There are two issues here.
My boss has told me, in no uncertain terms, that he does not and will not offer praise or positive reinforcement to anyone for simply doing what he considers to be their job.
First, this. It is clear you want more regular encouragement/feedback than you are getting. Even semi-decent managers will do this if you ask about it. So it's safe to say your manager is not even a mediocre manager.
Saying, "no, I won't" means your manager is pretty much a jerk and/or adopts really, really old school perspectives on motivation. Some people do this because they feel important (demeaning others, etc). Some people just are jerks.
If you have tried this conversation already and gotten rejected, some more options:
- Be change you want to see. Start giving other people positive encouragement yourself. It can be nearly impossible to change a culture of negativity but.. it might be possible to start influencing.
- Ask again, with specific examples. It sounds like your manager doesn't really "get" this, whether because he's a jerk or because it's hard for him. Some people don't give out praise/appreciation except when asked. It's possible, however unlikely, your manager doesn't understand what you want.
- Document your own successes. Don't let your manager control your feeling of doing well at work.
You might also try something like, "Hey, I've been working at improving X since you talked about it - how do you think this has been going?" When requesting feedback, if you want anything meaningful make sure to ask about specific things. Don't go, "how am I doing?" because no one can answer that easily. Especially a bad manager (good managers probably have a way they are keeping an understanding of this on a regular basis).
Ask things which are specific. "Hey, I was wondering what you thought about how I facilitated that meeting - I was trying to do X, how did you think it went?" will give a much better conversation!
I do this, because I never get much feedback either from managers and I like it. So I seek it out.
Now it's possible and perhaps even likely your boss is just a jerk. In this case you will have to decide if finding alternative employment is better.
People normally don't leave companies, they leave bad managers.
He also will absolutely not give a perfect performance review under any circumstances, like a professor who as a matter of principle will not give a 100% score on a test.
This is the other question. Why does the perfect review matter? Most companies have some sort of plan for what ratings and how many of each they can give out, etc. At my company I will never get our highest rating unless I have a multi-location project with significant financial impact. Many roles in my company cannot achieve this given their job responsibilities, so matter how good I do my job, if I'm not in a position where I can get the highest rating.
If my boss wanted to give me the highest rating my boss would have to talk to several layers of management above - this is to standardize how ratings are assigned, etc. Your manager might have a similar bureaucratic mess to deal with if he wanted to.
You are right, it causes some level of demoralization. But... then I realize, is my value determined by what some stupid performance review system says? No, it's not - it's based on what I'm doing.
So I do things that I know matter, I do a good job, and whether my yearly review says "meets expectations" or "exceeds expectations" - I don't care, because I'm doing the job not for my boss. I'm doing it because I'm motivated to do the best job I can.
If you are unable to do that in your current situation and have tried to work with your manager? Just quit. Or find a different job in your current organization.
Life's too short to go to a job that you dislike or feel demoralized over every day.