118 performance review phrases to develop your team

Supervisor and employee having a performance review

Which performance review phrases should you use the next time you (or your managers) are running a review? We compiled a collection of phrases that can be mixed and matched and leveraged as part of the performance process.

You can also download our more in-depth performance review template for free today.

118 performance review phrases you can use 

From communication to innovation, our curated list empowers you to conduct effective performance reviews that inspire growth, foster collaboration and drive excellence across your entire organisation. 

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Performance Review

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Communication and interpersonal skills

Positive phrases:

  1. Excellent communicator, both written and verbal.

  2. Demonstrates active listening skills.

  3. Effectively conveys ideas and information.

  4. Able to establish rapport with colleagues and clients.

  5. Handles difficult conversations with professionalism.

  6. Open to feedback and receptive to suggestions.

  7. Builds strong relationships with team members.

  8. Fosters a positive and inclusive work environment.

Constructive phrases:

  1. Struggles to communicate clearly and concisely.

  2. Needs improvement in active listening.

  3. Tends to interrupt others during conversations.

  4. Could work on handling conflicts more diplomatically.

  5. Sometimes avoids having difficult conversations.

  6. Should be more open to receiving feedback.

  7. Needs to improve relationship-building skills.

  8. Could contribute more to a positive team atmosphere.

Time management

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Positive phrases:

  1. Efficiently manages time and prioritises tasks.

  2. Meets deadlines consistently.

  3. Shows excellent organisational skills.

  4. Able to multitask effectively.

  5. Consistently completes tasks ahead of schedule.

  6. Manages workload effectively during peak periods.

Constructive phrases:

  1. Struggles with time management and often misses deadlines.

  2. Needs better organisation to improve time management.

  3. Could benefit from prioritising tasks more effectively.

  4. Sometimes overcommits and becomes overwhelmed.

  5. Needs to improve workload management during busy times.

Attendance

Positive phrases:

  1. Has outstanding attendance and punctuality.

  2. Reliably meets all work schedule requirements.

  3. Takes minimal unplanned time off.

  4. Demonstrates a strong commitment to work attendance.

Constructive phrases:

  1. Occasionally arrives late or leaves early without prior notice.

  2. Takes too many unplanned absences.

  3. Needs to improve punctuality.

  4. Should provide more advance notice for time off.

Leadership

Positive phrases:

  1. Provides clear direction and sets a positive example.

  2. Motivates and inspires team members.

  3. Exhibits strong decision-making skills.

  4. Demonstrates excellent problem-solving abilities.

  5. Leads by example and earns the respect of the team.

  6. Effectively delegates tasks and responsibilities.

  7. Provides constructive feedback to team members.

Constructive phrases:

  1. Struggles to provide clear direction to the team.

  2. Needs to work on motivating team members.

  3. Could improve decision-making skills under pressure.

  4. Occasionally struggles with problem-solving.

  5. Needs to lead by example more consistently.

  6. Could delegate tasks more effectively.

  7. Needs to provide more frequent feedback to team members.

Performance

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Personio provides visual analytics to see the distribution of ratings across your teams and calibrate these for equitable performance appraisals.

Positive phrases:

  1. Consistently exceeds performance expectations.

  2. Achieves goals and targets consistently.

  3. Takes initiative to improve performance.

  4. Delivers high-quality work consistently.

  5. Demonstrates a strong work ethic.

  6. Shows dedication and commitment to the job.

Constructive phrases:

  1. Occasionally falls short of performance expectations.

  2. Needs to set more specific and achievable goals.

  3. Could be more proactive in seeking performance improvement.

  4. Occasionally delivers work of lower quality.

  5. Needs to improve consistency in work output.

Collaboration

Positive phrases:

  1. Works effectively with colleagues from diverse backgrounds.

  2. Builds strong working relationships with team members.

  3. Encourages a culture of collaboration.

  4. Shares knowledge and resources willingly.

  5. Actively participates in team projects and initiatives.

  6. Collaborates effectively across departments.

Constructive phrases:

  1. Occasionally struggles to work well with others.

  2. Could improve interpersonal skills within the team.

  3. Needs to contribute more to a collaborative culture.

  4. Should be more willing to share knowledge and resources.

  5. Sometimes lacks participation in team efforts.

Teamwork

Positive phrases:

  1. An essential team player who consistently contributes.

  2. Demonstrates a willingness to assist team members.

  3. Effectively collaborates with colleagues to achieve goals.

  4. Promotes a positive team spirit.

Constructive phrases:

  1. Needs to improve teamwork skills.

  2. Occasionally fails to support team members.

  3. Could work on better collaboration within the team.

  4. Should contribute more to a positive team atmosphere.

Attitude and dependability

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Positive phrases:

  1. Maintains a positive and optimistic attitude.

  2. Remains composed and focused under pressure.

  3. Can be relied upon to complete tasks effectively.

  4. Takes ownership of responsibilities.

  5. Demonstrates a strong sense of responsibility.

  6. Is adaptable and willing to take on new challenges.

Constructive phrases:

  1. Sometimes displays a negative attitude.

  2. Could improve composure in high-stress situations.

  3. Needs to be more dependable in completing tasks.

  4. Should take more ownership of responsibilities.

  5. Occasionally struggles with adaptability.

Innovation and motivation

Positive phrases:

  1. Brings fresh ideas and innovative solutions to the team.

  2. Motivates colleagues through enthusiasm and creativity.

  3. Demonstrates a strong passion for the work.

  4. Encourages a culture of innovation within the team.

  5. Proactively seeks opportunities for improvement.

Constructive phrases:

  1. Could be more innovative and creative in problem-solving.

  2. Needs to motivate team members more effectively.

  3. Should demonstrate more enthusiasm for the job.

  4. Could contribute more to fostering a culture of innovation.

  5. Needs to be more proactive in seeking improvement opportunities.

Creativity

Positive phrases:

  1. Exhibits a unique and creative approach to problem-solving.

  2. Brings a fresh perspective to projects and challenges.

  3. Demonstrates a strong creative flair in work.

Constructive phrases:

  1. Occasionally lacks creativity in problem-solving.

  2. Could benefit from thinking more outside the box.

  3. Needs to develop a more creative approach to tasks.

Adaptability

Positive phrases:

  1. Adapts easily to changing circumstances and priorities.

  2. Remains flexible and open to new ideas.

  3. Thrives in a dynamic work environment.

Constructive phrases:

  1. Struggles to adapt to changing situations.

  2. Could be more flexible in handling new challenges.

  3. Needs to improve adaptability in a rapidly changing environment.

Goal-setting

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Positive phrases:

  1. Sets clear and achievable goals.

  2. Consistently meets or exceeds established objectives.

  3. Shows a strong commitment to personal and professional growth.

Constructive phrases:

  1. Sometimes sets unrealistic goals.

  2. Could benefit from more realistic goal-setting.

  3. Needs to improve goal attainment.

How to deliver performance review phrases 

Now that you have this list, get your leaders and managers to deliver these performance review phrases to maintain consistency across your organisation. 

To help make them even more actionable, we’d share some of the following tips to help your managers communicate more effectively: 

  • Be specific: Encourage managers to be specific and partner these phrases (whether one or a collection of them) with real examples. This makes them more tangible. 

  • Focus on behaviours: Remember the importance of communicating not on the person, but on the behaviour perceived. Address actions, not attributes. 

  • Direct is best: Let your managers know that direct, potentially uncomfortable feedback is best. Don’t skirt the issue. 

  • Be timely: Some of the best examples of performance appraisals are those that happen more regularly. Feedback deserves to be communicated quickly.

  • Require input: Encourage employees to self-assess and share their perspectives during the review process.

  • Co-create goals: Collaboratively set future goals and discuss how to support an employee's professional growth.

The best way to deliver performance review phrases is as part of a holistic performance management framework. They should be specific, backed up by examples, supported by additional feedback from colleagues and forward-looking. 

Constructing your own review phrases 

Want to create something a bit more tailored to your organisation and ways of working? Here is a handy formula that can help you craft your own phrases: 

Action + Task + Impact 

First, start with an action verb or a mandate to describe what the employee did. Examples include “achieved,” “completed,” “needs to,” “demonstrates,” etc. 

Then, identify the task in question. This is where you can be more concise and specific to your organisation. Name the project or work done. 

Finally, finish with impact. Whether positive or negative, comment on the effect of the task and the behaviour exhibited. 

And, keep a couple of the following best practices in mind: 

  • Quantify achievements: Whenever possible, use data or metrics to quantify an employee's accomplishments.

  • Tailor feedback to goals: Align your feedback with the employee's goals, job responsibilities or career progression framework

  • Avoid jargon: Use language that is clear and easily understandable, avoiding industry-specific jargon.

Run better employee performance reviews with Personio 

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Easily set up performance cycles for the entire company or specific teams and keep track of progress.

The fact is that performance review phrases are only one part of the entire performance review process. We hope this list gave you a good source of inspiration, which begs the question: How are organisations currently run at your organisation? 

Personio’s all-in-one HR software offers a Performance & Development feature to set up cycles, collect feedback, prompt managers and run organisation-wide performance reviews in an automated and seamless way. You can learn more here

Speak with one of our HR experts today to see Personio in action. 

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