• Tesla recently fired scores of employees in the wake of performance reviews.
• A negative performance review doesn’t guarantee you’re about to be fired.
• If you want to turn things around, you need to stay calm and take proactive steps to improve.
Tesla reportedly let around 400 employees go during an intense round of performance reviews last week.
A company spokesperson told Business Insider’s Bryan Logan, “As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures.”
Don’t worry, though. Business Insider’s Shana Lebowitz reported experts agree this is “hardly indicative of a trend in the workplace.” Tesla’s founder and CEO Elon Musk is said to be an intense boss, having reportedly replaced his longtime assistant after she asked for a raise – although he disputes that characterization, according to Business Insider.
In most workplaces, poor performance reviews don’t always result in immediate termination. Business Insider spoke with Monster career expert Vicki Salemi about how to bounce back from a negative review – before it’s too late.
First of all, how you behave during the review itself maters. Even if you feel the reviewer’s suggestions or criticisms are unreasonable, don’t get defensive.
“Instead of saying something like, ‘That’s ridiculous and so not possible given my already full workload of 12-hour days’ you can pivot the conversation to something like, ‘I’d like to tap into your advice and insight considering my 10 clients take up a significant amount of time and volunteering for three group projects in other departments will take me away from my focus,'” Salemi told Business Insider.
As you listen to the criticism, Salemi said to keep calm, ask thoughtful questions, and take notes.
“If you’re completely caught off guard, many parts of the conversation may not sink in because you’re focused on the negative words which can tend to sting, so it’s important to listen, remove yourself from the situation, remain calm,” Salemi said. Plus, writing your reviewer’s thoughts down will “give you something to do rather than feel like you’re in a pressure cooker staring at your boss on the other side of the desk.”
Once the review is over – presuming you still are in your role – Salemi said to follow up with your boss. Schedule another meeting down the road, or set up regular check-ins.
“It shows initiative and that you’re willing to do what it takes to improve,” she said.
In order to bounce back from a poor review, you’ve got to be honest with yourself. If the substandard review was justified based on the quality of your work, then you’re going to need to take steps to improve your performance. Salemi recommended discussing training options or other resources with your boss.
But if the harsh review was completely off base or unwarranted, Salemi said it’s time to start documenting discrepancies and reaching out to colleagues and clients for feedback.
“If the review pointed out you don’t work well with clients, hopefully you have a kudos folder in Outlook that you can tap into and print them to show quite the opposite,” Salemi said. “Then schedule time on your boss’ calendar to objectively, calmly and confidently go over the facts.”
Salemi said while a single bad performance review doesn’t always indicate that your job is at risk, you might find yourself facing a performance improvement plan that will require you to up your game or lose your job.
“One of the best ways to avoid that outcome of getting fired is to make a sincere, determined, focused effort to improve,” Salemi said. “Not only that, become your own ambassador and talk it up – let your boss know that you’re working hard to change that performance review around.”
Keep your boss in the loop about steps you’re taking to improve.
“It can be as something as simple as sending a quick email like, ‘I sat with so-and-so today in accounting to better understand their balance sheets, just wanted to let you know I’m working on a daily basis to improve,'” she said. “It may feel like you’re being cheesy but in reality, you’re being visible to your boss when he or she may not see what you’re doing on a regular basis.”
Don’t be afraid to be your own cheerleader. After all, your job might be on the line.