The Good Way to Handle a Bad Review

Wed Apr 24 2019

The good way to handle a bad review

It is that time of year again where many of us will be due our annual performance appraisals. Perhaps you have just had your own, or it may be fast approaching?

Performance reviews can be daunting and nerve wrecking but they also afford us the opportunity to review our own progress, discuss our plans for the year ahead, or perhaps there are some things we wish to improve on or areas that we may want to upskill?

However, there is also another side to this process that unfortunately will see many people leave the review with feelings of dubiousness, shock or it may simply be the fact that you did not expect to hear anything in the form of negative feedback from your Manager. The question is, how do you move forward and deal with it?

Having spent many years working with candidates who have shared their experiences, I have put together some helpful points that may be helpful if you find yourself in this situation.

  1. Reflect before you react

While it may not have been what you expected to hear, take a few days to let the dust settle and reflect. Sit down and write out the parts that in particular you felt were questionable, and then really ask yourself, is there room to improve?

  1. Look at the big picture

You may have deemed the comments unfair, one-sided or that you are somewhat being held back from progression or promotion but you need to assess the situation. If you decide to action what has been asked of you or changes to be made would that be a solution or an incentive to ensure your progression or promotion? If you have been given reasons and opportunities to work on something that will ultimately lead to what you want out of your career it may be time to set yourself a plan, try to work together on a plan for a set amount of time to see if the outcome can be achieved or expectations are met.

  1. Make an appointment and meet with your boss

Once you have ultimately made the decision you want to discuss your review and feel it was not truly a fair reflection of your work, make an appointment with your manager and have a scheduled time and date. This will allow you to calmly present your case and arrive prepared with your points.

  1. Present your case and have a plan

When you get the opportunity to speak with your Manager, make your case without emotion. This is business and you must remain professional and reasonable. Give your reasons and examples of why you feel your review was not accurate and present your position. Agree how to proceed to start on the right track again.

If you follow these tips you may find that you will achieve your desired outcome.

Key things to remember, your do’s and don’ts


  • Ask questions and get clarifications — it’s critical to understand the specific ways you can improve
  • Take the initiative to make a detailed plan of action with timelines
  • Remember to see the value in feedback — it can be a springboard for positive change


  • Get angry or argue with the feedback — you’ll only make things worse in the heat of the moment
  • Turn only to sympathetic friends to vent — you also need honest mirrors to make sense of the review
  • Consider the review the final word — how you react to the feedback is far more important

Working through this process may not be easy, but by following these tips you can react professionally and constructively and move forward positively in your relationship with your Manager.


Karyn Glennon is Head of Life, Pensions and Investment Recruitment at 360 Search. Karyn specialises in working with a wide and varied client and candidate base that includes Wealth Management and Financial Advisory positions. She holds a diploma in Human Resource Management.

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