The Best Revenge for a Bad Performance Review
Have you been here before?
You thought all was well on your job. Sure, your boss has not talked to you, but that's a good thing, isn't it? You get along fairly well with most of your coworkers. Well, except the ones that the boss seems to talk to all of the time.
Then it happens.
You are called in for your annual performance review and your boss lowers the boom. It turns out that things are not going so well. And you have been identified as the problem.
You end up with a bad performance review and no REAL answers on how you can improve. The whole discussion leaves you feeling icky and ANGRY.
Is that you?
Or maybe the signs were more overt and obvious until one day, you were called in and told the bad news.
I won't get on my soapbox about leader's responsibility to coach their employees and ensure that they have all they need to succeed. What I will tell you is this: it's not entirely your fault, and there is something that you can do right NOW to take your power back.
You do not have to be a victim. And you don't have to plot revenge. Frank Sinatra says "The best revenge is massive success." And he is right.
What I will tell you is that you are not alone. In Harvard Business Review's article "What to Do After a Bad Performance Review," Stephanie Barnes Taylor says this about her experience:
Still, she was unprepared for the scathing performance review a few months later. “I had never got any feedback that suggested that there were major problems,” she says. It was also her very first experience with negative feedback in general. “In college and law school, my work ethic and performance had always been excellent,” she says. “So it was a double shock.”
Here is the dirty little secret lurking in companies everywhere: most managers were never trained on how to lead or how to coach their staff.
Your boss' inability to coach you leaves you on the back end of figuring out how to recover your dignity and reputation.
You do NOT have to be a victim. You get to choose how you respond to this situation.
Your first task is to remain calm. Sure you will be upset and angry. Try to work through those emotions as quickly as possible. Inc.com's post on "5 Ways Resilient People Bounce Back After a Bad Performance Review," Michael Bennett recommends:
Don't bog yourself down in conflict.
Right, Michael. Conflict with the person in power will only make things worse.
The first step you can take is documenting your ACTUAL performance. This can be an eye-opener for your boss and YOU. In other words, do a SELF-review and try to find someone who can give you OBJECTIVE feedback on what you discovered.
What did you discover from this exercise?
It might be that you WERE underperforming and not engaged. When we don't like an environment that we are in we can sometimes "self-sabotage" by silently pulling away from giving our work 100% effort. If this is you, then create your own improvement plan.
This guide walks you step-by-step through how to gather the information that you need for your improvement plan >>> Responding to a Disappointing Performance Review
You may also want to get an outside perspective by getting a mentor or hiring a personal coach to help you sort things out. Try to find a coach with corporate and management experience.
The next thing you need to do is PLAN your next course of action.
Is it time for you to move on to another job? If so, don't quit until you have secured your next opportunity.
If you decide to stay, then you have to create a path forward assuming that your current boss will remain in place. This strategy will take a lot of work and maturity on your end.
The best advice I have for you is this: don't make your boss Enemy #1. Doing so is self-defeating and will only lead to future problems if you decide to stay with the company.
In Harvard Business Review's post "What To Do When You and Your Boss Aren't Getting Along," Rebecca Knight offers some great advice:
...connect with them on a human level. Manzoni suggests talking to manager about topics beyond work. “Find a subject that would create a bond,” he says. “Try to figure out what your boss cares about.”
Another alternative is to create an exit strategy that will lead you to self-employment. Becoming an entrepreneur has its own set of challenges though.
Jessica Mai posts an interview with venture capitalist Patrick McGinnis on Business Insider and he explains why starting small (in other words staying with your job and getting a "side gig") is the best strategy:
He's for entrepreneurship, but he doesn't recommend going all-in right off the bat. Part of the reason he recommends this approach is because it's impossible to predict whether your entrepreneurial dream will work out. If you aren't prepared for things to go south, you could be in for a rude awakening. "When you choose entrepreneurship, you accept that the success and the money are terrific if they come, but they cannot be the only drivers of your decision," he writes.
The main thought I want to leave with you is this: don't let this one thing define your life. Figure out a pathway forward that will get you closer to the life you want.
Do an objective review of your own performance.
Get objective feedback from a third party.
Make a decision: stay and work it out or plan your exit strategy.
I highly recommend that you also discover Your Unique value proposition. Figuring out what you value and tying that to your unique gifts, talents, and abilities can open up a whole new world of opportunities.
Keep believing in yourself and don't let one person's opinion change what you think about you.
I believe in you. And I will be right here cheering for you every step of the way.