What to do if Your Performance Review is Filled With Criticisms You’ve Never Heard

By Chelsea Babin

Sometimes performance reviews don’t go as well as you were anticipating, but they’re usually filled with criticisms you’re aware of or praise you’re anticipating. If you hear criticisms in your performance review that you’ve never heard from your bosses or coworkers throughout the year that’s not a good sign. Here are a few steps you should take if your performance review is filled with criticisms you’ve never heard before.

1. Reflect and Analyze: Ask yourself whether or not these criticisms are constructive, accurate, and important. Sometimes these situations arise from word-of-mouth rather than your actual performance. Other times, you may not have the most effective manager in the world and they‘re not focusing on constructive criticism but merely tearing you down, which is a sign of a toxic work culture. However, more often than not, if you reflect on your performance you’ll see evidence of the mistakes they’re pointing out. And that’s why it’s so important to regularly self evaluate your performance because these are mistakes you could have identified long ago if you’d taken the time to self reflect.

2. Ask for More Frequent Reviews or Discussions: To prevent this from happening in the future, you may want to ask your boss for more frequent reviews or simply regular discussions so you can correct your mistakes more frequently than once a year. It’s often the case that, when you hear criticism in your annual review that you’ve never heard before, there’s a serious lack of communication and transparency going on which doesn’t benefit you or the company you work for. But you can correct that by asking for more frequent reviews, regular meetings with your bosses, or discussions when they notice your performance slipping.

3. Learn From Your Mistakes: Once you’ve determined what their criticisms are and why they’re valid, it is time to learn from your mistakes! Do your best to improve your performance and take those criticisms to heart if you want better performance reviews in the future. That may require adjusting your productivity methods, learning new skills, developing better relationships with your coworkers, or showing up early every day. But, if you love your job and want to succeed, the extra effort is worth it and will help change your boss’ opinion of you in the future.

4. Collaborate With or Shadow Top Performers: If you want to be one of the best you should learn from one of the best! If you know a coworker whose performance review went much better than yours and they do the same or a similar job that you do, try collaborating with them more often or even shadowing them for a day or two to see how they work. After all, the boss is already impressed with their performance so they must be doing something right that you can learn from!

5. Find a Better Work Culture: If your performance review was filled with negative, non-constructive criticisms that came out of nowhere, you may be in a toxic work environment. Unfortunately, managers set the tone and when they’re bad they try to bring everyone down with them. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to contact a recruiter and search for a job with a better work culture where you can truly shine and succeed.

Performance reviews are a time for reflection, constructive criticism and well-rewarded praise. If yours is filled with criticisms that you’ve never heard before, you now know what to do and how to handle it.