Sep 10, 2022
20 min read

Best Performance Review Phrases for Your Business

Employee engagement is the core of your business, but it strongly depends on your performance management and communication skills. If you use optimal performance review phrases, your team is much more likely to deliver as expected. 

But guess what? 

Most companies struggle with performance management. In general, more than 60% of employees believe the quality of feedback they receive should improve. Besides that, almost 70% of professionals claim they would work harder if they felt recognized. 

It turns out that modern workers are eager to get constructive feedback more frequently than they do now. They want objective, timely, and up-to-the-point reports, which is why 81% of HR leaders are making changes to performance management.

Performance review phrases are fundamental in this process because they simplify HR analytics and reporting. The good thing is that advanced performance management tools can help create more accurate analyses, making it easier to improve employee engagement. 

But let’s not rush into things! 

In this post, we will explain how performance review phrases work and show you some of the finest examples that you can use in your business. 


  1. What is a performance review?
  2. Why is it important?
  3. How to prepare for a performance review 
  4. Performance review phrases 
  5. Conclusion about Performance Review Phrases
  6. FAQ: Best Performance Review Phrases

What is a performance review?

A performance review is a formal evaluation of an employee's performance. It is conducted by a team member's direct supervisor or another manager or HR representative. 

During the performance review, the manager verifies if all of the job duties are performed by the employee and provides examples of good and bad performance. The review should also identify areas where the employee needs improvement.

A review like this is a chance for managers to reflect on employees' accomplishments over the previous year (or any other period) and establish goals for the subsequent one. At the same time, they can offer employee feedback and guidance to improve their performance.

Performance reviews can offer invaluable insight into where improvements can be made, all while keeping employees motivated and focused on achieving goals. Most organizations structure these conversations using performance review phrases to ensure they are effective.

When used effectively, performance review phrases provide valuable insights into employee strengths and weaknesses while pinpointing areas for development. They can also foster a more positive attitude and work environment by fostering open communication between supervisors and employees.

Why is it important? 

Performance reviews matter to both employees and employers. First of all, their purpose is to help team members improve their job skills and productivity. On the other hand, the goal is to assist managers in making decisions about promotions, salary increases, and other personnel matters.

Performance review sessions should ensure that employees meet the organization's standards. Here's what makes them so helpful:

  • They promote communication between managers and employees: A performance review is an opportunity for a manager to give feedback to an employee about their work. Whether this feedback is positive or negative, it always needs to be constructive.
  • They provide employees with a chance to reflect on their work: After receiving feedback from their manager, employees can take some time to think about how they're performing and what they could do to improve.
  • Identifying development and training needs within the organization: HR managers and supervisors can discover new training opportunities by evaluating employee performance. That way, workers can keep their skills and knowledge up to date.
  • They provide a forum for discussing compensation-related issues: Effective performance reviews are the foundation for discussing salaries, bonuses, and other forms of compensation.

While performance analyses are essential, keep in mind that they should be fairly regular and effective to be truly useful.

How often should you hold performance reviews? 

There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the frequency of employee performance reviews will vary depending on the company's culture, the type of work being done, and other factors. It’s generally a good idea to hold performance reviews at least once per year.

However, studies have shown that more frequent performance evaluations often boost job satisfaction and motivation. In fact, 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week. 

It is probably best to try and strike a balance.

Perhaps you could aim to organize performance reviews every quarter, or at least semi-annually. On the other hand, you can use informal team meetings or one-on-one conversations to give employees regular feedback.

The key is to maintain clear lines of communication with your employees and provide them with the feedback they need to improve results. That way, team members always have a recent conversation to look back on and reflect upon without feeling like they're being constantly scrutinized.

Different types of performance reviews 

The most common way to distinguish between performance reviews is to consider the issue of timing. In this case, it's easy to conclude that there are annual, mid-year, quarterly, monthly, and weekly performance reviews.

But we need to go beyond the simplest distinction and consider other types of performance review questions and methods. Here are the usual suspects:

A 360 performance review

In a 360 performance review, a team of colleagues evaluates employee engagement and results. The team consists of managers, peers, and direct supervisors. This type of review provides a more well-rounded assessment of a given worker.

Peer reviews

A peer review is similar to the previous one, but the peers do the evaluation this time. It's a very valuable tactic for getting feedback from people who understand colleagues better than their managers do.

Team performance evaluations

The entire group becomes the subject of discussion in a team performance evaluation. In such circumstances, team meetings are the standard way to assess progress and detect areas that need improvement.

Topic-based reviews

As the name suggests, these reviews focus on a single topic rather than the employee's entire body of work. It can be anything from sales to customer service to professional development. 

Such evaluations are great for preparing unique performance review phrases focusing on specific work areas. Here are a few examples:

  • Quality of work performance review phrases
  • Job knowledge performance review phrases
  • Performance review phrases initiative
  • Dependability performance review phrases
  • Teamwork performance review phrases
  • Initiative performance review phrases
  • Performance review phrases for customer service
  • Self-performance review phrases

With so many types of performance review methods, it can be difficult to determine which one to choose. Your job is to decide what works best for your company culture and the needs of your employees.


How to evaluate your employees: 360 degree feedback example

Performance Evaluation Template: A Step-by-step Guide

How to prepare for a performance review 

Performance reviews are delicate because they include sensitive topics that some employees would rather avoid. However, you should keep in mind that 83% of employees appreciate receiving feedback, regardless of whether it is positive or negative.

It means that your only job is to prepare well and deliver an accurate report. But how can you do that? Here is the list of four things you can do to set up a good employee performance review meeting.

Define the goals of the review 

The goals of an employee performance review vary depending on the organization and the team member's role. But a few details apply to all types of performance analyses. As a manager, you should focus on the following:

  • Defining the tasks of your employees. What are they working towards? What are their objectives? In this case, it helps to be an active and focused listener. 
  • Acknowledge their recent accomplishments. What have they done that's worth celebrating?
  • Understand their development needs. What skills do they need to work on? Are they able to put their creative ideas into practice? 
  • Be prepared to give specific feedback. This means being honest and objective and avoiding general comments. You also need to add a dose of constructive criticism. 
  • Have a constructive discussion about the review. This is an opportunity to talk about both successes and areas for improvement.
  • Follow up after the review to see how your team member is progressing.

A detail to remember is that a performance review is not a one-time event. On the contrary, it is part of an ongoing communication process between you and your team members. 

By being ready and taking the time to understand their needs, you can make the most of this opportunity to help them grow and develop in their careers.

Choose a specific type of review

Another task is to pick a specific review type. Even though it may seem simple, sometimes it’s hard to determine the most suitable type because so many options are available.

For instance, 360 performance reviews can give a more well-rounded view of someone's strengths and weaknesses. It's a holistic approach that usually works best with annual performance evaluations.

Besides that, a 360 review often increases transparency and communication between HR leaders, managers, and other team members. In other words, they build trust within the organization.

On the other hand, peer reviews work best when you need to deeply understand teamwork specifics. This performance review allows managers to determine individual contributions to team success. Finally, you can opt for topic-based reviews when evaluating specific units of the organization. 

Use a template 

If you want to maximize the efficiency of your performance reviews, you need to use shortcuts to success. Performance review templates are the simplest solution because they enable managers to speed up the process while sticking to critical aspects of employee engagement. 

But as with all things in business, performance review templates also come in various shapes and formats. Our suggestion is to stick to the standard options, such as:

  • Annual performance review template: This one focuses on a 12-month period and analyzes both the annual achievements and core values. 
  • Mid-year performance review template: A six-month evaluation is goal-oriented and result-driven. It is your chance to give further instructions to the employees on how to boost their productivity in the coming months. 
  • Quarterly performance reviews: This template poses questions about employee satisfaction, operating tools, and forthcoming goals and plans. 
  • GOOD performance review template: The GOOD methodology stands for goals, obstacles, opportunities, and decisions. With these four areas, you can easily track any team member's progress.
  • Peer review template: If you want to gain insights about an employee from the perspective of their colleagues, you should use the peer review template. It can also reveal whether a person brings creative or innovative ideas to the team.
  • Self-performance review template: The person under review can sometimes give you the finest insights into his/her professional behavior or critical thinking skills. In this case, you should seize the potential of the self-performance review template. 
  • Team performance template: There are times when you need to concentrate on collective accomplishments. In such circumstances, you can count on team performance review templates. 

As you can see, each of these formats has a highly specific purpose. If you understand the goal of your assessment, it’s easy to pick the right performance review template. 


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The 90 Day Review Template to Keep Your Business on Track

Take care of logistics 

As a manager, your job is also to take care of the logistics—it is critical if you want to organize a truly productive and convenient employee evaluation. The idea is to set the stage for an employee performance review. 

By preparing the environment, you will ensure that the meeting is up-to-the-point, concise, and positive. But how do you do that?

Firstly, ensure you have a quiet, private space where you will not be interrupted. After that, take a few minutes to review the employee's file and performance evaluations from past years. That way, you can identify trends or patterns that may be relevant to the discussion. 

Finally, you must prepare technicalities like spreadsheets, templates, presentations, and similar detail. By taking these steps, you will create an environment that is conducive to a productive and positive performance review.

Performance review phrases 

The time has come to focus on what matters the most: effective performance review phrases. The good thing about it is that performance review phrases are as rich as your vocabulary. There are no limits, so you can let your imagination and creativity do their job.

But there is a shortcut, too. 

Most managers use common phrases and performance review examples that have already proved to work well in other organizations. That is also why we prepared a whole list of examples that you can use in different settings. Let’s check them out!

General phrases 

Most supervisors use general phrases to give an overview of employee performance. These can be both positive and negative, depending on individual cases. A few examples you can use include the following:

  • [Name] has proved to work well under pressure, continuously making the right decisions in challenging situations. 
  • [Name] is a valuable team player who comes up with innovative solutions and overdelivers in all aspects of work.
  • [Name] demonstrates advanced leadership abilities, thus inspiring their coworkers to follow the lead and exceed expectations.  
  • [Name] doesn’t seem capable of meeting her position's expectations. They frequently fail to deliver on time, undermining the team's morale. 

Leadership phrases 

According to the report, 63% of millennials believe they aren’t being fully developed as leaders by their employers for management positions. In such circumstances, these performance review phrases dedicated to leadership may as well be vital for the long-term success of your team: 

  • [Name] successfully manages scarce resources, considering the priority of critical tasks and projects. 
  • [Name] understands team members and customizes their approach to encourage colleagues to do the job. 
  • [Name] tends to confuse and discourage colleagues by giving unclear instructions and guidance. They also overwhelm people with new ideas mid-project. 
  • [Name] is prone to quarrels and arguments. They don't have the patience to work with new team members.

Team collaboration phrases 

A stunning 39% of employees report a lack of collaboration. As a manager, you need to create preconditions for team collaboration. One way to do that is through teamwork performance review phrases, so here come a few suggestions: 

  • [Name] is a team player. They are always ready to support their colleagues and assist if they seem to be struggling with difficult tasks. 
  • [Name] is a precious team member who makes new employees feel welcome and appreciated. 
  • [Name] likes working alone. They don’t enjoy collaborating with other team members. 
  • [Name] has not built a strong relationship with her peers. They don't feel like belonging to the group like other colleagues do. 

Motivation phrases 

It doesn’t take a genius to know that engaged workers are the best workers. After all, studies have shown that employees work 20% better when motivated. That’s also why you need to thoroughly assess employee engagement using the finest performance review phrases like these:

  • [Name] is a highly engaged member of the team. At the same time, their passion for work proves to be inspiring for other colleagues. 
  • [Name] is enthusiastic and can motivate even the most disinterested team members.  
  • [Name] is known for leaving early, even if other employees stay late to finish an important project. 
  • [Name] requires supervision around the clock. Inspiring them to take the extra step and cope with new tasks is hard. 

Skill-related phrases

Every manager is eager to build a team of skilled and knowledgeable professionals. A big part of performance analytics is evaluating your subordinates' practical abilities. The following phrases can help you express your findings more concisely:

  • [Name] has vast knowledge and technical skills, which allows them to solve problems more efficiently. 
  • [Name] helped us improve project ABC by suggesting a more creative approach that relies on new technologies. 
  • [Name] is struggling to learn new procedures and the latest industry trends. They hardly keep pace with the team. 
  • [Name] is never thrilled about opportunities to gain knowledge and expand expertise. 

Phrases related to areas for improvement 

One in five employees has made what they consider to be a critical mistake at work. While it is natural for all of us to make mistakes, managers must do all it takes to try and prevent possible omissions. We prepared a few performance review phrases related to the areas for improvement:

  • [Name] has not engaged with workshops, seminars, or other training events. They need to start partaking in training sessions relevant to his role. 
  • [Name] often confuses customers by using technical jargon and buzzwords. They need to simplify her vocabulary to be more concise and clear. 
  • [Name] doesn’t feel comfortable making decisions. They should work on their confidence and engage in decision-making processes. 
  • [Name] is reluctant to ask for help, resulting in costly mistakes. They need to become more cooperative and open-minded. 

Conclusion about Performance Review Phrases

Performance review phrases are easy to verbalize employee-related opinions without missing out on anything. The examples of performance review phrases we stated above can serve as a valuable guideline for all of your future employee evaluations.

Even better, you can pair common performance review phrases with Effy, our cutting-edge performance management platform.

Does it sound like a good deal? Sign up now, and you’ll learn what makes Effy one of the best performance management tools for modern leaders. 

FAQ: Best Performance Review Phrases

What should I say in a performance review?

Your performance review should include the following information: 

- self-assessment of your previous performance 

- specific data that confirms/rebuts your assessment 

- analysis of specific areas such as communication, team collaboration, initiative, problem-solving, etc

- areas for improvement 

- next steps

How do you write an impactful performance review phrase?

A good performance review phrase has to leave no place for inference. It should also be motivational. The goal is to inspire people to keep working and improve. Finally, it has to be respectful and use language that isn't offensive.

What should I write in a performance review example?

Your performance review example should include several illustrations of statements that can be found in a regular review. For example, if you want to talk about a person's technical skills, make sure to include:

  • one example of a positive review: [Name] has vast knowledge and technical skills, which allows them to solve problems more efficiently.
  • one example of a negative review: [Name] has not engaged with workshops, seminars, or other training events. They need to start partaking in training sessions relevant to his role.
  • one example of a poorly written statement: [Name] doesn't know how to use technology at work.
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