I had trouble having open conversations with my former boss because he was defensive and took disagreement as a threat. He did two performance reviews with me and my problems between the two were very similar; which I consider bad since the point of a performance review is for me to change what I'm doing wrong.
I think one problem was the information I was getting was very general, for example saying the speed I do work is slow. Am I right in thinking that's not enough information to act on by itself saying "I work slowly" or is there a way for me to improve it? I asked him for an example and he came up with one (in my opinion) very pathological example and I could have argued it (I could not have done the job faster because I needed a password from someone who was on holiday). I realize it's probably not constructive arguing whether a particular example is "my fault or not", maybe I should ask him if he would like to be informed if there was a set back?
He indicated I was slow to learn. Should I have asked how long something should take to learn? I'm not sure how to act on this.
Another example of something I did not improve on was initiative. I had made a big attempt and had been asking my boss if I could do certain things but he always said no. He said I need to be told to do things. How do I work on initiative? When I asked how I can improve on my initiative my boss answered "you can't always be tied to someones hip" which I don't know how to take as a constructive comment.
Closely tied to the initiative, both reviews he indicated I ask too many questions. I tried to stop asking questions and managed to get it down to once a week. Was I heading in the right direction with this approach? I've seen other answers for similar questions saying management does this because they are busy and want an employee to work for themselves so is one not supposed to talk to their boss unless asked a question? To draw a picture we sat across a desk from each other so we were always in ear shot. There must be a point where it gets absurd: what's the point of working with people if your never supposed to speak to them?