What to do if you’re unhappy with your year-end performance review

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

There can be several reasons for your dissatisfaction. You may have been looking for a promotion that did not come, or a new position that you pushed for was rejected. Maybe the pay raise your manager offered was not as significant as you would like (or felt you deserved). Or, on the other hand, you may not have expected negative feedback; In that case my colleague, Jane McNeil, has some tips on what to do.

While we strive for positive feedback and rewards, it is not uncommon to feel hurt or depressed after a year-end performance review. Although I would always recommend that you take time to reflect on this situation, it is important to be proactive. It is likely that not making any changes will yield the results you are looking for, so it is best to take steps that minimize the chance of a return next year. Similarly, it may help you decide if it’s time to start, or speed up, your search for a new job.

Here is my opinion on what to do following the session.

1. Exactly the same as why you are not satisfied

I understand this may sound obvious. However, as I described in my introduction, your disappointment may come as a result of several factors. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you feel that any negative feedback was fair or not?
  • Has your manager adequately explained his / her reasons for comments?
  • If there is more than one reason you are not happy, what is most important to you? Is one of the reasons linked? (For example, lack of promotion without a significant increase in wages)

2. Take the feedback on board

Even if you are not happy with the result of your year-end performance review, it is still important to pay attention to feedback. Whether the overall message from your manager was positive or negative, do not ignore it, even if you believe it is unfair. It is also important to remember that in some cases, your direct manager may not have been able to give you what you wanted because of company policies or factors beyond his control, even if you earned it.

You must receive a copy of your written opinion. However, if additional details or points were raised during a meeting, be sure to make a list. I would recommend you divide them into positives, negatives and goals. Whether you stay in the company for evaluation next year or not, it will provide you with advice and benchmarks for any progress or goals.

3. Consider your career goals

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

Are there certain skills you want to learn to achieve these goals? Do you need any authority, and are these your top priority? The salary may be important to you in the short term, but the experience will be valuable in the long term.

4. Evaluating options

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

  • Will your short- and long-term goals live up to your current role?
  • Are you learning difficult skills that will help you in the future?
  • Do you get the experience you need for the desired career path?
  • Is there an opportunity to change roles in your current company, or Is it possible to refresh your role to suit your aspirations?
  • Does your salary match what is offered elsewhere?

If the answer to most of these questions is “no”, then you may be served if you look elsewhere to pursue your career. In many companies, it is unlikely that your situation will change until the end-of-year performance review, and it is a long time to wait if you are not satisfied. Any resentment you carry can definitely lead to a drop in your attitude and leave you even less happy.

And what if your answers to the above questions are usually “yes”? In this case, the decision will not be so simple, so you will need to consider your career goals and decide on your priorities.

I should point out that being comfortable in your job does not mean you have to necessarily stay where you are. As I wrote before, there are some reasons to start looking for a job even if you are happy with your current company. Moreover, many people find that staying in the same place is the easier option.

5. Start the new year anew

Whether you choose to commit to your current job or move forward in your job search, it is important to look ahead. You can not change the outcome of your year-end performance review, so even though you may hold negative feelings toward others (or even toward yourself), you will need to focus on what you can do to improve things. Effort will pay off.


Chris, a Liverpool native, joined Hayes in 1996, working in the UK and Portugal before coming to Spain in 2002. He manages the Hays Group in Spain, with offices located in Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Valencia, Bilbao and Sevilla.

He has a degree in international business and modern languages ​​from Aston University, including a one-year course at the École Superieur de Sciences Commerciales d’Angers and has since completed executive education courses at Ashridge Business School and IMD. He is a regular public commentator on the world of labor and international trade.

For the past four years Chris has served as President of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain and currently serves as Non-Executive Director on the Boards of Directors of the British Chambers of Commerce. Chris was awarded the MBE for Services to British Business in the 2020 New Year honors list.


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