Five things to do if you get a bad review

If you just got blindsided by a bad review, what should you do? These tips will help you assess the situation and decide how to respond.

Five things to do if you get a bad review

Five Things to Do If You Get a Bad Performance Review

The annual performance review is the professional equivalent of the report card. And if you remember back to your school days, you'll probably recall anticipating its arrival with a mix of excitement and anxiety. Had you performed as well as you thought you did? Would tardiness or being too talkative affect your grades?

Employee performance evaluations can evoke similar feelings. What if your worst fears become a reality in the way of a poor performance review? Read on for what Hallie Crawford—a certified career coach and founder of—says you should do.

Remain calm

"First and foremost, breathe and relax," she says. You may feel blindsided, but stay calm and take in what your supervisor is telling you without getting defensive. Focus on what you're being told—you can even take notes. But save your rebuttals for later.

However, if your supervisor is getting angry or being unprofessional, you can try to steer the review to facts and practical information. Crawford advises workers, "Tell your boss, 'I appreciate your candor, but I'd like to get constructive feedback that will help me improve.'" She adds, "You want her to know that you understand there's a problem, but assure her that your focus is solution-oriented."

Act, don't react

If you're feeling defenseless and caught off guard—or (and especially) if you're feeling angry—try to buy some time to react to your review and answer criticisms. Crawford says you should request the opportunity to mull things over. "Explain to your manager that you'd like to take a day or two to develop a plan of action to address these issues," says Crawford. "The fact that you're willing to come up with solutions will get your boss on your side, as will soliciting ideas from her as to what you should do in the immediate."

Remember that perspective is subjective

You don't have to accept every criticism of your performance as fact. You can dispute some parts—if you do it with kid gloves. "You've got to keep things civil and polite, but you don't need to roll over," Crawford says. "Acknowledge the valid points of your review, but you can dissent by saying, 'There are just a few things that I have a different perspective on; this is what actually happened.'" Doing so will allow you to direct the conversation back to your point of view rather than attacking the quality of your evaluation.

Get real

So, you've gotten a poor review and you may or may not agree with it. You now need to decide if you want to stay at this job or move on. If you love your job, it's worth working on things, even if you disagree with your evaluation, Crawford says. "But most people have a gut sense that a job isn't a fit, yet they've ignored that instinct," she says. If that's the case, she believes in moving on to another opportunity.

She reminds workers not to decide whether to stay or go from a place of fear. "You need to come from a place of power and confidence in yourself," she says. "If you're afraid, you won't be able to make the best decision for your career."

Learn from your mistakes

When you land at your next job, you may feel extreme anxiety about your first evaluation. You can prevent this—and getting another negative review—by opening the lines of communication with your manager from day one.

"You don't ever want an evaluation to be a big surprise," Crawford says. "But you can ensure against that by asking for feedback often and checking in with your boss and coworkers." Find out how often you'll get an official evaluation but also solicit informal reviews after big projects. "People who communicate openly from day one on a job set the stage to receive feedback naturally," she says. "So be that person in the first place."

Free help is on the way

Rest assured there's no foolproof plan for how to be the perfect employee, but there are ways to determine what to do—and what not to do—to get ahead in on the job. Care to learn this insider info? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you'll get career advice and job search tips sent directly to your inbox—and did we mention it's free? From honing your soft skills and managing your time to excelling at workplace communication, there's plenty you can do to position yourself for success.