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How Do I Handle a Disappointing Performance Review?

ACS Consultants give tips on turning discouragement into a growth opportunity
Andrea Alexander
Andrea Alexander, Technical Service/Development Manager, Shin-Etsu Silicones of America

"... Be sure you have a constructive discussion..."

If you have a disappointing performance review, be sure you have a highly detailed discussion with your manager as to why you did so poorly. Ask them for specific examples and if they have suggestions on how you can do better. Disagreeing with a review is ok; just be sure you have a constructive discussion and do not go on the defense. It is impossible for your manager to know every little detail concerning your job performance, so you could have a valid reason why some particular situation went poorly or even was misinterpreted. Include a statement of commitment in response to this review, and outline your plan for improvement and how you will hold yourself accountable.

Rampur Viswanath
Rampur Viswanath, ACS Career Consultant

 "Ask them for specific examples..."

Having a less than perfect performance review is disappointing; however, the best thing following that is to probe into lessons learned and understand what can be done to improve. Remember that a bad review can happen to anyone, even the best but for different reasons. Focus on your strengths and how to utilize them to turn things around.

Michael Dong
Michael Dong, Principal Consultant MWD Consulting

"...Take some time to really process..."

Regroup, and learn from the experience. It’s important to take some time to really process the feedback so that you are able to move forward without emotion or defensiveness.

Kockyee Law
Kock Yee Law, Network Innovator Xinova, LLC.

"You should keep your emotions in check and try to understand..."

A poor review is understandably disappointing. It is all right to show that you are disappointed, but showing anger or even confrontation will only make matters worse. You should keep your emotions in check and try to understand how your performance is being measured or evaluated. You should also ask direct questions on how to improve your performance in the future.


This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

ACS Career Consultants are experts and leaders working in the field of chemistry who have volunteered to support other ACS members’ career development through one-on-one career counselling. They can stimulate your thinking, ask important career planning questions to help clarify goals, provide encouragement, teach strategies for making meaningful career decisions, and aid you in your job search. Connect with an ACS Career Consultant today!

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