If your boss is not happy with your performance at work – whether they’ve told you as much or you can just tell – it’s time to make some changes.
First of all, don’t beat yourself up.
Many of us find ourselves struggling at work at some point in our careers, it’s not that big of a deal.
It’s what you do about it that counts, and there is nothing more satisfying than turning your boss’s disappointment into amazement!
Here are some tips to help you address their concerns and turn your performance around:
Prepare What You’re Going to Say in A Meeting with Your Boss
Before you go into any meeting with your boss, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to say.
This means preparing some talking points in advance.
Some things you might want to mention are:
- What areas you feel like you need to work on
- The steps you’re taking to improve in those areas
- How you’re committed to doing better
- What – if anything – you need from your boss
Make sure you know what you’re going to say. This will ensure you don’t forget anything or get tongue-tied, it also shows you’re committed to improving and are taking your performance seriously.
Listen to Their Evaluation and Don’t Get Emotional
It’s easy to take things personally or let emotions get involved when someone is essentially criticizing you, but that’s just going to make things worse.
It’s difficult for bosses to deal with employees who cannot take constructive criticism.
So, when your boss is explaining their concerns, really listen to what they’re saying.
Try to understand where they’re coming from and see if there’s any validity to their points.
It’s also important to stay calm and level-headed during this conversation – remember, you’re an adult, this is your job, and you want to improve.
The only way you’ll be able to improve is if you’re open to change, you know the areas where you need to improve, and you’re committed to improving.
Take an Honest Evaluation of What They Said
On the heels of not letting emotions cloud your decisions and being willing to address the areas of your performance your boss is not happy with, you need to be very honest with yourself.
It might be difficult to hear, but sometimes the people who care about us the most are the ones who tell us the truth – even when it’s not what we want to hear.
So, after your meeting, sit down and really think about what was said.
What can you change?
What can you do differently?
What steps do you need to take to improve your performance?
It might help to talk this through with a coworker or a close friend. Getting someone else’s opinion can be eye-opening.
The most important thing is that you’re open-minded and don’t take anything that was said personally.
If your boss is willing to work with you to improve your performance, they’re clearly on your side – keep that in mind.
Come up With a Plan to Address Each of Their Issues
Your boss might do this for you or with you, or they might just leave it up to you to come up with a plan to address the areas they highlighted as needing work.
Whatever the case may be, it’s on you to come up with an action plan to address each of the areas where your performance is below par.
This plan should be specific, and it should have a timeline.
It’s important to be realistic here – if your boss is concerned about your punctuality, for example, and you’re constantly late for work, you need to start turning up on time from tomorrow.
Whatever it takes to do this; a louder alarm clock, going to bed earlier, you need to do it.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help from Coworkers or Your Boss
Another important factor is that you don’t feel like you’re alone during this process.
Plus, if you have more experienced coworkers around you, asking them for help or guidance can prove invaluable.
Your boss is also a great resource, and I’m sure they want to see you turn your performance around, or they wouldn’t be going through these steps themselves.
They’re the ones who are unhappy with your performance, so they should be more than willing to help you improve.
Generally speaking, people like helping others who come to them for help – as long as you listen, implement what they’re saying, and learn.
The whole process of improving your performance is about learning and making changes, always keep that in mind.
Communicate Openly with Your Boss About how You’re Working on Improving
Back on the topic of communication and how important it is in the workplace and to your continual professional development.
Without going over the top and bugging them, make sure you keep your boss informed of what you’re working on and how it’s going.
This will enable them to right the ship a little and work with you to make sure you’re hitting your new goals.
Seek out The Necessary Training You Need
If there are some gaps in your skillset or knowledge that are holding you back from performing up to your bosses – and your – expectations, it sounds like you have some training needs.
Never be afraid to ask for training, to be enrolled in a course, or whatever you need to fill those gaps.
Too many people underestimate the long-term value of education, you should never want to stop learning and working on your professional development.
Don’t question the cost either, any company that values their employees will be willing to invest in them as they see the long-term benefit.
Work on Your Own Self-Esteem and Confidence
This point isn’t directly work-related, but trust me it’s going to have a huge impact on your career if you can improve your confidence and self-esteem.
A lot of people who underperform at work do so because they doubt their abilities or they don’t have the confidence to do what’s required of them.
This is a very personal issue, and it might take some time to work on – but it’s worth it.
One of my favorite quotes comes to mind;
Self-doubt has destroyed more dreams than failure ever has
If you can start believing in yourself and your skills and have a ‘can do’ attitude, anything is possible, it really is.
Remember that It’s All a Learning Experience
I think it’s important to keep in mind as you work on addressing the areas where your performance is below par.
If your boss is not happy with your performance, it’s not the end of the world, and it isn’t a reflection on you as a person.
It’s simply an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop both professionally and personally.
And if you can keep that mindset, I’m sure you’ll be able to work through this and come out better for it.
I’ve had my own professional struggles at different points in my life, so I’m talking from experience.
Sometimes things just don’t align at that point in your life for the role you’re doing. Even if things don’t work out, if you learn from the experience, it might not feel like it but it’s a win.
Don’t Be Too Proud to Admit if You’ll Never Be Able to Meet Your Boss’s Expectations
For the final point, I want to end by saying that no matter how much it means to you to meet your boss’s expectations, it’s not worth pushing yourself so hard that you burn out.
There’s a big difference between not trying at all and giving it your best shot but falling short.
The latter is understandable, the former isn’t.
If you’re honest with your boss and yourself, and you’ve given it everything you’ve got – but it still isn’t enough – then it might be time to have a conversation about finding a role that’s better suited to your skills and abilities.
It’s not easy to admit that you can’t do something, but it’s a lot better than continuing to underperform and not meeting either of your expectations.
It might even be the case that your boss is setting unrealistic expectations, I’ve seen this happen a number of times.
Whatever the reason, you need to find a healthy work-life balance where you’re being challenged but aren’t stressed.
If you need to find a new job, that’s OK.
You’re not failing, you’re simply making a smart decision to better utilize your skills and be happier in the process.
Image credits – Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.