Top Performance Review Phrases and Wordings

by Kylee Stone Sep 8,2022

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

A performance review is a process of evaluating an employee’s performance on numerous parameters. It outlines various aspects of performance and provides in-depth feedback to employees so they can work productively.

While filling out a form about an employee’s performance is fairly easy, providing additional comments can be a considerable challenge for a manager. Performance review phrases are the words that a manager must use to provide open, actionable, and genuine feedback to an employee. Also known as “performance review comments,” they help in describing and identifying an employee’s behavior in a sensitive and careful way.

Many managers find it difficult to convey genuine feedback to their employees, and one of the reasons behind that is not using the right employee performance review phrases and comments. If you are also struggling with that, then consider this article to be a primer on what constitutes an appropriate performance review phrase.

The performance review phrase examples offered in this article are divided into three categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The purpose of these labels is broad. They are just to give you an idea of what works and what does not.

Also read: Simple Strategies For Employee Recognition And Rewards

Choosing The Right Performance Evaluation Phrases

Performance review generally involves multiple parameters on which an employee is evaluated. Some of the performance review categories are teamwork and collaboration, achievements, communication, problem-solving and analytical thinking, and innovation. While conducting the review, managers must cautiously use performance evaluation phrases that convey the right message and feedback to the employee.

The below section highlights the phrases that are good to use in a review and the ones that should be avoided. Please note that based on the evaluation parameter, managers can the phrases to reflect an individual’s performance.

The Good

Good performance reviews are extremely helpful and motivating. All employees want them. But they are not easy to put into words. It’s because providing thoughtful comments that combine appreciation and criticism neatly takes effort.

Action Words

Action words are dynamic and meaningful. “Performs”, “communicates”, “exhibits” and “exceeds” are all examples of action words. Stringing these words along in various combinations should give you some good performance review phrases.


Steve exhibits strong time management skills and teamwork

Alina demonstrates her collaboration skills from time to time

Mention And Acknowledge Good Work

If an employee has done good work, then recognize it in a performance review by mentioning the good work and giving details about it. This makes your comment clear and easy to understand


John implemented a new update, which resulted in a 10% increase in website engagement.

Dylan displayed leadership skills when he led the engineering team through a feature release.

Outline/ Story Board

Even for something as small as a comment, follow an outline. The outline will make your comment precise and prevent you from rambling. An outline can go like this – describe a situation, describe the employee’s behavior, the impact of that behavior, and tie it up with a final comment of appreciation!

  • Situation: When and where – Context of the feedback
  • Behavior: Specific behaviors observed
  • Impact: The effect of an individual’s actions.


Mr. J demonstrated [behavior] during [situation]

Nadia successfully completed [project or milestone] and, as a result, achieved [results].

You excel at [action], and I would love to continue seeing that from you.

Also read: Employee Burnout- Everything You Need To Know

The Bad & Ugly

The bad and ugly have been clubbed together because they more or less go together and are equally unhelpful to anyone reading them.

If your performance review phrases contain any of the following or even worse, all of them, then you should probably rework them. Not everybody sets out to write bad comments. However, sometimes if you are not careful with the words and phrases you use, then your comment will sound a lot harsher and more critical than you intended it to.

No Personal Attacks

This is a no-brainer but one that bears repeating. A performance review is not an opportunity for you to comment on somebody’s appearance, gender, health, etc.

Avoid completely negative comments – When making a comment about an employee’s lack of performance, instead of writing a scathing rebuke, you need to state the problem and provide a solution too. And in a way that is not incendiary.


My feedback for you is to start attending meetings on time. I encourage you to set the alarm a few minutes before a meeting starts so you come on time.

The Language

Avoid words such as “pathetic,” “useless,” “annoying,” etc. These words are demeaning and can cause an employee distress. Keeping personal bias out of the review is another technique to avoid using words that can hamper the purpose of the whole process.

Performance reviews are a strategic tool that helps organizations gauge the performance of their employees and provide them with timely feedback for making improvements. Conducting a review can be challenging for the first time, but with practice, one can get better and use various tactics that will help in providing actionable points to employees. By using the employee review phrases discussed in this article, it can certainly become easier to offer feedback in a constructive and efficient manner.

Want to know how to conduct employee performance reviews in an efficient manner? Book a free demo with Engagedly to talk to our experts.

Request A Demo

Kylee Stone

Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.

Privacy Preference Center