You’re excelling in your role and your performance has been top-notch. At least that’s what you thought until you sat down for your performance review and your boss highlights examples where they believe you dropped the ball. The only thing is, you disagree with their feedback.
How do you respond when your boss gives you feedback that, in your opinion, is unfair or untrue? What do you do knowing their input is documented on your permanent company record forever and it could hinder your career progression?
It’s our expectation as an employee that our bosses and leaders will provide us with objective feedback. As two people whose goal is to support your company, it’s in everyone’s best interest to do great work. But sometimes emotions and opinions get in the way.
Managers may develop biases that lead to inaccurate feedback on performance. Uninformed bosses may associate giving feedback with the need to report something negative about your work, instead of constructive advice that serves as an opportunity to better your performance in the future. While you can’t control what they say, you can control how you react to it.
The next time your performance review doesn’t go as expected, try these five steps.
Easier said than done. When you’re in a meeting and your work is being criticized, it’s hard not to let your emotions get in the way. We tend to get defensive and act without thinking. The next time you find anger and frustration bubbling up, stop it in its tracks. Take a moment to breathe, and then listen. Hear them out. Your boss is providing you with the feedback they believe you need to hear. Regardless of whether it’s true, let them say what they need to say and take a mental note of their observations. Reacting without thinking could worsen the situation.
State the Facts
Once your manager has said their piece, it’s time to state the facts. The best thing you can bring to your performance review is evidence. Facts and figures that support your progress and successes are hard to dispute. Throughout the year, keep a record of your work, so come performance review time, you’re prepared. Save that email or document that conversation that highlights your achievements. When your boss hits you with a claim that you haven’t accomplished a goal or made progress on a project, you can state your case and have the facts to back them up.
Create an Action Plan
If your manager points out something they believe you did wrong or think you can do better without offering insight on how to improve, ask them. Together with your manager, create a plan to remediate the areas of improvement they pointed out. Having the conversation and documenting an action plan gives you a benchmark to come back to. You’re allowed to disagree with their feedback. Remember, you can’t change their opinion, but you can have the receipts to back up everything you do, so the next time they have something negative to say, it’s indisputable.
Hold Your Boss Accountable
You had a conversation with your boss and created an action plan, and now it’s up to you to hold them to their word. Whether their opinion carries weight or not, you can make sure the next time it comes to discussing your performance, you have done everything asked of you. They won’t be able to speak poorly of your work when you show them exactly how you met their requests and expectations.
Talk It Out
Receiving feedback is challenging. As much as we’d like to think we have thick skins, sometimes you need to let your emotions out. Talk to a friend, family member, or coworker who is willing to lend an ear. Explain your side of the story, what happened at your performance review, and ask for their advice and input. If you feel your manager handled the situation poorly and unjustly, set up a meeting with human resources or a manager you trust. Seeking an unbiased opinion can help put things into perspective and shed light on the situation.
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