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Unhappy with your end-of-year performance review? Here’s what to do

8 Dec 2021

Hays’ Chris Dottie shares his advice about what to do if you don’t get the end-of-year job performance review you were hoping for.

You’ve just had your year-end performance review. And you’re not happy.

There could be several reasons for your dissatisfaction. You might have been seeking a promotion that wasn’t forthcoming, or you’ve been denied a new position you were pushing for. Perhaps the pay rise your manager proposed wasn’t as significant as you’d have liked. On the other hand, it could be that you weren’t expecting negative feedback.

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While we strive for positive feedback and rewards, it’s not uncommon to feel aggrieved or downtrodden following a year-end performance review. Though I’d always advise that you take time to reflect in this situation, it’s important to be proactive.

Not making any changes is unlikely to yield the results you’re after, so it’s best to take steps that minimise the chances of a repeat next year. Similarly, it may help you decide whether it’s time to begin or speed up the search for a new job.

Here’s my take on what to do following the meeting.

Identify exactly why you are unhappy

I realise that this may sound obvious. However, your disappointment could come as a result of several factors. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you feel that any negative feedback was fair or not?
  • Did your manager adequately explain their reasoning for the comments?
  • If there’s more than one reason that you’re dissatisfied, which is the most important to you? Are any of the reasons linked? For example, a lack of promotion with no significant increase in pay.

Take the feedback on board

Even if you are unhappy with the outcome of your end-of-year performance review, it’s still important to take notice of the feedback.

Whether the overall message from your manager was positive or negative, it shouldn’t be ignored even if you believe it to be unfair. It’s also important to remember that, in some instances, your direct manager may not have been able to give you what you wanted due to company policies or factors outside of their control, even if you’d earned it.

You should receive a copy of your review in written form. However, if there were any details or extra points raised during a meeting, be sure to make a list. I’d advise that you divide them into positives, negatives and targets. Regardless of whether or not you stay at the company for next year’s appraisal, this will provide you with advice and a benchmark for any progress or goals.

Consider your career goals

Think about your career goals, both in the short term and the long term. Deciding what you want from your career will inform how you perceive your current role.

Are there certain skills you wish to learn in order to achieve those goals? Do you need any accreditations and are these an urgent priority for you? Maybe salary is important to you in the short term, but experience will be valuable in the long run.

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Assess options

You’ve looked ahead and now it’s time to take action. Consider these questions:

  • Will your short-term and long-term goals be met in your current role?
  • Are you learning hard skills that will help you in the future?
  • Are you getting the experience you need for your desired career path?
  • Is there an opportunity to change role in your current company or can your role be refreshed to suit your ambitions?
  • Is your salary in line with what’s being offered elsewhere?

If the answer to the majority of these questions is ‘no’, then you may be best served by looking elsewhere to continue your career. At many companies, your situation is unlikely to change until your next year-end performance review, which is a long time to wait if you’re dissatisfied. Any resentment you bear may well lead to a decline in your attitude and leave you even less happy.

And what if your answers to the above questions are mostly ‘yes’? In this case, the decision will not be so straightforward, so you’ll need to weigh up your career goals and decide on your priorities.

I should note that being comfortable in your role doesn’t mean that you should necessarily stay where you are, either. There are several reasons to start a job search even if you’re content at your current company. Furthermore, many people view staying in the same place as the easier option.

Start the new year afresh

Whether you choose to commit to your current role or to move forward with your job search, it’s important to look ahead. You can’t change the outcome of your end-of-year performance review so, although you may hold some negative feelings towards others, or even yourself, you’ll need to focus on what you can do to improve things. Making an effort will pay off.

By Chris Dottie

Chris Dottie is the managing director for Hays Spain. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays Viewpoint blog.

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