to communicate with your manager about your progress towards fixing any identified deficiencies. Also continue to track your activities, projects, and accomplishments.
MOVING ON…Immediately start preparing for your next performance review as soon as you complete your current review. Don’t just file the paperwork away. Use the feedback to guide your work. Review your objectives monthly to ensure you are on track for the expectations your boss established.
If you haven’t already, start a journal to track your performance. Develop a system to collect information from third parties — customers, co-workers, vendors, etc. that can be used in next year’s performance review. When you have meetings with your boss between your annual performance reviews, be sure to take notes. As you think of things you want to ask about in your next meeting, write them in your journal so you can find them easily when it’s time to meet. Showing effort, enthusiasm, dedication, and continued hard work often results in improving your next performance review.