How you respond to a work performance review is one of the top 10 critical career moments, says Marie G. McIntyre, career coach and author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.” It may have everything to do with whether you keep your job and how happy you’ll be in it. When you get a negative review, don’t panic and don’t take it personally. This is a review of your job performance, not a critique of you as a human being. There’s always a chance to turn things around, provided that you keep your cool.
Listen patiently to your boss's concerns and criticisms without getting defensive. The more you argue against her concerns, the more your boss will try to beat the message into you so that you get it. If you don’t argue, the situation is instantly defused.
Ask questions about things you don't understand in the review and have your boss clarify exactly what he expects you to do regarding any problems reported. Find out what you need to do to change his opinion of your performance. This will not only help your rating at the next review, it will improve your relationship with your boss.
Answer a negative with a positive. Having a can-do attitude about moving ahead will leave a positive impression on your boss and restore faith that you are the best person for the job. If you need to write a response to your review, discuss the plan you’ve created to turn things around for the better. There is no need to apologize. Move forward and focus on the good things you’re going to do in the future.
Schedule a follow-up meeting. Your first instinct might be to put all of this behind you, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to tackle problems up front. Once you have a plan in place of how to make the changes your boss needs, schedule a meeting for a few weeks later to make sure you’re on the right track. You don’t want to be surprised with another bad review next year and you may not get another chance the second time around.
Request a formal mid-year review after the follow up meeting with your boss. Put your progress on record with your employer before the next official cycle.
Don’t respond to the review immediately. Wait at least a day before writing anything. Read your comments and make edits before turning it into your boss. If you completely disagree with your boss and do not predict being able to turn things around, you have the option to protest your review in writing. Write why you disagree in the employee comments section or approach the human resources department to formally protest your review.
Going over your boss's head will not make her happy and may lead to an awkward and possibly hostile work environment, while an investigation ensues.
You could lose your job if you refuse to make the changes your boss wants.