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54 Essential Performance Review Phrases And Best Practices

Performance reviews can be tricky to navigate. What you say, and how you say it, impacts a team member’s morale and engagement.

Over the years, I’ve come to see performance reviews as an opportunity for both parties to give and receive constructive feedback on employee performance. It’s also a great way to receive feedback from employees to improve the employee experience.

In this article, we’ll take a look at:

Let’s dive in.

What Is A Performance Review?

Before we get into the key phrases to use in performance reviews, let’s make sure we’re on the same track in regards to what a performance review is. 

From BambooHR:

A performance review is a formal assessment in which a manager evaluates an employee’s work performance, identifies strengths and weaknesses, offers feedback, and sets goals for future performance.

Other terms commonly used are performance appraisal, performance evaluation, employee appraisal, or development discussion.

Key Performance Review Phrases

Now onto our compendium (don’t get to use that word often) of performance review phrases to have on hand for conducting an effective performance review.

These useful phrases are used to address behaviors and inspire greater performance.

I’ve broken them down into key categories to focus on. This is a suggested list—you don’t have to use these 1:1. Use them as a starting point, or to get inspiration, and go from there.

Also, do note that, depending on seniority and role, some of these may vary in their importance when conducting a performance review. 

Problem Solving

1. Displays the ability to come up with innovative ideas that think outside the box.

2. Displays creative thinking with creative solutions to specific tasks.

3. Displays interpersonal skills for solving problems with others.

4. Is able to come up with multiple solutions when the opportunity arises.

5. Is willing to think up creative ideas for not just their assigned tasks, but helping coworkers with challenges they are tackling.

Communication

6. Demonstrates strong communication skills with coworkers, managers, customers, and stakeholders.

7. Demonstrates strong interpersonal skills while working with others.

8. Is able to provide constructive feedback to others, and can communicate their thought processes in difficult situations.

9. Is in constant communication with others in regards to timelines and deliverables.

10. Is able to deliver feedback to others in a concise manner.

Accountability

11. Takes ownership and pride in their work.

12. Is able to take ownership of a task when something gets off track or mistakes are made.

13. Show a strong understanding of learning from their mistakes. 

14. Gives credit to coworkers who helped them with a specific task or problem.

Quality of Work

15. Is able to deliver quality work that is expected of them in a timely manner

16. Seeks continuous feedback and constructive criticism to improve their job performance.

17. Has demonstrated helping out a coworker or team with a problem to help deliver a quality end result.

18. Is able to identify their weaknesses in their work and how to address them.

Achievement

19. Include specific examples of tasks that said employee has achieved since the last performance review.

20. Has met or exceeded set performance goals.

Teamwork and Cooperation

21. Gets along well with other team members and works toward a common goal.

22. Demonstrates strong interpersonal skills when working to come up with solutions. 

23. Is well respected by their team members.

24. Has demonstrated initiative in improving teamwork with their team.

25. Is able to handle difficult conversations with team members that are considerate of the feelings of others.

Training

26. Seeks out training in order to achieve greater understanding to help achieve performance goals.

27. Is able to absorb feedback through training and coaching to improve at their role.

28. Helps others through coaching to help them achieve better job performance. 

Management

29. Demonstrates a strong level of leadership.

30. Has an understanding of what their team is working on.

31. Gives flexibility to their team in how they want to tackle problems.

32. Does not micromanage employees’ tasks and provides them the space to do their best work.

33. Is quick to help out their team with any issues that arise.

34. Demonstrate strong communication skills with their team and their own manager(s).

35. Helps keep their team engaged in their work.

Productivity

36. Demonstrates a strong sense of time management.

37. Seeks to continuously improve in all areas of their work.

38. Is able to complete their assigned tasks on time without sacrificing quality work.

Areas For Improvement

39. Can get overwhelmed by outside factors outside of their control.

40. Struggles to communicate what they are working on with their manager.

41. Interpersonal skills with teammates should be worked on to improve relationships. 

Job knowledge

42. Helps build out the team’s knowledge base by sharing their expertise.

43. Is able to explain subjects and tasks to coworkers in a way that they can easily understand.

44. Has demonstrated time and time again the ability to bring new solutions or a new outlook to prior problems.

Overall performance

45. Shows a strong attention to detail and consistently delivers their work on time and of high quality.

46. Has demonstrated to be a key member of their team and has added great value with their expertise.

47. Has shown initiative and drive to gaining more knowledge about their role and further building out their skillset.

Dependability

48. Can be given a task and be trusted to complete it in a timely matter along with delivering quality work. 

49. Has demonstrated consistency with their work output, no matter the task or project. 

50. Has demonstrated that they are a reliable team member that others can go to and expect quality results from. 

Initiative

51. Has demonstrated the ability to work with minimal supervision.

52. Has actively sought out additional work or tasks to tackle. 

53. Is able to take on new challenges outside their comfort zone with no loss of enthusiasm.

54. Has taken an entrepreneurial approach with providing new solutions to problems. 

Performance Review Best Practices

So now we’ve covered some key performance review phrases, I’ll dive into some best practices.

I go into depth about performance review best practices in my article how to conduct a better performance review.

But here are some brief points to consider in regards to making your performance review an effective and efficient one.

Conducting performance reviews on a more frequent basis

A growing shift in the world of performance reviews is moving them from an annual basis to something more frequent, from quarterly, to a handful a year. 

One notable difference can be issues and concerns that are brought up. A study from Wakefield Research found the following about performance reviews: 

Nearly half of employees don’t feel comfortable raising issues with their boss between formal performance reviews, but nearly three-quarters say they’d be more proactive in raising issues or concerns if they received more frequent feedback.

Not only can conducting more frequent performance reviews allow for issues to be caught earlier, it also reduces how daunting they can be by making them in smaller chunks instead of waiting for an annual review. 

For a good case study, check out the impact switching to more frequent performance reviews had at Adobe.

Performance reviews are not a one-way street.

What should be noted about a quality performance review is that it shouldn’t just be the one conducting the review talking. 

It should be a back and forth with the said employee to come to a better consensus of what to do moving forward. 

Effective performance reviews can only be reached if you’re open to listening and obtaining feedback from employees

By giving constructive feedback, and having an open conversation, the appraisal process will give great insights to help both sides of the table. 

You don’t want your performance review to essentially be a checklist that you make your way through.

Next Steps

With this, you now have a better understanding of phrases that you can make use of in your performance reviews.

Remember, shoot for something that is clear and concise in its delivery. This isn’t like the report cards you would get back in school which had those short little blurbs that didn’t really give much insight. 

If you’re still doing annual reviews, I strongly suggest you consider moving them to a more frequent basis, such as quarterly. You’ll be able to deliver much more effective feedback with shorter timeframes and give less of a chance for things to fall in between the cracks. 

For further reading, here are some related articles in regards to performance reviews that we have written:

Here are some related articles in regards to conducting better performance reviews: