Why Your Last Performance Review Didn’t Go Well

by Ron Haynes


It’s that time again, time for mid-year performance reviews. Maybe your last review didn’t go so well. Maybe you felt like you were the victim of the “recency effect” where you did everything right for months but messed up twice in the last three weeks and got more of a reminder than a review. Maybe you’re doing everything right and putting up the numbers but your boss keeps telling you “it’s not what you say it’s how you say it.”

The key is balance

“Yeah, yeah, I hear that all the time,” you say. Maybe a picture will help.

A life in balance

You’re supposed to ONLY be evaluated on the WHAT side of the equation, but guess what? Your boss is human and the HOW side always comes into play at some point. Many times the HOW bleeds over into the WHAT and has an effect on the organization.

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What makes up the WHAT? It could be several factors such as:

  • The quality of work you produce.
  • The quantity of work you produce.
  • The time you put in to producing work.
  • The cost of your work habits, salary, or production.
  • The policies you follow or don’t follow.
  • The procedures you follow or don’t follow.
  • The processes you use to produce your work.

Combine these with the skills, abilities, and aptitude and you’re there, right? Not so fast. There’s the other side of the see-saw to consider, the HOW.

An employee with all the skills in the world is worthless if he or she has a lousy attitude that degrades morale. That employee might have a chip on the old shoulder just daring someone to knock it off. Or they might have a mind set that the company is stabbing its employees in the back with that new policy on expense reimbursement. Here’s a picture of that employee:

A life with skills but not in balance

This employee has a false sense of security because they think they’re putting up the goods, but behind their back, the boss secretly is plotting to get rid of them. This employee is poisoning others and with just one little slip up – BAM! Out the door.

How much does this poor mindset affect the quality of other’s work, or the quantity, or the cost to replace good people fed up with a poor attitude on the part of a co-worker?

On the other hand, there’s the employee that everyone loves, but is unable to produce. Managers hate to see them go, but “de-hiring” this person is purely a business decision. The employee isn’t producing the work that the business demands. Bosses feel bad letting these people go, but they console their conscience by reminding themselves that it was simply a “business decision.” Here’s a diagram:

A life with good attitude but not in balance
This employee may be disguised as a constant joker, the one who keeps everyone in a light mood, or the one whom all the other employees can complain to. No matter. If this employee isn’t producing, his or her time is short! There may be a time issue, or a policy issue, or a quantity issue when you have an employee that is out of balance in this way.

Regardless of which side is in the air, it’s out of balance. And a life out of balance isn’t what your boss is generally looking for when deciding to give you high marks on a performance review.

Think back to other great people you worked with, those you looked up to and respected. They were probably producers, but they also had the proper mindset and demeanor.

The $64,000 question:

Where are you? Do you see yourself in any of these diagrams? What specifically do you need to work on so your year end review is stunningly improved?

Ask yourself how balanced you are. Do you need to work on skills, or attitude, or both? Commit today that you will shore up your deficiencies in these areas. Then make a plan on how.

Side note: if you feel your performance review isn’t fair, don’t be afraid to challenge it. No one will stick up for you like YOU.

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1000 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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{ 3 comments }

Tammy Brackett

Hmmmm. I am self employed but I see this as an objective way to evaluate myself. Especially the “what” portion on the evaluation equation.
Very interesting post!

Positively Present

Wonderful wisdom here, as always. I love the images you’ve provided. They really help to make the points you’re making very clear. I definitely have some work I need to do!!

Jeff Nickles

Ron – Great stuff! You are absolutely right that you need both performance and a good attitude if you want to really get a great review. It isn’t enough anymore to just perform. The world is interconnected and relationships matter. We all have to make our “customers” happy if we want to succeed. Thanks for the reminder!

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