How to Handle a Negative Performance Review

Pharmacists can't control what their boss will say or write in their evaluation, but they can respond to feedback.

Annual performance reviews are just around the corner for many pharmacists.

When your review is glowing, you feel very accomplished. But if you thought that you had a great work year and get blindsided by your supervisor’s constructive criticism, what do you do?

You can’t control what your boss will say or write in your evaluation, but you can choose how you respond to his or feedback. Here’s the best way to handle a negative performance review:

Stay calm and professional.

Despite feeling angry or resentful toward your boss, don’t become verbally defensive or argumentative during your evaluation. Instead, strive to continue to hold a meaningful dialog.

After the review, take some time to absorb its contents.

Request a follow-up meeting to develop an action plan.

Meet with your boss again to gain more information on the areas where you need to improve.

Acknowledge the negative aspects of your review that are true weaknesses. If they were not identified in your evaluation, then discuss specific skills or behaviors that require improvement. Then, develop a plan to carry out your goals.

If you feel that some aspects of your review were based on biased viewpoints, rather than objectivity, consider thoughtfully sharing occasions that offset criticisms to help your boss gain a more impartial view of your performance.

Do not refuse to sign the evaluation.

Regardless of your disapproval, supervisors rarely rewrite evaluations to be more positive. Pharmacists may think that refusing to sign the evaluation will stop the document from becoming finalized, but in reality, you will be portrayed as antagonistic, which will do more harm than good.

Be mindful that your signature is for administrative purposes to show human resources (HR) that you did indeed meet with your supervisor. If you want to designate that you disagree with the evaluation, indicate that you are signing for receipt only.

If you choose to write a rebuttal, it will more than likely be included with your evaluation. Be objective and factual, rather than emotional and caustic.

Remain visible and proactive.

Since most organizations conduct performance appraisals once a year, it is typical that only the last several weeks or months of your work may be reflected in your annual review. It is important to make your boss aware of your ongoing accomplishments and work ethic to gain a balanced view of your total performance throughout the year.

A continued dialog with your boss about developing new skills, taking on new responsibilities, or complementing current knowledge can make you a more active participant in future performance reviews and provide a more positive experience.