How to Turn Negative Feedback into a Positive Step – Part Two

In our last blog, we looked at some initial ways to help you understand the reasons behind negative feedback and how they help you become a more effective employee. In this week’s blog, we will give you more tools to overcome what can be an emotional time in your career. 

A performance review – be it negative or positive – is your chance to show that you are open to change and capable of growth. Negative feedback is a great opportunity to show your employer that you are mature, cooperative, and able to make necessary changes. Ask questions, but do not to question your manager’s judgment – simply show how willing you are to fix any problems. The feedback you have been given is a sign of interest and an indication that people want to help you do better. It would be far worse for people to notice your shortcomings, and not say a word. If you are successful in accepting the feedback and recognising what it is worth, you will be a much better employee.

Remember, the whole purpose of the feedback you have been given is to help you improve in your job, so that will require a detailed plan of action. That may involve learning new skills, reprioritising your tasks, or re-evaluating how you come across to colleagues or performed in your duties. Agree with your manager on what you need to do to make changes. Give yourself thirty days or sixty days to experiment with trying to do a couple of things differently. Then check in with the relevant people – your supervisor or trusted co-workers – and gauge your progress saying “Look, I’m changing how I’m approaching this but help me see if I’m on track.” Perhaps you could ask for an interim review with your manager to make sure that you are making the performance improvements that you want to make. Ask your boss if you can set a date now for a meeting in three or six months. That way, you can make sure your performance meets everyone’s expectations. It also shows your commitment to your future within the company. 

Turn Negative Feedback into a Positive

Remember that the evaluation may not be fully within your control, but your reaction to it is. Imagine that there is a second assessment, based on how you respond to the review and then give yourself a score for your handling of it. You could get D on the exam, but if you get an A on what you do with it, that is what matters, that is what determines whether you get an A the next time. Aiming for a great second score, and perhaps sharing that with your boss will remind you that the negative review is not the end of your professional story.

So, to sum up, key things to remember in the feedback session are: 


  • Remember to ask questions and get clarifications – it is critical to understand the specific ways you can improve
  • Take the initiative to make a detailed plan of action
  • Remember to see the value in feedback – it can be a springboard for positive change

Do not:

  • Get angry or argue with the feedback ever – you will only make things far worse
  • Turn only to sympathetic colleagues or friends to vent – you also need honest mirrors to make sense of the review
  • Consider the review the final word – how you react to the feedback is far more important

One thing to bear in mind, though, is that sometimes, negative feedback on your performance is simply a sign you may be in the wrong position. Once you have taken the time for introspection, you may realise that your lagging performance is not a result of a blind spot, but rather an indication that you simply are not in the right job. Occasionally, it can take an event like a negative review to realise you are not a good fit for the organisation. Regardless of whether you stay or move on, use the review as a springboard for change – and success. Many successful people have failed at various points in their career, and most of them later looked back on it as a real opportunity. So even though it feels really awful, just think of it as a wake-up call to a fresh start. 

Previous Post
How to Turn Negative Feedback into a Positive Step – Part One
Next Post
Is it Just About the Salary?