6 Phrases You *Don't* Want to Hear in Your Performance Review (And How to Respond If You Do)

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Hilary Thompson14
Whether you’re new to an organization or are a veteran of the company, when you're up for the year's performance review, it’s best to keep an open mind. Performance reviews are chances for your boss and you to connect and discuss what you’re doing well and where you need to improve.

Hopefully, you’ll mostly receive shining star reviews because a good performance review can help your career immensely. However, even your best review can be peppered with telltale signs that some areas need to improve or some habits need to change. And one of the best ways to grow is by receiving constructive feedback.
These six performance review phrases of which to be mindful during your next annual review will help keep you alert. Once you're aware of what you could do better, you can start taking the right steps.

1. “The efforts were short-sighted.”

While this term doesn’t immediately scream “success,” it’s not completely negative. What your boss is trying to tell you is that they saw room for improvement in one of your recent efforts, and they want to make it clear.
For instance, if you keep missing key components of a long-term strategy for your client, “short-sighted” could be how your boss describes your work. Really, what your supervisor means is that you weren’t strategic enough with your thinking. Each of your daily tasks and all of your larger goals should speak to a broader strategy. In areas like marketing and finance, having a strategy is everything. In order to succeed with a data-driven world, for instance, you have to have a digital strategy, or you’re going to fall short. If your work is labeled as short-sighted in your review, start rethinking your approach to strategy. Set goals to look at the big picture frequently. Collaborate with your peers to get valuable feedback and make sure you’re seeing the whole picture. You’ll be glad you did.

2. “Your siloed team...”

If your manager thinks you’re working in silos — or worse, that you’ve created silos within your team — then it might be time to switch gears. A siloed team is cut off from the rest of the organization, and this lack of interpersonal skills can be costly. Working in silos can be lethal to both large and small organizations. Silos disrupt productivity, lower employee morale, ruin collaboration, and even create bully-like think-tanks. Ultimately, working in silos is what destroys teamwork. If you are critiqued for closed-off thinking, start making a big effort to collaborate — communication, cross-training, and teamwork go a long way.

3. “Your performance was uninspired.”

Has your performance been uninspired? Uh-oh. This news is a big deal. Even if you are putting in a lot of effort, your enthusiasm obviously isn’t clear to management. First, start checking in with yourself: How do you feel about your day-to-day? Do you enjoy your current role? Is it hard to get out of bed each morning? Has your job recently changed into something you don’t enjoy as much? Maybe it’s doesn’t have anything to do with work: when was the last time you checked in with your personal life? If you feel disengaged, it might be time to have a heart-to-heart with yourself. Or, if your boss understands you on a more personal level, you might consider being honest about how you feel. Careful, though — you don’t want to come off as a disgruntled employee who might just need a shove out the door.

4. “You seem unmotivated.”

If you’re coming across as unmotivated, people might think you’re not pulling your weight. Either you’ve missed deadlines, your work may have gotten sloppy. If your boss says you’re, don’t be afraid to ask them to cite examples.. Having clear examples can help you make positive changes in the future. Maybe you don’t feel appreciated enough; maybe your skills aren’t being used as effectively as they could. It may be time to get honest with yourself and your manager: Do you want to keep your job? Luckily, there are changes you can make for yourself to get more motivated before it’s too late. Remember the importance of showing up each day. Try to find the balance between your time at work and remember to take care of yourself. Every little step you take to better yourself can lead to a more motivated, more productive “you” at the office.

5. “Your work has been inconsistent.”

Supposedly, it's better to hit the mark sometimes rather than never. But if your manager can’t rely on you to deliver every time, they may lose trust in you. To stay consistent with your performance, stay on top of things — organization can keep you on track. There are ways to prioritize even when everything seems important. Pay attention to detail. And keep your goals in sight at all times. Ensure that you know the expectations for each project straight from your manager’s mouth. Make sure you have the internal motivation to do your best every time. If you need to take some time off to recharge, it may be worth it. Being consistent means doing your very best each and every time. Do what you need to do to revitalize that sense of passion in your performance and you’ll find it drives you to perform consistently better each and every time.

6. “You've been uncommunicative.”

Sometimes even the best employees don’t communicate as much as they should. Maybe the issue is you’re not responding to emails and letting important details fall through the cracks, or your team didn’t get the necessary information they needed to complete a project. Regardless, it’s never good to be the “uncommunicative employee.” You want your coworkers and leadership team to be able to depend on you. And if you’re hoping to land a promotion, this may be the sticking place. Professional communication (written and spoken) are crucial for professional development and career growth.
If you’re nervous about speaking in meetings, hire a career or speaking coach to help you overcome your anxieties.If you forget to respond to emails after you read them, make it a point to re-mark emails as unread. Make a list of people you need to call back.

How to respond

While nobody enjoys a negative job performance review, having one is not always a job-ending ordeal. In fact, the point of most performance evaluations is to help you become a stronger, more capable professional. What’s most important is how you accept the feedback from your supervisor and bounce back from your review. Ask them for examples of where you failed, and tell them how much you want to improve (if you want to keep your job).
But remember: Your actions always speak louder than words. If you hear any of these six negative words in your performance review, it may be your cue to step up and make some changes. Even if your performance review wasn’t that bad, this kind of feedback is golden — if you use it as a chance to better yourself, you’re already ahead of the game.
This article was written by a FGB Contributor.