Most companies conduct employee performance reviews annually, although some may adhere to a different schedule. While you should always approach the interview positively, you need to be prepared to respond professionally if you are faced with negative feedback in the review. A poor performance review can trigger a defensive and emotional response, particularly when you’re caught off guard. Use the following tips to respond in a way that demonstrates you are a professional.
Maintain a Professional Demeanor
Stay calm and open to review feedback. Not only is your verbal response important, but your non-verbal body language is as well.
Listen Carefully and Take Notes
When receiving negative feedback, it can be easy to tune out the remainder of what your manager is saying as you start formulating an opposing argument. If you do this, you may miss important information. Stay focused in your review and take notes you can look over later, after you’ve had a chance to get past the initial shock.
Ask Clarifying Questions and Understand Expectations
Be sure to ask for clarifications on any feedback you don’t understand or you don’t think is valid. Phrase questions in a positive light—without sounding defensive—and ask your manager to provide concrete examples, when possible. It is equally important that the reviewer clearly defines expectations for your performance moving forward.
Establish a Plan and Monitor Progress
Your manager may suggest a plan you can implement for improving performance. If not, request a follow-up meeting to discuss a plan, and use the intervening time to develop some actionable ideas. Include a timeline for monitoring progress and specify the communication method to be used. An effective plan may start out with weekly or monthly feedback points that may be extended to quarterly or longer if you are showing progress.