How To Craft Your Own Unfair Performance Review Rebuttal
Updated March 10, 2023
A performance review is an opportunity to learn what your manager thinks about your efforts at work. While they may give you valuable feedback during this meeting, they may also say a few things with which you disagree. Rather than accepting unjust feedback, there are ways to professionally rebut what they say. In this article, we explain how to share an unfair performance review rebuttal with your manager.
What is an unfair performance review rebuttal?
An unfair performance review rebuttal is a counterargument you might share with your manager after they give you negative feedback. While you may agree with some of the things your manager said about your performance, you may have felt like they didn't consider your hard work or efforts in their feedback. You may also feel like there was a simple misunderstanding that you wish to explain.
Rather than accepting feedback you disagree with, you can try to have an open and honest discussion with your manager to share your side of the story. Once you share a few reasons why you disagree with their unfair performance review, they may change what they initially said about your efforts at work.
How to share an unfair performance review rebuttal
Follow these steps to create and deliver a counterargument to unfair feedback from your manager:
1. Take a moment to process
After receiving unfair feedback from your manager, take some time to process it. In order to create the best counterargument possible, you need to fully think through what they said about you. Ask your manager for a copy of your performance review so you can reevaluate what they wrote about you.
Along with helping you think through your talking points, waiting at least a day to discuss the matter can help you process any unfair feedback and come up with a reasonable, rather than purely passionate response. While you may initially say you disagree with this feedback, you may want to schedule another time to discuss this with your manager in further detail.
2. Fully understand the feedback
If there are any sections of your performance review that you don't understand, ask your manager to reexplain them. The purpose of a performance review is to learn how your manager views your efforts in the workplace. Use this one-on-one meeting to fully understand their feedback. You may find that there is a way to come to a mutual understanding or compromise about something they wrote. Otherwise, having them explain their feedback can help you craft a better rebuttal.
Related: Q&A: How To Handle Criticism At Work
3. Choose your words carefully
Rather than quickly saying your arguments, plan what you are going to say. You want to come off as professional and polished when stating your rebuttal. When you take a moment to calm down, your manager may be able to listen to what you have to say. If you are feeling confused or overwhelmed about their unfair feedback, politely excuse yourself from the meeting. Taking a moment to relax can help you choose a better way to convey your thoughts. Likewise, you can ensure you are speaking appropriately to your manager.
4. Consider providing a written rebuttal
Sometimes, writing your ideas down can help you craft an even better argument. Writing your rebuttal can also be useful if this becomes an ongoing situation. This way, you can refer back to exactly what you wrote down. Write your rebuttal like a piece of formal correspondence. In your paragraphs, carefully explain why you disagree with your manager's feedback. When you're done with your letter, read it out loud to see how it would sound to someone else. Look for any typos or grammar errors to ensure you are submitting a professional-looking document.
5. List errors or inconsistencies
Within your verbal argument or letter, list all the errors or inconsistencies within your manager's unfair performance review. Be prepared to share reasons why you feel like this feedback is unjust. You may even want to discuss how this feels more like a personal matter rather than an objective look at your performance. By listing these inconsistencies, you can build a stronger case. Your manager may be able to better reflect on their potentially poor-quality review of your performance.
6. Provide counterexamples
When meeting with your manager, be prepared to provide counterexamples to the feedback they shared. Think of ways they may have developed misconceptions about the work you do. Sometimes, you may find that something they said was due to an honest misunderstanding. By stating your side of the story, they may be able to realize their error of judgment.
7. Be open-minded to compromise
It can be challenging to accept negative feedback about yourself. When further discussing your performance review, you may realize that you do have some areas for improvement. In these cases, try to come up with a plan with your manager to improve your efforts.
With compromise, you can also benefit from the meeting. Be open to sharing that the initial feedback your manager provided was too intense or unhelpful for your personal growth. Consider giving them feedback on how to better deliver criticism. You both may realize that you have things to work on, although if you still feel like your manager is in the wrong, consider saying so.
8. Meet with human resources
If having a meeting with your manager or communicating via letter isn't helpful, you may need to get human resources involved. This is especially true if you feel like the feedback your manager provided was highly inappropriate. You may also want to include human resources if your rebuttal involves sensitive information. Your human resources specialist may be able to mediate the situation. They may also have the ability to add an amendment to your original performance review.
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