What Managers Should Never Say in an Employee Performance Review

what managers should never say in an employee performance reviewPerformance reviews are tough for your employees – and that’s before you stick your foot in your mouth. While good performance conversations breed transparent communication, employee development, and healthy relationships, bad ones spell disaster for employee performance and engagement.

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Whether your reviews are yearly, monthly, or part of a more comprehensive feedback system, take our advice. Don’t let your managers say these things in their performance reviews.


“I was surprised you didn’t beat Bob’s sales this year.”

Don’t compare. No one likes to be held up against their neighbor, and frankly, it only produces resentment and jealousy among colleagues. Instead, measure employees against their own past performance.


"You are always late to work.”

Words like “never” and “always” just add fuel to a potential fire. No one does something 100% of the time, and acting as such will just leave your employee feeling unfairly put on trial. You can have the same conversation without using those words.


“I’ve got no feedback for you—you did great!”

Every employee has things they’ve done well and things they need to improve upon. Not preparing both positive and constructive feedback communicates to your employee that you haven’t paid attention. Even the best employees expect to hear something they need to do better – otherwise, they’ll start to look for development opportunities elsewhere.


“If you hit the $100,000 mark this year, there’ll be a spot at corporate waiting for you.”

Don’t promise, and don’t threaten; avoid “If, then” statements. You don’t know where your company or your employee is going to be in six months.


“You’re lucky to get this bonus.”

Be happy for your employee, don’t begrudge him. This can only come across as condescending.


“Because of your terrible job on the Malone case, you won’t be getting your bonus this year.”

Don’t bring up compensation in a performance review—keep the conversations separate. The development of your workforce shouldn’t be overshadowed by what their pay stub is going to read. Combining the two will only make the employee defensive and unwilling to learn.


“Can we make this quick? I’ve got a 10 AM meeting.”

Make sure you leave ample time for the review. Having to cut an employee performance review before both sides are finished means one side feels cheated and unimportant.



Don’t put your performance reviews in jeopardy by saying the wrong thing. Download our free performance review templates so you can ask the right questions, at the right time.

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