150+ Performance Review Phrases For Leaders To Use

Posted by Luke Thomas
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Performance review season is a stressful time of year. As a leader, it can be a struggle for you to properly describe a behavior exhibited by an employee, so we tried to make it easier by listing over 100 performance review phrases below. They are grouped by category to make it easy to find inspiration and not get in trouble with HR.

Two pieces of advice before you get started:

At Friday, we make it easy to have regular conversations, so you don’t have to bottle up your feedback for a review and performance appraisal that happens once a year. See our playbooks for success. You should not delay important conversations. We strongly recommend having regular 1-1s and establishing a feedback loop. Don't kick the can down the road.

Second, please make sure when completing a performance review that you outline behaviors, not personality traits. Behaviors can be changed. Also make sure you document the behavior. Ideally, you bring it up in-the-moment vs. a performance review.

With the disclaimer out of the way, here's a list of canned performance review phrases to give you some inspiration. For the love of everything, please don't copy these phrases verbatim.

You owe it to your employee to put some time into this process and consider their overall performance. If you want to learn how to effective run a performance review, you should read High Output Management.



1. Constantly identifies more efficient ways of doing business

2. Is accepting of constructive criticism

3. Is a well-versed team player capable of handling a variety of assignments

4. Is calm under pressure

5. Is a calming force, especially with [his/her] peer group

6. Shows initiative, and is flexible when approaching new tasks

Areas of Improvement

7. Does not excel at activities which require a high degree of flexibility

8. Tends to resist activities where the path is unknown

9. Appears uninterested in new duties

10. Becomes uptight when the plan changes

Attendance & being on-time


11. Is punctual and consistently on-time to meetings

12. Arrives at meetings on time and is always prepared

13. Attained perfect attendance over $time_period

14. Schedules time-off according to company policy

15. Completes deadlines as promised

Areas for improvement

16. Does not meet attendance standards for punctuality

17. Has exceeded the maximum number of vacation days allotted

18. Is frequently late to work

19. Does not return communications in a timely manner



20. Regularly gives constructive feedback

21. Is willing to entertain others ideas

22. Asks great questions

23. Explains tough issues in a way that is clear to the rest of the team and direct reports

24. Is not afraid to say “I don’t know” when presented with a tough question.

25. Is effective at summarizing and communicating key business decisions.

26. Stands out among his/her peers for outstanding communication skills

27. Is effective at persuading and convincing peers, especially when the stakes are high

28. Is an effective listener, always willing to listen and understand peers objections

29. Makes new employees feel welcome

30. Acts as a calming force when the team is under pressure

Needs Improvement

31. Blames others for problems

32. Complains of lack of resources to adequately complete job functions

33. Fails to alert proper personnel regarding bad news

34. Regularly engages in off-putting conversations, can be territorial at times

35. Humiliates staff members on a regular basis

36. Has trouble communicating effectively in groups

37. Has other coworkers deliver bad news instead of doing it himself/herself

38. Makes others feel intimidated when working on company projects



39. Thinks outside the box to find the best solution to a particular problem

40. Is creative and finds ways to correlate ideas with action

41. Artfully changes when presented with new information and ideas

42. Is always willing to directly challenge the status quo in pursuit of a more effective solution

43. Contributes fresh ideas regularly

44. Encourages coworkers to be inventive

45. Contributes innovative ideas in group projects

46. Contributes suggestions regularly on how to improve company processes

Needs Improvement

47. Demonstrates disinterest in contributing creative or innovative ideas

48. Is rigid and unwilling to adjust when presented with new information

49. Fails to properly attribute coworkers who contribute innovative solutions

50. Seems unwilling to take risks, even when presented with a compelling reason

51. Fails to incentivize peers to take creative and innovative risks

52. Is reluctant to find more effective ways to do job activities

Customer Relations


53. Works effectively with clients

54. Has strong rapport with those he/she interacts with

55. Enjoys the people related aspects of the business

56. Is pleasant and projects a friendly tone over the phone

57. Has become a linchpin with clients

58. Consistently spearheads effective customer relations

59. Is empathetic towards customer issues

60. Is direct, yet helpful in dealing with customer concerns

61. Displays an effective cadence when working with clients on projects. Is effective, not overbearing

62. Artfully helps customers overcome objections

63. Can handle difficult customers with grace

Needs Improvement

64. Consistently receives substandard comments from customers

65. Appears disinterested in helping customers with their challenges

66. Does not manage customer expectations, especially in tough situations

67. Consistently passes challenging issues to others instead of tackling them head-on

68. Misses opportunities to further educate customers about other products or services.

69. Uses inappropriate language with colleagues or customers

70. Appears to become frustrated by clients who ask questions

71. Displays sarcasm when dealing with client challenges



72. Is effective at goal-setting and challenging oneself

73. Clearly communicates goals and objections to coworkers

74. Is constantly striving to be the best he/she possibly can be

75. Sets concrete and measurable goals

76. Sets aggressive targets to meet business objectives

77. Creates clearly defined goals that align with the company’s mission

78. Proactively shares progress on goals

Needs Improvement

79. Is inconsistent in defining goals and objectives

80. Struggles to set goals that align with company objectives

81. Sets performance goals that are out of touch with reality

82. Struggles to communicate when deadlines will be missed

83. Leaves peers struggling to understand the status of a project

84. Refuses to delegate to others, attempts to do all the work by himself/herself

85. Is unwilling to claim responsibility for missed goals

86. Is easily distracted and disinterested in focusing to achieve performance goals

Motivation & Drive


87. Constantly pursues learning opportunities

88. Consistently takes on additional responsibility for the team

89. Successfully finds more effective ways to perform a specific task

90. Is constantly looking for new ways to help the team

91. Is always willing to jump in and learn something new

92. Requires little direction when given a new responsibility

93. Is not afraid to take calculated risks

94. Is not afraid to make periodic mistakes

Needs Improvement

95. Is unwilling to assume responsibilities outside of his/her job description

96. Frequently sows seeds of doubt with the rest of the team

97. Resists opportunities to train and learn new things

98. Contributes few suggestions to projects with ambiguity

99. Can be overzealous, stepping on others’ toes

100. Seems unwilling to learn new things

101. Struggles to do tasks without assistance from peers

Understanding of Job Responsibilities


102. Has a strong understanding of job responsibilities

103. Regularly alerts management of key developments in his/her job function

104. Has deep knowledge that surpasses job expectations

105. Regularly contributes and works with other departments

106. Crafts an extensive network of peers to tackle tough issues

107. Shares knowledge with peers

108. Is constantly sharing industry trends and best practices to create outsized outcomes

109. Is adept in all areas of job responsibility

Needs Improvement

110. Has little understanding of the competitive landscape

111. Has difficulty locating necessary information to complete job responsibilities

112. Produces many unnecessary errors

113. Produces substandard work

114. Fails to demonstrate a strategic mindset

115. Does not demonstrate mastery of basic concepts in the role



116. Shows sound judgment when evaluating multiple opportunities

117. Comes to reasonable conclusions based on information presented

118. Is fact-based, and refuses to accept emotional arguments when evaluating a decision

119. Remains calm, especially under stress

120. Balances swift decision-making, with the ability to analyze the many angles to a story

121. Is confident and persuasive when making big decisions

122. Consistently understands the core issues at play, enabling him/her to solve problems at a remarkable pace

123. Makes confident decisions when presented with facts and data.

124. Effectively prioritizes urgent matters with those that can wait

125. Effectively outlines the best case (and worst case) scenarios to aid decision-making

Needs Improvement

126. Makes hasty decisions without first collecting facts & data to inform the decision-making process

127. Consistently displays analysis paralysis when making a decision

128. Makes big decisions without approval from respective parties

129. Is unable to keep confidential information private

130. Approaches decisions with a one-track mindset. Has a “my way or the highway” view of others ideas.

Leadership Ability


131. Is a servant-leader, always willing to help his/her team

132. Gives structure, feedback, and direction to his/her team

133. Consistently recognizes his/her team for a job well done

134. Actively listens to his/her team

135. Creates a culture of dialogue

136. Recognizes staff for a job well done

137. Provides just enough conflict to find the best outcome

138. Balances the strategy of the organization with tactical day-to-day tasks

139. Demonstrates a high bar for ethical behavior

Needs Improvement

140. Tends to overanalyze problems when a prompt decision is required

141. Fails to plan for the future

142. Sends mixed signals to the team regarding goals and day-to-day activities

143. Rarely gives recognition to his/her team

144. Sets an unreasonably high expectation for his/her team

145. Fails to keep confidential information secret

146. Plays favorites and does not treat each member of the team equally

Active Listening


147. Is an active and focused listener

148. Makes sure the team feels heard

149. Creates healthy dialogue to help the best solution come forward

150. Listens with an open mind

151. Demonstrates a sincere appreciation for opposing viewpoints

152. Actively seeks feedback, even when it’s not in agreement

153. Asks insightful questions to understand the root cause

154. Empathizes with others who have opposing viewpoints

155. Follows instructions with care and attention

Needs Improvement

156. Asks questions that show he/she is not actively listening to the conversation at hand

157. Is distracted easily and doesn’t fully absorb another person’s point of view

158. Interrupts peers

159. Constantly interjects into conversations

160. Dismisses other people’s ideas who she/he doesn’t agree with

161. Stops listening when presented with an opposing viewpoint

That’s all for now. We’ll continue to update this list of phrases in the future. Again, we strongly recommend offering continuous feedback with your team vs. waiting for an annual performance review. Also, offer an action plan to help all parties navigate difficult situations.

P.S. - Friday can help you automate these communication habits with your team at work.

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