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Best and Worst Mid-Year Performance Review Comments

Posted by: Jena McGregor on July 23, 2009

A few weeks ago, we put together a special report on mid-year performance reviews: Why they matter more in a recession, why performance reviews don’t work, and advice from an HR superstar on giving a review in tough times.

At the time, we asked our followers on Twitter to tell us about the most memorable comments given during past performance reviews. Here’s a sampling of their responses. (Leave your best one in the comment box below.)

—“Your weaknesses are just overuse of your strengths. You need to work on ‘modulation.’ “

—“TX govt employee scolded for wearing white [panty]hose cuz ‘they make your legs look fat.’ Boss resigned during sexual harassment inv”

—“boss once pointed out that I took out both days of Rosh Hashanah but he didn’t think I was that religious… in a review…”

—“Bossman: How do you justify all that time spent in Social Media? Me sez: The same way you rationalize golf games with clients.”

—“boss overpraises my excellence, touts me as top example of great worker; then excitedly gives me $2500 raise.”

—” ‘You’d be 1 of my best engineers if you were 6’ tall w/black hair & a wart on ur nose.’ (Petite blond didn’t work.)”

—“Even if there are no areas of improvement, we’ll have to come up with one. Just make it up.”

—” ‘Would you mind pouring me another drink?’ I was a young reporter - he was my alcoholic boss.”

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Reader Comments


July 24, 2009 11:23 AM

—“boss overpraises my excellence, touts me as top example of great worker; then excitedly gives me $2500 raise.”

Actually, that'd be a big deal for a mid year review in this economy!!

Thomas Huynh

July 24, 2009 11:19 PM

Beedi, I agree with you. It depends on the employee but there are some who have this sense of entitlement that is truly amazing. ("What, only $2500?") How often are employees grateful for their raises and bonuses. I'm not simply talking about the secretary at your office but also the top execs who work for financial companies who are so used to making their old wages that they assume they are entitled to some of the same, despite the value they and their industry add to society.

There wasn't a time when I don't personally thank those who made the decision to give me a bonus or a raise, even if I feel I deserve it. Having been born in a third world country, I never took these gifts for granted. I don't expect every employee who hasn't been in my shoes to share my appreciation (nor would it be realistic) but only that everyone realizes how truly lucky he or she is.

Thomas, founder


July 25, 2009 03:19 PM

These are the best and worst comments. Perhaps the comment about a $2500 raise was positive.


July 25, 2009 04:06 PM

My favorite wasn't a comment, but...

I was asked to write up a self appraisal and email it to my supervisor. I did so. My review just never seemed to happen. Eighteen months later, my supervisor rotated out of being my supervisor. A year after that, she retired. About that time, I finally received a return message from her. It was an Outlook return receipt, that said, "Message deleted unread."

Fred Fnord

July 25, 2009 11:22 PM

Quote: "Beedi, I agree with you. It depends on the employee but there are some who have this sense of entitlement that is truly amazing. ("What, only $2500?") How often are employees grateful for their raises and bonuses."

Not to put too fine a point on it:
That is a completely asinine way of looking at it. An employee is in a reciprocal relationship with a company, boss, etc. If the employee does his or her job to the satisfaction of the company, then he or she should be able to expect that his or her salary next year will be the same as or more than it was last year. That's called doing your job and getting paid for it.

If you are making, let's say, $50k a year, and your boss gave you a $2500 raise at the end of 2008. (Yes, yes, no one was getting raises then. Pretend it was a normal year.) Well, inflation was 3.8% for 2008. So in order to maintain the exact same standard of living, you could expect a raise of $1900. This means that, effectively, what you are seeing is a raise of $600 per year. It is my guess that this gentleman was making more than $50k a year, and so it wouldn't surprise me if he was making LESS after the raise than he had been a year before.

If you feel that getting a raise is a 'gift' that your superiors in a company give you, then you have and are propagating a fundamental and DANGEROUS misunderstanding of the employee/employer relationship. Encouraging people to not feel 'entitled' to a raise that they have worked their butts off, and instead making them feel grateful for whatever crumbs their employer gives them, is no more or less than the demolishing of the last bit of power that employees have in this relationship: having the guts to expect to be remunerated in proportion to their ability and effort, and, if they are not, to point this out to their employer.

What's worse, it's also dangerous to the employer. If you train your employees to take whatever raises they can get, and not to tell anyone that they feel they deserve to be treated better, then you have no one but yourself to blame when your star performers leave for other jobs, without talking out their salary issues with you.


Thomas Huynh

July 27, 2009 10:10 AM

Dear Fred,

Everyone has a choice to make from the following regarding employment: accept or leave. If the employee decides to stay, then he or she needs to accept the $2500 raise. If not, then leave (as you mentioned). This is much healthier than being resentful of your employer for "only" giving you a $2500 raise yet staying in that job -- a rather toxic relationship for both sides. If a star leaves, then that's the company's problem.

Thomas, founder

آگهی رایگان

November 29, 2009 07:16 AM

These are the best and worst comments.

Post a comment



How can you manage smarter? BusinessWeek writers Nanette Byrnes, Patricia O’Connell, Emily Thornton, Matthew Boyle, Michelle Conlin and Diane Brady synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.

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