4 ways to respond to unexpected situations

You have performed well all year, achieving and in some cases overachieving your targets and you are receiving good feedback along the way.  It is natural for you to expect a good review rating and rewards as a result.  What happens when you don’t receive what you expect?  What happens when you receive a good review but the rewards and ratings do not match that “good” review?  What is your response?  What if it was the reverse, when you expected a negative outcome but received a positive one instead?

Expectations are hard to rationalise as it is our interpretation of the various sources of information that we receive.  The interpretation of all these information will determine what we expect to happen next.  The challenge is when the information that we are receiving is not consistent in forming a conclusion or thought.  For example, if you believed that you did a great presentation to a customer and received the feedback that is consistent with what you believed, then it is a confirmation that your actions were received likewise.  What happens if it is not consistent with what you thought?  We find that extremely confusing and we will either accept or reject the situation or information.

What is your response to conflicting and confusing situation?

  1. Assess the situation objectively.  Remove the emotions out of the equation as hard as it may be.  Assess the information that is presented.  In a performance review scenario, it is important to be specific and measurable and yet there are also many subjective assessments taking place.  Understanding that is critical in being balanced in our assessment of the situation.
  2. Look at various viewpoints.  Each view-point or thought is true from that view-point.  Don’t dismiss it just because it does not agree with yours.  There is always some truth in someone’s views as that is how they perceive the situation.
  3. Agree to disagree.  If you can’t find common grounds, then agree to disagree and move on.  Moving forward is critical is any situation where we are confused or feeling stuck.    When an issue is not resolved or not moved forward, the initial negative emotions will grow to take a much bigger role in how you will respond to situations later on or one that involves certain individuals.  The ability to let go and move forward is critical in ensuring that every step that you take is on a clean slate.
  4. You  have a choice to make.  We all have the power of choice.  Choice to move on, to stay, to fight etc.  Choose your choice carefully.  Whatever the choice is, ensure that it is aligned with your values and one that builds upon your character and not negatively impacts it.  For example, after a negative review, if you decide to stay, then  resolve to performance better or make the necessary improvements.  Do not stay just because you like the salary as the negative emotions and sentiments will bleed through.  It will show in your words or actions and no one enjoys the company of someone who is breeding discontent.  It is also contagious and so if you know someone like that, it might be best to stay away

I have been on both ends, as an employee and as a manager and there are times when its extremely hard to inform a performer that the rating or rewards are low due to other factors that are out of your hands such as stack ranking, impressions of manager’s  manager or if the company is not doing well financially.  There are so many variables in a performance review that sometimes, things just don’t go the way we expect.  Being matured and professional when it does not go your way is critical as it will determine how you will carry yourself and demonstrate your next steps to those around you.

The choice to respond and your approach are marks of a matured and professional individual.


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