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So you got a bad review . . . now what?

Performance evaluations are a fact of life for corporate America. Anyone who has held a job for a year or more has likely been given one. With cutbacks and a shrinking job market, getting a lousy assessment can be more nerve-racking than ever, so the St. Petersburg Times checked in with Lisa Letizio, the Home Shopping Network's executive vice president of HR, for some tips on how to cope with a poor job review.

Your performance review is less than flattering. What is the first thing you should do?

Breathe! When you first hear the information, emotions may be high, so this is not the best time to react. Take some time and reflect on the information. Review those pieces of the message that were not flattering. Sometimes it's best to set up some time with your leader to discuss those particular areas once you've had time to think about them.

Once you've talked through the issues with your supervisor, take the lead in putting together a plan to improve your performance. Make it specific and measurable.

I've seen lots of these scenarios turn around. Conversely, I've seen many situations come out negatively only because the employee has already doomed themself to failure as soon as they receive the negative feedback. It's important to take charge or partner actively with your supervisor to turn the situation around.

What rights do workers have when it comes to defending their performance after receiving a poor review?

Most companies encourage their employees to document their reactions to performance evaluations both positive and negative. This typically becomes a part of their employee file. It is a good gauge for the leader to have a good understanding of how the employee views the feedback that they've received. But, if you're going to do this, take the time to prepare it calmly and professionally.

When, if ever, is it appropriate to confront your supervisor or request a meeting with them and someone from HR?

Always talk to your supervisor or someone in HR when you have a question or need help. While building a positive working relationship with your supervisor is the best recipe for success, there may come a time when an impartial third party could help facilitate a discussion that is beneficial to all. If you're having a hard time talking with your supervisor, someone from HR could facilitate that interaction. Always remember to prepare for these meetings and remain calm and professional — it's tough sometimes but critical.

With a shrinking job market, do performance evaluations hold more weight than before? Should workers expect their supervisors to be more critical of their performance?

Some companies do utilize performance ratings as criteria when reducing their work force. If this is the case, then obviously performance reviews become critical; however, they should be administered objectively.

I would encourage employees to be proactive and check in with their supervisors at various points during the performance period, asking direct questions about their performance against their goals/objectives or job requirements. It's much easier to make course corrections early or mid year.

Lisa Letizio has been working in the human resources field for 24 years and has spent the last 10 as the Home Shopping Network's executive vice president of HR. She oversees about 6,000 employees at the company's St. Petersburg campus and a number of other sister companies.

What NOT to do

Here are some common mistakes that employees make after receiving a bad performance evaluation:

• Reacting immediately and unprofessionally.

• Talking to everyone but the person who gave them the poor evaluation.

• Writing an emotional, long-winded rebuttal, which will become part of their file.

• Immediately looking for another job before having a good discussion with their leader to find out how they could make a change for the positive.

• Creating a plan to change while still emotional about the feedback rather than gaining more detail once the emotions have subsided.

Monday in BayLink: How can a supervisor handle an employee who can't accept negative feedback?

So you got a bad review . . . now what? 06/21/08 [Last modified: Sunday, June 22, 2008 3:31pm]
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