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Ask the Experts

Q: How do I make a comeback from a bad evaluation?

A: Receiving negative feedback in the workplace can be very difficult, but when negative feedback comes in the collective form of an overall “bad” evaluation it can be devastating to one’s professional ego and sense of mastery. That being said—there is life and career after what you call a “bad” evaluation if you can identify and find some constructive lessons that you can use in the future.

First, it is helpful to reframe the term “bad evaluation” by really understanding its purpose and message. This might be hard initially—but at some point ask yourself how much of the evaluation was on target and how much was unfair? What parts of the evaluation do you believe have merit and which parts do not? At the end of the day—how much you internalize and learn from the negative feedback—is your choice. With a little distance and time, you might be able to glean some important information about what is expected of you, what benchmarks need to be met, how best to garner support and help from your workplace and what substantive skills need to be improved.

Now onto the comeback part of your question. Armed with this new information about how to improve your skills and what areas need development, enlist the support of more senior attorneys, mentors, partners and professional development individuals to help you improve and hone identified areas of weaknesses. The “comeback” part rests squarely on your shoulders.

By focusing on what can be learned and changed, setting a course of action for either obtaining those needed skills or enlisting the support of others you start to lay a strong foundation for a comeback in attitude, in mindset and in results.

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