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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."

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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.'"

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[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?'"

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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."

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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."

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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 News Daily and Business.com 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. The only time Sammi doesn't play it safe is when she's writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.