Getting Your Performance Review Rebuttal Right

For the most part, people will agree they do their jobs and sail into performance review time with no worries. They go through the performance process and everything they are hearing aligns with their efforts and accomplishments for the year. Great!

However, what happens when you receive a review that you aren’t totally in agreement with? Do you accept the erroneous evaluation or do you craft a rebuttal to defend yourself? The answer is the latter. You craft a performance review rebuttal and defend your performance.

I find many employees still don’t know that they don’t have to sign or accept a performance evaluation just because it is given. As an employee, you have a duty to read the contents of your performance evaluation. Equally, you have a duty to decide whether you agree with your manager’s evaluation of your work, accomplishments and developments. It’s called being an active participant in your career.

Unfortunately, there is still a practice and sentiment that exists in organizations that managers don’t need to tune into everything their employees do. Instead, they stick their heads in the sand most of the time and pop their heads up when there is an issue or something emergent is at stake. That said, no one knows what you do day-to-day better than you. Your second line of defense would be people you work collaboratively with either daily or on a project basis. Keep them in you back pocket always.

So… How do you properly craft a performance review rebuttal?

Performance Review Rebuttals are time-sensitive and usually have one window of opportunity. That means you need to make sure your rebuttal is crafted, reviewed and edited for any potential mistakes and handed in shortly after your review takes place. In larger companies, you don’t want to be forgotten as your manager moves through the performance review process evaluating your other teammates. Keep your performance conversation fresh by getting this done immediately after your review.

One Window of Opportunity

You will likely have one opportunity to counter the evaluation. That said, you need to ensure you hit all of the points needed to drive home an objective reason for changing your evaluation. This is not a time to complain or gripe with your manager (even if you feel that way subconsciously). It is also not a time for gloating or niceties. Your performance evaluation is a serious matter. It can dictate how much you receive in raises, whether you are promoted and let’s face it whether you have a job or not. In this rebuttal, your only objective is to address the feedback and illustrate why it is wrong by describing how you impacted the business differently than what the evaluation suggests.

Some other suggestions on crafting a winning performance review rebuttal are as follows:

  • Explicitly outline the items in the performance review that you feel were not aligned with your efforts. Talk about facts not feelings.
  • Where possible include dollars and cents to illustrate how your work has had bottom-line impact.
  • Request a follow-up meeting to discuss your rebuttal against the evaluation. This will give you a not only state your claim in writing; but verbally too.