30 Useful Performance Review Phrases

Performance reviews are an essential tool in giving employee feedback and determining areas of improvement and excellence. 

No manager actually enjoys doing performance reviews. They are “tense, stressful, and anxiety-inducing,” says Mark Mortensen, associate professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD.

When it comes to evaluating job performance, there’s no template and there is no one size fits all formula. A lot depends on how they are conducted. Performance reviews can either inspire employees to do better – or they could drive them away from your company. 

Added to the problem is how do you handle reviews of large departments. The task is onerous and for small companies the resources are limited so again there is a problem.

Even a company with 100 employees needs a full-time individual to compile data from managers and spend at least 2 to 3 hours daily collating information.

A well written and empathetic review can help employees identify growth opportunities and potential areas of improvement without harming the employee-manager relationship. 

useful performance review phrases

Writing a review is not easy, and as mentioned earlier, it creates anxiety and unease. But a great help would be if managers get guidance on what an effective and comprehensive review looks like. 

What is a performance review/appraisal or evaluation? In an employee performance review, managers evaluate that individual’s overall performance, identify their strengths and weaknesses, offer feedback, and help them set goals.

Workers gain a better understanding of what is expected of them and how well or badly they have done in the given period. They can ask questions or provide feedback to their managers in turn. It is a good way to gauge expectations, spot problems and solve them before they escalate. It also increases engagement and motivation.

Regardless of the industry, there are certain essentials that should be included in an employee reviews list: 

  • Communication
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Quality and accuracy of work
  • Attendance, punctuality and reliability
  • The ability to accomplish goals and meet deadlines 

Beyond this, role-specific and company-specific queries should be there.

Here we bring you some example performance phrases for some inspiration to write a review.

We will start with some positive performance phrases that should cover the achievements of an employee. Setting goals and objectives is a key to consistent performance.

Positive comments:

  1. Continuously strives to achieve set goals and attempts to even pass them
  2. Takes initiative and works autonomously to attain objectives and overcome challenges
  3. Improved xx by xx%
  4. Has a positive, results-driven attitude
  5. Is thorough in his research and takes informed decisions, and takes responsibility for the tasks delivered.

Areas of improvement:

  1. Struggles to achieve set goals
  2. Lacks initiative and waits to be assigned duties and tasks
  3. Makes uninformed decisions based on assumptions
  4. Does not take responsibility for his work and tends to pass on blame
  5. Lacks focus and can improve by xx
  6. Productivity is not up to the mark
  7. Struggles to understand given tasks and is slower in delivering compared to other
  8. Reluctant to upskill or put in extra effort

Communication Positives

  1. Listens attentively when given tasks
  2. Asks questions before undertaking any major task
  3. Clearly communicates ideas and thoughts in team meetings and conferences
  4. Is a team worker and carries his team along 

Areas of improvement

  1. Struggles to effectively put forth his views
  2. Written communication is poor
  3. Does not take feedback positively
  4. Is passive-aggressive in attitude

Team work

  1. Is good at working in a team
  2. Shares achievements
  3. Ability to carry colleagues and peers through a difficult task


  1. Is an Introvert and prefers to work alone
  2. Could make an effort to share team’s success
  3. Is unapproachable, should make an effort to involve more with colleagues and customers
  4. Does not encourage good world and fails to communicate relevant information


Jane Harper
Writer. Human resources expert and consultant. Follow @thehrdigest on Twitter

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