Receiving negative feedback at your midyear review can be upsetting and difficult to take, especially if you didn’t see it coming. In a corporate setting, you are almost guaranteed to have performance evaluations twice a year, at the midyear point and at the end of the year, in addition to any one-off conversations you may have in the hallways. You’ll always be given feedback, regardless of where you work and it will usually be a mix of what you’re doing well and what you need to improve upon. If your midyear review is erring on the negative side, there are strategies you can use to turn things around before your next review. Keep in mind that even high-achievers get negative feedback. It’s a part of your development and can be valuable to help you grow both professionally and personally.
Add these tips to your daily work life so you emerge feeling confident and resilient six months later.
Don’t get defensive
The worst thing you can do for yourself if you’re receiving negative feedback is to get defense or start blaming other people. If there is an element of surprise involved, your gut reaction may be to start defending yourself but think back and see if it’s truly a valid issue. You don’t want to come off as immature and you definitely don’t want to receive additional negative feedback on not being able to take constructive criticism. Accept responsibility and address each issue by coming up with potential solutions. Maybe you weren’t able to meet a deadline because someone else messed up and didn’t give you their part in time. It doesn’t really matter. Your boss only sees the final result and that you weren’t able to deliver on your end. Accept ownership and consider how you could set up up the proper processes and timelines to avoid a similar situation in the future.
Eliminate the Element of Surprise
Schedule check-ins with your manager so you’re both on the same page. As a manager, you never want your employee to be surprised when she’s receiving negative feedback. As an employee, you want to do your part in making sure you understand what your manager expects of you and you have a good idea of how you’re doing. One way to accomplish this is to plan specific dates, whether biweekly or monthly, in which you and your manager can meet to discuss your progress. Setting up these meetings gives your boss a sign that you are taking responsibility for your personal development and improvement. Make the most of these discussions by mentioning the projects you’re working on and the relationships you’re building with internal and/or external stakeholders. This way, your boss remains in the loop on the important work you’re doing and you know if you need to make any adjustments before your end of year review occurs.
Track Your Job Accomplishments
One of the most time consuming and stressful parts of a performance review is trying to remember what you have accomplished since your last review. To save yourself hours of frustration, keep an Excel spreadsheet of core responsibilities and projects you’ve worked on. If you start working on something new, record it immediately in one column and create another column for the status, where you can indicate if something is in progress or completed. Keep in mind, you should record everything here regardless of how minor it is. Later on, you can figure out what to keep and what can be deleted.
Track accomplishments that go beyond your job description as well. If you had a 1:1 with a summer intern to discuss your career path, note that on the list. If you served on an interview panel for a new position that was just posted, note that as well. You may not consider them a big deal but come review time, it’s helpful for your manager to know what you’ve worked on and where your interests lie. Also, keep a folder in your Outlook Calendar with any positive feedback you receive. It will demonstrate how far you’ve come since your midyear review and the value your work brings to colleagues or clients.
Create goals for yourself
What do you want to accomplish this year? Come up with goals specific to your current position that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely). If you’re new to a position, your goal may be to successfully complete your training within 3 months. Under the goal, describe what you specifically did to accomplish that goal. For example, you may have participated in weekly calls with your mentor to address any gaps in your learning or you may have passed a certification test. If you take the time to write everything down, you’ll have a great foundation for the next year when you need to come up with new objectives.
The question, ‘Where do you want to be in 5 years?’ is common during performance reviews in the pharmaceutical industry and in the corporate world overall. Don’t limit your goals to the current year here. Take this question seriously and consider what kind of skills do you need to get you to where you want to be in 5 years or less. Literally list them out. If you want to be a director then you need leadership skills. How will you gain leadership skills if you don’t have direct reports? Become a mentor or become a preceptor for a student. Perhaps become a subject matter expert in your group on a particular topic so your co-workers know to go to you if they have a question on a particular subject, like technology or metrics. Be honest on what you believe your flaws to be and address each one so they don’t stand in your way of achieving your goals.
Focus on the Future
If your midyear review isn’t going well, it can be easy to dwell on the negative and go to a dark place. Take some time to understand what you need to work on and then commit to letting it go. Think about the big picture. To successfully get to where you want to be, you want to make sure nothing is holding you back. Everyone gets negative feedback at some point in their career but what can differentiate someone who is successful vs. stationary in their career is how they handle the feedback and whether or not they choose to continuously improve. Most likely by the same time next year, this conversation won’t be on your radar.
Think about the future and where you want to be and focus on what you need to do to get there. With a list of accomplishments and your own mental strategy for achieving your objectives, you’ll be more than ready to shine at your next review.
This post originally appeared on twentysomethingliving.com.