Say It Right: 171 Performance Review Example Phrases & Comments

Navigating performance review conversations is often easier said than done. Managers are busy and many feel unequipped to deliver great feedback. But if you don't want your performance evaluations to feel like a burdensome corporate ritual, you need to consider your approach carefully. In this guide, we present 171 sample phrases and comments to use in employee performance reviews. 

The performance review is a cornerstone of an effective performance management program. It's an opportunity to reflect, summarize, and plan for what's next. When done well, performance reviews help employees feel valued and motivated to improve.

But navigating the employee review conversation is easier said than done. Managers are busy and often feel unequipped to deliver great feedback. And employees are often anxious about what will happen in the conversation. If you don't want your performance evaluations to feel like a burdensome corporate ritual, you need to consider your approach carefully.

The words exchanged in a performance review matter—a lot. They have the potential to steer an employee's confidence, connection, and contributions in the months to come. And, by extension, the trajectory of your team and organization. You need to handle reviews with a balance of radical candor and encouragement.

Whether you're a seasoned HR pro, a new manager, or an employee preparing for a review, these performance review examples and comments can help you have a more meaningful and productive conversation. These examples should serve as inspiration, not a script—as we ultimately recommend providing specific and personalized feedback to employees.

The Importance of Performance Reviews

Performance reviews, when done well, are important in performance management and employee engagement. They provide an opportunity for managers and employees to reflect and look forward. To strengthen alignment and maximize growth.

Performance reviews can benefit everyone in the organization. They provide organizational leaders and HR with valuable information about employee performance, so they can make more informed talent decisions.

For managers, performance reviews help evaluate team member performance against established goals. Managers can share feedback, recognize great work, and discuss areas of improvement. This feedback is essential for development, setting clear expectations, and fostering continuous improvement within the team.

For employees, performance reviews help boost growth and development. Employees receive open and direct feedback on their performance, which allows them to adjust and improve. Reviews increase alignment and surface opportunities for development.

 

Best Practices: How to Write a Performance Review

A crucial aspect of effective performance reviews is delivering constructive feedback. When writing a performance review, it's important to provide specific examples to illustrate your points. You should also avoid generic praise or criticism. Employees will see right through it, and they won't be motivated to improve. Instead, tailor your comments and suggestions to the individual's performance. Let them know you care about their development and want to be an active partner in their growth.

To ensure employee engagement and growth, set clear performance goals and offer support for improvement. Emphasize the impact of addressing the discussed areas on overall performance. Encourage a culture of continuous improvement by calling out great work when you see it and providing coaching targeted and improvement.

Finally, make sure to keep the door open for a two-way conversation. Transparent communication nurtures trust and collaboration between you and your team members. By actively listening to their feedback and valuing their input, you can create a culture where everyone feels heard and respected, ultimately building strong relationships.

A culture of trust doesn’t happen overnight. Managers should have regular performance check-ins outside of the annual performance review. These conversations allow managers to support, adjust, and adapt as needed to keep performance on track and stay connected to employees through effective communication.

 

Pitfalls to Avoid in Performance Reviews

There are a few common traps that can undermine the effectiveness of your performance reviews. Here's a few and how to avoid them:

  • The vagueness vortex. Offering generic feedback leaves employees wanting more. Use specific examples as anchors for your feedback to provide both clarity and direction for improvement. Good performance review templates can help!
  • The negative bias barrier. While addressing areas for growth is essential, it's just as important to celebrate what's going right. A balanced review motivated employees and helps them feel valued for their hard work.
  • The expectations fog. Ambiguity in objectives can cloud the review process. Setting clear, achievable performance goals from the get-go ensures both managers and employees are on the same page about what's important.
  • The follow-up fumble. The momentum from the review is lost without follow-through and ongoing performance conversations. Consistent follow-up translates insights into action, helping employee stay aligned and feel supported.

What Not to Say in a Performance Review

The language you use in performance reviews is so important. It can make or break the review conversation for your employee. Remember your purpose: it is to guide and develop, not to blame and discourage. Here are a few tips for what not to say in a performance review:

  • Steer clear of overly critical language without offering a path forward. Your aim should be to inspire improvement.
  • Avoid the comparison trap. Don't compare an employee to another team member. You risk creating a competitive rather than a collaborative environment.
  • Don't dismiss employee feedback. It's important to acknowledge their thoughts, showing respect and creating space for a two-way dialogue.

 

What to Say in a Performance Review:

Your performance review delivery is important in nurturing growth and boosting engagement. Frame your feedback with specificity. You want to provide detailed instances that exemplify the feedback you're sharing—both positive and constructive. Taking a balanced approach will help your team members shine and refine their skills.

Keep your commentary aligned with employee goals, behaviors, and organizational values. Don't make it personal. Remember to provide specific feedback on the employee's performance, avoiding general statements like "you did a good job" or "you need to do better next time." Instead, focus on what the employee has done well and how they could improve going forward. This will give the employee clear direction and help them understand exactly where they stand with their manager.

Use each performance review to celebrate milestones, chart new goals, and openly discuss development opportunities. An authentic and candid exchange can invigorate your team members and accelerate growth.

Performance Review Phrases & Performance Review Comments

Having an arsenal of performance review phrases and comments can help you deliver targeted and inspiring feedback to each employee. Use our examples to navigate your next review with professionalism and tact.

Example Phrases & Comments: Communication Skills

Positive Feedback:

  1. You articulate complex ideas clearly and your presentations are always engaging.
  2. Your writing is concise and persuasive, making reports easy to understand.
  3. You listen attentively in meetings and provide thoughtful feedback.
  4. You consistently ensure all team members are informed and up-to-date.
  5. Your ability to negotiate effectively has been key in several team successes.

Constructive Feedback:

  1. Consider pausing to allow questions during your presentations to ensure clarity.
  2. It may be helpful to proofread your emails once more for clarity and conciseness.
  3. Encouraging others to share their ideas in meetings could enhance team collaboration.
  4. Let's work on tailoring your communication style to different audiences for better engagement.
  5. Try to summarize the main points at the end of your communications for emphasis.

Self-performance review examples:

  1. I feel confident in my ability to present ideas in a clear and engaging manner, but I want to work on encouraging more interactive discussions during meetings.
  2. My written communication is thorough and well-received, though I aim to improve my brevity for more impactful messages.
  3. While I effectively tailor my communication to different audiences, I would like to enhance my active listening skills, particularly in one-on-one settings.

Example Phrases & Comments: Teamwork and Collaboration

Positive Feedback:

  1. You are a unifying presence in the team, always ensuring everyone's opinions are considered.
  2. Your willingness to help colleagues demonstrates exceptional team spirit.
  3. You consistently acknowledge the contributions of others, fostering a positive team environment.
  4. You excel at coordinating with other departments to achieve shared goals.
  5. Your collaborative approach has been instrumental in our team's achievements.

Constructive Feedback:

  1. I encourage you to seek contributions from quieter team members, as their input can be valuable.
  2. When disagreements arise, try to seek a compromise that benefits the team as a whole.
  3. Balancing your workload with others could help with more equitable task distribution.
  4. Try to incorporate feedback from all team members when working on collaborative projects.
  5. Focusing on shared goals could help in reducing instances of conflict within the team.

Self-performance review examples:

  1. I actively contribute to team projects and support my colleagues, yet I see the benefit of stepping back sometimes to allow others to take the lead.
  2. My willingness to assist others has been a strong point, but I want to develop better conflict resolution strategies within the team.
  3. I believe in the power of teamwork, and while I’ve been successful in collaborative settings, I plan to seek more feedback to integrate diverse perspectives better.

Example Phrases & Comments: Problem-Solving and Decision Making

Positive Feedback:

  1. Your ability to swiftly identify and solve problems has improved our team's productivity.
  2. You analyze issues from multiple angles before making well-informed decisions.
  3. Your proactive approach to anticipating potential issues is commendable.
  4. You balance risk and potential when making decisions, showing great judgment.
  5. Your creative solutions have led to innovative improvements in our processes.

Constructive Feedback:

  1. Expanding your analysis to include more data could enhance decision-making quality.
  2. Consider involving relevant stakeholders before finalizing key decisions.
  3. Let's work on developing contingency plans for high-stakes projects.
  4. Sometimes taking more time to weigh options could result in better outcomes.
  5. Encouraging input from the team might help refine problem-solving approaches.

Self-performance review examples:

  1. I am adept at identifying issues and implementing solutions, but I want to enhance my ability to foresee potential problems before they arise.
  2. My decision-making is informed and timely, though I could benefit from incorporating more input from various team members.
  3. While I have a solid track record for problem-solving, I am working on being more decisive in uncertain situations to maintain momentum.

Example Phrases & Comments: Adaptability and Flexibility

Positive Feedback:

  1. Your willingness to embrace new situations has made you a role model for adaptability.
  2. You adjust to sudden changes in plans with grace and efficiency.
  3. Your flexible approach to work assignments allows us to function smoothly during transitions.
  4. You've demonstrated you can learn new skills rapidly to meet changing demands.
  5. Your positive attitude in the face of change inspires confidence in your teammates.

Constructive Feedback:

  1. Being more receptive to new ideas could bring unexpected improvements.
  2. Flexibility in scheduling could help manage unexpected workload increases.
  3. Let's look at ways you can more comfortably handle shifting priorities.
  4. Working on resilience in times of change could help maintain your performance level.
  5. Consider experimenting with new strategies for managing multiple tasks simultaneously.

Self-performance review examples:

  1. I pride myself on adapting quickly to new software and procedures, but I'm working on managing my stress levels during periods of significant change.
  2. My flexible approach has served me well in adjusting to shifting priorities, yet I aim to further develop strategies for rapid skill acquisition when facing new challenges.
  3. I am comfortable handling multiple tasks but need to work on delegating responsibilities to maintain focus on high-priority projects.

Example Phrases & Comments: Customer Focus

Positive Feedback:

  1. Your dedication to understanding customer needs is evident in your interactions.
  2. Customers regularly compliment your attentiveness and helpfulness.
  3. Your follow-through on customer issues is exemplary and sets a high standard.
  4. You've successfully upsold services by truly understanding customer requirements.
  5. Your innovative ideas have significantly improved customer satisfaction levels.

Constructive Feedback:

  1. I encourage you to explore additional training to enhance your customer service skills.
  2. Let's work on reducing response times to customer inquiries.
  3. Consider asking for customer feedback to identify areas for service improvement.
  4. Acknowledging customer concerns more promptly will help in building trust.
  5. Diversifying your approach to customer problems could reveal more effective solutions.

Self-performance review examples:

  1. I consistently receive positive feedback for my customer service, but I am looking to improve the way I manage expectations to prevent misunderstandings.
  2. Understanding customer needs has been a strength of mine; however, I'm working on more proactive communication to enhance customer satisfaction.
  3. While my customer interactions are generally successful, I am aiming to deepen my product knowledge to provide even more insightful recommendations.

Example Phrases & Comments: Leadership and Influence

Positive Feedback:

  1. Your leadership has been pivotal in navigating our team through recent challenges.
  2. You empower your team members by delegating effectively and trusting their expertise.
  3. Your vision and direction are clear, making it easy for the team to follow your lead.
  4. You inspire others through your commitment to excellence and integrity.
  5. Your ability to influence stakeholders has brought valuable partnerships.

Constructive Feedback:

  1. Providing more frequent constructive feedback can help team members grow.
  2. Let's develop strategies for recognizing team efforts more publicly.
  3. Balancing assertiveness with empathy could enhance team morale.
  4. Encouraging more team input in decision-making processes can drive engagement.
  5. Developing a more structured approach to mentoring could benefit upcoming leaders.

Self-performance review examples:

  1. My team respects my leadership and vision, but I want to create more opportunities for them to lead initiatives that align with their strengths.
  2. I have successfully motivated my team through various challenges, though I am focusing on improving how I share constructive feedback.
  3. I feel I lead by example, yet I am striving to better recognize and celebrate individual team member contributions more consistently.

Example Phrases & Comments: Innovation and Creativity

Positive Feedback:

  1. Your creative approach to problem-solving consistently leads to innovative solutions.
  2. The initiative you took on the recent project introduced a novel way to streamline our workflow.
  3. You encourage a culture of innovation within the team, inspiring us all to think outside the box.
  4. Your ability to see beyond traditional methods has led to beneficial changes in our approach.
  5. The creativity you brought to our campaign was a driving force behind its success.

Constructive Feedback:

  1. Let's brainstorm ways to foster a more innovative atmosphere in team meetings.
  2. Encouraging others to propose creative solutions could lead to more diverse ideas.
  3. Sometimes, balancing innovative ideas with practicality can ensure better project feasibility.
  4. Consider setting aside time each week to focus on creative thinking and innovation.
  5. Exploring training on creative methodologies could greatly benefit your innovative output.

Self-performance review examples:

  1. I have contributed innovative ideas that have been implemented, but I'm also looking to foster a more creative atmosphere within my team.
  2. While I'm often commended for creative problem-solving, I aim to engage in more brainstorming sessions to diversify my sources of inspiration.
  3. My approach to tasks is usually creative, however, I am learning to balance this with practical constraints to ensure feasibility.

Example Phrases & Comments: Technical and Professional Proficiency

Positive Feedback:

  1. Your technical expertise has been a crucial asset in the success of our complex projects.
  2. You are always up-to-date with the latest industry developments, which enhances our team's knowledge base.
  3. Your proficiency in our software systems has improved our team's efficiency.
  4. You consistently produce high-quality work that reflects your depth of professional knowledge.
  5. Your guidance has helped elevate the entire team’s technical capabilities.

Constructive Feedback:

  1. Consider sharing your technical knowledge more frequently with the team to elevate our collective skill level.
  2. Engaging with additional professional development opportunities could further enhance your expertise.
  3. Applying your technical skills to a wider range of tasks could increase your impact on the team.
  4. Let's identify new technologies that you can master to stay ahead in our field.
  5. Collaborating with other departments could provide a fresh perspective on your technical work.

Self-performance review examples:

  1. I maintain a high level of professional expertise in my field, yet I am continuously seeking opportunities to further my education and stay ahead of industry trends.
  2. My technical skills have allowed me to contribute significantly to our team's work, but I need to share this knowledge more effectively with newer team members.
  3. I am adept at applying my professional skills to my role, however, I plan to embrace newer technologies to enhance our team’s capabilities.

Example Phrases & Comments: Results Orientation and Execution

Positive Feedback:

  1. Your focus on achieving results has noticeably contributed to our team's success.
  2. You not only set ambitious goals but also follow through with effective execution.
  3. Your dedication to meeting deadlines ensures that our projects consistently stay on track.
  4. You have a strong ability to break down complex goals into manageable tasks.
  5. Your persistence in the face of obstacles is a testament to your results-driven attitude.

Constructive Feedback:

  1. While focusing on results, ensure that the quality of work remains high.
  2. Balancing speed with thoroughness can sometimes yield better long-term outcomes.
  3. Prioritizing tasks according to their impact on end results can improve efficiency.
  4. Let's explore strategies for maintaining momentum during the final stages of project completion.
  5. Encouraging the team to regularly review progress towards goals can help keep everyone aligned.

Self-performance review examples:

  1. I am focused on achieving results and consistently meet my targets, but I would like to streamline my processes to increase efficiency.
  2. My project management skills lead to successful outcomes, though I’m working on improving how I prioritize tasks under tight deadlines.
  3. I ensure that my work contributes to our company's objectives, yet I am aware of the need to seek regular feedback to align my efforts with our evolving goals.

Example Phrases & Comments: Integrity and Ethics

Positive Feedback:

  1. You consistently demonstrate integrity in all of your professional interactions.
  2. Your ethical decision-making reinforces a culture of trust within our team.
  3. You have been a role model for upholding our company's values even in challenging situations.
  4. Your commitment to doing the right thing contributes to a strong company reputation.
  5. You handle sensitive information with discretion and responsibility.

Constructive Feedback:

  1. Being more transparent about your decision-making process can reinforce trust with your colleagues.
  2. Let's work on strategies for speaking up about ethics in a constructive way when faced with difficult situations.
  3. Encouraging open discussions around ethical dilemmas can enhance team understanding and cohesion.
  4. Consider leading a workshop on ethical practices to share your strong understanding with the team.
  5. Taking a proactive stance on potential ethical issues can prevent larger problems down the line.

Self-performance review examples:

  1. I uphold a strong ethical stance in all professional dealings, but I want to be more vocal in team settings about the importance of maintaining this integrity.
  2. My actions consistently reflect the company's values, however, I am developing ways to better handle ethical dilemmas when they arise.
  3. Integrity is a cornerstone of my work ethic, yet I am looking to improve my ability to mentor others in ethical decision-making practices.

Example Phrases & Comments: Cultural Competency

Positive Feedback:

  1. Your respect for diverse perspectives has greatly enriched our team discussions.
  2. You effectively bridge cultural differences, fostering an inclusive workplace.
  3. Your initiatives to celebrate diverse cultures have improved team morale and unity.
  4. You are adept at adapting your communication style to engage with a diverse clientele.
  5. Your insights into cultural nuances have been pivotal in our global marketing strategies.

Constructive Feedback:

  1. Participating in cultural competency training could further enhance your ability to connect with diverse teams.
  2. Expanding your understanding of different cultures can improve your interactions with international clients.
  3. Let's work on creating more inclusive team meetings where diverse perspectives are actively solicited.
  4. Consider the impact of cultural differences when designing team-building activities.
  5. Broadening the range of resources you draw from could offer more diverse viewpoints in your work.

Self-performance review examples:

  1. I value cultural diversity and incorporate it into my work, but I am seeking further training to broaden my cultural understanding and sensitivity.
  2. I work effectively in diverse environments and strive to be inclusive, however, I aim to develop more culturally diverse networks within my professional sphere.
  3. My cultural awareness benefits our team's dynamics, but I am looking to enhance our outreach strategies to engage a broader, more diverse audience.

Example Phrases & Comments: Initiative and Self-Motivation

Positive Feedback:

  1. Your self-starting approach has brought valuable innovation and efficiency to our processes.
  2. You regularly go above and beyond, which motivates your colleagues to do the same.
  3. Your initiative in leading our community outreach program has made a tangible difference.
  4. You seize opportunities for professional development with enthusiasm and dedication.
  5. Your drive to improve and take on new challenges is contagious and uplifting for the team.

Constructive Feedback:

  1. Expanding your initiative to new areas could have a broader impact on team performance.
  2. Balancing your autonomous projects with team objectives will ensure alignment with our overall goals.
  3. Try to share your motivation with teammates, as this can inspire them to undertake their own initiatives.
  4. While being self-motivated, remember the benefits of seeking input for a well-rounded approach.
  5. Setting more measurable goals for your initiatives can help demonstrate their impact more clearly.

Self-performance review examples:

  1. I take initiative in my work and seek out new challenges, yet I recognize the need to align these initiatives more closely with team goals."
  2. My self-motivation drives me to complete my tasks efficiently, but I am working on collaborating more with my peers to share this drive."
  3. I consistently look for ways to improve my performance, however, I am focusing on setting clearer, measurable objectives for my personal development plans.

Performance Review Questions

Performance reviews are a great opportunity to ask open-ended questions. Asking the right questions helps you gather valuable insights from employees. You can gain a broader understanding of how your employees view their own performance, how they fit into the team and culture, and where they'd like to improve. Here are some effective performance review questions to enhance the evaluation process:

  1. How do you feel about your achievements since the last review?
  2. What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?
  3. Can you share examples of how you contributed to team projects?
  4. What goals would you like to set for the upcoming review period?
  5. In what areas do you feel you need additional support or training?
  6. How can we better support your professional growth and development?
  7. Are there any obstacles hindering your productivity or job satisfaction?
  8. What feedback do you have for your manager or the team?
  9. How do you perceive your role within the team and the organization?
  10. Do you have any suggestions for improving our performance review process?
  11. How do you think you could improve as an employee? 
  12. What is a recent situation you wish you had handled differently? What would you have changed?
  13. How will you keep yourself accountable for meeting goals, deadlines, and results?
  14. How can I help you become more effective in your role?
  15. Do you have clarity regarding your responsibilities? Are you ready to take on new responsibilities?


Conclusion

Mastering the art of performance reviews is an ongoing journey. It's essential for the growth of employees and your organization. By harnessing the power of constructive dialogue, recognizing great work, and partnering with employees on development, we create an environment where motivation thrives and potential is realized.


 

Quantum Workplace's performance review software helps your managers and teams prepare for, facilitate, and follow up for more effective, efficient, and engaging performance reviews. 


Published February 27, 2024 | Written By Kristin Ryba