12 Horrible Things Found in Performance Appraisals

Male boss: You use big words that make people feel stupid.
Me: What words? Which people?
Boss: People.
Co-worker, later: Boss means you make him feel stupid.

Annette Mertens shared this bit of feedback from her boss on a LinkedIn post by Kieran Synder, the CEO of Textio. Snyder shared some of her nightmare experiences, including this gem:

“Great year! We’re not promoting you because you’re pregnant, but good news! It’s possible we’ll promote you when you’re not pregnant anymore. Then again, it’s also possible we won’t, because babies.”

These are two examples of horrible things that some bosses think are okay feedback.

They aren’t.

While it’s possible that Merten’s vocabulary was uncomfortably awkward, the boss’s delivery seems to match the coworker’s interpretation. If it were a real problem, he should have examples prepared before giving feedback. As for Snyder’s boss’s explanation that she wouldn’t be promoted because she was pregnant, that goes beyond ill-advised to illegal.

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6 thoughts on “12 Horrible Things Found in Performance Appraisals

  1. I once had a job where all the department directors/management were let go so I was now reporting to an upper level director. I was told “I don’t know how to evaluate your performance because I don’t know anything about your job. I Just know the department can’t work well without you. So I am just going to give you 3 out of 5 for all areas since I don’t ever give 4’s and 5’s.” This was right after a grueling 4 month time where the whole institution changed over their computer software and I was working 12 to 16 hour days.

    It was the final straw. I was out the door in less than 2 months.

  2. The title of this should be “12 Horrible (and Often Sexist) Things Found in Performance Appraisals,” because YEAH.

    1. This. I worked with a number of women who said they got the same feedback over time that I did. “You speak out too much. You need to listen more,” one year, and the next, “You need to learn to speak up and contribute more.” I don’t suppose our managers even realized that they were alternating between “speak up” and “shut up” annually.

  3. Wow! Just Wow!
    People who think we’ve come some far in equity and fairness should read this and they’ll know we have so much further to go.

  4. Well, if we’re going all out on sexism and misogyny, why not just include the comment that a woman employee needs to “smile” more?

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