5 Ways to Rebound When Your Boss Gives You an Unexpectedly Poor Performance Review Rating

Performance Review


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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
April 24, 2024 at 6:57PM UTC
Self-evaluations are difficult to fill out. For one, talking about yourself and tooting your own horn can feel awkward. But it's especially difficult to complete a self-evaluation when you're not confident in how others would evaluate your performance — like your boss.
What happens if your boss rates you lower on your performance review than you've rated yourself on your self-evaluation? If that's the case, you're not the only one who's experienced this. An anonymous FGBer took to the community board to share a time that this happened to her, as well.
"I'm a junior account executive, and my boss scored me lower on my performance review than I did on my self eval... I'm pretty upset about this because I don't cut corners around my position (the way I see some other employees do!), and a lot of what I heard came as news to me. I would expect at least a one-on-one before hearing that I work hard but not efficiently (wouldn't you?!)."
Because of this performance review rating, as well as some conflicting feedback she's received from leaders in the company, this FGBer is debating whether or not she even wants to stay with the company.
"Should I search for a new job?" she asked the board. "There are plenty of other account executive positions I could easily apply to..."

Of course, FGBers who have been in similar situations are weighing in with some advice. Here's what they have to say.

1. Consider getting human resources involved.

When in doubt, talk to HR.
"Ugh, been there," says Angie Lopez. "If you're being given conflicting feedback that's resulting in your performance being reviewed negatively, I would say consider looping in your HR at this point?"

2. Work on a development plan.

The best you can do at this point is move forward since, after all, you can't change what's already happened.
"I think if you don't like your job, boss or company then, yes, go find your tribe!" Shandon Hayes says. "If it's a reaction to your surprise performance review, take a safety pause. You sound like a really hard worker who strives to be very self-aware. This could be a great opportunity to work on a development plan with your boss to illustrate your determination to succeed. You can easily set up SMART Goals (or something similar), schedule weekly check-ins and progress reporting. And if you drive this, you're not only improving your bosses perception of your work, you're developing your skills to create a development plan, communicate it and ensure success — a skill set that all strong professionals need. It might sound daunting at first, but think on it."

3. Have an open conversation with your boss.

Talk to your bosses openly about your situation.
"Sounds like you were a bit blindsided — if you haven’t done so, make an appointment and ask directly what you need to do to get a better rating for next time," says Rose Holland. "How often do you meet with your boss and talk about successes and challenges? I meet with mine at least every couple of weeks, if working on something new more often. Make appointments or even stop by. Take the initiative, don’t wait for your boss to do so. These regular discussions help. On a side note, find out what kind of rater your boss is. My current boss is a tough rater which was a big transition for me. It was difficult at first, but now I appreciate the honest feedback."
Others agree.
"This has happened to me once or twice — on one occasion, it was the final confirmation I needed to just get the hell out of there; on others, it's been because a different manager was doing the rating than had been managing me all year," says Galros. "So, I support the advice given above — sitting down in a relaxed environment to assess whether this job is for you is a good way to spend a few hours. And sitting down with your boss and asking what specifically would get you a better rating, then putting a plan into action — as someone said above, it's good practice!"

4. Take a look in the mirror.

Take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself if there's a lesson you can learn from your performance review.
"I have been in sales for many years, there is always room for improvement — I learned that my mangers would give me lower scores, which then turned into gradual increase on the next review," says Jackie Ruka. "It was how they scored, which was always lower than what I perceived. It can be humbling but at the same time made me look at my skills."

5. Work on what your boss says.

Take this time to actually work on what your boss suggests, even if you don't necessarily agree that you need to.
"I've been there — killing myself while half my team goes out for a smoke every hour on the hour only to get an average review," says an anonymous FGBer. "I 'worked' on the 'issues' they had and two years later I was sent to a 'Employee Excellence' trip/award."

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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