Business Category Business: career motivation and tips to move ahead

How to write a rebuttal to a performance appraisal

Performance appraisals rate an employee's job performance over a set period of time. Supervisors or human resources staff usually prepare performance appraisals.

Some appraisal systems include an employee-written self appraisal which is included in the employee's personnel file. Other systems include a space on the appraisal form for the employee to add comments or opinions. If an employee disagrees with his appraisal but his company's performance appraisal system does not offer him a formal opportunity to speak, he can write a letter of rebuttal and ask that it be attached to the review.

Wait for 24-48 hours. Criticism can generate emotions like frustration, hurt, fear or anger. Rudely presented criticism can be even more upsetting. However, employees who allow themselves time to work through their emotions can better assess the fairness of negative appraisals. Once your initial anger dissipates, you may find that some or all of the information in the review is actually correct. If the review is unfair, it is even more important to wait to write a rebuttal until you can do so professionally and unemotionally.

Begin your letter by stating your name, address, position with the company and the date on which you are writing the letter. Also state the name and position of the person to whom you are writing the letter and the name and address of your company.

List the assessments, comments and/or rankings you are rebutting. List the issues in the order in which they appear on the appraisal. List the specific statement or rank number, the section in which it can be found in the review and your reason for disputing the statement. Be sure to offer a clear, concise, detailed argument. State facts to back up your statement. "I was unable to complete project X on time because the original raw material shipment was lost after two weeks at sea. We placed a rush replacement order and were able to shift assembly responsibilities so that the order was completed two days after the original due date." is better than "This isn't fair because it wasn't my fault and I got it done as fast as I could."

State the action you wish to have taken clearly and respectfully. You may simply say "I respectfully request that this letter be attached to my review as filed in my permanent personnel record." If you were declined for a promotion or pay increase based on the review, you may ask to have the error remedied.

Thank the addressee for taking the time to hear your concerns. Sign the letter and hand-deliver it to your supervisor. In some cases, you may opt to let your supervisor work with human resources to have your rebuttal included in your file. In others, you may wish to copy human resources directly. If you intend to give a copy to human resources yourself, type the notation "cc: hr" below your signature.


  • Be professional. A claim that your supervisor never did like you may be valid, but it is unlikely to be taken seriously. Choose your battles. If you have two major issues and two minor ones, consider letting the minor complaints slide to keep focus on the major issues. Type or computer-generate your letter. Remember to run spell check and double-check your grammar and punctuation.


  • Avoid blame-placing and name-calling at all costs. Anger and recrimination may sooth your soul, but it won't advance your cause.