200+ phrases to guide great performance reviews – Grove Blog

Awkward conversations. Managerial monologues. Mixed messages. Vague statements. Defensive reactions. All too often, performance review meetings between managers and employees devolve to include some or all of the above. The good news is that if managers take a structured and balanced approach to performance reviews – and prepare adequately in advance – these issues can be avoided.

So, read on and learn how to build effective performance reviews around the following key phrases. And if you’re an employee, these phrases can help you ease your next self-evaluation.

1. Overall performance review phrases

Here are examples of high-level summaries or overall overviews for two very different employees: Tom – an exceptional performer – and Jane – who has multiple areas for improvement:

Meets expectations

  • Tom has demonstrated the value he adds to the team and consistently exceeds expectations in all aspects of his job performance.
  • He shows attention to detail and delivers work of an exceptional standard. Tom is a strong team player and has gained the respect of both his colleagues and senior stakeholders.
  • He has responded admirably to changing and sometimes challenging situations, always retaining his professional demeanor and positive attitude.
  • Despite operating in a demanding and high-pressure environment, Tom has proactively sought opportunities to grow and learn new skills.

Does not meet expectations

  • Jane seems to be struggling to grasp and adapt to some of the requirements and expectations of her role. Her demeanor in the office is somewhat negative, affecting her team’s morale and drawing criticism from senior stakeholders and colleagues.
  • Jane does not show a sense of urgency in meeting deadlines and delivering work of a high standard. Work is often left unfinished and of poor quality. Her timekeeping is somewhat haphazard, and she seems reluctant to follow procedures.
  • It is recommended that Jane engage in some training and mentoring support to assist her in building the skills and capabilities she lacks.

In the sections that follow, we’ll look at some of the most common areas in which employees are frequently evaluated. For each, we’ll offer some sample phrases that you can include and/or customize.

2. Performance review phrases about quality of work

While this is one of the most critical requirements when reviewing an employee’s job performance, it’s one of the most difficult to evaluate. For this reason, the words and expressions you use should be carefully chosen. These phrases will be useful to draw on when evaluating a person’s quality of work:

Meets expectations

  • Detail-oriented and results-driven.
  • Settle only for delivering services of high quality to customers.
  • The quality of the results delivered has contributed to the company’s reputation and bottom line.
  • Be trusted to deliver high-quality work on time, every time.
  • Invest extra time in projects to ensure that all deliverables are of a high standard.
  • Be committed to always finding new ways to deliver better value.
  • Set exceptionally high standards.
  • Quality of work exceeds expectations on every occasion.
  • Committed to producing the very best work at all times.
  • Complete tasks thoroughly and beyond expectations.

Does not meet expectations

  • Delivers an inconsistent quality of work.
  • Fail to respond to colleagues’ requests or customer complaints.
  • Fail to demonstrate a commitment to quality.
  • Turn in work that is below par.
  • Assignments are poorly thought through and often full of errors.
  • Not follow the company’s procedures and policies.
  • Expect others to finish incomplete tasks.
  • Leave work before all agreed tasks are completed.
  • Not follow established processes.

3. Performance review phrases about job knowledge

Employees who have rich knowledge about what their job entails and what is required of them are the most productive. Use this list to guide your discussion about how well you rate an employee’s job knowledge:

Meets expectations

Grove HR - Performance review phrases about job knowledge

  • Approach technical challenges with a skillful eye.
  • Apply skills to boost the company’s quarterly revenue numbers.
  • Use technical knowledge creatively to solve problems.
  • Saved project X from failure by proposing a new technical approach.
  • Explain technical subjects to peers in a relatable manner.
  • Build the team’s knowledge base by sharing expertise on technical issues.
  • Apply expertise creatively.
  • Can take theoretical concepts and apply them to practical challenges.
  • Find solutions to longstanding issues through their technological insights.
  • Translate technical information into user-friendly language.

Does not meet expectations

  • Cling to outdated solutions.
  • Offer inaccurate technical information or specifications.
  • Answer questions using confusing, overly technical language.
  • Unwilling to offer technical help to less-experienced team members.
  • The technical skills set is inappropriate for the tasks at hand.
  • Design flawed solutions that require significant rework.
  • Unwilling to recertify with up-to-date qualifications.
  • Ignore opportunities to expand expertise.
  • Not stay up to date with industry trends and developments.
  • Allow technical details to overshadow the customer’s business problem.

4. Performance review phrases about initiative

Initiative is an essential trait of high-performing people. Employees with initiative stand out from their peers through their willingness to act without being asked to. Here are some phrases that you can draw on when evaluating and discussing your employees’ levels of initiative:

Meets expectations

  • Proactively seek out new tasks to work on.
  • Work well without any supervision.
  • Be able to set goals and priorities and accomplish them.
  • Flexible approach to accommodate shifting priorities.
  • Find new, creative ways to overcome challenges.
  • Take pride in completing projects on time.
  • Always on the lookout for new ways to improve and deliver value.
  • A champion of new ideas and approaches.
  • Willing to embrace new opportunities and take on additional tasks.
  • Communicate with all stakeholders to ensure the job gets done.

Does not meet expectations

  • Over-sold capabilities in job application/interview.
  • Require constant supervision, or else specific tasks do not get completed.
  • Resist learning any new skills or improving existing ones.
  • Hard to inspire to take on new challenges.
  • Rarely add value to projects beyond the basics of what is required.
  • Cannot cope under pressure or adjust to new or unfamiliar tasks or circumstances.
  • Shy away from making decisions.
  • Fail to come up with new ideas or solutions to problems.
  • Has difficulty setting priorities.
  • Often start projects without thorough upfront planning.

5. Performance review phrases about communication

It’s vital that people have good written and verbal communications skills. But it goes beyond that: communication is also about people’s attitudes and willingness to cooperate and share information, insights, and learnings with others. Here are some performance appraisal phrases that you can use when reviewing an employee’s ability to communicate:

Meets expectations

  • Keep all stakeholders up to speed on projects’ status.
  • Take and share notes and updates regularly.
  • Ask questions and shares information with the rest of the team.
  • Ensure questions are clarified before taking actions that will impact outcomes.
  • Communicate effectively and clearly with direct reports so that they always know what is expected of them.
  • Regularly engage with customers directly to hear their thoughts and feedback.
  • Ensure that everyone understands the goals of a specific project and shares regular updates.
  • An effective listener and takes time to understand what others are saying.
  • Facilitate conversations with team members that bring out new ideas and solutions to problems.
  • Be able to articulate complex, technical concepts in plain language.

Does not meet expectations

  • Gets defensive if questioned or given constructive feedback or criticism.
  • Too introverted, which impacts effective teamwork.
  • Avoid conversations with management and superiors.
  • Fail to keep team members updated on important project developments.
  • Not communicate with others as they feel it is not necessary as long as the job is done.
  • Never ask for help.
  • Unwilling to talk to customers who have a problem.
  • Become overly intimidated if asked to make a presentation or speak in front of the team.
  • Written communication skills are sub-optimal.
  • Poor email etiquette.

6. Performance review phrases about teamwork

When teams work effectively together, they deliver results more quickly, which impacts the business’s overall performance. Bear in mind, however, that some people are not natural team players and may need to be guided and coached. Here are some useful phrases that can help you express your feedback to people in this area:

Meets expectations

  • Listen to others without interrupting.
  • Invite ideas and suggestions from team members to solve challenging problems.
  • Encourage idea-sharing and initiative.
  • Always ask what the team is doing to ensure everyone is engaged.
  • Respect the ideas and input of other team members.
  • Offer workable solutions to any problems faced by the team.
  • Always congratulate team members who do well.
  • Encourage and motivate even the most reluctant team members.
  • Be a positive influence on all team members and leads by example, which improves the team’s morale.
  • Solve team conflicts in a calm and mature manner.

Does not meet expectations

  • Fail to listen to what other team members have to say.
  • Interrupt people when they are talking.
  • Publicly criticize team members and make them look bad.
  • Unwilling to help if needed, which impacts overall team performance.
  • Instigate arguments with others.
  • Reluctant to work or share ideas with others.
  • Arrive late to team meetings.
  • Always leave early even if the rest of the team is working late.
  • Only worry about their own needs and happiness.
  • Take credit for other people’s work.

7. Performance review phrases about integrity

Another area that you may be asked to reflect on is integrity. Integrity involves consistently upholding strong moral and ethical business values. Employees that do the right thing and are honest contribute to an organization’s ability to build a strong reputation in their marketplace. Below, we’ve listed some useful phrases to consider using when evaluating people’s integrity:

Meets expectations

  • Highly organized and good at prioritizing what is important.
  • Always strive to keep commitments.
  • Be highly truthful and honest in all dealings.
  • Always do what is right.
  • Never betray their principles and company’s core values
  • Demonstrate trustworthiness.
  • Keep promises.
  • Follow ethical business practices and company’s policies
  • Respect confidentiality.
  • Avoid office gossip.

Does not meet expectations

  • Take breaks if not being watched.
  • Make excuses to leave work early.
  • Usually gossip and make things up about the company or team members.
  • Blame co-workers for their mistakes.
  • Speak rudely to junior/senior team members.
  • Make unkind personal remarks.
  • Lie to other members of the team.
  • Break the rules.
  • Let personal biases influence important business decisions.
  • Withhold important information from the manager to avoid disciplinary action.

Grove HR - Performance review phrases about integrity

8. Performance review phrases about professionalism

Professionalism is an area that covers a broad range of behaviors and attitudes but also extends to issues such as the way a person dresses and their personal hygiene and tidiness. Examples of performance review phrases that you can draw on to determine the overall professionalism of an employee are given below:

Meets expectations

  • Have an excellent work ethic and an engaging personality.
  • Display a professional demeanor even when under pressure.
  • Welcome challenges and work on them diligently.
  • Our customers regularly ask to speak to this person by name.
  • Strive for excellence in everything they do.
  • Not engage in illegal or unethical business practices.
  • Energetic and creative.
  • Take setbacks in their stride.
  • Excellent work ethic.
  • Polite and professional in every way.

Does not meet expectations

  • Cannot separate personal life from work.
  • Poor hygiene standards.
  • Dress too informally for a work environment.
  • Not take action to improve their performance.
  • Frequently arrive late at work.
  • Unwilling to broaden their horizons.
  • Be disrespectful to leadership behind their backs.
  • Be unwelcoming to new team members.
  • Fail to keep the workspace tidy.
  • Become angry and emotional in stressful situations.

9. Performance review phrases about leadership

Developing effective leaders is among the top challenges for today’s businesses. Being a strong leader goes beyond just leading teams and assigning people tasks. It involves fostering a strong team culture, ensuring people are given opportunities for growth, and resolving conflicts in a calm and mature manner. Use the following phrases to evaluate the leadership capabilities:

Meets expectations

  • Bring people together to create a high-functioning team.
  • The department they manage is recognized for its excellent performance.
  • Encourage individuals to embrace challenges with enthusiasm.
  • Structure tasks and projects to further strengthen teamwork among members.
  • Treat everyone with respect.
  • Show empathy to people experiencing personal or professional challenges.
  • Ensure they develop and utilize individuals’ unique talents and strengths.
  • Set both achievable and ambitious expectations.
  • Guide and support people towards achieving goals.
  • Maintain open communication channels.

Does not meet expectations

  • Hypocritical: does not set a positive example through their actions and words.
  • Sow discord and disharmony within previously well-functioning teams.
  • Offer no recognition or rewards for a job well done.
  • Remain physically distant from employees.
  • Frequently unavailable for extended periods.
  • Monopolize the conversation during meetings and does not invite team members’ ideas.
  • Cultivate a culture of fear.
  • Not listen to other team member’s ideas and feedback
  • Communicate aggressively and through reprimands.
  • Prioritize their own needs and career aspirations.

10. Performance review phrases about problem-solving

Employing people with strong problem-solving skills gives companies a means to continually create new, more relevant ways to deliver value. But be mindful that not every employee is a natural problem-solver. It requires a blend of proactivity, creativity, and self-confidence. Consider these performance review phrases when evaluating the problem-solving skills:

Meets expectations

Grove HR - Performance review phrases about problem-solving

  • Evaluate challenges from all angles before deciding on a way forward.
  • Open to collaborating with peers to explore solutions to problems.
  • Resolves customer complaints professionally and promptly.
  • Be decisive when making decisions and then stick to them.
  • Take full responsibility for any problems of their assigned tasks
  • Tackle problems in a creative and analytical way.
  • Stay calm even when required to resolve a problem under high pressure.
  • Articulate issues clearly and concisely that everyone can understand.
  • Be level-headed when assessing situations and suggesting solutions.
  • Accommodate and listen to other people’s perspectives about how to resolve issues.

Does not meet expectations

  • Not listen to other people’s ideas and opinions.
  • Cannot articulate problems in ways that others can understand.
  • Be indecisive when it comes to coming up with solutions.
  • Rush to make decisions without thinking things through.
  • Fail to monitor progress to ensure that they deliver the desired outcome.
  • Not learn from previous successes or failures.
  • Get flustered when facing a tough decision and lashes out at peers or subordinates.
  • Unwilling to collaborate with others to brainstorm solutions to problems.
  • Fail to provide teams with the appropriate amount of structure and direction.
  • Deal with customer-related issues in an unprofessional manner.

11. Performance review phrase about attendance and punctuality

Although there are many companies that give employees flexible time, attendance and punctuality are essential to creating a high-performance workplace. You should expect people to arrive at work on time or attend their meetings. Use these phrases to guide your discussion with employees regarding their level of timekeeping, attendance, and punctuality:

Meets expectations

  • Adhere to lunch schedules and breaks.
  • Always call ahead if they are going to be late.
  • Not spend excessive amounts of time on personal phone calls or chatting in the coffee area.
  • Arrive at work looking refreshed and in a positive frame of mind.
  • Start and end meetings on time.
  • Book vacation time well in advance.
  • Willing to put in long hours to get the job done.
  • Always meet project deadlines.
  • Ensure out-of-office auto-replies are activated when on vacation or travelling to meetings or conferences.

Does not meet expectations

  • Host meetings that often run overtime.
  • Regularly take more frequent or longer breaks than permitted.
  • Use up all their sick leave days without being genuinely ill.
  • Often offer weak excuses for arriving late.
  • Often be the first to leave the office at the end of the day.
  • Run behind schedule causing meetings to start late.
  • Neglect to accept or decline email meeting invitations.
  • Usually go offline on communication channels when working from home
  • Spend time on social media sites or playing with their mobile phone during working hours.

12. Performance review phrases about productivity

To evaluate a person’s productivity, you need to consider the quality, the quantity of work and the way they approach a task. Productivity means you work smarter, not harder. Below are some phrases that will help you gauge a person’s level of productivity:

Meets expectations

  • Deliver high volumes of work that often exceed expectations.
  • Willing to complete work that falls outside their formal job description when necessary.
  • Proactively minimize distractions to ensure they can focus on specific tasks.
  • Focus on the job at hand and avoid excessive multi-tasking.
  • Monitor their productivity and implement improvements.
  • Seek out ways or tools to automate manual tasks
  • Inspire others with their levels of productivity.
  • Contribute to significantly boosting overall departmental productivity.
  • Understand the link between individual productivity and overall company performance.
  • Able to work smarter, not harder.

Does not meet expectations

  • Unable to focus their attention for long periods to get the job done.
  • Set the bar low for own output goals.
  • Not see the point of focusing on productivity.
  • Do as little as possible to get by.
  • Distract co-workers, thereby impacting their productivity levels.
  • Not take time to understand expectations upfront.
  • Fails to fully focus on their projects.
  • Get easily distracted by personal issues.
  • Poor time management: fails to complete assigned work on time.

Ready to put these phrases into practice?

Effective performance reviews are vital if you want to maximize employee engagement in your business.

Recognizing people’s efforts and honestly but respectfully addressing their weaknesses can go a long way to optimizing the value they bring to the workplace.

So, why not draw on the list of phrases we’ve shared in this article to make your next round of performance reviews a positive and constructive experience?