Expert Advice

Employee Performance Evaluation: How Can I Manage Criticism About My Work?

| Updated November 29, 2017

Performance evaluation got you feeling worried? Come prepared and ready to listen.

Kathryn Engelhardt-Cronk, MissionBox co-founder and CEO, offers her response to the MissionBox DoubleTake — a column that offers opinions about the peskier aspects of working in the nonprofit sector. The opinions offered here are based on the author's personal nonprofit experience and may not reflect the opinions of MissionBox, Inc. These opinions should not be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for professional legal consultation. MissionBox readers are invited to submit alternative responses, which may be published here as well.

My job review is coming up and this hasn’t been a stellar year for me at my nonprofit. I’ve missed a few deadlines and I know my boss is mad at me. There is no excuse for why, except that I realize I’m not great at prioritizing tasks. I also have too much to do, after taking on a co-worker’s tasks while she is on maternity leave.

I don’t think I’m going to get fired, but I am dreading my annual job performance review.

What can I do to get through my employee performance evaluation without making the situation worse?

Kathryn says …

First and foremost, be ready to listen carefully, without interruption or defensiveness, to what your supervisor has to say about your job performance. At the beginning of my career in social services, my first performance review was a nightmare. Why? Because I expected glowing ratings and when my boss began highlighting some areas for improvement, I kept jumping in to defend myself. She stopped the review and told me to re-schedule and come back ready to listen and learn! I was embarrassed, but I got the point and respectfully absorbed all she had to say at our next meeting. I have never forgotten the lesson learned from this experience.

To start, prepare for your review by listing the top two or three reasons why you missed deadlines and what you are doing to correct the situation. Approach the review as a solutions-oriented, can-do problem solver and your boss may be less likely to write you off as marginal or terminate your employment. Wait until you are invited to respond. Thank him or her for the feedback and stress your intention to address all concerns, immediately. Ask for a follow-up meeting to discuss the success of your improvement efforts. Also ask for specific ways to measure your development as an employee.

Finally, address your performance issues honestly, with no complaints or back-biting about your review to co-workers. I have hired many professionals over the years, and how someone responds to reasonable and well-founded criticism is a key indicator of their potential. Some people respond by changing their performance and excelling at their job and others become negative and disgruntled. The latter tend to either leave the organization, or are terminated at some later date.

We all have improvements to make and areas where we can grow. Listen, learn and make the necesssary changes. Look at this as a learning experience — this review can bring about a better relationship with your boss and a constructive change for you.

MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

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