Performance Review

After weeks of anxiously waiting in anticipation of the performance appraisal results, the receipt of a bad review can be quite a blow. But then there are ways to deal with it.

A negative appraisal can adversely affect the employee’s morale as well as performance. It is important that such situation be handled well by both the company and the employee. Instead of panicking the employees must immediately set out for damage control, the organization should aptly support him /her in the act.

Employees on what they must do on receiving a bad review:

First and foremost accept the appraisal with a positive attitude.  Understand that a bad review is an opportunity to improve and develop, and refrain from becoming defensive about the appraisal or going into denial mode.

Set clear developmental goals with your manager – these should focus on building areas where the employee’s skills and knowledge have come out as deficient and making the strengths even stronger. The goals should be SMART, i.e. Specific, Measurable Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound.

Meet often with the manager, at least once a month, to review the progress made against the goals.

Identify a mentor or coach in the company to provide guidance / feedback.

Objectives and meaningful feedback along with a supportive and an encouraging culture go a long way in containing feelings of resentment and de-motivation to a large extent. From an employee’s perspective it is important to understand that poor performance can be the outcome of a host of reasons, not all of which are attributable to the individual. It is also important to know that one bad review does not negatively impact one’s career but is an opportunity for development. Once these reasons are understood, a sincere attempt at addressing personal gaps gives one a feeling of being in control of the situation.

What should the company keep in mind while conducting appraisals and handling reviews? At times, the lack of performance from an individual could be due to a misfit in the role, which leads to lower productivity or at times, could be a temporary slump in the performance curve due to some personal issues. Before branding an employee as a `non-performer’   and implementing extreme disciplinary actions,  the company should first find out if there is something that they  need to change  in the employee’s current scenario which will make him /her perform better, such as changing his /her team, manager  role, and so on.  Checking the performance on a continuous basis will help in making the employees more productive. Although laying off non-performing employees could be the most direct and easy way to solving a performance problem it also has its repercussions. Disruption of normal workflow, severance pay, time lost in training the employee etc., are a few such issues. The management should conduct a root cause analysis, it will enable it to place such employees better in the organization and give them a fair opportunity.

Getting emotional about a bad appraisal is a natural reaction from employees, but it does not help in any way.  Emotional outburst mostly happens due to the surprise element in the feedback if you prepare people beforehand, it could be avoided.

What can you do about a bad appraisal? Firstly, ask for anecdotal evidence. That will provide an employee data to reflect and improve upon. It will also help the employee chart out an improvement plans for herself / himself. Ask for specific episodes. While the boss explains, listen with interest and do not interrupt, note down the gist of the feedback and ask for help and support from the boss, so that the employee can improve the performance. When the conversation is over, convey a confident assurance that the improvement areas will be addressed.

These factors could give you a better understanding of your appraisal. Experts suggest that having a regular feedback mechanism within an organization is an effective way to improve performance of employees and deal with sudden surprises and emotional outbursts when the appraisal letter arrives. A bad appraisal can be actually converted into a meaningful discussion if the appraiser focuses on issues. This coupled with anecdotal evidence increases the credibility and fairness of the feedback and makes an employee absorb the feedback

The following points could help you prepare yourself for the next year’s performance review:

  • Maintain a performance improvement dairy;
  • Perform self-reviews learn to set achievable targets, seek support from trusting colleagues who are more skillful in certain areas;
  • Remember to focus on one’s personal strengths and how they positively impact work and contribution;
  • Take the initiative to seek both, formal periodic review and informal feedback from the reporting boss on how well you are progressing

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