4 minute readPublished on May 2, 2019
Dominika Cechova

Dominika Cechova

Marketing Associate

70 useful employee performance review phrases for every function

These employee performance review phrases will help you identify key areas to address and evaluate actions needed to improve one's performance or to provide employee recognition to retain best talent.

Employee performance reviews are fundamental for your employees' engagement. It can significantly improve performance of your business as we discussed in previous blogs. It is important that performance reviews become an ongoing conversation between a manager and a direct report to be effective. And most importantly, reviews should be honest and personalized to every employee.

There are common areas to address when providing feedback to your employees in order to improve their performance. Especially for an inexperienced manager (or employee conducting a self-assessment), it can be difficult to conduct a meaningful performance review. Thus providing example phrases can be a good source of inspiration. We've created a useful list to keep in mind when conducting a performance review.

But please remember; you should use this list as an inspiration and always adjust these review phrases to a specific team member. You do not want your employees feel the performance reviews are generic. Generic reviews can give an impression you did not care enough to devote time to provide them with personalized constructive feedback, which could have a negative impact on their engagement. Download a pdf version of this article with a list of all phrases here.

Areas to address in employee performance reviews

Achievements review phrases

Setting goals and objectives is a key to maintaining performance of every employee. The performance review should address this area not only to improve their performance of your employees but also to strengthen their accountability to your business.

Positive comments:

  • Sets well thought-out goals and continuously strives to achieve them
  • Works autonomously and uses own initiative to attain objectives and overcome challenges
  • Improved xx by xx%
  • Has a positive, results-driven attitude
  • Is able to make informed decisions based on considered research

Areas of improvement:

  • Struggles to achieve set goals and reach objectives because of xx
  • Lacks understanding of xx and could benefit from xx
  • Makes uninformed decisions based on assumptions and needs to consider more data
  • Tends to blame others and needs to take responsibility for their own actions
  • Lacks focus in xx and can improve by xx
  • Productivity

Productivity review phrases

The success of your business depends on the productivity of your employees. Productivity is also a good indicator of their engagement and not addressing an issue could cause difficulties with developing and retaining talent.

Positive comments

  • Significantly improved on xx since last appraisal
  • Positively contributes to overall performance of the department/company through consistent and high-quality work
  • Continuously strives to improve profits, productivity and performance targets
  • Excels in identifying glitches, flaws or imperfections at the earliest possible chance
  • Shows strong organizational and time-management skills

Areas of improvement

  • Has not improved xx since last performance review
  • Struggles to finish tasks and reach the team standards
  • Reluctant to upskill and gain xx expertise
  • Shows lack of commitment in xx
  • Seldom takes initiative without being asked to

Leadership review phrases

Employees care about career progression and personal and professional development and leadership play an instrumental role in those areas. Moreover, developing leaders has been identified as one of major challenges for today’s businesses so why would you not make your best to help to close the leadership gap?

Positive comments

  • Is a natural leader who creates inclusive culture in the company and enables other to grow alongside him/her
  • Motivates colleagues and direct reports to do their best
  • Successfully shows appreciation for individual achievements and builds an atmosphere of trust and positivity in the team
  • Proved themselves to be an asset to the organization
  • Embodies the company mission and strengthens company culture

Areas of improvement

  • Does not show leadership qualities and can be more supportive
  • Tends to micromanage which can prevent others from expressing their ideas
  • Uses position to impose power and control over others
  • Fails to show appreciation and recognize achievements of team members and direct reports
  • Does not act as a source of inspiration to others

Communication review phrases

Communication skills are essential for any function and can have significant effects on overall performance of an individual and the business in general. As a manager you should ensure to provide constructive feedback on this area as supporting your employees to develop these skills and feel comfortable in voicing their ideas and opinions can be a game changer for your team.

Positive comments

  • Shows active listening skills
  • Effectively communicates with colleagues, supervisors, partners and customers
  • Clearly communicates ideas and thoughts in team meetings and conferences
  • Is a constructive communicator and is capable of discussing difficult issues effectively and to the point
  • Shows ability to build up on company culture through group facilitation and collaboration

Areas of improvement

  • Needs to improve oral/written communication skills
  • Struggles to accept feedback and constructive criticism
  • Lacks ability to effectively communicate ideas and thoughts to team members
  • Refrains from asking questions even when issues need to be clarified
  • Uses unprofessional manner/language when communicating with colleagues

Teamwork review phrases

Effective collaboration and team work proved to have positive effects on a business performance and developing innovative ideas.

Positive comments

  • Effectively collaborates with people in (and outside of) the team to successfully reach targets
  • Efficiently delegates tasks across the team
  • Effectively shares knowledge and provides support to team members
  • Brings positivity and enthusiasm to the organization and creates an inclusive culture
  • Motivates colleagues to collaborate to reach common goals

Areas of improvement

  • Could try to help and support team members more for the success of the project
  • Other members of the team feel they could behave in more approachable manner
  • Should work on developing and maintaining professional relationships
  • Fails to encourage a team-centered work environment
  • Is not willing to share information with the team

Creativity and Innovation review phrases

Creativity and Innovation did not become a buzz word for no reason. Implementing change and developing new creative and innovative processes, services and products is a way to retain success of your organization.

Positive comments

  • Shows curiosity and initiative to find new ways of thinking to improve projects and company performance
  • Is able to come up with imaginative solutions to challenges faced by the team
  • Is continuously striving to innovate processes and improve task/project outcomes
  • Has a vision for a future of the company and applies creative thinking to implement it
  • Continuously suggests fresh ideas in meetings and on projects

Areas of improvement

  • Lacks the initiative to take up more complex tasks and implement creative thinking
  • Struggles to think outside of the box and take creative risks
  • Struggles to develop unconventional paths to seek solutions
  • Does not encourage creative solutions in his/her team
  • Is afraid of making a wrong decision and implement change

Flexibility and Problem-Solving review phrases

Flexible autonomous workers are a must-have to succeed in today’s dynamic society. Facing challenges, solving problems and an ability to work independently deserves pride and a lack of it requires actions.

Positive comments

  • Shows strong analytical thinking and an ability to improve processes when old ways are ineffective
  • Displays an ability to take on new challenges and up-skill
  • Is able to use constructive criticism to improve and grow
  • Displays the capability to independently solve complex problems
  • Is able to emphasize with the customers/users and deliver value to them

Areas of improvement

  • Sticks to old methods and shows little effort to implement changes even if the results are poor
  • Struggles to come up with new possible solutions when expectations are not met
  • Tends to blame others and make excuses when problems occur
  • Does not strive to develop new skills, and does not manage to focus on their goals and responsibilities
  • Struggles to effectively overcome new challenges and find solutions to new issues

In addition to these general skills, individuals' technical and function-specific skills should be assessed in a performance review. Every performance review should be followed up by a one-to-one meeting to discuss any arising questions and discuss actions for career development and potential future training.

But again, make sure you only use these phrases as guidance for writing an effective review. Use concrete examples and data to make it truly meaningful and actionable for every employee.

Download a free PDF version of this article below:

70 useful employee performance review phrases pdf screenshot