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How to Handle an Unfair or Negative Performance Review at Work

FlourishAnyway is an industrial/organizational psychologist with applied experience in corporate Human Resources and consulting.

A cowpoke is a lazy cowboy who neglects his duties on the farm or ranch.  Negative performance feedback can hurt the heart of even the toughest cowboy (or office worker).

A cowpoke is a lazy cowboy who neglects his duties on the farm or ranch. Negative performance feedback can hurt the heart of even the toughest cowboy (or office worker).

Saddle Up, Cowboy: It's Performance Evaluation Time

Saddle up, cowboy. It's performance review time again, and pardner, you're worried that it ain't lookin' so good. Maybe you've been told that your "Performance does not meet expectations" or you've received some less-than-glowing feedback about your work style.

Awww, shucks! Those types of criticisms sure can hurt the heart of even the toughest cowboy. But you ain't no cowpoke.

You're a white-hat kinda guy. You spit shine your boots and try not to hurt anyone with your spurs (not even that dimwit in the next cubicle). You mosey on in to work . . . mostly every day, and more or less on time. You put in an honest day's work ... with a little bit of Internet time in between and maybe a personal call or two. (A cowboy's gotta stay connected!)

Heck, you're the Cowboy of Accounting (or Customer Service . . . or whatever you do). But now it looks like that Boss Man ain't seeing things straight. And you're starting to see him as a dang rodeo clown. Worse yet, you want to hog tie that feller and kick some horse sense into him with your spurs.

Dagnabit. You got some bad feedback. Whatcha gonna do now? Let me help. I'm an HR ranch hand, and this ain't my first rodeo.

All this goes for you, too, cowgirl.

All this goes for you, too, cowgirl.

5 Signs That You're Headed For Performance Trouble

As a former HR professional with two Fortune 500 companies, I have seen my share of employee performance issues. Many of them boiled down to sub-par employee/manager communication or poor job fit. Others were attributable to legitimate fairness complaints.

Here are five signs that you could be headed for trouble (i.e., watch your job):

  1. There's a paper trail. There are recent, documented complaints against you that have been lodged by customers, other managers, etc. Or, your manager is issuing formal-sounding emails that recap your mistakes, conflicts with coworkers, or missed deadlines.
  2. Your performance review meeting is scheduled to take place off-site—unless, of course, this is typical for your employer.
  3. HR or multiple layers of management sit in on your performance review session.
  4. You're no longer included in key meetings or communication—as if you're already gone. There's no good explanation either.
  5. You are required to complete a Performance Improvement Plan, or you must participate in more frequent assessments of your performance than others. (HR types call this a "get well plan.")
Rather than react to negative performance criticism with blame, excuses, or personal attacks, it's important to first just listen. Understand what your boss is saying.

Rather than react to negative performance criticism with blame, excuses, or personal attacks, it's important to first just listen. Understand what your boss is saying.

First, Just Listen

Whoa there, Cowboy! Hold them horses! Hearing less than glowing feedback about yourself can make you feel defensive and angry. It can also hurt—sometimes because it's true.

While you may want to go shootin' off your mouth by diverting blame, giving excuses, or getting into a debate with your boss . . . don't do it. If you're too quick on the trigger, you could shoot yourself in the foot, creating a crisis from mere constructive criticism. You could cause some major damage to your career this way.

First, just listen. Really listen. Seek to understand exactly what your boss is saying. (Did he really call you "cowpoke," or did it just feel like that?)

Bosses often dislike performance reviews as much as employees do. After all, it's difficult to provide constructive criticism when you know it will upset someone or believe it will be ignored. Let your boss complete his thoughts rather than generate mental rebuttals while he's talking. Demonstrate the respect you wish to receive by just hearing him out.

Don't automatically discount what your boss has to say about your performance just because it's negative. Ultimately, his feedback could be helpful to you.

Don't automatically discount what your boss has to say about your performance just because it's negative. Ultimately, his feedback could be helpful to you.

Ask Questions to Clarify Your Understanding

We have all received negative feedback at some point, so put your big boy britches on and figure out what type of criticism your boss is providing you.

Ask yourself:

  • Are these areas you need to develop to become more promotable? More competent in your current role?
  • Is this the first formal notice that there is a pattern of concern with your performance?
  • Or, is this your last chance to correct a severe performance deficiency before being fired?

There are three basic types of negative performance feedback, and they vary in meaning, severity, and what you need to do about them (see table below).

Also analyze the intent behind the feedback by considering factors such as:

  • The boss' body language and the tone of his message (i.e., did he sound like he was delivering an ultimatum, or was he much friendlier?).
  • Whether this is the first time you've received this feedback—especially in documented form.
  • The presence of witnesses at the time of your review (e.g., other layers of management or HR).
  • The boss' positive or negative references to your future with the company.
  • Company policy on performance management—in some companies back-to-back low ratings automatically result in an employee's discharge from employment.
  • Company culture—in some organizations, any written negative feedback is a career-ender, whereas other companies actually require that managers include "developmental opportunity" areas for even the best performers.

If you are confused at all about what the feedback means for you, ask directly whether your job is in jeopardy (e.g., "Am I going to be fired?").

There are three general types of negative performance feedback. They vary in meaning, severity, and what you need to do about them.

There are three general types of negative performance feedback. They vary in meaning, severity, and what you need to do about them.

3 Basic Types of Negative Performance Feedback

Type of Negative Performance FeedbackWatch WordsWhat You Need To Do

An Ultimatum often comes in the form of a Performance Improvement Plan, an Out-Of-Cycle Performance Review, a Last Chance Agreement, or several Negative Performance Reviews in a row (with limited progress since the last review).

"unacceptable performance;" "failure to demonstrate immediate and sustained improvement will result in further corrective action up to and including termination of employment"

The writing is on the wall. Work through any performance improvement plan to buy yourself time while you look for another job. Be preemptive by checking out unemployment regulations in your state.

A Trending Downward Notification often comes in the form of a regular performance review, giving a previously good performing employee initial notice that his/her performance shows a pattern of concern.

performance "minimally (or marginally) meeting expectations"; "performance does not meet expectations"

Thank your boss for their feedback and commit to performance improvement. Develop a specific action plan with target dates and check-in times then double down your effort. Show them this was just a "blip."

Development Needed Feedback is simply a sign you're not perfect and have room for growth. It can be verbal and often is written into performance reviews of even the best employees.

"opportunity for improvement;" "further development needed"

Develop an action plan to address areas needing growth so they don't hold you back in your career.

You may disagree with your boss, but remain calm, unemotional, and respectful throughout your conversation, even if your manager becomes frustrated.

You may disagree with your boss, but remain calm, unemotional, and respectful throughout your conversation, even if your manager becomes frustrated.

Dig Down On the Details

You can't address an issue if you don't clearly understand what it is. So make sure your interpretation aligns with your boss' intended message. Stay calm and ask for details, as needed. Resist comparing your performance to that of coworkers.

Also, watch your tone to ensure that you communicate that you are not challenging the truthfulness of his feedback. Try to instead express curiosity. Ask if he can help you by providing some specific examples so you can better understand where he's coming from.

Good managers typically keep performance logs on their employees throughout the year, recording critical incidents. They do this so they can provide employees with accurate performance feedback—both positive and negative.

A good manager will refrain from overly general feedback, and he'll be able to produce specific examples that illustrate his message. He also usually won't mind doing so, if your approach is collaborative.

How to Move Forward With an Action Plan for Progress

Once you understand your boss' constructive criticisms, draft a written action plan that addresses each area. Include a timetable, specific action steps you will take, and how you can measure progress.

Then, schedule ongoing performance check-ins with your boss (e.g., weekly, monthly, or quarterly, depending on how remedial your development plan is).

This keeps you accountable for progress while encouraging the flow of performance dialog throughout the year. If he doesn't provide a midyear rating, ask for an informal one. ("If you had to rate my performance at this point in the year, what would it be?")

With an action plan for progress, you shouldn't be surprised next year by his feedback. You'll have a whole year to address your "areas needing development" and convince him how he's helped you become a better employee. (You're a kiss-up, Cowboy!)

Proceed with caution when responding to a performance appraisal that you perceive to be unfair or negative. Your actions could turn criticism into a career crisis.

Proceed with caution when responding to a performance appraisal that you perceive to be unfair or negative. Your actions could turn criticism into a career crisis.

The Choice to Respond

Ideally, annual performance reviews should involve no surprises. But sometimes performance review meetings make it clear that you and the boss are miles apart in your perceptions of your job performance.

When there is a wide gulf in perceptions, one or more of the following could be going on:

  • you and your manager haven't scheduled open, ongoing performance discussions throughout the year (generally, quarterly works well)
  • you haven't listened to previous feedback
  • your boss is new, has performance issues himself, or isn't fully aware of your contributions
  • there is a political or personal agenda
  • you're not as good as you think you are

While certainly there are bully bosses, my experience is that most employees jump to the conclusion that there's a political or personal agenda at play.

A large body of psychological research, however, indicates that employee self-ratings tend to only modestly agree with ratings provided by supervisors or peers. At the same time, supervisors and peers' judgments tend to agree highly with one another.1

What this means is that you may have performance blind spots and your boss may actually be doing you a favor by providing you constructive criticism. If you have any doubts about whether the boss' feedback is on target, consider asking a trusted friend or confidante who you know will tell you like it is. This person should be comfortable giving you negative feedback without you becoming upset.

Cowboy up.  Help yourself out by maintaining an ongoing record of your performance.

Cowboy up. Help yourself out by maintaining an ongoing record of your performance.

Quick Tip: Keep Your Own Performance File

Always keep an up-to-date performance file on yourself that includes key achievements and experiences during the current performance cycle. It can help you make sense of your boss' feedback.

Examples of what to include:

  • performance objectives for the year and progress against them
  • any awards or certifications achieved
  • copies of corrective action
  • letters of appreciation (or complaint) about you
  • emails regarding important issues/conflicts with your boss, coworkers, and customers
  • copies of your key performance metrics
  • interim performance feedback (e.g., emails documenting results of quarterly or midyear performance discussions)
In responding to negative feedback, understand that once the bull is out of the gate, he doesn't go back in easily.  Think before you speak.

In responding to negative feedback, understand that once the bull is out of the gate, he doesn't go back in easily. Think before you speak.

Unfair Performance Evaluations: How to Push Back

If you're still absolutely convinced that your boss' feedback is unfair, here are some ideas for pushing back.

Begin with an end in mind.

Always know the solution that you seek before starting. Do you want some aspect of the written performance document changed before you sign it? Do you simply want to be heard?

Schedule a follow-up discussion.

Tell your boss some of the information comes as a surprise (if that's true) and that you need time to think about what he's said. Ask for a copy of your performance evaluation so that you can better process the information.

Know what aspect of the review you disagree with.

Most organizations' performance systems involve not only an overall rating (e.g., a "2" on a 5-point scale) but also sub-ratings (e.g., communication skills, initiative). Often, there are also supporting comments. Managers who are overly blunt in their written comments can easily offend employees without meaning to.

If you seek changes to your performance document, know that managers often have more flexibility in adjusting their comments and sub-ratings without discussing it with HR or their boss. However, changes in overall ratings are often another story. Your argument better be awful convincing if that's what you're after.

Pushing back requires skill, preparation and a little bit of luck.

Pushing back requires skill, preparation and a little bit of luck.

Assess whether the feedback represents a difference in perception, or if there are instead factual untruths, errors, or key omissions.

If it's a matter of perception, the boss' perception probably matters more. Ramp up your persuasion skills during the upcoming year and work on closing the gap in perceptions.

If your performance review is based on important factual errors, the information needs to be corrected. Use the time between your meetings with him to assemble specific factual evidence regarding what really happened.

Here's an example of performance feedback based on inaccurate data: A manager provided negative feedback to an employee for sending a client a written report that she had not cleared through him first. However, the employee provided a copy of an email showing that the manager approved the document. His criticism was inaccurate. (This was an actual case, and the manager apologized for the error.)

Anyone can make mistakes. Allow your manager to save face, if possible.

Understand what your signature on the performance document means.

At some point, you'll probably be asked to sign your performance review. In signing the document, know whether you are acknowledging that you agree with the assessment, or that simply that you've had the performance discussion. If you still believe the review to be unfair, most organizations have a process for filing a formal complaint.

Tread carefully if this is how you want to proceed, but your options are generally along these lines:

  • Respectfully refuse to sign the document as is—especially one that indicates that you agree with the assessment or one which is based on inaccurate information.
  • Signing it with the following notation "I disagree with this opinion and reserve the right of rebuttal, which will follow" (request that HR attach this and include it in your personnel file).
  • Sending an email to your boss that recaps your performance review discussions and disagreement. You may want to copy HR and/or your boss' manager. This should jump-start the complaint process.
Don't get thrown by a little negative feedback.

Don't get thrown by a little negative feedback.

Only You Can Decide

When it comes to handling unfair or negative feedback, only you can decide whether you have an issue that is important enough to warrant such measures.

Some employees may simply need to develop thicker skins. They are satisfied with voicing their concerns and negotiating minor edits.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, there are those who allege that they face illegal discrimination. They believe their entire performance assessment is a sham, and they demand that it be entirely re-crafted, from the overall ratings to the written comments.

We've all faced feedback that is negative and feels unfair. But this is your career and your life. The choice is yours.

Good luck, Cowboy! Now giddy up and get back to work.

Discussing the negative or unfair performance feedback with coworkers can backfire. Friends do tell friends.  Seek emotional support outside the workplace.

Discussing the negative or unfair performance feedback with coworkers can backfire. Friends do tell friends. Seek emotional support outside the workplace.

Cowboy Wit and Wisdom

Cowboys have their own code of ethics, as demonstrated by some of the following Cowboy Proverbs with unknown origins (unless otherwise specified). Consider these in regard to performance review feedback.

  • "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction."

  • "Talk slowly, think quickly."

  • "The easiest way to eat crow is while it's still warm. The colder it gets, the harder it is to swaller."

  • "The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with watches you shave his face in the mirror every morning."

  • "Letting the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back."

    - Will Rogers, American cowboy and humorist

  • "Never miss a good chance to shut up."

    - Will Rogers

  • "It is easier to ride a horse in the direction it's going."

  • "There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence."

    - Will Rogers

  • "Tip your hat when you get beat, but when you win don't show anybody up."

    - Joe Torre, American baseball player

  • "Never kick a cowchip on a hot day."

    - Will Rogers

Sometimes you ride 'em, sometime you git rode.  Ye-haw!

Sometimes you ride 'em, sometime you git rode. Ye-haw!

Summary Points

  • First, simply listen rather than diverting blame, providing excuses, or launching into a lively debate with your manager. Seek to understand his feedback.
  • Clarify your understanding by determining the general type of feedback (i.e., ultimatum, trending downward notification, or opportunity for improvement). Also, consider your boss' intent.
  • Ask for specific examples to help you better understand your manager's perspective.
  • Remain calm and respectful.
  • Develop a specific action plan to address constructive criticisms. Arrange periodic check-ins to close the gap between your performance and perceptions.
  • To refute an appraisal you believe is unfair, have a specific goal in mind and understand precisely what wording or ratings you object to.
  • Schedule a follow-up discussion to provide evidence that supports your perspective.
  • Determine whether you will sign your performance document (with or without a rebuttal).
  • Only you can decide what is best for you and your career.
Originally posted to Flickr, this photo of four cowboys was allegedly taken between 1904 and 1918, according to the AZO postcard markings on the back.

Originally posted to Flickr, this photo of four cowboys was allegedly taken between 1904 and 1918, according to the AZO postcard markings on the back.


1Harris, Michael M., and John Schaubroeck. "A Meta-Analysis Of Self-Supervisor, Self-Peer, and Peer-Supervisor Ratings." Personnel Psychology 14, no. 1 (1988): 43-62. DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1988.tb00631.x.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: How do I respond to an inaccurate performance report?

Answer: File a carefully written response or rebuttal and begin with a statement that you object to the facts and assertions alleged in the performance report submitted by [author of report] dated xx/xx/20xx. Then be succinct, nonemotional, and set the record straight with your version of the facts. Do not overexplain but do say that you look forward to discussing the issue further.

Question: What can you do when you get a negative review after filing a Workman's Comp claim, and they blame you for what happened?

Answer: You can refuse to sign any unfair discipline or performance document, noting that it's the consequence of your Workers Compensation claim. You can also consult a Workers Comp lawyer in your area. This is especially prudent if the stakes are high for you, such as demotion or job loss, on top of already being injured!

While there is no U.S. federal law prohibiting retaliation against Workers Compensation filers, most states do forbid it. Workers Comp varies by state so check your state law.

Generally, however, one must meet these four criteria to demonstrate retaliation:

1) be a covered employee entitled to Workers Comp benefits -- rather than, say, an independent contractor, another company's employee, etc.;

2) show that you engaged in some protected activity regarding Workers Comp such as filing a claim or a workplace injury report;

3) show that you suffered an adverse employment action as a result of your filing the Workers Comp claim, such as being discharged, demoted, formally disciplined, having your pay decreased, etc.; and

4) demonstrate that this adverse action was motivated by your Workers Comp filing or other covered Workers Comp activity.

Note that the reason why employers might be motivated to retaliate against Workers Comp claimants is to keep their premiums low and to discourage other employees from filing claims. There's a lot of pressure on some companies to handle workplace injuries through one's private insurance instead of the Workers Compensation system.

On the other hand, please beware that companies do use performance reviews and violations of company policy as successful defenses against retaliation claims. What that means is that if you were in ANY way responsible for your injury (e.g., not wearing personal protective equipment, engaging in horseplay, not following the lockout/tag out procedure, etc.), then the company would probably use this to justify its action.

The bottom line is that you know what happened with your workplace accident and whether you bear any legitimate responsibility. Let that guide you.

Question: Is it legal for my manager to modify my year end reviews score and comments after he’s delivered it. I knew my company policy and I informed my manager I would electronically sign my review but would be submitting a rebuttal. I never received my review to esign and when I went to Human Resources to complain my manager changed the score and comments. He removed the discriminatory language I had pointed out and added comments on discrepancies I pointed out initially. Is this legal?

Answer: Overall, year-end performance ratings are typically reviewed and approved through upper management and HR well in advance of delivery to the employee. It's legal and appropriate after a performance discussion to on occasion modify the language to incorporate the employee's feedback (i.e., correction of factual inaccuracies or typos). It would be extremely rare, however, for a rating to be changed at that late point -- that is, after the performance discussion was had with the employee.

The way I'm understanding what happened here, you believe that your manager was trying to cover his/her tracks by removing any record of discriminatory language and boosting your rating. In so doing, the conflict goes away and you would supposedly have no reason to file a rebuttal. Do it anyway and mention that this was NOT the performance review actually delivered to you. Cite your company's policy forbidding falsification of records, complain about his/her failure to follow the company's performance review policy, and cite the Company's EEO policy forbidding discriminatory behavior based on one's sex, race, religion, color, national origin, disability, age, veteran status, or other legally protected status.

Your question should be more about whether your manager followed Company policy in how s/he modified the review. Obviously, you also have a specific complaint regarding the discriminatory language your manager used in the review. Keep in mind that s/he may have modified what's in the electronic record prior to your signing it, but s/he cannot change the fact that s/he verbally delivered a performance review that contained allegedly discriminatory language. I hope you have a draft copy of the review that contained the offensive language, as this will help solidify your case. (Never give up your only copy, even to an investigator, however.) Even if you do not have a copy of the original performance review for comparison, the Company should be able to access previous electronic versions.

If the language was truly discriminatory, then it's good that you're officially going on record with this issue. I wish you well.

Question: Should I give my assistant a performance counseling the same day she receives her annual review?

Answer: An annual review covers an entire year's performance, but if you've done what you should have as a manager -- had ongoing performance discussions with the employee throughout the prior year -- then there should be no surprises. She should know what to expect on that annual review document. Still, for an employee, seeing it in writing, especially if it's less than glowing feedback, that can feel like a big hit.

The issue of her recent performance misstep that you need to counsel her on is a separate (although related) matter. It should be handled in a separate conversation for two primary reasons. It happened in a different performance cycle, not during the last annual formal performance appraisal period, right? You also want to provide immediate corrective action on recent behavior and not confuse her regarding what information that went into your performance rating. Within the counseling session, you can use some of the same language as you do on the performance appraisal if she has a continuing problem with a certain skill area (e.g., attention to detail, communication skills).

Handle the corrective action as soon as possible and document your conversation. You can then do the performance appraisal later in the week. When you do the performance appraisal be clear what the evaluation period was. I hope that helps.

Question: I've been on telework disability for two years. Each time I went back to work, I reinjured my back. My supervisor said he's tired of me teleworking and it's a barrier for him. It's now performance time, and he is harassing me simply because I had breast cancer surgery on top of my back injuries with multiple surgeries. He is giving me an unfair rating and harassing me about returning to work soon. I have this all in email or personnel documents What legal action can I take?

Answer: Your breast cancer and chronic back problems are disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and I'm betting that the "telework disability" that you indicate you've been on for two years is a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. It's my understanding that there have been intermittent attempts to return you to work at the company's premises, and that each time you've incurred a work-related injury which put you out of work again.

You didn't specify whether

1) you're currently on workers comp or FMLA/disability leave and

2) what behaviors constitute you're boss' alleged pattern of harassment (e.g., name-calling, jokes, intimidation, threats, simply requesting that your return to work?)

However, I list below some general ideas:

As a first step, print out, organize, and keep records of all emails and personnel materials that document alleged offensive, harassing statements. (Many people don't have such documentation so you're "fortunate" in that this electronic and paper trail exists.) Don't rely on the fact that such documents are on your work computer, as you may suddenly find yourself without access at some point. Also acquire, print, and keep copies of the company's written policies on leaves of absence, anti-harassment, equal employment opportunity, workers compensation, performance management, and any employee code of conduct that the company might have. There may be other policies you want to keep as well.

Review these and do your best to understand everything you've printed out. Use them to draft a list of any alleged violations of policies. You'll use that list later to either file a complaint yourself or to give to an attorney you hire for consultation.

Typically, before you complain to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state human rights board about issues such as harassment and discrimination, you MUST go through your company's internal complaint procedures. Because of this, you'll need to know how you file an employee complaint with your company. Most likely, their procedures are outlined in their anti-harassment and equal employment opportunity policies. Contacting HR, calling an ethics/compliance line, or complaining to management is a usual first step. If you work for a small company, it's very possible they don't have many of these resources.

I recommend that you see an attorney, particularly because of the complexity of your situation -- multiple disabilities, some of which are the result of workplace injuries, and multiple types of medical-related leave of absence. (Note that the worker's comp system is highly state-specific.) Your attorney can make recommendations regarding what to complain about (e.g., is age also an issue?). S/he can also advocate for you and help you navigate the system.

It's important to ultimately remember that you are employed to do a job for the company, and as long as you are qualified to do the essential functions of the job, with or without accommodation, you have a contribution to make. Unfortunately, there may come a time when you are no longer able to perform the essential job functions. Work closely with your health care providers to understand realistically when that is.

Question: My manager told me he gave me an "exceeds expectations" rating in my annual performance review but that he was told by his boss to change it to a "meets expectations" rating. HR does not answer my calls to discuss. What recourse do I have to challenge my inaccurate rating change by my manager?

Answer: Your manager should have only told you the final performance rating -- ONE result. He was unprofessional in conveying to you both parts of that message. Doing so has caused him a problem; you are confused and rightfully upset. He was a weasel and was trying to be the good guy by placing blame upon upper management.

You have several options:

1) talk to your manager's manager about why you deserved only a "meets expectations" rating when your manager had instead indicated that he would rate you an "exceeds expectations"

2) email HR since they refuse to answer your calls, or

3) learn a lesson here and understand that your manager was playing politics with both you, the employee, AND his boss as he attempted to please you both.

© 2014 FlourishAnyway


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 20, 2018:

Lisa - It does, unfortunately, sound like a paper trail is being created regarding a perceived downward trend in your performance. Consider a job change if that is possible rather than trying to change their opinions about you. They obviously know that you've been through the death of a parent and of course, that would impact anyone's demeanor and job performance -- at least for a little while. You probably should have been cut some slack that year and referred to the employee assistance program, if they have one.

Once a negative overall performance assessment becomes documented like this in two successive annual performance reviews, I have found that the employee is typically headed for a performance improvement plan in which they must improve their job performance within a certain period or face termination of employment. Consult your organization's policies to see if anything exists on the matter.

Sometimes making a change in working environments is precisely what is needed. You can choose to either 1) fight this performance review (which you have already signed) by emailing HR an addendum to attach to your performance review and copying your manager -OR- 2) spiffy up your resume, update your interviewing skills, and check out other job opportunities. You may be pleasantly surprised!

I'd also like to add that the loss of a mother is such an emotionally significant event. My condolences go out to you. I encourage you to seek out a therapist, counselor, or support group if you feel like your grief is overwhelming or if you feel like you may be depressed.

I wish you the best, FlourishAnyway

Lisa on July 14, 2018:

Hello-I am working in a county position and have been there for almost 7 years. I recently received a yearly review that I do not agree with and felt forced into signing. Was blindsided, felt like very little was said about my job performance specifically, and very intimidated by the comments so I felt like I shouldn’t say anything in my defense. It feels like a paper trail is being prepared to fire me and the examples used are things that may have happened but they have also manipulated things and blown them out of proportion. The previous year I felt uncomfortable with part of my review and refused to sign it. My boss is not one to look at my actual job performance but nitpicks about me. The manager under my boss stated she felt like I had changed in the last two years since my mom died and that she wanted the old Lisa back. Really.? felt that was inappropriate. This year he also said in my review he sees that since I did not sign my review last year that it is insubordination. Do you have any suggestions about how to handle this?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 28, 2018:

Erin - Just guessing, but I would bet there is a significant age gap as well as a difference in formal education between the new supervisor and your mother. In the best case scenario, the boss' word choice of "educated" was poor when in fact she meant training, skills, tips, etc. Next time she does this, simply ask for clarification. It's not uncommon that employees may need different/upgraded skills in business writing or email etiquette, or reminders on procedures like how to put in for vacation. Give the boss a chance to explain.

To clear the air, your mom needs to have a professional, frank discussion with the boss and let her know how she's been valued by managers in the past and what she's not currently getting. Ask for clarification on the word "educated" and share what it seems to mean (ignorant). Suggest an alternative, such as "trained". Ask for specific support on the other issues. Try to approach it as an alliance rather than a battle, although the boss has gotten off on the wrong foot.

Erin on March 27, 2018:

What if your supervisor uses your review to nitpick at things? My mother's boss (new to her within 6 months) noted specifically the one time that she "corrected" her for not using the word please in an email. Her boss told her that she needs to educated on writing an email. She also told her that she needs to be educated on how to take vacation time. Up until this point (over 25 years in her current position with the same company) she has had nothing but good reviews, and emails from clients requesting that she work on their projects.

I know my mother has become frustrated because this new boss is not listening to her about what can and cannot be done (she is a computer programmer for her system for 20+ years, her boss has no computer background), nor is she supporting her when issues come up (for things not related to her system at all). She has asked to be placed under the same supervisor as her two coworkers, who do the same tasks that she does, but they refuse to. Short of leaving for another company, what should she do? Being told she needs to be "educated" in writing emails is a slap in the face for someone who has been writing emails (without complaint) for almost 40 years.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 14, 2018:

Brian - Something has either changed with your performance or your boss doesn’t appreciate your value. Especially if this information feels like an ambush (no credible performance discussions leading up to the review), you should consider a sit down conversation with the boss asking for specific examples of performance behavior this past year that support his/her review, plus specific recommendations for change. Ask for more frequent feedback, such as monthly. Take contemporaraneous notes of your discussions. Involve HR or upper management if necessary. I hope this helps.

Brian on March 13, 2018:

I had a horrible review, new boss last year been with company 19 years nothing ever negative and several awards from management for my outstanding work, i am at a loss.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 27, 2018:

Ronald Cluck - Thanks for your comment.

Ronald Cluck on February 27, 2018:

Very informative ! HR should start the process of performance management from the time the employee is onboarded.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 22, 2018:

Krisg - If your manager has to work on examples, then I'd say he didn't appropriately manage those situations in the first place (if they occurred at all). He needed to be timely in providing feedback about what you did at the time or pretty soon thereafter, rather than waiting to ambush you with negativity at performance appraisal time (especially when you're on FMLA). Doing so looks like a pretense for getting rid of someone. I'm not an attorney, just an experienced HR professional who doesn't enjoy seeing anyone taken advantage of. I'm glad you've seen positive movement and are taking steps to find a work environment where you are better valued. Best of luck to you!

Krisg on February 22, 2018:

Thank you Flourish responding to my comment. It really worked!!! This article is a great insight into unfair review. I adding my experience here, so it could help others and your advice really helped me take the next step. I refused to sign the document and asked for a rebuttal process. I asked them for specific examples as suggested in your comment and requested that policy documents be shared. I emailed my manager and copied my director. My manager did not respond to it but my director had to step in to reply to that email copying HR. He mentioned that there is no formal rebuttal process but I can respond to the review comments and HR can provide more details on the performance policy documents or any questions related policy. While he also mentioned, my manager is working on the examples. HR didn't respond though and I haven't heard from my manager yet on examples. I kept low profile in reaching out to only two of them but they looped in HR. Since I am in Paternity leave (Considered to be FMLA), probably they didn't want to act on it or waiting for me to join office to do followups. However just as you said, they could eventually come with something based on offshoring. Either way, I started looking for a change and had to find one before they can prepare my exit. I have a star profile in linked in and have a very solid recommendations from all my previous employers. Thank you for your advice. I will post more of personal experience as the story continue to develop.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 13, 2018:

krizg - You say that your manager has planned for your exit in the near future and his manager is supporting this. If you sign your review, you're simply going along with the process which you describe as unfair, shocking in content, and not backed up by facts. If certain critical information didn't appear in your mid-year it must be recent, huh? Make them sweat by documenting it appropriately because that is their freaking job as managers. Also, you need a copy of any Performance Review or Performance Management Policy that your company has because if this poor review goes through, then you may find yourself on a Performance Improvement Plan for added pressure.

That usually ends in employment discharge. Just as you wouldn't sign any other document in other aspects of life which you believe to be false, my personal belief is that employees shouldn't sign performance documents they believe misrepresent their performance. It's an issue of professional integrity -- the company's and yours.

Refusing to sign seems to be your only option unless you first try to discuss with the appropriate parties (manager, manager's manager, then HR) that it's not backed up by facts or examples, even when asked, and it's the first you've heard of specific feedback. I have known instances of some managers modifying people's written performance evaluations after an employee objected strenuously. Some, however, will not. If the underlying motivation is to get rid of you, particularly to bring in offshore contractors, they'll probably craft a way eventually. Just to be safe, you may want to freshen up your resume and start looking so that you have a head start if the worst happens. And who knows? You may actually find a better job! Try and and make sure you're on LinkedIn with connections who can endorse your skills NOW.

krizg on February 12, 2018:

Flourish - This is a great write up. After reading this article, I got a fair idea how to deal with my situation. However here is the situation, I am in. Me and my manager were colleagues, full time employee's in the organisation. Before he became my manager. we both managed two different areas within the org. so we only had very few interactions before becoming my manager. After becoming my manager and he tried to take over my area, where it was personally hard for me to accept and people also looked up to me because of my leadership. So his first attempt is to damage my reputation and break my relationships with peers. I observed he started micro managing, lot of putting down in meetings, overpowering, lowering self esteem and often following back door advantages (example: asking for ideas and suggestions in single email thread) and presenting it elsewhere in larger group or overriding in meetings. I had to put up with this behavior for over more than a year. But because of working relationship with my Manager's manager, I was able to bring it to his attention. This I thought would resolve the issue but worsened the situation more. My manager's manager did not deal with it one on one, instead he tried to bring it up as open discussion and try to openly settle the rift, which could be his way of resolving conflicts. Every attempt seemed only make it worse than better. As a lead analyst (full time), I had few direct reports, my manager tried to override me in talking to my direct reports and created issues within communication on work related assignments. Similarly, there was one situation, he even bought a lead contractor from offshore in parallel to my role to manage my direct reports. This added more confusion to the situation. At some point, the lead (contractor) conflicted with me on an assignment and accusing me of being immature. All this humiliation happened in front of my manager, but he didn't intervene to correct the situation. I tried to bring this to the attention HR but my manager and manager's manager suppressed it. However I anticipated all this things to show up in Mid year review but everything was fine during mid-year. At the end of the year, review was totally shocking and surprising. It had words like, I am not a team player, putting down people often during work and take credit of others work. I was totally devastated, as I am really not that kind. I am one of those who like to be a role model and set example for others. I tried to help people and really care for others. I know my review was unfair and didn't have any constructive criticism, no back up data on accusations and it was all baseless statements based on personal grudge. So the review turned out to be vindictive and got rated low. He has actually planned for my exit for in the near future. Manager's manager is also supporting this. I have not signed my review yet. He could do all this because they know I have a new born at home. Could this be my manager personally doing or could this be a management strategy to bring in offshore contractors.? With my current situation, what could be next best thing to do for the performance review response?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 06, 2017:

Sig - He's padding the file, building a case on you and trying to make you irritated enough to quit. Either give in and go elsewhere or stay the course until he does, whatever works best for you. This can't be the only job out there for you.

Slg on October 05, 2017:

Hi, My manager gave me very low rating. He was giving me feedbacks to work more hours (14 per day) which I could not. but i did not expect this rating. now I want to quit this job.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 11, 2017:

Deep Singh - An employee should never be surprised by a performance review when appropriate performance management conversations are held throughout the year. Unfortunately, it sounds like you were surprised this time. Hopefully, you have documented when these ugly comments about religion took place, including who witnessed them, who you told, the exact wording of the comments, who you reported the matter to at the time (managers, HR, coworkers, etc.) and the outcome. This includes any remarks your boss made after your initial complaint. When the case was being resolved last year, he should have been warned against not only making any additional negative comments regarding religion and but also cautioned about retaliation. Retaliation can take many forms, including a negative performance appraisal with no legitimate explanation.

You're thus looking at a possible retaliation and discrimination claim -- did the manager treat you differently from others who are of a different religion and/or those who did not complain? Consider anyone else the manager supervises who shares your religion and compare their treatment as a group to those who are not of your religion. Does he treat the two groups differently based on religion? Does he treat complainants (i.e., you) differently than non-complainants (i.e., the rest of your work group)? Can he offer legitimate explanations for any differential treatment? These are the types of questions that HR would look at. Chances are if you have had a good performance record up until now and then all of a sudden the person who makes negative comments about your religion gives you a negative review after you complain, it needs to be explained better. If you let this slip by, you're agreeing with his assessment.

Deep Singh on March 11, 2017:

HI, I am working in Software outsourcing MNC. I have started my career with this company and learnt many things with passage of time. This year I received a negative rating from my reporting manager. He did not notified for a single time a for thing where I am lagging before giving a year end performace review.

Me and my manager does not have very good communication in between us. A year before he made some comments over religion without any issue. I didn't liked this and escalated this to HR and asked I want to change my Current project and manager. Not sure what exactly happened in between HR and my manager and they did not release me from the project. So I continued with the same team and forgot about all previous issues that happen between me and my manager. I did all my assigned tasks with full responsibility and within time constraint.

As I have started my career with this project, so it was obvious that I made mistakes every time a new task assigned to me. But after that i did not happened. Even I tried to do more work to help other colleagues also. But In my end year performance document , my manager given me negative review and he mentioned only the mistakes that I did while doing the tasks for the first time. He just ignored all the good worked I did for the team, and just highlighted my mistakes, that no longer happening. It seems like he did not want to give any good review about me.

Can you please guide me what sort of action should I take on this ?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 08, 2016:

Pros30 - Thank you for your comment. There should never be surprises in a performance review, but realistically it does happen. Employees need to hold managers' feet to the fire on this expectation. Unfair and gutless managers sometimes try to pop negative feedback on employees in writing that they didn't address verbally at the time the event allegedly happened. These comments should, of course, be responded to -- or request that the document be modified prior to signing. I've known people who have declined to sign altogether because it wasn't an accurate document.

One should only set a follow-up meeting to work on negative performance issues when one is convinced that issues are legitimate. Highlighting the good things ahead of type is a great way to influence the manager's opinion, but the article is really about handling an unfair or negative performance review.

I fully understand the politicking that can go on regarding hiring, performance reviews, promotions, salaries and other HR actions. When HR aids and abets unfairness, that's even worse. I'm sorry if you've been the recipient of that. I appreciate your comments.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 08, 2016:

Fernando - If the company representative indicated formally that the company was not continuing with the performance counseling process, you'd need to ask them for clarification. If they meant you cannot APPEAL the counseling, then see if you can talk to someone in senior management about the issue. If they meant your performance counseling was not going into your record and was basically nullified (for example because they were convinced by your documentation), then you should receive confirmation to that effect. An employee should never leave a process confused about what the next steps are. Have them clarify whether this is on your work record or not and if so for how long. Hope this helps.

Pros30 on November 08, 2016:

Interesting points in article.

Its important to note that you should Correct any factual errors, address reasons something wasn't done etc.. You mentioned this in the article.

No one walks on water. Many times managers who don't like you will overblow the negative things on your review and not mention any positive things, even if its just one negative thing. Beware and respond.

I think initial negative feedback should always be verbal and taken care of that way, once it gets to written on a review it becomes a paper trail. I'm all for the set follow up meetings etc to address areas for improvement, but you don't want yourself to be perceived as a weak employee who needs improvement to your boss.

Much better to highlight good things you did and present to your boss to influence them. This is important well before any review takes place. You want to push good things you are doing.

Are you downplaying the politics of performance reviews? I've been at places where HR would give managers actual stock vague negative feedback paragraphs to give employees that they had to give a certain rating since only a certain number of employees can get a 15% raise vs 5% raise. These are often for employees performing around equal level.

Fernando on November 08, 2016:

I was giving a performance counseling from a big retailer firm, after I presented a rebuttal letter with documentation (123 pages) yesterday they decided that they were not continuing with process. What are the really implications of this and what would be next.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 04, 2016:

Steve - From an HR persepective, I find it strange that the outgoing manager did not provide you the performance review or at least sit in together with the new manager for the review. You should have been provided behavioral examples; the lack of such evidence is poor performance management and very suspect. Have you tried talking with your former manager about the review? Is your disability status known to others? If so, do you think it is related to your job change and negative performance review? I'd update the resume, as it could not hurt to know what your marketability is.

Steve on August 03, 2016:

So about 3 weeks ago the company decided to split our department into two different entities. In doing so my reporting manager change to someone I never had any direct contact with. My review date was all ready late and HR at the Same time informed my that my job requirements would change. I was removed from Salary and put hourly and my responsibilities were cut. The responsibilities I enjoyed are scheduled to be given to people that have no hands on experiences with the IT functions I support. and I am left on the internal customer facing side of things despite me having know interpersonal communication deficiencies due to a disability. Now my previous reporting manager was asked some questions about my performance. When my new manager finalized my review and we had our meting I was blind sided by the level on increased focus on the negativity. Out of the 10+ years of my professional career I have never had a company transfer me than have a manager that is not familiar with my line of work provided such negative feedback on a performance review with no clear definitive examples. When I asked he did not have any. At this moment we have had a few people put their two weeks in and I am considering it my self since apparently I am under appreciated for my skill set. I am wondering if I should stick with it or start looking? I dedicated so much time and effort in fixing huge issues in their IT systems and was hoping that that work would reflect on my review but sadly it was almost completely ignored.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 03, 2016:

Brian - It sounds like you need to change jobs. Life is too short working for a company you don't trust. Best of luck.

Brian Perkins on May 03, 2016:

I too got a negative performance review. I did not do anything about it and it was completely unfair. I am still an employee there and dread going there everyday because of this. Guess what? WHat goes around comes around. Employee opinion survey comes you, you are now my target. Next time I am going to HR and filing a complaint on them and maybe even filing a lawsuit Fuck dishonesty and corruption. Im not working somewhere corrupt

Idalia on January 20, 2015:

It's spooky how clever some ppl are. Thsakn!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 23, 2014:

JJ - Has a simple explanation been offered such as the manager forgot to add customer feedback data or needed to update your end-of-year sales numbers? Or instead are changes extensive and the tone is significantly impacted? Have others had this happen to them?

I hope you kept a copy of the initial version of the document as well as the re-written version. Also keep any email communications about it just in case. Performance feedback is obviously not consistent across both documents. Consider why you think that is so.

I assume the performance period has not changed (i.e., s/he's still talking about last year, last quarter, etc.). A manager should provide you with clear feedback about your performance and with clear, actionable direction moving forward.

Stay calm and request that s/he walk you through what was changed and why. Express your confusion and ask him/her to share each change of thinking and the motive/intent behind the wording. But before you meet with him/her take both documents and do a line by line comparison of how the documents changed so you can drill down in asking him/her very specific questions. You deserve an explanation, particularly if changes are substantial. Let me caution you, s/he'll want to rush through it.

I *suspect* you were probably dealing with a new or not-so-savvy manager who let you see the performance document before it was approved by upper level management. I've seen that, and it makes HR folks squirm. Consider consulting your HR department.

Good luck to you, and I'm sorry that happened to you.

JJ on June 23, 2014:

How would you handle a boss that re-writes your review (and comments) to minimize your accomplishments?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 27, 2014:

Oscarlites - That is too bad, definitely not the way it should happen when a new manager comes on board. It makes me think either HR was not consulted or simply asleep at the wheel.

Oscar Jones from Monroeville, Alabama on April 27, 2014:

yes, very interesting and factually based information. I recently had just this sort of thing happen when a new boss came on board where I was working and having only been there 2 months or so when he issued me an annual eval. He gave me medium to high marks except on one that I never expected. I told him I never expected that! well, to level it out at least in my own mind the discrimination/mindset was coming from his own background and prejudices,. I was just the one he could lay it on its seemed. when an upper manager was called in he stated that both me and the new boss had missed each other. ha. but nothing was corrected in writing.. I have since moved on. I did not leave for that specific reason however. But I will point out that unless or until someone has worked with you at least for a few months or a year or more, they cannot resolutely convince me the assessment is correct. How can you evaluate someone you hardly know? way back yonder a coworker was promoted on an airfield where I worked and he issued everyone a "fail". A year or so later he told me, "if everyone starts at the bottom, well then its fair. I asked him, how is it fair unless he, the boss is leveled at the bottom as well. -What a privilege to self write your own success story.. America, you're great!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 18, 2014:

Rajan - When key information is truly incorrect, it's important to set the record straight. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 17, 2014:

Excellent pointers to check back on. Very comprehensive review as well though I do believe some of us have been unfairly indicted of bad performance, but then that happens everywhere I guess, and that is simply time up for the ones.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 08, 2014:

Rebecca - Your kudos are much appreciated! Have a great weekend!

Rebecca Furtado from Anderson, Indiana on March 08, 2014:

Very good information presented in a creative and fun way. It is good to make a hub about work evaluations entertaining. You have performed

(pun always intended) well.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 04, 2014:

mikesquid - Thanks for your comment. Good luck on your work-related problems.

mikesquid on February 04, 2014:

wow how funny is that ;.. nice hub. i had relational problems at works but this article complete a reading a got from a good psychic last week. venus psychic she talks about energy between people + your hub = perfect match

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 03, 2014:

Ganash Prasad - Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 03, 2014:

Thank you, Crafty!

CraftytotheCore on February 03, 2014:

Awesome as always! Congratulations on Hub of the Day!

Ganesh prasad on February 03, 2014:

wow, nice hub....ank thanks

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 03, 2014:

Randi - Thank you for stopping by and for voting too! Have a great day!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 03, 2014:

whitemuse - Great points. It is difficult not to get angry, although oftentimes that can make matters so much worse. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on February 03, 2014:

Cleverly written! Excellent information! Congratulations on a most deserved Hub of The Day! Voted up, across the board! Than k you

RTalloni on February 03, 2014:

Congratulations on your Hub of the Day award for this valuable post. How useful this will be to people in today's work environments! Will be checking out your other hubs on this topic. Pinning to My Solve It: Money/Workplace board.

whitemuse on February 03, 2014:

This is some very complete information. Fortunately, it has not happened that often. When it did it was difficult not to get angry. There is nothing you can do sometimes about the writing on the wall. I had one very cranky boss.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 03, 2014:

Bobbi - Thanks for stopping by. Everyone loves the supervisor who can give critical feedback without making it feel like a character flaw or the biggest mistake ever. One of the nicest compliments someone ever gave me was that I had the ability to tell someone to go to hell in a way that they'd look forward to the trip. I bet you're like that too. Have a great day!

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on February 03, 2014:


I am happy you got Hub of the Day, otherwise I probably would've missed this hub. Your western theme to was a great touch with the photo display---I enjoyed it very much.

I remember when I gave performance reviews to employees who needed to improve on their skills; however, I did it with a soft touch and got the point across effectively. I voted up+++

Thanks for sharing.

Bobbi Purvis

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 03, 2014:

Deborah - Thank you! Glad you enjoyed this. Have a great day!

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on February 03, 2014:

Great hub and excellent advice. Congrats on being named HOTD!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 03, 2014:

Thanks, Heidi! I am excited and appreciative as well.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on February 03, 2014:

BIG congrats on Hub of the Day! So well deserved (this and many of your other posts).

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 03, 2014:

Kathleen Cochran - Often, HR and/or second-level managers take a look at performance reviews, so there's little chance of purging the performance evaluations of that wayward supervisor's entire staff, especially for the entirety of their service as a supervisor. That would be like admitting they were all hoodwinked by her. Take comfort in the fact that at least she's not still your boss. They eventually did the right thing by catching wind of her techniques and booting her out.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 03, 2014:

Rasimo - I appreciate the compliment. Glad you enjoyed it.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 03, 2014:

ologsinquito - Thanks for the kudos!

Rasimo on February 03, 2014:

This is a really great article, lots of good info packed in here!

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on February 03, 2014:

An entertaining approach to a subject that is hard to look at with levity. Too many companies still approach employee reviews in an outdated mode: two compliments around one area that needs improvement even for stellar employees. All you hear is the negative and wonder how your boss could still recall the one, small misstep from months ago. It is a very damaging process. I love the idea of a follow up conversation to renew the relationship.

Worked for a supervisor once who was known for ambushing her staff at review time thinking it was camouflage for her poor performance. Management finally figured her out and she was let go, but they never purged her reviews from her staff's files. This is a tedious process, but necessary under those circumstances.

Congrats on HOD and a great choice by HP staff.

ologsinquito from USA on February 03, 2014:

Congratulations on HOTD. You deserve it!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 01, 2014:

CelebrateUSA - I appreciate the kind kudos. I really do hope it helps employees gain some perspective and determine how to respond.

Ken Kline from Chicago, Illinois on February 01, 2014:


Wow! Technical information delivered with a strong visual impact with a cow boy flair! Terrific information and conveyed in a motivational manner. Exceptional in every way! You took a hard subject and brought the silver lining out - thank you!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 23, 2014:

Writer Fox - You're correct. We all need to know when our work is done with an employer and it's giddy up time. Thanks for stopping by and for pinning.

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on January 23, 2014:

What a thorough article! So many times the options depend on the size of the company someone works for. Large companies have a Human Resources Department and smaller companies generally do not. Sometime's it's just a case of 'handwriting on the wall' and time to mosey on down the lane. Voted up and Pinned!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 19, 2014:

Oh, Suzanne, I hear you. I have been there! One of the hubs on my horizon is neopotism, favoritism, cronyism. I've seen examples that should've made people blush trying to explain their way out of them.

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on January 19, 2014:

Great hub and voted useful - I found it VERY useful! Sometimes it's also about understanding that there can only be one cowboy for every twenty indians and that sometimes you can be "fed" an excuse simply because someone better has been nominated as the "chosen" recipient for the departmental bonus. However, there is some great advice in this hub and you give some great advice on what to do and what to analyse about performance.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 18, 2014:

Mindi - Thank you for the kind compliments and for nominating my hub. This one was a real hoot to write, so I'm happy it's gotten good reviews. You're so sweet about the "devoted fan" remark.

Amanda Littlejohn on January 18, 2014:

Wow. Another mind-blowingly awesome bit of hubbing, FlourishAnyway!

This is choc-full of fabulous advice, beautifully written and laid out and just fabulous. And all spiced with your inimitable wit and charm.

I remain your devoted fan. :D

PS: I've suggested this for a HOTD.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 16, 2014:

Howdy, Nancy - Glad to see you around these here parts. I sure got some spur marks of my own. I'm gonna mosey on along now, pardner. You come back, now, you hear?

Nancy Owens from USA on January 16, 2014:

I love the photos and the Cowboy Way analogies. There is so much wisdom here, both professionally and for living a quality life. I especially got a kick out of the heading, "Don't squat with your spurs on." I have personally done this a time or two and it wasn't very comfortable :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 15, 2014:

Sunshine - Sounds like you hog tied him with a smile and a tip of the hat, cowgirl.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 15, 2014:

Howdy, Christy - That is such an awesome compliment. Thank you so much!

Christy Kirwan from San Francisco on January 15, 2014:

Flourish, this Hub is absolutely fantastic! I'm a huge fan of the cowboy theme, and I love how you stay fun while giving very genuine and practical advice.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on January 15, 2014:

Yeehaw!! I like how you weaved the cowboy into your article. (Ouch for squatting with spurs on!) I had a review once and my manager gave me a "Good" ... I said "Good?" That's so basic. He never used Good again during a review. He took it one notch up to Very Good. Now, that's acceptable.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 14, 2014:

Jo - Glad you like it!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 14, 2014:

Glimmer Twin Fan - Thanks for the kind compliments. Although you may not agree with the boss' assessment, it's always helpful to know what he or she really thinks of you and your work. It can prevent some very unpleasant surprises. Most of us do not enjoy performance-related surprises.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on January 14, 2014:

Clever, funny a joy to read and full to overflowing with very useful information.

Claudia Porter on January 14, 2014:

This is a wonderful hub and really useful for people. I love the text box telling people they may be headed for trouble. When I worked I was always amazed at how many people were surprised when they were let go, even with all of the signs you mentioned. Really well done hub too!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 14, 2014:

Hi, Audrey - I'm glad you enjoyed this little ditty. I appreciate the pin! Yee-haw!

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on January 13, 2014:

Hi Flourish. Very funny article told so well. You covered all circumstances with a chart and great advice. You must have been an ouststanding boss. It brought back memories of my boss days from which came my desire to write. Thanks cowboy. Blessings. Audrey Pinning

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on January 13, 2014:

Hi Flourish. What humor you wove into this hub. It is so funny. I was a supervisor and so many incidents sound familiar. You did a very thorough job covering many possible events. You must have been an outstanding boss and oh so fair to employees. Thanks for sharing. Blessings. Audrey. Pinning.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 13, 2014:

Audrey - What a nice compliment! Thank you! I appreciate the share as well.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 13, 2014:

Nell - More often than not, employees sit there with a smile pasted on their faces and they think exactly what you were. Sometimes bosses don't do the appropraiate thing by recording performance information throughout the year, and they have to try to recall accurate performance incidents from the entire year. It usually doesn't work so well. Having worked in HR Investigations reviewing workplace complaints, it was always predictable; there was typically a surge of complaints during performance review season. Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing!

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on January 13, 2014:

Just sent my comment - it's not showing up. Will write another one if it doesn't come up soon. :)

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on January 13, 2014:

Written like a true pro! Your wit and creative manner makes this a hub that all should read. Voted up and across and sharing!

Nell Rose from England on January 13, 2014:

lol! I just love the way you wrote this! and I am never going to forget that quote, Don't Squat With Your Spurs On! fron now on its definitely one to remember! I remember these horrible reviews at work, wanting to just slap someone but keeping the smile on the face! great read, voted up and shared!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 13, 2014:

MsDora - Thanks for stopping by. I hope this helps those who need it. Have a great week!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 12, 2014:

Very creative, and with all your cowboy lingo and pictures the messages came through clearly. Thank you for these very useful bits of information regarding what to expect and how to react to the job review.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 12, 2014:

Suzanne - Working for yourself is a sure fire way to make sure you get excellent evaluations! Glad you have a better situation now!

justmesuzanne from Texas on January 12, 2014:

Very thorough and entertaining treatment of a topic that I can't stand! :D I am ever so grateful that I no longer have to tolerate the opinions or estimation of managers who can barely string enough words together to form a complete sentence. I will never work for anyone else again!

Voted up and interesting! :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 12, 2014:

ologsinquito - I hope people can approach even the worst performance situations from a position of personal power, as they do have choices. Often those choices demand action but they have the choice to stay, go, or work through it.

ologsinquito from USA on January 12, 2014:

Great advice for someone to either turn things around or decide the end of their employment at a particular firm is likely approaching, and then get busy finding a new job. You lay out clearly the subtle and not-so-subtle messages that are also being delivered, such as the wording. This article will likely help a lot of people.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 11, 2014:

Bill - Thanks for stopping by. Especially if you don't have ongoing discussions about performance throughout the year, it can be a very unpleasant thing to look forward to for everyone. Have a great rest of the weekend.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on January 11, 2014:

Hi Flourish. What an excellent hub with great advice. I dread these reviews every year but it's a part of life in most jobs. I love the cowboy twist to this, great job. Have a great weekend.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 11, 2014:

Heidi - I've sure heard some doozies, especially having been in HR Investigations. We've all probably had performance conversations we could've handled better. The horse's patooty syndrome tends to sneak up during performance review time.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on January 11, 2014:

Howdy, Pardner! I had mainly good performance reviews in corporate life, but there were a few that felt more like punishment reviews. Now looking at them from a more mature point of view, I could've handled them so much better. And I wish I would've known about the signing with notation option.

I think the problem with the "annual" review is that it's annual. Ideally, there should be a continuing dialog through the year so that there are no surprises. Glad you emphasized that bosses hate these reviews as much as employees. It's tough on both sides of the desk.

Great hub, as always!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 11, 2014:

Why, Miss Flourish, mah commeunt done seem ta up an disdappeared!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 11, 2014:

Gawsh, bravewarrior, that's so dern nice of you! I'm just a country girl with country wisdom. Y'all keep sayin' nice things and my head is gonna grow too big fer my hat.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 11, 2014:

Well gaw-aw-lay Miss Flourish! I do b'lieve thems some mighty fine words you done shared with us, ifn I say so m'self!

Seriously, this was very entertaining yet informative. I love the angle you took with this one. Great job!

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on January 11, 2014:

Great hub, Flourish.... and original way to present this topic :-)

I am glad that I didn't receive any bad performance review of my work :-)

I think it's important to thank our boss for the performance review. I think usually there is always place to do a better job (nobody is perfect) and it's good to receive some guidance. But I heard horror stories as well about reviews by unfair bosses or bosses who are never satisfied.

The workplace has to be pleasant; people will usually will do their best tho perform in those types of positive environments.

There are a lot of cuts in the Canadian government since a few years and they put so much pressure on everybody that people are watching over their shoulders all the time to see which person will be next to stab them in the back. So many people have been harassed and they either just left or took early retirement. It means also that good people with the corporate knowledge left.

So many things could be said about this subject.

Thank you for sharing this important subject and presenting it so well!

Have a nice weekend, Flourish!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 11, 2014:

pstraubie48 - Glad to "see" you again. It sounds like you were a fantastic teacher and very ethical, too.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 11, 2014:

DDE - Negative feedback doesn't have to bring us down. The worst situation is when someone has feedback to provide but withholds it. You can't change what you don't know is an issue. Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a great weekend.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on January 11, 2014:

Well said. I only refused one performance eval when I was still teaching and it was only three years into my teaching career. I was given a superior performance rating and the person had never been in my classroom to see me teach and interact with children.

I refused it and said if they came in and watched me and still felt the same way....I would sign it.

and lucky for me he did come in ...nothing changed except for the comments which made me feel valued.

Your well written information here should help many who may face unfair evals at work.

Angels are on the way to you ps

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 11, 2014:

Frank - These types of hubs are always the most fun to write. We'll see what type of traffic it gets. I spent more than 5 years in a corporate culture where feedback (negative or positive) was said to be a "gift," (nice, huh?) and if you had thin skin you learned to toughen up real quick. It didn't always feel good but it worked. (We never had weaknesses -- they were "opportunities.") After awhile it became satisfying to dish it out, too -- all in the name of improvement. You ain't no cowpoke, Frank. Have a great weekend.