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Personal Finance
Surviving the bad review
May 31, 2000: 5:59 a.m. ET

Don't let a negative evaluation bring down the curtain on your career
By Staff Writer Rob Lenihan
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Your performance evaluation usually comes once a year, just like taxes. And sometimes it is just about as pleasant.

There probably will be at least one time in your career when you get an unfavorable job review and hear some of the workplace classics: You've got an attitude problem. You're not a team player. You're not dependable.

graphicThis is too much. You're so angry you want to storm into your supervisor's office and unleash a blistering tirade that will curdle milk three ZIP codes away.

A word of advice: don't.

As painful as a negative performance review may be, experts say the first thing you should do in the face of such criticism is control your temper. There are scores of clich駸 to cover this, but it all boils down to not making a bad situation worse.

This could also be an opportunity to learn about yourself. You may see areas in which you can change and not only keep your job, but advance as well.

"The only way you can improve is if you know what you have to work on," said Laura Berman Fortgang, author of "Take Yourself to the Top" and president of Montclair, N.J.-based InterCoach Inc.

Naturally, there will be times when it is best to find someplace else to work. But even then you shouldn't start telling people off. Get your new gig and leave -- you'll feel much better.

The attitude and the ecstasy


All right, you've gotten a grip on your temper. You've counted to 10, gone for a walk around the block, taken some deep breaths, or whatever else you do to keep your lid firmly intact. Now it's time to do some serious thinking.

"Nobody ever wants a bad job performance review and nobody thinks they're justified," said Harry E. Chambers, president of Trinity Solutions, an Atlanta-based consulting firm. "We all understand they happen, but never to us."

graphicYou don't have to agree with the review, Chambers said, and you can acknowledge your disappointment. Then ask what you can do to change this perception of you.

"The truth is it can be a tremendous opportunity," Chambers said. "You prove to the organization you can take criticism and you're able to turn it around. That's a very positive career statement."

If you can find someone you trust, ask them about the assessment and get their reaction.

Lois Frankel, co-founder of Corporate Coach International, advises people not to go into the attack mode.

"Never burn a bridge," she said. "You don't know what relationships you're going to need in the future. Most people get angry and create an adversarial situation, but you can go to the next job and the boss could have the same reaction."

Get the 411


What do you want from your supervisors? Plenty of details so you can make those changes. Experts say do not leave your supervisor's office until you have a detailed plan of what the management wants from you.

"You don't want the perception of correction to lie in one individual's mind," Chambers said. "And follow up with a document back to the boss stating what you're going to do to change. You need to send a message."

graphicAnd don't settle for lines like you have to work harder, or be nicer to your co-workers. This is your career; you want details addressing your specific situation. Is there a class or seminar you can take that will help you reach your goals? Find out.

"Specifics, specifics, specifics," Fortgang said. "If they're not going to be very proactive, then you can be proactive. If they say you're not a team player, you can ask, 'What do want me to do differently to be a team player?' You really put the onus back on them not to be irresponsible with their feedback."

And speaking of feedback, that's the one thing you'll need to improve your situation. Set a date -- say three months -- when you can return and talk about your progress. Frankel said don't wait for the annual evaluation. It often occurs around the time your raise is due and since the review has a direct impact on your raise, it will be too late to turn things around.

"You can't get enough feedback," she said. "It's incumbent upon the employee to get more feedback."

Blow that horn


Maybe you're working hard, but the good news isn't getting back to the boss. In that case, you have to let management know you're there. Frankel said you should include the boss when sending copies of whatever you're doing.

"It's not the best and brightest who succeed in the long term, it's the people who have good baseline technical skills and who differentiate themselves through relationship building," she said.

Frankel also advises you to:

-- Build relationships.

-- Make sure you're an integral part of your team.

-- Pay attention to how you look and sound. During the Nixon-Kennedy debate, TV viewers thought Kennedy won. But radio listens gave the nod to Nixon, Frankel said. So, yes, looks really matter.

So, you've done all this and you still lose your lunch at the mention of your boss's name? Then maybe it really is time to bail. But do you want to go with or without a parachute?

If you get fired or quit your job on the spot, it will be harder to land a new job. Managers always want to know why you're not working and that can be an awkward question if you left your last job in flames.

"Even if you determine it's in your best interest to leave, you still have to perform during that period of time," Chambers said. "You don't want to take the next job offer, you want the best job offer." Back to top

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: テつゥ 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices テつゥ S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.