performance review phrases



Performance reviews provide a great opportunity for HR professionals and managers to formally recognise excellent performance from their team members. It’s worth remembering that a simple thank you can have a huge impact on motivation and morale. However, things can get tricky when dealing with employees who need to make major improvements in certain areas.


In these cases it can be useful to have some starter performance review phrases at the ready. Going into the review unprepared may result feelings being hurt unintentionally. And if an employee gets overly emotional or defensive, there’s little point in doing the review at all as it’s unlikely any feedback will be taken on board. The aim should be to avoid getting personal by keeping the tone of the discussion objective and professional.


Even if an employee needs to improve, it’s still important to recognise the things they do well. If all you have to offer is criticism, it’s unlikely they’ll be motivated to change. Ideally, you should focus on improving one specific issue. One message feels doable and many criticisms can overwhelm employees and cause frustration.

performance review tips

When to use performance review phrases


Performance review phrases are intended to be used when the conversation gets tricky. Think of them like acting cues; those few words to help you get the conversation back on track or guide you towards the rest of the sentence. Use them to guide you into a tricky topic or refocus if things veer off track.


Below we’ve outlined 43 meaningful performance review phrases that can be customised for your own meetings. We’ve divided them into categories depending on which particular skills or issues you are focusing on in the review.




  • Improved production on (x) goal set out at beginning of review period
  • Exceeded production expectations on (x) goal set out at beginning of review period
  • Tends to take initiative to gather the information and tools needed to get a project completed on time and above expectations
  • Sets measurable goals and continually strives to attain them
  • Struggles to match the results of his/her teammates when it comes to (x)




  • Has greatly improved on hitting production goals on (x) since last review
  • Has not displayed consistent productivity improvement since last appraisal
  • Exceeds output expectations set out for his/her department
  • Consistently falls below others on the team regarding work output




  • Exceeds expectations in arriving on time for meetings and conferences
  • Has not met goals set out for arriving on time as set out at beginning of review period
  • Completes deadlines in a timely manner
  • Respects the time of others by arriving at team meetings on time


Communication Skills


  • Excels at communicating project expectations to those he/she manages
  • Needs to work on fully understanding a situation before making defensive explanations
  • Effectively communicates with team members on projects and delegates when necessary
  • Builds company morale and cooperation through effective group facilitation




  • Has displayed capability to solve complex problems independently, but tends to defer to others on the team
  • Tends to make excuses and blame others on team when problems arise instead of working to solve them
  • Recognizes problems when they are at early stages and implements solutions proactively
  • Empowers those he/she manages to solve problems on their own




  • Effectively collaborates with other team members to get projects finished efficiently
  • Shows improvement delegating tasks to others when overwhelmed
  • Excels at sharing knowledge and tips with new team members to help them become part of the team
  • Has a tendency to make others feel hesitant asking him/her for help as they do not know the reaction they will get




  • Needs to work on talking to employees on their level without being condescending
  • His/her team often comments on how he/she makes them feel comfortable in voicing opinions and ideas
  • Clearly understands strengths of team members and delegates accordingly
  • Displays a strong worth ethic that effectively motivates team members to excel
  • Promotes a culture of learning and understand that team members respond well to




  • Shows ability to come up with new solutions for problems when old ways of thinking are ineffective
  • Tends to shut down instead of finding new ways of working when expectations are not met
  • Displays improvement in taking on new tasks or changing workflow when situation requires
  • Rigidly sticks to traditional methods of project management even when results do not warrant it
  • Consistently uses constructive criticism to improve his/her skills and work processes




  • Continually pushes for more responsibility and shows willingness to put in extra hours
  • Is continuously striving to improve skills and production
  • Lacks the initiative to willingly take on more complicated tasks or projects
  • Tends to wait for projects to be handed to him/her rather than requesting more responsibility




  • Appears to be hesitant when it comes to taking creative risks that are outside the box
  • Has a vision for the future of the company and applies creative ideas to help implement it
  • Always contributes fresh ideas at team meetings and on projects
  • Fails to reward those under his/her management for innovative ideas or suggestions