CAREER DEVELOPMENT / FEB. 10, 2015
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How to Deal with an Unfair Evaluation of Your Work Performance

Workplace evaluations are a cause of stress and grief for many workers, and when that review turns out to be a negative appraisal of your performance, you may be feeling pretty awful indeed. It’s not an ideal situation to be in, but it is possible to learn from that bad review, and to use it as a springboard for a better performance in the future. Even if you consider that evaluation to be unfair, here are some things you should do to deal with it.

Don’t freak out

During and after the review, keep your cool. You may be pretty upset about how things turned out, but don’t make the situation worse by making disparaging comments about your bosses, putting down the workplace, or generally denying what was said in a public setting. Even if you are totally right in feeling that the review was unfair, bad-mouthing your boss is not going to win you any points in the industry in which you work.

Ask for more clarification

Be sure you’re totally clear on the items you need to improve on, and ask for clarification if you’re unsure about anything. If you’re not carrying out a certain task in the right way, ask for clarification about the right way to do it. Asking for more clarification can sometimes help your employers review their own communication skills, and perhaps even help them see how poor communication is contributing to your "poor" performance.

Get help creating an improvement plan

If your employer is committed to helping you improve, he or she should be willing to spend time developing a plan to make it better. In some cases, laying out the steps for your improvement might help your employer see that he’s being unfair or unrealistic in his expectations.

Ask for reinforcement that you’re on the right track

Make regular check-ins with your employer as part of your improvement plan. If you were wrong and that review was actually not-so-unfair, you should start to see better results from following your employer’s improvement plan. If you were right, those regular check-ins might further help your employer see that her expectations could not be met.

Start looking for other work

In the worst-case scenario, your unfair performance review was a sign that your employer just doesn’t think you’re the person for the job – or that you’re not a good fit for personal reasons. If that’s the case, making the effort to improve is not going to bear the fruit that it could, and the only thing left to do is to leave the job. You can’t always get along with everyone, and at some point you’ll have to go with your gut and realize there’s no fixing the situation. Stick with your improvement plan, but start getting your résumé out there too.

Getting an unfair appraisal of your performance is not ideal, but the ways to deal with the situation are to do the work exactly as your employer spells out, to let that employer know you’re trying to improve, and in the worst of situations, to understand that you can’t please everyone.

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