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The Worst Performance Reviews Ever

Terrible Performance Reviews
Credit: imtmphoto/Shutterstock

When you're going into your annual performance review, you might have sweaty palms and butterflies in your stomach. Typically these meetings aren't as painful as we anticipate – at least, not for most. Some workers, however, aren't so lucky.

Reflektive, a performance management platform, asked individuals to share their most cringeworthy experience with reviews. Check out these five worst performance reviews ever.

1. "My ex-manager: 'Your greatest strength ... your listening abilities. Well, there might not actually be anything going on in your head, but you seem like you're listening."


2. "Higher level position years ago – boss spent 70 percent of the review talking [about] her husband, 30 percent was in-the-weeds process recommendations like, 'If a team member removed paperclips from incoming documents, that's a big process improvement.'"


[Want to learn how to give better performance reviews? Try these four tips.]

3. "I resigned two days after my performance review. That says it all, surely? I was working for a big corporation at a time when, yes, I was starting to question my role and next steps. As part of a leadership coaching course, I was given my boss's boss as a mentor. I arrived quite excited at the idea of being mentored and discussing the next steps. Instead, he looks at me and says I have huge potential, but he feels like I have one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake. Then he looks at me and says, 'Are you in or are you out?'"


4. "In one of the organizations I worked in, we were asked to fill out pages of answers to open-ended subjective questions. We did … only to find out later that our manager had already filled in his ratings before he left for vacation a week before we started writing the reviews. Our painstakingly written answers and responses had absolutely no purpose apart from making us feel like we were writing something up."


5. "I went in for my 30-day review all excited about all I'd been able to do in a newly created position. I was told that I hadn't done anything they had wanted me to do even after he admitted that they hadn't decided what they wanted to measure the position on; they just knew I hadn't done it. I had been meeting with my supervisor for a one-on-one every week and he'd never said anything. I upped my documentation, reporting, project management, asked for more feedback and clearer expectations only to sit down at my six-month review and get told a similar story: My work was exemplary, but it wasn't what they wanted. I left that company, and the person after me lasted six months too."


For more, read Reflektive's blog post on the worst performance reviews. Do you have a story to tell? Share your own experiences on and tag us on Twitter!

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Business.com and Business News Daily staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. Sammi loves hearing from readers - so don't hesitate to reach out! Check out her short stories in Night Light: Haunted Tales of Terror, which is sold on Amazon.