“The #1 way to bounce back with power from a painful performance review and win the support and respect you crave from your tough boss.”

Nothing seems to feel worse than getting a tough message from your boss about your performance.  If you have been there, you know how it feels to hear things like…

“Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a change in your behavior that’s creating problems within our team…”

“Lately, your metrics are falling short of our goals…”

“You’ve had a few customer complaints I’d like to talk with you about…”

“Your attendance issues have become a concern…”

And if you have a “tough-minded” or all-out “drop and give my 20” kinda boss, the discussions will probably start out even worse than my somewhat tender-hearted examples.

As a former head of HR who specialized in performance management strategy and counseling – lemme share a secret with you…

Discussing difficult employment issues is kryptonite to bosses

No matter how big of an uncaring, cold-hearted, a**hole your boss seems to be, the idea of having to maybe fire someone (whether for individual performance or because of budget cuts), is pure kryptonite to a boss.  Listen, no one ever aspires into business ownership, or management/executive ranks because they want to have tough “… your performance/attitude/attendance, etc. is falling short…” discussions and they definitely don’t do it to experience the anguish of firing employees.

The fact is…

Managers hate firing employees – even those with crappy attitudes that they are sick and tired of dealing with.  No matter how much you think your boss hates you, they would rather you stay and turn your issues around than have to replace you – especially if you work in corporate!  Firing employees in corporate often comes with the risk of losing the headcount all-together.  Trust me, if you go, someone (probably some well-meaning soul in HR or Finance) is going to scrutinize the headcount in your department and make your boss jump through a few hoops to prove he still needs your position filled.  Bosses hate corporate red tape and this particular request requires bosses to navigate an especially deep (not rosy), shade of red tape.

The bottom line is it takes a lot more time, effort, energy and certainly money to fire and replace an employee than it takes to try to rehabilitate the bird in hand. About 1x -3x your annual salary is a rule of thumb (depending on many things including your level and the degree of expertise required by your job).

As a 20 year expert of helping bosses counsel and fire employees (and having done it myself with my own staff), I can assure you that if there is a drop of a soul lurking in your boss (which, come on – you know there is – even if it is painful to admit that), no one ever enjoys or gets used to this process (even after years and years of doing it).

Yet, in my experiences of leading bosses and employees who are facing performance issues through the counseling (and sometimes, termination) process, I have witnessed one sure-fire way to recover from a painful performance review – heck, you might even win the support and respect you crave from your tough boss – and that is to …

be compassionate.

Empathy means to understand how another feels, sympathy means to feel what another feels and compassionate means feeling what another feels (sympathy) with a desire to do something about it – to work with them to alleviate the distress.  So you’re probably thinking – “huh – compassionate – shouldn’t they be compassionate towards me?!”  Well, yes, of course you deserve that, but you can’t control what another will do – and if you want it for yourself, the best path to get it is to give it – so, here’s why compassion is the answer…

It’s awkward and hard to be on the receiving end of a poor performance message – it is also tough to be giving them.  Nothing will make your boss want to help you more than when you share how that doing a good job matters to you AND you express concern for how it must be impacting them to have to deliver  this message to you.  I have seem employees do this in counseling and termination discussions and it is by far the fastest way to change the dynamic between you and your superiors.  I have seen executives who Darth Vader would approve of immediately drop their guard and transition from “I want them fired” mode to “let’s give them a chance to succeed” mode.

Bosses automatically expect defensiveness from the employees they counsel – but, when they encounter a humble, cooperative attitude that takes ownership for how they may have contributed to the situation (this doesn’t mean agree with their boss – it means acknowledging that their boss’s perspective also matters about how to get the job done well), expresses concern for how it might impact others including the boss, and assures the boss that they will strive to work on the issues so that they can be valued and regarded well – their boss will become as motivated as it is possible for them to be to support you toward performance recovery.  What boss wants to lose an employee who regards them and their feelings?  Would you want to lose an employee like that?  Sharing that it matters to you to do well and impact others in a value-added way shows caring and pride in your work. And that sets you far apart from so many others – some of whom might technically be meeting performance standards.

The worst thing you can do in a performance counseling situation is to put more energy into arguing about what you don’t agree with vs. talking about what you will do to restore value.  Rarely is every concern of your boss’s invalid.  Often, if you talk more about what you will do, some of the other points you may not agree so much with might melt away.  If you feel an argument welling up inside you, just say you would like to take time to consider how to address their points.

A performance issue is often just a mishap in the process of understanding what multiple people feel is needed to get a job done well.  What can you do to fix things on your end, demonstrate your commitment to results, and not judge other stakeholders (i.e. your boss) for having an opinion about what “a job done well” looks like?

It can be easier than you think to win your boss’s support to help you recover from performance challenges.  Often all it takes is to come to the table with a compassionate spirit – one that conveys a sense of ownership, pride in your work, integrity and reliability to do what you say you will without judging your boss for their opinion.  That is a spirit that will not only get you the help you deserve, but it will get you support (a downright cheering section) to prevail and flourish.

Remember, if you look good – your boss looks good – actually, they will look great!  Every boss is envyed for having top talent – and even moreso when they seem to know something their peers don’t know – how to get a seemingly underperforming employee to turnaround and flourish!

If you are struggling in a job you hate indigoforce can help – in just 4 sessions you can recover your reputation, discover a sense of job fulfillment and win the support and respect you crave from your boss. Call us for a free consultation 888/560-8233.

About Gina Calvano

Gina Calvano is a certified coach and Senior Professional in Human Resources, with over 20 years of experience as a talent management professional in both the private and non-profit sectors. With a unique approach, she combines her strategic corporate expertise and accreditations with metaphysics and transformational thinking which has resulted in people all over the world feeling good about themselves and connected to a sense of purpose.

She created the Success Readiness Bootcamp™, a step by step process that enables people to easily discover their unique talents and abilities and match them to majors, jobs, industries and leisure pursuits. Gina is also the co-author of Breakthrough! Inspirational Strategies for an Audaciously Authentic Life with NY Times Best Selling Authors Marci Shimoff, Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood and Powerful Connections Made Easy™ with Aprille Trupiano, and is currently working on her next book — Caged in My Cube: The Turnaround Guide For Loving The Job You Hate.

Share Your Comments & Feedback: