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Very few things rival an unfavorable performance review in leading to frustration and lack of engagement; especially when you perceive it to be unfair or undeserved.  Many of us have been there.  You work hard all year, going above and beyond, or so you thought.  You may even have been looking forward to the review process, already calculating your expected bonus or pay increase, only to have your hopes dashed.  In some cases, the assessment is disappointing because you thought you deserved better.  You thought you did enough to stand out but somehow got lumped into the dreaded “Average” or “Satisfactory” bucket.  In others, it is downright demoralizing, maybe even depressing as the review is focused on all your perceived shortcomings and none of your successes.

Five Reasons Why You Worked Hard but Still Got a Bad Performance Evaluation

Several years ago, I had a similar situation in my career.  I had my eye on a more senior role and had been working hard to achieve it.   That year was a giant blur of late work nights, presentations and not much else.  Since I hadn’t heard any negative feedback, I assumed this meant I was on track for the promotion.  After all, no news is good news, right?


I was terribly disappointed once I had my evaluation and was told I did not get the promotion because I had “Met (but not exceeded) Expectations”.  My disappointment quickly hardened into anger and resentment.   “Who else worked harder and longer than I did?”, I thought to myself.   After the appraisal, I did not do any meaningful work for about 3 weeks.  Resentment eventually crystallized into a solid resolve to make a change.  I was determined never to be blindsided like this again. 

If you were unhappy with your review this year, here are a few ideas on how to deal:

manage Your Thoughts and Emotions

It is perfectly normal to be caught up in a cocktail of feelings when your performance review is unexpectedly negative.  Even a tepid review when you feel you have kicked butt can have the same effect.  Remember to process the feelings as suppressing them will lead to a downward spiral.  It’s ok to cry, curse and scream if you need to, in private, of course. 

Intensify your wellness practices.  If you have not been intentional and consistent about your wellness practices, now is the time to do so.  You will need it.  I’m not talking about meditating occasionally or saying some half-baked affirmations once a week.  You will need to cultivate an overall wellness culture, with the deliberate focus of prioritizing yourself.

This is also where your squad comes in handy.  You really want to surround yourself with supportive women who will nurture you and remind you of all that you are and have to offer.

Join The Intelle Squad if you need a thriving and supportive group of career-focused ladies to bond with.

It’s time to review your overall career

In the drudgery of long days filled with multiple presentations, endless tasks and office politics, many of us disconnect from ourselves and careers and revert to “Auto-Pilot mode”; a mode where we lose touch of the sense of purpose behind our daily career decisions.  We become more concerned with checking off to-do lists and attending every meeting than we are about making a real and measurable difference.

To begin this review, reflect on your intentions.

Your intentions are your overall driving force; our core desires; your ‘Why’. Without it, your goals, strategy and plans are meaningless.  Spend some time in the energy of your intentions, letting it propel you towards the right goals.

How to Incorporate Intentions into your Corporate Career

Develop a concrete strategy

Following your intentions and goals, work on your career strategy.  This becomes the blueprint for your career; the basis on which your actions are evaluated.  Essentially, before you sink 1300 hours into a work project or task, you’ll want to ask yourself whether it is in line with your strategy and consequently your goals and intentions.

If you need assistance on developing your strategy, schedule your first session with Intelle.

Create an Action Plan

By this point, you should be feeling more inspired and motivated.  Now that you are tuned inward and have begun to refocus on yourself, you should start developing a game plan.  What is your next move? With your strategy and goals in mind, think about whether staying in your current role or company will get you there in the time frame you are looking for? If you do decide to stay, set up another meeting with your manager or key stakeholders to gain clarity and alignment on changes you need to make going forward. 

Give yourself permission and time to assess your feelings, then get back out there and plot your next move.

Intelle offers career coaching for Black, Millennial women in corporate careers.  For more career and wellness boosting strategies visit us at www.intelle.us

stella odogwu