Career Woman

You’ve got this: how to deal with a bad performance review


Dr Froswa’ Booker-Drew answers your questions, putting her years of experience and practice into the goal of solving those knotty problems that beset us, and assuring us: ‘you’ve got this’. If you’d like Froswa’ to look at your particular problem, email it to

Question:  I just got a really bad performance review and I’m devastated. I thought I was doing okay. Now I feel absolutely destroyed and just worry that all this time everybody has been thinking I’m incompetent. Sarah


I can only imagine your feelings of confusion and disbelief.  It’s hard when you are under the impression that everything is going well and then to find out that your efforts have been perceived differently.  I have some questions for you:

  1. Throughout the period of evaluation, were you given feedback on your work? If so, was the feedback positive? Was this feedback given verbally or do you have documentation of praise offered?
  2. After your performance review, were you provided detailed instructions on how to improve and what’s needed for your success with clear metrics?

It’s unfortunate that you were not given the information you needed for improvement.  It sounds as if you were either not provided pertinent data or given mixed messages. In your performance review, were you given the opportunity to demonstrate your achievements to counter the negative review?  If not, I hope that you will share your perspective and offer evidence to prove that you were doing what was required. Moving forward, I would suggest that you have a meeting with your supervisor to discuss the performance review with the intention of setting measurable goals and timelines for your progress.  After that meeting, it might be helpful to meet at least monthly to discuss your progress so that you are aware of any issues to course correct as needed quickly.  Always document your conversations with your boss and follow up with an email to review the conversation.  In the future, please keep track of your achievements and how your contributions are making a difference for the team and the company.

I think this is a really great opportunity for you to prove not your team but to yourself that you are beyond competent.  One of my staff made a comment recently that was so profound.  She stated that when she is given feedback about an area of her performance she can change, she views it as an opportunity for improvement.  It’s becoming aware of what you can change and what you can’t.  You can only own what you are responsible for.  That’s all.

I’m curious if this is an improvement issue as well as an organizational culture issue.  It’s problematic to me when an organization does not communicate well to its employees throughout the performance period with consistent and ongoing feedback instead of waiting solely once a year to address issues.  This boils down to a leadership issue and HR might have some responsibility (although I don’t know how this may work at your place of employment) in setting the tone for feedback. Part of the role of a leader is to coach employees and not just focus on the end result but the process.  If your boss isn’t the coaching type, please find a mentor within the company that can also serve as a sounding board for you and help with your areas of growth, blind spots and navigating company politics and policies.

You have the power to change this and make it work in your favor.  This isn’t a failure.  This is a real opportunity for you to turn this around and show them who the real boss chick is…You. Got. This.

About Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew

Dr. Froswa' Booker-Drew is a Partnership Broker. Relational Leadership Junkie. Connector. Author/Speaker/Trainer. Co-Founder, HERitage Giving Circle. She been quoted and profiled in Forbes, Ozy, Bustle, Huffington Post and other media outlets around the world. In addition, she has been asked to speak on a variety of topics such as social capital and networking, leadership, diversity, and community development to national and international audiences. This included serving as a workshop presenter at the United Nations in 2013 on the Access to Power. One of the most impactful life events for her was being a part of the documentary, Friendly Captivity, a film that followed a cast of 7 women from Dallas to India. Honors for her work include: Semi-finalist for the SMU TEDx in 2012, 2012 Outstanding African American Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Arlington, 2009 Woman of the Year Award by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Diversity Ambassador for the American Red Cross. Graduating with a PhD from Antioch University in Leadership and Change, she also attended the Jean Baker Miller Institute at Wellesley for training in Relational Cultural Theory and completed facilitator training on Immunity to Change. She has also completed training through UNICEF on Equity Based Evaluations, and is the author of 2 workbooks for women, Ready for a Revolution: 30 Days to Jolt Your Life and Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last as well as a writer for several publications around the globe. WFAA Attention Series: Froswa Booker Drew on Vimeo

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