The boss has a vested interest in keeping salaries low. http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1995-03-10/ - you'd think after so long, Dilbert and his co-workers would realize that performance reviews are nothing but a sham. After 20 years of loyal work without a promotion, watching the disingenuous manipulation of management convinced me that the struggle of entrepreneurship would be better than continuing to be humiliated on a yearly basis, and I took early retirement.
This is an exact replication of my performance review two years ago. I told the manager that he is reconstructing a Dilbert cartoon on me. He got upset but dinged me anyway, according to the plan, for not taking criticism well.
The setting of goals that you can only achieve if the right projects come in.
Being criticised for not achieving last years goals, but thats down to management not assigning you to the right projects.
And there is often talk of promotion. They talk about working towards putting you up to the next level/pay grade but never do.
The only way to get a proper pay raise is to company hop. One guy once told me to never stay in the same company for more than 5 years, and I've found it works very well. I'd never be anywhere near my current pay if I stayed at the first company I started at.
I once ran a team of about twenty people. We tried to get things done, about ten to twelve hours a day. My boss always came up asking for my opinion about some tiny stuff he read about in some newspapers, magazines, newsletters, ....... I always had to answer "no idea", "don't mind", shrugging, whatsoever. One day he asked me if I wouldn't read all these newspapers / magazines / newsletters to keep myself informed. When I told him that I had no time for smalltalk information like that, because I had to do hard work, he was (let's say it the kind way) 'upset'.
These guys don't do real work. They don't design something, they don't build something, they don't repair something, they don't sell something whatever. And when somethings done, they stand up saying "I did it". What a somehow poor and empty life. As a 'cover-up', they call themthelve 'boss', but still everyone can see.
On the other hand, they have all the time in the world, to fight each other and to fight their people.....