Performance review

Can you correct a bad performance review?

December 15, 2011: 11:18 AM ET

Probably, but it's vitally important to learn how to manage your boss all year round so your next evaluation will be better. Here's how.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: It's annual performance-evaluation time again, and my coworkers and I are, as usual, taking a grin-and-bear-it approach. We've gotten used to just getting it over with, as my out-of-touch boss does his best to come up with the pros and cons of our performance over the past 12 months. We end each year grumbling about the things our boss has gotten wrong, or things we've accomplished that he is just unaware of, but, so far, none of us has attempted any rebuttal. Are there any practical ways to correct inaccurate performance reviews, or should we just keep muddling along? I'm wondering if saying nothing is undercutting my chances for raises and promotions. Your thoughts? — Underappreciated

Dear Underappreciated: Whoa. "'Grin and bear it' is absolutely the worst possible way to handle this situation," says John Hoover. "Why are you abdicating such an essential part of your career to someone else, especially since you already know your boss is clueless?"

Hoover, who leads the executive coaching practice at Manhattan-based consulting firm Partners in Human Resources International, counsels managers at IBM (IBM), Hilton Hotels, Verizon (VZ), Xerox (XRX), and many other big companies. He also wrote an insightful book called How to Work for an Idiot: Survive and Thrive Without Killing Your Boss.

What Hoover calls "the boring HR answer" to your question is that you can indeed challenge an inaccurate or incomplete performance review. "You can go through the HR department and ask to be re-evaluated, pointing out things that were missed so they can be recorded in your personnel file," he says.

Politically, however, that route is risky, since it's likely to embarrass your boss by making him look, well, out of touch with what you're doing. "A better approach is to go to your boss directly with a list of the things he has overlooked, and ask him to add them to your written review," says Hoover. If you don't, your suspicion that you're undercutting your own chances for advancement is probably spot on. More

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