Turning a Negative Employee Evaluation to Positive

You return to your office following your annual employee evaluation and you drop your head on your desk in disbelief. You are shell-shocked because you thought your employer was pleased with your work performance — but the evaluation you just received shows many areas for improvement.

So, how do you return to work without getting bogged down in anger and bitterness over the seemingly harsh words of the evaluation? Can you rebound from a negative employee evaluation to become an outstanding employee? The simple, resounding answer is … Yes you can!

Below you will find several strategies to assist you in moving past a negative employee evaluation to become an outstanding employee.

Take Accountability. Are you really surprised by the evaluation or did you know that you were not fulfilling your work obligations? Did you think no one noticed you were late more often than not? Did you spend an exuberate amount of time chatting with your friends and family on the telephone during work hours and you thought it went unobserved?

Try to look at the evaluation in an objective manner. Can you step outside your bruised ego and look at things from the perspective of your employer? Be accountable for your actions. Karen, a nurse from Texas who was later promoted to assistant nurse manager after rebounding from a negative evaluation, states, “my attitude was negative and I was not 100 percent a team player.” Karen was completely aware of the issue.

Deborah Brown, MBA, MSW, a career coach and president of D&B Consulting (www.dandbconsulting.com) offers the following accountability pointer for those receiving a negative evaluation. “Recognize that your behavior is not getting you what you want.” If you want a raise, a promotion, or more responsibilities in your position, you need to modify your actions and behaviors to achieve that goal. Hallie Crawford, Certified Career Coach and founder of Authentically Speaking (www.halliecrawford.com) urges those who have received negative evaluation to “be honest with yourself and try to be an objective observer.”

Solicit Periodic Reviews. Seek feedback from your supervisor on a regular basis. Periodic reviews following major projects will give you the ongoing feedback necessary to correct any areas of concern immediately. Keep the lines of communication open with your supervisor. If you have concerns about your performance, bring them to your supervisor’s attention immediately. Henry, a retired elementary school principal from Arkansas says he “provides ongoing feedback throughout the school year of any issues with my teachers.”

Ongoing feedback helps to prevent major issues later. Crawford encourages employees “to be proactive” and show your employer you are taking the evaluation seriously by soliciting ongoing feedback. Crawford stresses feedback following major projects as well as on any other projects you are given.

Solicit Mentors. Solicit mentors either within the company or from outside sources. Crawford encourages employees to “start with immediate supervisors when seeking mentors.” Though your immediate supervisor could be your perceived mentor, she may also be able to direct you to someone else who can also effectively serve as your mentor. However, Brown suggests the solicitation of mentors outside of your work environment since there may be “some difficulties with internal mentors.”

Plus, one may have difficulty in being mentored by the individual who gave them a negative evaluation. Career coaches are also a source of objective mentorship. Brown says career coaches can help you “practice how to handle” various work scenarios and also “help you talk through issues.” Since the career coach is an external mentor source, they may be able to provide an insight that someone internally may not be able to distinguish.

Keep Your Professionalism. Despite the initial anger, disappointment and bitterness, maintain your composure in the workplace following an evaluation. Brown strongly urges those receiving negative evaluations to “manage your emotions” and try to “distance” yourself from the evaluator for the near future. If possible, Brown recommends asking the supervisor to give you a few days to react or provide feedback on the evaluation rather than having to provide feedback immediately following the evaluation. This will give you time to calm down before you do or say something you might later regret. Being argumentative, name-calling, throwing tantrums, and a multitude of other unbecoming behavior may feel good at the time, but are not qualities of professional, working adults. Karen developed a “positive and professional demeanor” following her negative evaluation since she knew her evaluation was done to help her become a better employee.

Accept The Challenge. Use the negative aspects of the evaluation to challenge yourself to do better and look at it in a positive light. If your supervisor stated you don’t take initiative on projects, seek opportunities to show your initiative. Become the opposite of every negative aspect of your evaluation. Make yourself into an employee who is indispensable to the company. Karen made “changes for the better” and applied for a management position. She was promoted to assistant night nurse manager. The question of her prior negative evaluation surfaced during the interview process for the management position. However Karen informed the interviewers that she “learned my lesson and I have a new attitude and a new way of thinking.” Crawford offers the following adage: “Your perspective on what happens to you creates your reality.” You can change the negative implications of your evaluation for the better.

Seek New Position, If Necessary. The evaluation may indicate you may not be in a position best fitted for your skill sets or where you can best succeed. Brown suggests, “find a job where you can excel.” This may require seeking a different position within the company or seeking a new position at another company. Crawford concurs, “you might need to move on because you may not be the right fit” for the company.

An employee evaluation is static. The evaluation is for a specific time period. However, the evaluation does not have to be a self-fulfilling prophecy for the remainder of your time at your company. You can rebound and become an outstanding employee. Do not be discouraged. Use the negative employee evaluation to challenge and inspire you to achieve your full potential as an employee. You can do it!

Satyra Riggins is a freelance writer from Charlotte, NC. When she is not writing, Satyra is a paralegal at a large law firm in Charlotte. If you have any questions about this article, please contact Satyra at satyrariggins@aol.com


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