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Challenging an Inaccurate Performance Review

by Ilene Tatroe

If you received a performance review that you felt was an unfair or inaccurate representation of your work, you're not alone. Less than half (47 percent) of employees surveyed by research firm Kelton for the Cornerstone OnDemand 2013 U.S. Employee Report believed their companies' appraisal processes accurately represented their work. As performance reviews can impact raises, promotions, and even who the company will let go, it is important that you speak up and challenge an inaccurate review.

Stay Calm and Rational

It's easy to get worked up about inaccuracies and fallacies in a performance review, especially if they negatively impact your evaluation. Take a few days to compose yourself and gather your thoughts -- and any evidence -- so that you can rationally discuss the inaccurate statements with your manager. Ask for a written copy of the review if you don't have it already so that you can read what it says; your boss may have better expressed his thoughts in writing than he did in the review meeting. Once you feel you are ready to discuss the inaccurate areas of the review rationally, schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss the review.

Write a Rebuttal

Take time to craft a non-emotional written response to the review, including factual examples that show why you believe the review is inaccurate. A rebuttal should be limited to a single page, include examples of how you helped your company reach its goals, and include complimentary comments from co-workers, says Joanne Cini, author of "Kingmaker: Be the One Your Company Wants to Keep ... on Your Terms." Initially, share the response with your manager, but write the document so that it can be read and understood by anyone else who may need to access the review at a later date. You may want to check whether a formal rebuttal form exists before writing the response; your manager or Human Resources department can assist you.

Bring In HR

Ideally, a frank discussion with your manager will help you address any problems with the performance review. If after this discussion the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction and you want to pursue it further, this is the time to discuss the review with HR. You may want to gather additional details, since the HR department is not as familiar with your work as your boss is. Consider the best way to present information as well; HR specialist and U.S. News and World Report blogger Suzanne Lucas says one of the best responses she's seen was a spreadsheet that included columns for a quote from the appraisal, documented factual evidence responding to the comment, names of employees who could verify the evidence, and the employee's view.

Consider the Future

Regardless of what happens with the review challenge, you should take this time to plan for the next review. Agree on regular checkpoints with your manager -- quarterly or even more often -- so that you can ensure you have a common understanding of your accomplishments and how you are meeting expectations. Document your accomplishments and hang on to emails or memos applauding your work so that you can refer to them during the review cycle. If your company does not have a self-evaluation process, share this information with your manager before he writes your review. This tactic helps ensure he has all of your accomplishments in front of him, complete with the evidence he needs to write a positive and accurate review.

About the Author

Ilene Tatroe has worked in the technology industry since 1996, with more than 10 years as a product manager for human capital management and workforce optimization applications. She has an MBA in marketing from Bentley University, as well as a Masters in journalism from New York University.

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