CXO

Discussion: Dealing with a negative performance review from a client

There's nothing as jolting as a "surprise" negative assessment of your work by a client. What's the best way to deal with it? Do you challenge it, ignore it, or evaluate it and learn from the experience? Join the discussion.


While the idea of lifetime employment by one company is a relic for most IT employees, there’s a good chance that you’ve been at your job for at least a year or two. Perhaps, you’ve escaped job cuts, reorganizations, and the occasional poor manager to get a solid decade under your belt.

Figure A


But if you’re a consultant, chances are you’ve regularly moved from job to job. Sure, consultants do have long-term contracts, but it’s not unheard of to have multiple clients during a typical year. In September, for example, the results of a TechRepublic poll (Figure A) showed that the greatest percentage of respondents—41 percent—had between two and four clients this year.

For each contract that a consultant completes, it’s likely that he or she will receive a performance evaluation from the client. The more contracts you complete, the more reviews you’ll collect. Besides referrals and networking, they’re part of the “chain” that keeps consultants employed and employable.

But what do you do when, after completing a project that you thought turned out well, you receive an unexpectedly negative performance review from your client? Do you challenge your liaison on the spot? Do you arrange a meeting between yourself and key stakeholders? Do you contact your lawyer?

What’s the best way to deal with such unexpected criticism? Have you had to confront an evaluation that you think was unfairly assessed?

Join in a discussion that asks consultants what they should do in such situations. Perhaps you take the route suggested by jwenmeekers: Let your anger cool, and then decide whether it’s worth your effort to challenge it. If it is, then go to it; if not, thank them for the work and leave, but don’t burn bridges or speak poorly of them to other consultants.

“Use your energy to improve your mind, and use this 'incident' to improve your skills and knowledge,” jwenmeekers wrote.

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