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100 Effective Performance Review Phrases to Try

See 100 examples of honest feedback you can give direct reports during your next set of performance reviews.

By Brier Cook  •   May 18, 2023  •   7 min read

If you clicked on this blog post, it may be that time of year again! Performance review season is upon us. While delivering feedback can feel stressful, performance reviews are necessary to help employees grow their strengths, improve their weaknesses, and work through roadblocks. 

If you’re struggling to prepare for your upcoming performance reviews, have no fear! We’ve developed 100 phrases you can use to give targeted feedback to your employees. Keep reading for inspiration and to see how you can use Fellow to make your performance reviews even better. 

100 effective performance review phrases 



  1. Can test solutions to new challenges in a calm but assertive way. 
  2. Is always up to tackling new problems with minimal guidance. 
  3. Brings new ideas to the table in light of new and complex challenges. 
  4. Can explain in detail how they came to an effective solution when problem-solving. 
  5. Can successfully persuade others with their solutions. 


  1. Does not solve problems efficiently. Takes a long time to develop appropriate solutions to everyday challenges. 
  2. Fails to explain the rationale behind [his/her/their] solution to a problem. 
  3. Becomes extremely stressed when things don’t go to plan. 
  4. Does not prioritize working on solutions to the team’s highest-priority issues. 
  5. Is unable to solve problems when under pressure or faced with a tight deadline. 

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  1. Adapts to new environments quickly and with ease. 
  2. Takes responsibility for mistakes and can implement solutions based on feedback [he/she/they] [is/are] given. 
  3. Asks questions on how to correctly complete tasks so fewer mistakes are made down the line. 
  4. Demonstrates a willingness to improve skill sets every day at work and has a can-do attitude. 
  5. Is highly coachable and accepts constructive feedback with grace. 


  1. Doesn’t seek coaching from supervisor or peers after receiving constructive feedback. 
  2. Becomes highly defensive when given negative feedback.
  3. Demonstrates a lack of awareness regarding [his/her/their] influence on peers.
  4. Gives others feedback that is unnecessarily harsh or critical. 
  5. Doesn’t ask for feedback following the completion of major work projects and events. 



  1. Asks great questions to gain clarity on complex topics. 
  2. Is effective at communicating creative new ideas to peers when the stakes are high. 
  3. Asks insightful questions to ensure [he/she/they] understand how to proceed with challenging tasks and projects. 
  4. Can express thoughts and concerns to others clearly and promptly. 
  5. Adapts well to digital forms of communication and keeps everyone in the loop when in-person meetings aren’t an option. 


  1. Fails to alert colleagues and supervisors when bad news arises. 
  2. Has trouble speaking up and communicating effectively in a group setting. 
  3. Regularly engages in off-topic conversations with colleagues during the workday. 
  4. Is not able to clearly communicate goals to peers. 
  5. Shares written communications that are often unclear and hard to understand. 



  1. Is always willing to make [himself/herself/themselves] available for others and willing to help peers complete their work. 
  2. Showcases humility regularly by sharing the achievements of projects with [his/her/their] team. 
  3. Gets along with everyone in the company, no matter their position or department. 
  4. Always motivates and encourages the right behavior when giving feedback to others. 
  5. Takes action to keep the team strong when times are stressful or conflict arises.  


  1. Can’t regulate emotions around others during times of high stress. 
  2. Tends to crave personal recognition and prioritize siloed tasks over group work. 
  3. Shuts down ideas from teammates who have different values. 
  4. Is not receptive to feedback from the team. 
  5. Doesn’t prioritize regular communication with teammates. 

Active listening 


  1. Listens with an open mind and demonstrates an appreciation for opposing viewpoints. 
  2. Helps create a healthy dialogue with teammates to drive the best solutions forward. 
  3. Is an active listener who makes others feel heard and understood. 
  4. Asks great follow-up questions that help others understand difficult topics. 
  5. Follows instructions with great care and attention to detail. 


  1. Interrupts colleagues without letting them finish speaking during meetings. 
  2. Dismisses ideas from others with whom they don’t agree. 
  3. Is often distracted by their tasks when they should be participating in meetings. 
  4. Asks basic questions that show they aren’t actively engaged in group conversations. 
  5. Regularly interjects themself into conversations that don’t involve them. 



  1. Arrives at each meeting prepared and ready to discuss work matters. 
  2. Always meets pre-determined deadlines.
  3. Is always on time to shifts and schedules off-time according to company policies. 
  4. Is reliable about arriving to work on time. 
  5. Respects others by completing group tasks by outlined deadlines. 


  1. Is frequently late to meetings. 
  2. Returns late from scheduled breaks.
  3. Often exceeds the maximum number of sick days and vacation days. 
  4. Doesn’t return emails or work-related messages in a timely manner. 
  5. Doesn’t meet attendance standards as outlined in the employee handbook. 



  1. Is a natural leader who is always willing to help others. 
  2. Recognizes teammates and other employees for a job well done. 
  3. Gives [his/her/their] team detailed positive and constructive feedback so they can improve. 
  4. Provides the team with structure and direction. 
  5. Balances being a mentor for teammates with [his/her/their] own day-to-day tasks. 


  1. Tends to overanalyze situations when a fast decision is required. 
  2. Doesn’t give recognition or positive feedback to teammates when they achieve their goals.
  3. Doesn’t treat colleagues as equals when working on group projects. 
  4. Speaks to teammates in a condescending tone. 
  5. Has a challenging time planning ahead. 

Time management 


  1. Works hard to meet all deadlines and regularly completes tasks ahead of schedule. 
  2. Respects the time of coworkers by showing up to meetings on time and prepared. 
  3. Can prioritize tasks to save time. 
  4. Keeps meetings and presentations on schedule. 
  5. Can effectively time-block [his/her/their] calendar to complete a task. 


  1. Frequently turns in work past the deadline.
  2. Is unreliable at completing tasks by a specified deadline. 
  3. Interrupts own workflow and the workflow of others by discussing non-work-related matters in the office. 
  4. Finds it challenging to balance multiple assignments and projects.
  5. Fails to prioritize projects and often works on non-urgent matters before urgent tasks. 



  1. Wants to improve at everything [he/she/they] [does/do] and asks for regular feedback from teammates and managers. 
  2. Is regularly a top performer among the team. 
  3. Has exceeded expectations on objectives set during last year’s performance review. 
  4. Communicates expectations to peers so everyone can work towards common goals. 
  5. Is always willing to assist teammates to help them be the best they can be. 


  1. Cannot communicate plans or objectives to teammates. 
  2. Lacks initiative and drive to improve [his/her/their] own skill set. 
  3. Did not meet performance goals discussed during the last performance review. 
  4. Does not often make significant contributions to the success of the team. 
  5. Does not take initiative unless prompted by manager or teammates. 

Goal setting 


  1. Communicates goals and a plan of action to achieve objectives with [his/her/their] peers and supervisor. 
  2. Sets SMART goals and develops an appropriate plan to reach these objectives. 
  3. Can develop goals for the team that are aligned with the organization’s mission and values. 
  4. Constantly strives to set and achieve bigger and better goals.
  5. Regularly shares progress on goals with [his/her/their] peers and supervisor. 


  1. Doesn’t frequently communicate the status of projects, leaving teammates out of the loop. 
  2. Is unwilling to claim responsibility when objectives aren’t reached by specified deadlines. 
  3. Sets too many out-of-reach goals and has a difficult time achieving them. 
  4. Is often distractible and unable to communicate the status of performance goals. 
  5. Has a difficult time delegating tasks to others that would help [him/her/them] achieve goals faster. 

How to run effective performance reviews with Fellow

Performance reviews don’t have to be daunting. With Fellow, you can build a strong feedback culture so everyone is prepared to give and receive praise and constructive criticism. 

Try our tool to prepare for your performance reviews ahead of time. Use our Performance Review Meeting Template to outline topics for discussion and a timeline for each meeting item. Share the agenda with individuals at least 24 hours in advance of their performance review so they have a chance to reflect on the topics and prepare for the conversation. Then, use Fellow to take notes in real time during the performance review, assign action items, and foster accountability with employees. 

For more inspiration, check out our blog post with step-by-step instructions on how to conduct an effective performance review

Parting advice

Performance reviews are an opportunity for managers to give feedback and let employees know how much they are valued by their colleagues and the organization. If you struggle with what to say during performance reviews, get started with our 100 effective performance review phrases. Better yet, pair these phrases with our easy-to-use meeting software to ensure your reviews are delightful! 

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