Just had a Negative Performance Review? — 7 Steps to Take to Improve

Jason Cortel
5 min readFeb 7, 2022


No one ever looks forward to their performance review. But, it’s an essential part of your development as an employee. Whether the review is positive or negative, you should always take time to reflect on the feedback given to you by your supervisor. If you receive negative feedback, it can be tough to know where to start. This blog post will outline seven steps that you should take after a negative performance review.

What is a performance review, and why are they important

A performance review is an assessment of an employee’s performance. It provides employees an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with their managers and receive feedback. Performance reviews are essential to your development and growth. Employees should maximize this time by being receptive to the feedback suggested by their supervisor. They help identify areas an employee excels in and areas that may need improvement.

While many performance reviews are positive, some are downright negative. However, nothing in your annual performance review should be a surprise.

Will a negative performance review hurt my career?

Whether or not a negative performance review will hurt your career depends on how you react to it. The review will not damage your career if you take the feedback to heart and improve your performance. However, if you ignore the feedback or become defensive, the review will likely negatively impact your career progression. It is important to remember that feedback helps you improve, so be open to it and use it to your advantage.

Should my negative performance review be a surprise?

Negative feedback on performance reviews should not be a surprise. Supervisors should provide regular feedback over the year. Therefore, your supervisor should have already reviewed the feedback you receive in your annual performance review with you. If an employee does not receive feedback from their supervisor, they should request it. A negative performance review should not be a total shock to an employee.

What should I do if I disagree with my manager’s review of my performance?

If you disagree with your annual performance review, the first step is to ask for clarification. Ask your supervisor to explain why they gave you the rating they did so that you can understand their point of view. Additionally, you will get some insight into how to improve your performance. You can also ask your supervisor to provide specific examples of your poor performance so you can address the issues head-on.

Finally, if you still disagree with your manager’s assessment of your performance, you can request a meeting with them to discuss the issue further.

Seven Steps to take after receiving a negative performance review

If you’ve recently received a negative performance review, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many employees find themselves in this situation.

Once you have received your feedback, the next step is to put that feedback into action. Don’t forget that a performance review is an opportunity for growth. Here are a few tips on how to do that:

1. Allow yourself to feel awful

Give yourself time to feel the negative emotions associated with receiving a negative performance review. Resisting the negative feelings you have will only demotivate you further.

2. Analyze the feedback to gain clarity and perspective

No one likes receiving a negative performance review. Take a step back to get clarity and perspective to view the feedback objectively. Write down your thoughts for each piece of negative feedback and create questions to ask your manager at your follow-up meeting.

3. Create a plan of action

Once you have analyzed your negative performance review, create a plan of action. Goals are great but require a strategy if you want to accomplish them. Write out a step-by-step action plan to keep you focused on each area you need to improve.

Go a step further by considering the resources or tools you need to improve your performance. For example, do you need to read books or take an online class? Is there a peer or mentor you can leverage to help you improve your performance? Maybe you need a career coach? Do your research to identify the tools and resources you need to help you improve.

4. Identify your blind spots

There is a gap between how we view our performance and contributions and how our manager views our work. Therefore, it is normal not to recognize yourself in the negative performance review you just received from your manager. Instead, ask yourself these questions to bring clarity to the negative feedback:

  • What about this feedback might be right?
  • Have I received this feedback before?
  • How do others perceive my tone when I’m communicating?
  • Do I present myself with an open mind, or do I say no too quickly?

These questions are a great tool to spark self-reflection. However, if you disagree with the negative review after honestly answering them, reach out to your network for feedback.

5. Make a plan to ask for regular feedback

Commit to asking for regular feedback, especially if your negative performance review was a surprise. After a negative performance review, the next several months are critical to recovering. Add regular check-ins as part of your one-to-one agenda. If you don’t have a regular one-to-one, schedule monthly check-ins.

Regularly meeting with your boss will keep your desire to improve top of mind. In addition, it will help you stay on track to achieving your improvement plan.

6. Re-establish credibility with your coworkers

When you’ve received a negative performance review, it’s essential to take steps to re-establish credibility with your coworkers. This may be difficult after the review, but it’s important to remember that your coworkers are still on your side. Additionally, your coworkers will help you repair your reputation with your boss. Here are a few tips for re-establishing credibility with your coworkers:

  • Share the feedback you are working to improve and ask them to hold you accountable.
  • Ask questions about the feedback and try to understand how you can demonstrate improvement to them.
  • Make an effort to improve your work ethic and be more proactive in your work
  • Stay positive and remain focused on your goals
  • Ask for their feedback on how you are progressing

7. Follow through and be consistent in improving your performance

It can be tough to stay motivated to improve your performance after receiving negative feedback. You will feel discouraged or like giving up. But remember, a negative performance review is not the end of the world. It can be an opportunity for growth and development.

To follow through and be consistent in improving your performance, you need to have a positive attitude and focus on the future. Remember that it will take time and hard work to improve your performance. Be patient, and don’t give up. Ask for help if you need it. And most importantly, stay positive.

I want to hear from you! Share your story about a negative performance review you’ve received in the comments below. If you want help processing your negative performance review, or for help developing your action plan contact me.

Originally published at https://www.jasoncortel.com on February 7, 2022.



Jason Cortel

Changing the world by developing people professionally. Author who blogs about leadership, career advice, and coaching. #WhyYouNow