How to Handle a Poor Performance Evaluation

Sometimes you know it is coming, other times you may be blindsided, but receiving a performance improvement plan is never a good thing. When your boss, and probably a representative from human resources as well, let you know that you are on an improvement plan, you may feel embarrassed, defensive, or angry. Controlling your emotions during this initial meeting allows you to take time to decide the best path forward.

Are You Going to Lose Your Job?

There is no easy answer to this question. Some companies put employees on performance improvement plans because they see potential and want to help the employee succeed. Other companies use these plans as a way to cover all their bases before firing an underperforming worker. Many companies fall somewhere in between. They want to retain the staff they have. Dedicating time and energy to existing workers is still less effort and expense than making new hires. 

Although they are hoping to see improvement, they don’t expect much and won’t be surprised if, after the probationary period is over, the employee needs to find another job. Unless your place of employment is known for using these plans as a way to ease employees out the door, assume that you will keep your job as long as you commit to improving. The plan will go over exactly what you need to do. Without making these changes, you will probably find yourself looking for new employment.

Do You Want to Keep Your Job?

Often the focus is on whether or not you will keep your job. Maybe you should spend some time considering whether you want to continue working where you are, doing the job you are doing. There are plenty of times when a person is ill-qualified for the duties they have, but it is also common for negative performance to result from burnout. It may be time to consider a career pivot. Take some time to think about how you want your life to look in the future. Can you see yourself continuing on the path you are on now? Imagine that you work your way out of the performance improvement plan, would you feel relief or would you still be struggling with your work?

The idea of changing careers doesn’t have to be scary. If you are in a rough spot at work, it can be the perfect time to transition. Returning to school for additional education and training in a field you are interested in and offers growth potential can be the career reset you need. You can take out student loans from a private lender to finance your education. Use this money to cover tuition as well as living expenses related to school. If you have an existing bachelor’s degree, earning a second may not take as long as you expect. If you are considering your master’s, there are many flexible plans for nontraditional learners.

Build a Path Forward

Regardless of whether you choose to work your way out of your performance improvement plan or transition into another position, you must do something. Avoiding the issue will leave you unemployed. To salvage your job, have a frank discussion with your supervisor so you know exactly what you need to do. If you are ready to move on, offering your resignation allows you to leave the job on your terms.