First, with most larger/professional companies, HR is already very involved with the performance review process. This is especially true with the negative reviews. At my company, every performance review will get read by HR or a manager a step above.
Second, HR's job is to limit and mitigate risk and exposure for the company. They do this by ensuring the company is following local/state/federal rules and guidelines as well as the company's own internal values/culture. HR is not there explicitly for the benefit of the employee, though they intervene when one of the above is being violated involving an employee.
Third, a bad performance review typically means there is ample documentation in your HR file already. This documentation typically shows patterns. In your mind, you may be absolutely correct. You may even technically be correct. However, often this documentation will paint a picture around other themes (not a team player, poor interpersonal skills, inability to take ownership, no initiative, has to be micro managed, doesn't take feedback well, plays the victim card, etc etc)
If you intend to be with this organization long-term, you need to be cognizant of your "brand". Assuming you do have several demerits, and then you complain, your brand throughout HR/Leadership can get tarnished as you get thought of as the "difficult one" or the "troublemaker." There won't be any "retaliation" as a court will recognize it, however, you will continue to get demerits and possibly corrective action/PIP.
Instead, the preferred course of action would have been:
- First, you take ownership of the situation and get any clarification that you need on the demerits
- Second, you create an action plan, either by yourself and present it to your manager or with your manager's help. This shows initiative and that you are open to and committed to closing your gaps
- Third, you have regular sit downs, maybe every couple weeks or once a month to discuss your general job performance, progress on your plan, and any tweaks to your plan as necessary. If your manager doesn't schedule them, then you do it. This shows you are in charge of your own development.
- Fourth, it's important for you to pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues as to how your coworkers and leaders perceive you. It is your "brand" you are working on. This one can be hard as a lot of people in tech industry/technical jobs aren't as versed in soft skills as others in different fields. It's also important that you aren't going around to everyone around you and asking how they feel about you or how other's feel about you. This can cause you to be branded as the "needy one" or the "oblivious one." However, you can, in a more formal and very infrequent way, ask for feedback on what others feel you should be doing or not doing.
- Fifth, think of it from you manager's perspective. Imagine you have your manager's job and are having to work with the same goals and within the same constraints as he/she does. Think about your own performance and brand. Then stack rank you with your coworkers in your head on performance, demeanor, the way you interact with others and approach problems. Now, pick some characteristics that you think would elevate your performance. Remember, performance characteristics aren't purely quantitative and can relate to company values or your soft skills.
Finally, if you believe you are correct, the questions is not how to respond to this performance review. Instead, you need to ask yourself, "do I really want to work for an organization with this culture?" If you truly believe that you are getting all objections and insufficient recognition for the good you do, it's time to find a new place to work.