Prepare for any review, regardless if you think it will be bad or not. This means, looking back on the year, quarter, month and bringing tangible examples of projects that were completed well or on-time and those that were not. Don’t try and overcompensate by only talking about the good things you did as managers will see through this.
Remove the blinders
It’s difficult to evaluate yourself without bias, but it’s crucial to realize no one is perfect and there will always be areas for improvement. Acknowledge your weaknesses and, instead of making excuses, come with a detailed plan to strengthen those areas over the next year.
The worst thing to do is to get defensive during a bad review. Really listen to what your manager is saying and try to put emotions aside and remember that they are telling you these things to try to help you and make you a better professional.
Proactively send a recap of the meeting to your manager or HR rep (whoever conducted the review) to show them that you were listening and detail your main takeaways from the meeting. That way, everyone is on the same page moving forward and there is no ambiguity about what is expected.
Show your manager that you are working on improving in the areas they pinpointed in the review by sending a status or progress update a few months after the review. This shows that you’re invested in your career and are working hard to get better.