Strong performance review phrases are an integral part of performance reviews. These types of reviews provide a chance for an in-depth conversation about employee progress. They give you the opportunity to discuss employee strengths and weaknesses one on one. You can choose to hold annual, biannual, or quarterly reviews.

During these meetings, you’ll recap some of the key feedback you’ve given the employee throughout the review period. (There should be no surprises since you’ve been sharing feedback all year!) You’ll also discuss how effectively the employee has acted on the guidance you’ve provided.

Navigation

1. Before the Performance Review

2. Performance Review Phrases for Communication and Teamwork

3. Performance Review Phrases for Time-Management and Productivity

4. Performance Review Phrases for Job Proficiency

5. Performance Review Phrases for Creative Thinking

6. Performance Review Phrases for Emotional Intelligence

7. Wrap Up

Before the Performance Review

Before delivering the review verbally, you’ll write up a performance evaluation. How do you actually write this appraisal? Your HR department should keep templates on hand for managers to use. They should prompt managers to provide feedback in specific areas. If you don’t have a template, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers a great one

Within each key area, you can use the “Stop/Start/Keep” framework to provide feedback. Here’s how it works:

  1. State one behaviour that the employee should stop.
  2. Name a behaviour the employee should start engaging in.
  3. State something the employee already does that is working well.

Here’s an example of what that looks like in practice:

  1. “You often ask coworkers to solve small problems that I believe you can handle.”
  2. “Next time a minor issue arises, try handling it yourself. I trust you to manage the problem on your own.”
  3. “You maintain close communication with your coworkers. In many other ways, that’s a very positive thing. You give excellent project updates, for instance.”

You now have a template and framework in mind. But are you trying to find the right words for your performance reviews as well? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered a robust list of performance review phrases that managers use. These 100 examples share clear, specific feedback on various aspects of employee performance. 

Within each section, we’ve divided performance review phrases into “positive” and “constructive” feedback. However, you can easily reframe any of these phrases as “positive” or “constructive” feedback. For instance, “Employee meets deadlines reliably” could be rephrased as “Employee struggles to meet deadlines.”

Additionally, you can embellish any of these performance review phrases with more specific details.

Performance Review Phrases for Communication and Teamwork

Two women colleagues reading performance review phrases
Credit: Alexander Suhorucov/Pexels

Positive Feedback:

  • Works harmoniously with others.
  • Provides regular, quality feedback to peers and any mentees.
  • Communicates clearly, both in speech and writing.
  • Follows instructions well, demonstrating a strong understanding of the guidelines.
  • Brings a positive attitude and energy that enhances team camaraderie.
  • Considers other points of view and strives to understand them.
  • Remediates mistakes quickly, taking responsibility for them.
  • Checks in with others about their needs.
  • Teaches others effectively, sharing skills and knowledge in beneficial ways.
  • Listens actively to others and responds thoughtfully.
  • Offers to help without being asked.
  • Keeps team members updated about progress on specific tasks.
  • Demonstrates leadership by guiding the team to create and carry out a plan.
  • Helps others reach their full potential, providing guidance and encouragement.
  • Effectively guides group discussion.

Constructive Feedback:

  • Appears disengaged in team discussions, not fully participating.
  • Doesn’t have strong relationships with coworkers.
  • Tends to work independently too much of the time, rather than collaborating with coworkers.
  • Needs to bring a more positive attitude to group discussions.
  • May not be clear on team vision, mission, or goals.
  • Undermines team cohesiveness by engaging in unprofessional behaviour such as gossip.
  • Struggles with delivering presentations to the group, fumbling with words.

Performance Review Phrases for Time-Management and Productivity

Positive Feedback:

  • Maintains a balanced workload of tasks that relate to key priorities.
  • Reliably fulfills commitments both large and small.
  • Has a clear plan for achieving goals and objectives.
  • Prioritizes daily and weekly tasks effectively.
  • Stays focused on important tasks, devoting the necessary time to them.
  • Strongly understands our core vision and works toward it each day.
  • Shows up on time to meetings and other engagements.
  • Prepares thoroughly for meetings.
  • Checks in with others to set clear time frames for projects and tasks.
  • Plays an active role in keeping meetings on track and productive.
  • Gets started on a major project swiftly rather than delaying.
  • Delegates responsibilities or asks for assistance when need be.

Constructive Feedback:

  • Frequently multitasks, which results in decreased productivity.
  • Has trouble saying no to requests, even if they don’t pertain to core job duties.
  • Often works outside of agreed-upon hours and seems close to burnout. 
  • Often gets sidetracked rather than focusing on priorities that support our core mission.
  • Grows overwhelmed when juggling several key priorities.
  • Does not seem prepared to address important agenda topics at meetings.
  • Struggles with being punctual, often showing up late and missing deadlines.
  • Procrastinates on essential priorities, getting sidetracked by less important things.

Performance Review Phrases for Job Proficiency

Positive Feedback:

  • Strives to grow new skills in order to better perform the job.
  • Successfully leverages these skills, resulting in improved performance.
  • Feels confident about handling job responsibilities.
  • Approaches challenges with confidence.
  • Makes few errors, completing work conscientiously.
  • Meets or exceeds quarterly goals. 
  • Works well independently, staying self-motivated and self-directed.
  • Becomes increasingly more efficient in performing job responsibilities. 
  • Has an excellent work ethic, demonstrating a commitment to getting the job done right.
  • Takes on new types of assignments with enthusiasm. 
  • Proactively seeks out opportunities for training and mentoring.
  • Strives to learn from others, asking for advice that improves performance.

Constructive Feedback:

  • Sometimes skips steps due to eagerness to complete a task or project.
  • Resists technological changes that could improve workflow. 
  • Shies away from taking on bigger responsibilities. 
  • Appears overconfident, not recognizing needs for growth.
  • Shows up to work without seeming truly engaged in the job.
  • Turns down coworkers’ offers to share skills or knowledge.

Performance Review Phrases for Creative Thinking

Two managers preparing for performance review
Credit: Anna Shvets/Pexels

Positive Feedback:

  • Looks for ways to improve processes when necessary.
  • Participates actively in brainstorming sessions.
  • Shares ideas in a compelling way, leading others to believe in them.
  • Voices innovative ways to carry out projects.
  • Actively works to troubleshoot problems.
  • Seeks out diverse perspectives to develop ideas.
  • Shares creative ways of more effectively fulfilling our vision.
  • Learns from how others have done things in the past.
  • Asks great questions that bring new information or ideas to light.
  • Inspires others to think outside of the box.
  • Finds more effective ways to use existing resources.
  • Comes up with new ways to engage customers or clients.
  • Spends time learning about new ideas.
  • Thoughtfully draws together a solid team to accomplish a goal.

Constructive Feedback:

  • Voices a lot of criticisms but rarely solutions.
  • Holds back from voicing ideas, both one-on-one and in groups.
  • Rarely suggests a better way of doing things.
  • Discourages creativity in brainstorming sessions by being too skeptical of new ideas.
  • Doesn’t show excitement about implementing new ideas.
  • Rarely seeks out new ideas from people with different perspectives.

Performance Review Phrases for Emotional Intelligence

Positive Feedback:

  • Stays calm and centred under pressure rather than getting overwhelmed.
  • Behaves professionally, abstaining from gossip.
  • Shows empathy for others who are experiencing challenges.
  • Checks in with coworkers about how they are doing.
  • Is adept at recognizing how others are feeling.
  • Remains emotionally balanced regardless of what is happening.
  • Works to resolve any conflicts that occur in a productive manner.
  • Demonstrates respect and appreciation for all coworkers.
  • Makes wise choices grounded in sound evidence.
  • Welcomes feedback that assists in improving performance.
  • Approaches complex problems in a methodical way.
  • Builds strong relationships with clients, showing genuine understanding of their needs.
  • Shares gratitude for others’ contributions, thanking them for their work.

Constructive Feedback:

  • Grows easily frustrated by setbacks and minor issues.
  • Can be too blunt, hurting team members’ feelings at times.
  • Frequently talks over people, shutting them out of the conversation.
  • Often doesn’t acknowledge coworkers’ contributions to a project.
  • Grows defensive when given feedback.
  • Focuses more on what is not possible rather than what may be possible.
  • Struggles to handle change, seeming to fear it rather than striving to work with it.

Wrap Up

Deliver constructive feedback in a positive light whenever possible. Voice your belief in employees’ ability to grow when sharing constructive performance review phrases. Remind them of their strengths and achievements to build up their confidence. Then they’ll feel less defensive and more able to work with your input.

Also, talk with the employee about how to develop the skills or qualities they need to grow. The employee should leave the meeting with a solid plan for improvement.

The book 2600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews by Paul Falcone provides an even more expansive list. It inspired some of our choices for this list of performance review phrases. We also recommend Perfect Phrases for Documenting Employee Performance Problems by Anne Bruce.

Her suggestions also informed our selection of 100 helpful performance review phrases.

You now have a good understanding of what types of phrases to use in an appraisal. Sharing clear, detailed input through performance review phrases like these will strengthen your appraisals. Employees will gain a strong idea of where to focus their efforts in the coming year.

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