300 Performance Review Phrases For Leaders

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.

Note: Want to cut down on your number of meetings? What about streamlined one-on-ones? See how Friday can help.

Active Listening

Strengths

1. Is an active and focused listener

2. Makes sure the team feels heard

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

4. Listens with an open mind

5. Demonstrates a sincere appreciation for opposing viewpoints

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

7. Asks insightful questions to understand the root cause

8. Empathizes with others who have opposing viewpoints

9. Follows instructions with care and attention

Needs Improvement

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

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

12. Interrupts peers

13. Constantly interjects into conversations

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

15. Stops listening when presented with an opposing viewpoint

Administration

Strengths 

16. Is effective when handling large amounts of data 

17. Produces high-quality work that is well documented and detailed
 

18. Is capable of working independently from day one

19. Is a strong team player
 

20. Is well organized, and can effectively implement projects from start to finish
 

21. Can make independent decisions when necessary
 

22. Demonstrates good time management skills
 

23. Can adapt his/her schedule to meet the needs of the business
 

24. Has excellent follow-through skills, and is always on time with deliverables 

25. Shows ability to be proactive in identifying tasks that need to be completed 

Areas for Improvement 

26. Does not show an aptitude for number crunching and data entry activities 

27. Has difficulty following through with tasks that require a high amount of organization and time management 

28. Seemed to have trouble getting organized this week
 

29. Demonstrates disinterest in the administrative aspects of the job 

30. Has trouble with filing, record keeping, and other administrative tasks


31. Is less than eager to complete documentation-related work
 

32. Is often late, which negatively impacts project completion timelines

Attendance & Being On-Time

Strengths

33. Is punctual and consistently on-time to meetings

34. Arrives at meetings on time and is always prepared

35. Attained perfect attendance over $time_period

36. Schedules time-off according to company policy

37. Completes deadlines as promised

Areas for improvement

38. Does not meet attendance standards for punctuality

39. Has exceeded the maximum number of vacation days allotted

40. Is frequently late to work

41. Does not return communications in a timely manner

Coaching

Strengths

42. Is a quick study 

43. Learns from mistakes 

44. Is willing to hear constructive criticism 

45. Accepts coaching well, and does not become defensive when given negative feedback 

46. Takes responsibility for own mistakes and failures 

47. Demonstrates a willingness to improve performance in the face of negative feedback 7. Asks questions about the most effective way to approach new activities 

48. Asks for clarification when he or she is unsure how to correctly complete a task or activity 

49. Demonstrates self-awareness and willingness to improve in areas where he or she is lacking 

50. Is sensitive to the fact that there is always room for improvement, both personally and professionally 

Areas of Improvement

51. Seeks individual coaching only when an area of weakness has been identified by someone else 

52. Demonstrates lack of awareness regarding his or her own deficiencies as a team member or employee 

Communication

Strengths

53. Regularly gives constructive feedback

54. Is willing to entertain others ideas

55. Asks great questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

62. Makes new employees feel welcome

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

Needs Improvement

64. Blames others for problems

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

66. Fails to alert proper personnel regarding bad news

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

68. Humiliates staff members on a regular basis

69. Has trouble communicating effectively in groups

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

71. Makes others feel intimidated when working on company projects

Cooperation

Strengths 

72. Is easy to work with, and encourages others to work together as a team 

73. Is supportive of coworkers, even in the face of conflict or adversity 

74. Supports group decisions even when it is not his/her preferred course of action 

75. Fosters a cooperative atmosphere 

76. Is a team player who does not put personal goals ahead of the greater good of the group 

77. Is receptive to ideas from peers and willing to adapt his/her own behaviors in response

Areas for Improvement 

78. Frequently expresses frustration with coworkers when they are too slow, or do not complete their tasks in time for the next project phase to begin on time 

79. Frequently comes late to meetings and disrupts workflow for other workers 

80. Takes credit for the work of others, especially when it is not deserved 

81. Does not share information with colleagues if they do not ask for it directly 

Creativity

Strengths

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

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

84. Artfully changes when presented with new information and ideas

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

86. Contributes fresh ideas regularly

87. Encourages coworkers to be inventive

88. Contributes innovative ideas in group projects

89. Contributes suggestions regularly on how to improve company processes

Needs Improvement

90. Demonstrates disinterest in contributing creative or innovative ideas

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

92. Fails to properly attribute coworkers who contribute innovative solutions

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

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

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

Customer Relations

Strengths

96. Works effectively with clients

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

98. Enjoys the people related aspects of the business

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

100. Has become a linchpin with clients

101. Consistently spearheads effective customer relations

102. Is empathetic towards customer issues

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

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

105. Artfully helps customers overcome objections

106. Can handle difficult customers with grace

Needs Improvement

107. Consistently receives substandard comments from customers

108. Appears disinterested in helping customers with their challenges

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

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

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

112. Uses inappropriate language with colleagues or customers

113. Appears to become frustrated by clients who ask questions

114. Displays sarcasm when dealing with client challenges

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Delegating

Strengths 

115. Is a good delegator, even with those who don't report directly to him/her 

116. Is able to delegate tasks and responsibilities effectively to appropriate team members 3. Is able to delegate work without micromanaging 

117. Is able to delegate work while maintaining the vision of what is to be accomplished 

118. Is able to delegate work to teammates without fear of losing control 

119. Demonstrates trust in subordinates, allowing them the freedom to make decisions 

120. Designs delegation strategies which provide opportunities for staff members to grow and develop 

Areas for Improvement 

121. Seems unwilling, or unable, to give up control of work activities completely when delegating tasks

122. Appears hesitant about allowing subordinates the freedom needed in order to complete delegated tasks successfully 

123. Does not seem confident when delegating tasks or responsibilities; does not inspire confidence in subordinates when delegating work

Flexibility

Strengths

124. Constantly identifies more efficient ways of doing business


125. Is accepting of constructive criticism


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


127. Is calm under pressure


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


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

Areas of Improvement

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

131. Tends to resist activities where the path is unknown

132. Appears uninterested in new duties

133. Becomes uptight when the plan changes

Goal-Setting

Strengths

134. Is effective at goal-setting and challenging oneself

135. Clearly communicates goals and objections to coworkers

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

137. Sets concrete and measurable goals

138. Sets aggressive targets to meet business objectives

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

140. Proactively shares progress on goals

Needs Improvement

141. Is inconsistent in defining goals and objectives

142. Struggles to set goals that align with company objectives

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

144. Struggles to communicate when deadlines will be missed

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

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

147. Is unwilling to claim responsibility for missed goals

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


Innovation

Strengths 

149. Finds creative ways to solve problems and improve processes 

150. Is an idea generator, and finds innovative ways to accomplish tasks 

151. Contributes new ideas to team project discussions regularly 

152. Contributes new ideas at staff meetings 

153. Contributes well-thought out suggestions for company improvements 

154. Evolves process improvement ideas in staff meetings 

155. Thinks outside the box when presented with a new challenge

Areas of Improvement 

156. Tends to react negatively when presented with a new problem or challenge which requires innovative thinking 

157. Fails to offer new solutions even when presented with a compelling reason to do so 10. Has difficulty coming up with creative ideas, even when prompted by supervisor 

158. Fails to recognize that all employees should contribute innovative ideas for improvement of company procedures and processes

Interpersonal skills

Strengths 

159. Is a good communicator with [his/her] peers, requiring little or no direction in how to communicate 

160.Is a strong team player who thrives on teamwork 

161. Has the ability to diffuse conflict among peers 

162. Has the ability to resolve emotional situations quickly and efficiently 

163. Is able to hear and accurately interpret verbal and nonverbal cues from peers

164. Has the ability to diplomatically handle difficult situations with peers 

165. Has the ability to ensure that [his/her] peers are satisfied with a decision made by a superior

166. Is able to effectively communicate across cultures, geographical regions, etc.

167. Utilizes peer feedback to make improvements in [his/her] interpersonal skills 

168. Is an active listener that is sensitive to both verbal and non-verbal cues from peers 22. Has the ability to approach every situation with confidence 

Areas for Improvement 

169. Fails to appropriately respond when receiving negative feedback from coworkers 24. Fails to ask for clarification if [he/she] does not understand what a coworker is trying to tell [him/her] 

170. Does not use constructive criticism from peers in an effort to improve performance at work or in school

171. Does not take initiative or act on positive suggestions given by coworkers68. Uses abrasive language when interacting with peers

172. Displays defensiveness when receiving constructive criticism

173. Appears uncomfortable when asked questions during group discussion

Judgment

Strengths

174. Shows sound judgment when evaluating multiple opportunities

175. Comes to reasonable conclusions based on information presented

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

177. Remains calm, especially under stress

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

179. Is confident and persuasive when making big decisions

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

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

182. Effectively prioritizes urgent matters with those that can wait

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

Needs Improvement

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

185. Consistently displays analysis paralysis when making a decision

186. Makes big decisions without approval from respective parties

187. Is unable to keep confidential information private

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

Leadership Ability

Strengths

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

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

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

192. Actively listens to his/her team

193. Creates a culture of dialogue

194. Recognizes staff for a job well done

195. Provides just enough conflict to find the best outcome

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

197. Demonstrates a high bar for ethical behavior

Needs Improvement

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

199. Fails to plan for the future

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

201. Rarely gives recognition to his/her team

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

203. Fails to keep confidential information secret

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

Learning 

Strengths 

205. Shows interest in learning new skills and expanding knowledge base 

206. Is willing to take risks to gain new skills and knowledge 

207. Consistently seeks out professional development opportunities 

208. Demonstrates a desire to learn from peers rather than simply teaching them 

209. Is able to learn from past mistakes 

210. Consistently seeks out new experiences 

Needs Improvement 

211. Rarely uses past experience as a guide for decision making in new situations 

212. Does not appear willing to take risks to gain new skills and knowledge 

213. Fails to understand the value of taking risks to gain new skills and knowledge 

214. Has difficulty accepting criticism 

215. Does not like to be told what to do, when, or how to do it

Management skills

Strengths 

216. Is self-motivated

217. Manages time well

218. Sets attainable goals and objectives

219. Is able to effectively prioritize amongst competing demands

220. Is a good negotiator, able to get people to agree to new ideas or actions

221. Communicates clearly and delivers messages in concise, effective ways

222. Recognizes the contributions of peers and subordinates

223. Assigns challenging but appropriate tasks to staff, and provides adequate resources to ensure successful completion of assignments

Needs Improvement 

224. Has difficulty being firm when needed with staff who are underperforming or inefficient 

225. Fails to reward subordinates for hard work or for delivering results on time 

226. Perceives subordinates as too personal and not business-like in their approach to work relationships 

227. Views employees as a cost center rather than an asset for the company's future growth and profitability

Motivation & Drive

Strengths

228. Constantly pursues learning opportunities

229. Consistently takes on additional responsibility for the team

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

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

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

233. Requires little direction when given a new responsibility

234. Is not afraid to take calculated risks

235. Is not afraid to make periodic mistakes

Needs Improvement

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

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

238. Resists opportunities to train and learn new things

239. Contributes few suggestions to projects with ambiguity

240. Can be overzealous, stepping on others’ toes

241. Seems unwilling to learn new things

242. Struggles to do tasks without assistance from peers

Planning

Strengths 

243. Is a careful planner, and always considers the end result of [his/her] actions

244. Creates detailed plans to ensure [his/her] work is done efficiently and effectively 

245. Does not leave any loose ends when completing assigned tasks

246. Is able to accurately predict the outcome of [his/her] actions 

247. Is an effective time manager 

248. Sets realistic deadlines for [his/her] work, and does not procrastinate 

249. Does not waste time, and completes [his/her] work efficiently 

250. Is organized, and keeps notes or files with information that may be needed in the future

Needs Improvement 

251. Has difficulty deviating from a previously established plan when new information is revealed 

252. Does not demonstrate much concern for the long-term effects of [his/her] decisions 11. Is slow to start working on an assignment until all details are ironed out 

253. Has difficulty making quick decisions under pressure 

254. Waits until last minute to begin work on an assignment, and becomes stressed during crunch time 

255. Appears disorganized, even though [he/she] is very organized in reality 

256. Appears to lack organization skills in front of peers and upper management 

257. Is unable to prioritize tasks appropriately based on urgency and importance 80. Is constantly late with assignments and projects 

Problem-Solving Skills 

Strengths 

258. Sees problems as challenges to be overcome

259. Brings ideas to the table when discussing problem-solving 

260. Is able to pressure test his/her own ideas in a calm but assertive way 

261. Is able to persuade others that [his/her] solutions are the best course of action 

262. Is able to persuade others with [his/her] ideas 

263. Sets up a system for tracking problems and their solutions 

264. Uses a variety of techniques to solve problems, and is willing to try new approaches 8. Puts in extra time to ensure that problems are solved completely 

265. Is able to explain the rationale behind [his/her] solution to a problem 

266. Demonstrates effective leadership skills when solving group problems 

Needs Improvement 

267. Demonstrates disinterest in pressure testing ideas with others 

268. Does not set up a system for tracking problems and their solutions 

269. Fails to take action when a problem is raised 

270. Fails to explain the rationale behind [his/her] solution to a problem 

271. Does not optimize use of time when working on difficult problems 

272. Does not solve problems in an efficient manner 

273. Is not adept at persuading others to buy into [his/her] ideas 

274. Fails to persuade others that [his/her] solutions are the best course of action 

275. Is unable to pressure test his/her own ideas in a calm but assertive way

Time Management

Strengths 

276. Handles multiple assignments and projects well with limited supervision 

277. Is able to manage numerous assignments with great speed and accuracy 

278. Can effectively prioritize work so that the most critical assignments receive attention first 

279. Manages his/her time in a highly effective manner 

280. Is able to complete assignments even with extended deadlines 

281. Displays a strong ability to manage multiple assignments and projects simultaneously 

Areas of Improvement 

282. Does not meet deadlines, even when given ample time 

283. Has difficulty balancing multiple assignments and projects 

284. Does not manage his/her time effectively 

285. Fails to effectively prioritize work so that the most critical assignments receive attention first 

286. Displays a tendency to allow personal issues affect work performance 

Understanding of Job Responsibilities

Strengths

287. Has a strong understanding of job responsibilities

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

289. Has deep knowledge that surpasses job expectations

290. Regularly contributes and works with other departments

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

292. Shares knowledge with peers

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

294. Is adept in all areas of job responsibility

Needs Improvement

295. Has little understanding of the competitive landscape

296. Has difficulty locating necessary information to complete job responsibilities

297. Produces many unnecessary errors

298. Produces substandard work

299. Fails to demonstrate a strategic mindset

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

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. Check out our meeting templates!

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