Worried About Getting It Wrong? Use These Performance Review Phrases In Your Feedback

24 November 2022 | 6 Minute
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Worried About Getting It Wrong? Use These Performance Review Phrases In Your Feedback

Choose your words carefully whether in writing or verbally. If you’re holding a performance review, then you really need to consider the words you use and how you give feedback to each person. Otherwise you risk demotivating individuals by using words that make them feel inadequate or a failure. Or perhaps you aren’t direct enough, and they think they’re an outstanding performer, when actually they aren’t. Or maybe they are so confused because you didn’t articulate your feedback well enough.

But don’t worry, we have created some key performance review phrases for you to consider when you have meetings with direct reports. Let clumsy feedback and poor wording be a thing of the past!


What is a Performance Review?

A performance review is a key part of the performance management cycle and the aim is to help employees to discuss and agree on future performance goals and review existing individual goals. It is also an opportunity for you to discuss important factors for the employees, such as decisions around salary, bonus and promotion.

However, there has been much debate over whether traditional performance reviews really fit the current workforce and align with business objectives and employee expectations. 


Why Can Performance Reviews Be Negative Experiences?

There could be an issue with how managers deliver feedback and communicate during reviews. For some employees, this may really make or break their review and what they take from it, and can hugely affect employee engagement. Some managers may focus too much on past performance rather than on how individuals can develop.

Also, if managers only give feedback from themselves rather than wider 360-degree feedback, then it's likely the feedback will be limited and with a narrow perspective. Furthermore, it's difficult to keep the reviews completely objective. Without feedback from other sources within the organisation, manager feedback may be biased or even unfair.

That's why it's essential to ensure that managers are trained in how to collect and deliver feedback and observations and arm them with the best possible performance review phrases they can incorporate into reviews.


What Performance Review Phrases Should You Use?

For Specific Areas of Performance:

Time Management

No one is perfect when it comes to time management, as sometimes factors out of our control will make us late or miss a deadline. However, time management is essential to a successful team and should be included in performance reviews:


  1. Is always on time or early for each work day.
  2. Respectful of others by being prompt for meetings.
  3. Never late to meetings or work.
  4. Is always respectful of other people’s time.
  5. Is an inspiration to others with regard to time management.
  6. You can rely on them to be at work on time and ready to start.
  7. Consistently completes work on time.
  8. Always adheres to work/project deadlines and respects deadlines.
  9. Manages their time effectively and efficiently.
  10. Prioritises workload and tasks.

Improvement Areas

  1. Fails to adhere to the organisation’s attendance expectations.
  2. Is regularly late to work.
  3. Often takes longer breaks than scheduled.
  4. Disrespects peers and colleagues by frequently being late to meetings.
  5. Does not always follow the organisation’s attendance policy.
  6. Often misses work deadlines.
  7. Occasionally underdelivers work during projects.
  8. Does not effectively manage workload or work prioritisation.
  9. Does not always adhere to the sickness reporting policy.
  10. Has taken more annual leave than eligible for.



Communication has always been vital to workplace and team success and employee engagement, but it is more important than ever now that hybrid working means that individuals may not be physically seen every day.


  1. Is able to articulate difficult ideas in clear language.
  2. Frequently asks for help when they are struggling.
  3. Clearly follow company process with regards to requesting leave or working remotely etc.
  4. Can articulate technical concepts in laymen’s terms for other business areas.
  5. Is inclusive of team members when it comes to relevant discussions.
  6. Listens to others and lets them have their say/opinion.
  7. Ensures they have all the information by asking questions before they start working on something.
  8. Regularly checks in with their manager to update them on work issues or progress before being asked.
  9. Encourages clear and ongoing conversations between team members.
  10. Repeats work tasks to the team or manager to ensure a thorough understanding.

Improvement Areas

  1. Fails to facilitate open communication with manager.
  2. Doesn’t often ask (or never asks) for feedback on performance from their manager.
  3. Avoids conversations with management.
  4. Avoids asking follow-up questions when receiving constructive feedback.
  5. Occasionally (or frequently) forgets to tell their manager where they will be working (i.e. office or remote).
  6. Fails to facilitate open communication with team members.
  7. Doesn’t ask enough questions when receiving instructions or work they don’t fully understand.
  8. Fails to give feedback to others when requested.
  9. Doesn’t effectively communicate when they need help.
  10. Ignores requests from others for help or fails to clearly respond to them.


Innovation and Creativity

It doesn’t matter where someone sits in your organisation, they may have excellent ideas and suggestions that your business needs.


  1. Makes suggestions and gives ideas about work.
  2. Comes up with ideas to improve processes in a project or work task.
  3. Likes to try new ideas and test what works well and what doesn’t.
  4. Is confident in making suggestions to others.
  5. Encourages other people to make suggestions and offer new ideas.
  6. Asks why about long-term processes or suggestions and gives new ideas.
  7. Follow trends and what others are doing to ensure innovative and current ideas.
  8. Understands the bigger picture of project or department to see how they fit in and work.
  9. Comfortable testing new ideas regardless of their success.
  10. Always offers suggestions in meetings.

Improvement areas

  1. Doesn’t offer new ideas or suggestions in meetings.
  2. Prefers to stay in the old or current way of working instead of implementing change.
  3. Prefers not to experiment with new ideas in case of failure.
  4. Tendency to push back on new ideas or suggestions.
  5. Lets others come up with new ideas.
  6. Doesn’t check what competitors are doing as only focus on their organisation processes.
  7. Avoids making suggestions to their team or manager.
  8. Only focused on how their part of the project works, not on how the other departments fit in.
  9. Doesn’t question existing processes, just follows them.
  10. Fails to ask other team members for new ideas.



There are many reasons why teamwork is imperative to an organisation’s success. Effective teamwork fosters a culture of respect, psychological safety, support and productivity and research shows that groups of three or above perform better in solving complex issues than individuals.


  1. Encourages every member of the team to be equal.
  2. Works well with every person on the team.
  3. Is accepting and inclusive of every team member.
  4. Encourages team members to share ideas and opinions and respects all suggestions.
  5. Is good at ensuring and encouraging members to work towards a common goal.
  6. Respects other people’s feelings and is supportive of others.
  7. Always willing to offer support and help to others.
  8. Regularly shares ideas and thoughts.
  9. Helps to build team morale and positivity.
  10. Is always willing to help and support their team. 

Improvement Areas

  1. Works alone rather than as part of a team more often than not.
  2. Needs to develop their teamwork skills and approach.
  3. Does not listen to the views or ideas of team members.
  4. Does not believe in teamwork or supporting others.
  5. Fails to ask team members for help or advice.
  6. Does not necessarily trust their teammates.
  7. Is not inclusive of all team members.
  8. Is often insensitive to the feelings or others in the team.
  9. Blames others for errors or mistakes.
  10. Does not share enough time or communication with team members.


Attitude and Willingness

Not everyone can be positive all the time, but an individual’s attitude to their team, work and manager will hugely impact their success and the performance of others.


  1. Demonstrates motivation and enthusiasm for work and team.
  2. Does not let stress or pressure negatively affect them or the team.
  3. Can appropriately lighten stressful moods in the team.
  4. Inspires others with encouragement and positivity.
  5. Always comes to work with a positive attitude.
  6. Encourages themselves and others to do their best.
  7. Is able to create an atmosphere of trust with peers.
  8. Demonstrates a can-do approach to work.
  9. Listens to other people’s point of view.
  10. Doesn’t get upset by differences in opinion.

 Improvement Areas

  1. Can be outspoken at times.
  2. Is easily affected by pressure and stress.
  3. Does not always handle pressure well.
  4. Could improve how they react to constructive feedback.
  5. Needs to work on moving negative reactions/attitudes to positive ones.
  6. Needs to accept other people’s opinions and views.
  7. Can impact the rest of the team with a negative attitude.
  8. Often approaches tasks expecting to fail.
  9. Possesses a can’t do rather than a can-do attitude.
  10. Is easily upset if someone doesn’t agree with them.



Although it’s important to review an individual’s soft skills, you also need to gauge how each person is actually doing in their job in terms of performing at the expected level required for the role.


  1. Met all goals since the last performance review.
  2. Has exceeded some or all of the goals since their last performance review.
  3. Is proactive at doing tasks or actions that may not have been noticed by others.
  4. Is driven and motivated to achieve their goals.
  5. Strong at taking initiative in their role.
  6. Is a role model for others in their role and in the team.
  7. Gets their work done on time and to a high standard.
  8. Takes pride in doing their job well.
  9. Always looks to help others to excel in their roles too.
  10. Frequently goes above and beyond in tasks or projects.

 Improvement Areas

  1. Failed to meet goals set at their last performance review.
  2. Does not help others or offer support.
  3. Is below average in the performance ratings.
  4. Does not take initiative in their role.
  5. Only does the minimum required, does not go above.
  6. Sometimes misses deadlines or tasks.
  7. Fails to take pride in their work consistently.
  8. Does not seem interesting in improving their skills.
  9. Lacks drive and motivation in their role.
  10. Is not someone that should be promoted at this stage.


Interpersonal Skills

Soft skills are essential for everyone but can be difficult to master or learn. 


  1. Is honest and open.
  2. Gets on well with their peers and get to know them all.
  3. Listens to others, whatever their level in the organisation.
  4. Builds strong relationships across the organisation.
  5. Is effective at giving and receiving feedback.
  6. Makes others feel appreciated.
  7. Is versatile with whom they can work well.
  8. Bonds well with peers.
  9. Practices open and honest communication with others.

Improvement Areas

  1. Is accepting and open to others.
  2. Is closed and insular in their team.
  3. They are viewed as unapproachable by their peers.
  4. Does not listen well to others.
  5. Others do not enjoy working with them.
  6. They can be patronising to peers.
  7. Fail to make others feel appreciated.
  8. Does not build strong bonds with teammates.
  9. Fails to understand other people’s feelings or needs.
  10. Doesn’t accept the different views of others.
  11. Is not inclusive or accepted of everyone.



This will not apply to everyone, so there are fewer questions, but it is still essential to get the performance review phrases right.


  1. Always shows appreciation for tasks done well.
  2. Supports others in the team and helps them to develop.
  3. Encourages and leads every team member.
  4. Promotes a culture of development and feedback.
  5. Gives honest and regular feedback to others.

Improvement Areas

  1. Fails to provide feedback to team members about performance or behaviour.
  2. Doesn’t plan or strategise for the team.
  3. Fails to inspire or motivate the team.
  4. Does not treat all members as equals.
  5. Is not a role model for the team.


So there you have it, 150 suggested performance review phrases you can use or adapt. You can pick and choose from them and select the areas you are assessing, but they give a flavour of how to phrase feedback and what to focus on.

Next article
The Employee Performance Goals Examples You Need for Employee Development
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