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Perfect Phrases to Use When Writing a Performance Review

Mary Gormandy White
Employee and employer interacting

Providing employees with feedback on how they are doing in their jobs is an important part of every manager's role. In many companies, supervisors are expected to periodically provide employees with a formal, written performance review. No matter what type of employee evaluation form your company uses, chances are narrative feedback is required. While finding the right words to use can be challenging, the sample phrases provided here can help you get started.

Positive Feedback

One aspect of reviewing employee performance involves providing positive feedback on things each team member does particularly well. Praise should be specific and related to key components of job success. Feel free to use the phrases listed here as appropriate, or use them as a starting point to brainstorm other ways to convey the meaning you'd like to share.

Positive Job Performance

Instead of just telling employees how that their performance is on-par, identify specific strengths worthy of praise. Consider these examples:

  • Consistently meets or exceeds jobs standards or performance requirements
  • Turns in high-quality work in a timely manner
  • Outstanding attention-to-detail that results in work that is consistently free from error
  • Exhibits exceptional mastery of job skills and requirements

Outstanding Communication

Try this sample wording to convey appreciation for an employee's communication skills:

  • Proactive in communicating concerns to coworkers and management
  • Demonstrates willingness to listen to feedback and input from coworkers and management
  • Exhibits strong professional communication skills in-person, via telephone, and in writing
  • Clearly communicates needs and expectations to internal service providers

Excellent Problem-Solving

Examples of phrases focused on praising employees for their problem-solving skills include the following:

  • Seeks unique solutions to challenging situations
  • Able to look beyond the surface to identify root causes of problems
  • Open to new ways of solving problems
  • Able to effectively identify and troubleshoot problems

Being a Team Player

Consider these things to saying to praise employees for going above and beyond when it comes to being team players:

  • Prioritizes the needs and interests of the team above individual goals
  • Ensures team members are looped into projects by soliciting input and feedback from each person
  • Collaborates effectively with other team members
  • Consistently offers assistance to team members who are less experienced

Corrective/Improvement-Focused Feedback

Corrective/Improvement-Focused Feedback

Of course, no one is perfect. In addition to praising employees for the areas where they excel, the process of reviewing performance also requires providing feedback focused on improving performance. Keep in mind that this type of feedback needs to be constructive, which means it needs to lead to a conversation on how employees can improve rather than just leaving them feeling criticized.

Below Par Job Performance

When an employee's job performance is not up to par, it's important to clearly communicate the deficiency and provide a path for correction. Consider opening the subject with wording like this:

  • Error rate in excess of acceptable standard for the job from X time to Y time
  • Volume of work completed not consistent with required production ranges of A - B
  • Turnaround time in excess of expectations based on time in job
  • Customer experience reports indicate deviation from company requirements

Ineffective Communication

When an employee needs help in the area of communication skills, try these phrases as a starting point for developing corrective feedback:

  • Needs to be proactive in keeping team members informed of project progress
  • Ensure tone is conducive to building professional relationships when communicating with co-workers
  • Be diligent in keeping management updated on how work is progressing
  • Needs to develop presentation skills in order to facilitate meetings effectively

Ineffective Problem-Solving

When employees seem to be able to follow instructions and take orders but can't come up with unique solutions, they may need to develop stronger problem-solving skills. Consider feedback phrases such as these:

  • Needs to show initiative with identifying solutions when things don't go according to plan
  • When pointing out problems, needs to make an effort to identify and suggest potential solutions
  • Investigate possible reasons for problems that develop, rather than immediately asking for help
  • Actively participate in problem-solving, rather than asking management or team members to fix things for you

Being Too Me-Oriented

When an employee's behavior is such that the phrase "team player" couldn't be used to describe the individual, he or she may be more "me-oriented" than is appropriate for the work environment. Rather than telling the person to be a better team player, consider offering suggestions to change his or her focus from "me" to "we."

  • Would benefit from taking a more collaborative approach to projects and tasks
  • Consider using more inclusive language to incorporate coworkers in conversations related to the work of the department or team
  • Could ask coworkers for input and really listen to what they have to say, even if you think you already know the answer
  • Consider what is best for the team before approaching work in your preferred manner

Preparing to Deliver Effective Employee Feedback

These are just a few phrases to help you get started providing your employees with powerful and effective performance reviews. In order to be meaningful, the information you share with your employees when it's time to evaluate their performance needs to be thoughtful and focused on their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the particular demands of the job. If you need additional assistance preparing to review your employees, you may find it helpful to review a few sample completed employee evaluations. While each employee's situation is unique, taking a look at fully completed forms can make the task you're about to undertake seem much less daunting.

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Perfect Phrases to Use When Writing a Performance Review