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How to Write Impactful Performance Review Phrases (With Examples)

As a business owner or manager, it’s important to support your employees throughout their time at your company. When you communicate performance review phrases, it can help them feel valued and like their work makes a difference. This can lead to many benefits for both you and them as an employee. Learn more about performance phrases, how to write them and examples that can help guide your next employee performance review.


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What are performance review phrases?

A performance review phrase is a set of words that review an employee’s overall work performance. It highlights their strengths or weaknesses, creates goals for them to aspire to and offers constructive feedback. Essentially, performance phrases let your employees know how they’re doing at the company and whether there’s room for improvement. For this reason, it’s important to provide employees with effective performance phrases that can help them live up to their fullest potential.

Related: Employee Evaluation Form


When can you use performance phrases?

You can use performance phrases in a variety of circumstances in the workplace. While you can use them at any time you see fit, they’re mainly used during employee evaluations and performance reviews to give employees an idea of how they’re doing at work. These assessments may be given weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually.


What are the benefits of using performance phrases?

When used effectively, performance phrases can provide several benefits to both you and your employees. They give employees an opportunity to grow in their profession and ensure you’re building a qualified group of employees who can contribute to the company’s short- and long-term goals. Here are some benefits of using performance phrases:

  • Identifies strengths and weaknesses: When you use effective performance phrases, employees get a clear sense of how they’re doing at their job. It can let them know what their areas of improvement are or give them positive feedback and praise for a job well done.
  • Helps employees develop personally and professionally: When employees know where they stand at your company, it gives them the opportunity to improve their overall work performance. This can help them become better employees both now and in the future. It can also help them improve their skills like communication, organization and time management, which can be useful both in and out of the workplace.  
  • Allows you to set goals: Performance phrases give you the opportunity to create a goal plan and establish objectives for your employees. This gives you the ability to provide them with a set of steps that they can work toward. The goals you create for them need to be attainable, yet challenging, and aim to propel your company forward.
  • Helps determine pay raises or promotions: As you evaluate an employee’s performance, it can help you make important decisions regarding pay or promotions. For example, continually using positive performance phrases for an employee signals they might be due for higher compensation. It may also give you a reason to promote them to a position with more responsibilities or managerial duties.


How to write effective performance phrases

Performance phrases need to be clear and valuable, and they should provide your employee with actionable feedback. When they meet this criteria, they have a better chance of being useful for both you and your employees. Consider these steps for creating effective performance phrases:


1. Use clear language

When you give your employees a performance review, it’s important that they have a solid understanding of what you’re saying. Clear language ensures they’re able to take your review to heart and understand how to modify their work performance accordingly. This provides them with a clear path for becoming a more impactful employee.   


2. Provide value

The feedback you provide during a performance review needs to be intentional and valuable to the recipient. This ensures your employees can learn from the performance review and apply your feedback to improve their work in the future. Think of what you want your employees to achieve and create a phrase that they can use to accomplish those set goals. The more valuable your feedback is, the better.


3. Give actionable feedback

It’s also important for your performance phrases to include a call to action. Give them actionable feedback with your phrases. This gives your employees a better understanding of what they’re specifically doing or not doing. Actionable feedback can either encourage them to continue what they’re doing well or give them an action to correct. For example, if you tell them their lack of attendance affects their team’s performance, they know they need to work on this area in particular. This gives them something specific to work toward in the future.

Related: How to Conduct an Employee Evaluation


Performance review phrases examples

Before using performance review phrases, it’s important to consider examples and the categories they fall under. This includes phrases regarding an employee’s attendance, attitude and overall work performance. The more examples you consider, the easier it can be for you to create performance review phrases that coincide with the actions of each of your employees. Here are some examples of performance review phrases by category:



To make the most of their time in the workplace, your employees need to show up regularly. This allows them to fulfill their everyday duties effectively and on time. Here are some examples of performance review phrases that highlight their strengths and weaknesses in this area:



Positive performance phrases highlight the strengths your employees have in this area. This lets them know you appreciate them showing up to work while hoping they continue this behavior in the future. If you want to highlight your employee’s strengths regarding attendance, consider using these performance review phrases:

  • “Respects the time of others by arriving to work early or on time”
  • “Shows up to work on time for meetings and conferences”
  • “Comes to work ready to meet the day’s goals and tasks”
  • “Maintains a good working schedule that allows them to complete their daily responsibilities”
  • “Their consistent attendance encourages their team members to show up on time, too”
  • “Consistently adheres to company rules regarding lunch or break time allotments”
  • “Respects the time of others by starting and ending meetings on time”
  • “Notifies employees of their scheduled absences far in advance”



If you have employees that aren’t meeting attendance expectations, you may find yourself using performance review phrases that highlight their weaknesses in this area. The following phrases can inform them that their attendance is below par and needs improvement:

  • “Frequent absences affect their overall quality of work”
  • “Consistently shows up late to work which leads to incompletion of the day’s tasks”
  • “Exceeds the maximum allotment for vacation and sick days”
  • “Doesn’t follow the company’s attendance policy”
  • “Consistently shows up late to meetings”
  • “Poor attendance negatively affects others on their team”
  • “Goes on vacation without notifying any staff members in advance”
  • “Frequently returns from lunch and breaks late”



An employee’s attitude can affect their work and the work of those around them. Whether they have a positive or negative attitude, it can influence their coworkers’ frames of mind and impact their quality of work. Here are some performance review phrases that highlight an employee’s strengths and weaknesses regarding their attitude:



When you recognize an employee for their positive attitude, it lets them know that you appreciate their outlook no matter the circumstances. It can also encourage them to maintain this optimism in the future. Here are some phrases that highlight an employee’s strengths when it comes to their attitude at work:

  • “Has a positive attitude that increases morale in the workplace”
  • “Lighthearted mood motivates others on their team”
  • “Perseveres despite problems that may arise”
  • “Cheerful attitude displays job satisfaction”
  • “Kind demeanor helps coworkers trust them and feel comfortable”
  • “Builds positive relationships with other members of their team”
  • “Consistently looks for the positives in any situation”
  • “Reports to work with a happy attitude and a smile”



If you have employees who consistently have a negative outlook, it may be time to address it in a performance review. The phrases you use need to be actionable and highlight specific examples so they have a clear understanding of when they’ve failed to meet expectations. This allows them to work on their specific weaknesses in this area. Here are some phrases that focus on your employee’s weaknesses regarding their attitude at work:

  • “Focuses on the shortcomings or struggles of every project”
  • “They stress easily and have difficulty managing additional pressure”
  • “Their negative attitude affects the morale of others in the workplace, and specifically members of their team”
  • “When they have a disagreement with others, they let it get the best of them and have sudden outbursts of anger”
  • “They consistently instigate problems with their coworkers or team members”
  • “Doesn’t take constructive criticism well”
  • “Responds rudely to helpful feedback from supervisors, team members or coworkers”
  • “Fails to manage emotions in the workplace”

  Related: How to Create a Performance Improvement Plan


Work performance

Performance reviews also need to include phrases that cover an employee’s overall work ethic and performance. This lets them know how they’re doing with their everyday tasks and responsibilities. When you assess their performance, it gives them an indication of whether they need to improve or if they’re headed in the right direction. Here are some phrases that highlight an employee’s strengths and weaknesses in this area:



If you have an employee that is consistently meeting work expectations or overachieving in their everyday duties, it’s important to highlight these strengths in a performance review. This lets them know they’re doing well and encourages them to continue this work ethic in the future. Here are some phrases that emphasize an employee’s strong work ethic and overall performance:

  • “Consistently meets sales goals”
  • “Assists coworkers and helps them achieve their own goals”
  • “Completes all tasks on time”
  • “Works well with all members of their team”
  • “Follows directions for all assigned tasks”
  • “Displays effective leadership on a daily basis”
  • “Effectively communicates goals, ideas and project outlines to their team”
  • “Adapts to company and team changes”
  • “Creates new and unique ideas for the betterment of the company”



If you have poor performers in the workplace, you may need to use performance review phrases that highlight their overall weaknesses. These phrases let them know how they can improve in their daily tasks to become a better employee overall. Here are some phrases to use that let your employees know there’s room for improvement in their work performance:

  • “Consistently fails to meet project deadlines”
  • “Doesn’t communicate project status clearly”
  • “Doesn’t display the set of skills they were hired for”
  • “Has a difficult time thinking creatively for new projects”
  • “Doesn’t use all of their resources to the best of their ability”
  • ” Struggles to handle multiple due dates at once”
  • “Fails to follow directions for certain assignments”
  • “Didn’t meet performance goals set in last performance review”
  • “Doesn’t take initiative”
  • “Not able to create successful strategies for team success”


Tips for performance reviews

Now that you have a greater understanding of how to create effective performance reviews, it’s time to use them. Here are some tips to consider as you conduct an employee performance review that utilizes these phrases:

  • Encourage feedback. After you’ve completed a performance review, give your employee a chance to speak freely about what was discussed. Your employees need to know that you’re on their side and willing to take their thoughts into consideration. Ask them if they agree with your overall assessment or if they have feedback such as improvements you can make regarding performance reviews. You can use this as an opportunity to grow, too. 
  • Outline expectations. Make sure the phrases you use in performance reviews set clear goals for your employee to work toward. Let them know what you expect from them as an employee, the specific areas where you’d like to see improvement and how you plan to help them achieve these goals. When you outline your expectations for them as an employee, it helps them feel supported even if their performance review doesn’t go how they might have hoped.
  • Give balanced feedback. Though it’s important to provide honest feedback with your performance review phrases, it’s also important to take your employee’s feelings into consideration. Make sure the phrases you give focus on both their strengths and weaknesses. If they’re too positive, they have nothing to work forward. If they’re too negative, they may not feel motivated to make changes in their work ethic, which may discourage them or have them believe their work isn’t appreciated.
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