The Most Useless Feedback Bosses Have Ever Given

by Sabrina Son on Mar 30, 2015 8:00:00 AM

iStock_000058419714_SmallIf we haven’t said it before, we’ll say it again: performance reviews are painful. And sometimes managers just completely miss the mark. With ambiguous standards, a 12-month time lag, and no real way to measure performance, it’s no surprise that people don’t always know what to say during their review meeting. Just be glad that you weren’t one of these managers:

Mission Impossible

GuideSpark found that one in three employees polled were confused about how their company’s performance rating system tied to compensation. Stephanie McDonald, Owner of Hire Performance, recalls, “The most ridiculous feedback I've ever gotten was when I was asked by my manager to recite the mission statement of the organization from memory. I didn't get it perfectly right and it affected my bonus.

Make it clear to employees how their performance will affect compensation. Better yet, find a way to accurately measure performance rather than having them recite words.

New Call-to-action

School’s Out

The time lag involved with reviews means managers can easily forget information. Faith DeVeaux of Elleon Productions tells us:

The worst feedback I've received from a performance review so far was from a boss who said my next step was to go back to school for a Master's degree. I already had one, and he should've known it because his company acquired me (and my co-workers) in a buyout. We were all required to submit resumes and other background information during the negotiation process.

All he said was “oh,” and then crossed it out on the typed sheet we were both to sign.

Keep reviews timely. Supplement annual reviews with weekly check-ins, so you can keep information fresh in your mind.

Mixed Messages

One of the biggest mistakes a manager can make during reviews is not bringing any concrete examples to back up their statements. Melanie Hope, professional speaker and author of The Sniper’s Guide to Leadership says,

The absolute, most useless thing I've ever had to deal with in an annual review was a fellow employee's complaint that I hurt her feelings in April. The review took place in December. Not only was the employee not named, but the incident was not recorded, nor could anyone tell me what happened, simply that I had to be more careful.

Always provide tangible examples of an employee’s behavior. That way, they’ll know what needs to be corrected.

Star Status

This one takes the cake. Managers need to remember to keep reviews about an employee’s … performance. Here’s a fun one from Yuimi Vashum at Wise Calvin:

Instead of giving me feedback on my performance, [my boss] told me how I needed to

chop of my hair and dye it blonde like Miley Cyrus! He went on to recommend me Saloons and brands. I never got any feedback regarding my performance. And for the rest of the time I was working there, he asked me everyday when i was dyeing it blonde.

Performance reviews can be difficult to nail. But if you throw out those subjective questions, make them timely, and provide useful feedback that will help your employees grow, then the process won’t be as painful.


New Call-to-action


author avatar

This post was written by Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the managing editor for the TINYpulse blog. A Seattle native, she loves her morning (or anytime) coffee, spending her weekends on the mountains, and of course, the famous rain.

Connect with Sabrina