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Ask HR: How Should a Worker Respond to an Unfair Performance Review?

SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is answering HR questions as part of a series for USA Today. 

Do you have an HR or work-related question you'd like him to answer? Submit it here.


My last performance review was not what I expected. It unfairly centered on my challenges and did not represent my wins. If I disagree with a performance review, can I fight it? If so, how? —Satine 

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Receiving a negative job performance review can be extremely frustrating and demotivating. If you review the assessment objectively and feel it is off-base, write a rebuttal or provide comments on your performance appraisal. State clearly why you disagree with the evaluation. A rebuttal aims to add a permanent record to your current review. Employees typically use them if they disagree with their appraisal or wish to add missing goals and accomplishments. Confirm with your supervisor or your HR team how to do this in accordance with company policy.

Also, request a meeting with your manager to discuss your feedback. Maintaining composure and objectivity will preserve your credibility when facing unfavorable criticism. Keep in mind that your rebuttal should be specific. Be prepared to support your arguments with evidence of your accomplishments and clarify why you disagree with the feedback.

Once a performance review is closed, there isn't much you can do to reverse it. However, there are steps you can take to avoid repeating the situation. Start by creating an action plan to address any areas where you need to improve based on the feedback. Also, your supervisor may be underinformed about your work activity, so devise a strategy to keep them aware of your accomplishments. Stay in touch with your supervisor to regularly review your success and any changes to your performance.

No matter what occurs, maintain a professional tone in your communication. Even when receiving unfair critiques, keeping a positive attitude and committing to improving your performance are crucial. You can turn a poor performance evaluation into a worthwhile learning experience by remaining composed, professional and improvement-focused.

I work an evening shift—from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.—at a fitness center. If I am summoned to jury duty, can I still be compensated for my time away, even if the hours do not overlap? —Dutch 

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Let me first express the extreme importance of performing our civic duty and sitting on a jury whenever we are called upon to do so.

You may be eligible for compensation for jury duty even if the hours do not overlap, depending on your employer's policy and your state's regulations. Some state laws require employers to pay employees while they serve on a jury. If your state laws and/or company policy do not require payment, you may be able to use paid time off to cover your time away from work.

I'm sure you're also considering how jury duty could conflict with your sleep time. Your employer might allow you to work different hours or build in larger periods of rest between shifts to ensure you get adequate sleep and to protect your safety.

Ultimately, I suggest having a conversation with your human resources team regarding your company policy and how it pertains to your situation. Hopefully, you can find the flexibility to get adequate rest and recovery as you participate in jury duty.