Employees who receive daily feedback from their managers are three times more engaged than those who receive feedback once a year or less. Gallup reports that business units with high employee engagement are 23% more profitable than those with miserable employees.
One way to provide ongoing feedback to employees is through performance evaluation comments. These comments—which should be specific and tailored to each individual’s job performance—can help motivate employees, build their confidence, and encourage continuous improvement. Constructive criticism can also help employees identify areas where they need to develop their skills and work to improve their performance.
Performance evaluation comments are an essential component of employee performance management. In this article, we’ll explore the purpose of performance review comments, share effective performance review phrases, and provide tips on writing performance comments to help motivate employees.
Purpose of performance review comments
Performance review comments provide feedback on employees’ job performance, including their strengths and areas for professional development. According to a 2022 engagement survey from Officevibe, only 25% of employees feel the feedback they receive is frequent enough to help them understand how to improve. Positive feedback can help build employee confidence, while constructive feedback can help employees develop their skills or improve their quality of work.
The frequency of the performance review process is especially important. Nearly 45% of highly engaged employees get feedback at least once a week. However, performance review comments aren’t just a way to provide feedback on an employee’s job performance—they’re also a tool for building a company culture of continuous improvement. By providing constructive feedback and guidance, managers can help employees develop new skills, overcome challenges, and achieve company goals.
Effective performance review comments should focus on competencies like teamwork, leadership, communication, problem-solving, time management, and punctuality. Highlighting an employee’s strengths can build their confidence and encourage them to excel. At the same time, constructive feedback can help employees identify areas for improvement and work toward developing their skills.
Effective performance review phrases
Effective performance review phrases should be specific, objective, and actionable. They should also be customized to the individual and their performance. This section will provide examples of performance review phrases based on category.
These performance review examples offer a starting point to provide inspiration and structure. Your comments in a written performance appraisal and one-on-one meeting should be tailored to the individual.
Teamwork is the ability to work collaboratively to achieve a common goal. During employee performance reviews, managers should approach comments on teamwork by highlighting the employee’s ability to work with others effectively.
Some things to consider:
- Does the employee have healthy working relationships?
- How are their listening skills and interpersonal skills?
- Does the employee actively contribute to team discussions and offer valuable insights?
- Are they willing to take on tasks outside their typical role to help the team succeed?
- Do they communicate effectively and respectfully with team members from diverse backgrounds or with different points of view?
- Do they take responsibility for their mistakes and work to make things right?
- Do they seek to build strong relationships with team members and foster a positive team dynamic?
If teamwork is a strength, consider positive feedback like this:
- “Amir works well with team members to solve complex problems creatively.”
- “Alex is a natural leader within their team and a team player, inspiring and motivating others to work toward common goals. Their ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with team members is a key strength contributing to the team’s overall success.”
- “Alice’s excellent listening skills and willingness to consider diverse perspectives make her a highly effective team player. Her ability to communicate effectively with team members from different backgrounds and points of view is a valuable asset to the team.”
Area of improvement
Here are some examples of constructive feedback for employees struggling with teamwork:
- “Mei can improve her teamwork skills by actively listening to others and being open to their ideas. She could benefit from asking clarifying questions, seeking to understand different perspectives, and acknowledging others’ contributions to build stronger working relationships.”
- “Tomas could benefit from providing more constructive feedback to his team members. He could benefit from providing feedback respectfully and constructively, focusing on specific behaviors and outcomes, and offering suggestions for improvement.”
- “Jane should work on delegating tasks to other team members and empowering them to take ownership of their work. She could benefit from identifying team members’ strengths and weaknesses, setting clear expectations, providing guidance and support, and offering opportunities for them to develop their skills and take on new challenges.”
Problem-solving is the ability to analyze and resolve complex problems effectively. During employee performance reviews, managers should approach comments on problem-solving skills by highlighting the employee’s ability to identify, analyze, and solve problems.
Some things to ask yourself during an employee evaluation:
- Does the employee effectively analyze complex problems to identify the root cause?
- Do they demonstrate a creative and innovative approach to problem-solving?
- How do they approach challenges and obstacles? Are they persistent and determined to find new solutions?
- Can they develop and implement effective solutions to problems promptly?
- Have they implemented any new processes or procedures that have improved the efficiency or effectiveness of their work?
Some examples of positive feedback for employees with problem-solving skills include:
- “Taylor is highly skilled in breaking down complex problems into manageable components. Their ability to identify and address root causes is a valuable asset to the team.”
- “Catalina is a highly analytical problem-solver who can identify root causes and develop effective solutions. She consistently demonstrates her ability to identify and analyze complex problems, and her innovative approach to finding solutions has helped the team achieve its goals.”
- “Jin can think creatively to find solutions to problems, often coming up with new and innovative approaches.”
Area of improvement
Here are some constructive appraisal comments when the employee is struggling with problem-solving:
- “Selene can improve by being more systematic in her approach to problem-solving. She could focus on breaking down problems into smaller components, asking relevant questions, and gathering more data.”
- “Jack needs to work on his approach to challenges and obstacles. He could benefit from being more persistent and determined in finding new solutions, being open to feedback, and seeking advice from colleagues to improve his problem-solving skills.”
- “Mike should work on analyzing the root cause of problems and identifying effective solutions. He could seek colleague feedback and advice and consider attending workshops or training sessions to improve his problem-solving skills.”
Time management is prioritizing tasks, managing time effectively, and meeting deadlines. During employee performance reviews, managers should approach comments on time management by highlighting the employee’s ability to manage their time effectively and complete tasks on time.
Some things to consider:
- Does the employee effectively prioritize their tasks and focus on high-priority items first?
- Are they able to set and meet realistic deadlines for their work?
- How do they handle unexpected interruptions or changes to their schedule?
- Do they manage their time efficiently, avoiding unnecessary distractions and multitasking?
- Can they complete tasks within the allocated time frame while maintaining high quality?
- Have they implemented any time management strategies to improve their efficiency or productivity?
Here are some positive comments for employees with strength in time management:
- “Gina exceeds expectations in managing her time, consistently completing her work ahead of schedule and with a high level of quality. Her excellent time management skills have been a valuable asset to the team and have contributed significantly to its success.”
- “Emily is a highly effective time manager who consistently meets deadlines and manages her workload efficiently. Her ability to appropriately prioritize tasks and allocate time has resulted in successful project outcomes.”
- “Mariana is a high-performing employee who consistently demonstrates exceptional time management skills. Her ability to manage competing priorities and meet project deadlines is a testament to her effective time management strategies.”
Area of improvement
Consider these constructive comments for employees who need to work on their time management skills:
- “Jonas should work on prioritizing tasks and managing his time effectively to meet deadlines. He could benefit from developing a better understanding of the urgency and importance of tasks and allocating his time accordingly.”
- “Sophie could benefit from developing a more effective approach to time management to avoid last-minute crunches. She could benefit from implementing strategies like prioritizing tasks, scheduling regular breaks, and avoiding unnecessary distractions to manage her time more effectively.”
- “Adam should work on managing distractions and staying focused on his tasks to improve his time management skills. He could minimize work distractions, like turning off his phone or email notifications during focused work sessions, using noise-canceling headphones to block out background noise, and organizing his workspace to reduce clutter and visual distractions.”
Communication skills cover the ability to convey information verbally and in writing effectively. Managers should approach comments on communication by highlighting the employee’s ability to communicate effectively with others.
Consider these factors:
- Does the employee listen to others and effectively convey their ideas and opinions?
- Do they communicate clearly and concisely, avoiding jargon or technical language other team members may not understand?
- Can they adapt their communication style to fit the needs of different audiences or situations?
- How do they handle conflicts or difficult conversations?
- Do they provide constructive feedback to others respectfully and professionally?
If communication skills are a strength, consider positive feedback like this:
- “Cathy has a strong ability to adapt her communication style to different audiences and situations.”
- “Carlos can communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely, making them easy for others to understand. His ability to communicate effectively with technical and nontechnical stakeholders has resulted in successful project outcomes.”
- “Heather consistently demonstrates strong written and verbal communication skills, effectively communicating with clients and other team members. Her ability to convey information and ideas clearly has contributed significantly to the team’s success.”
Area of improvement
For employees who need to work on their communication skills, here are some comments to share:
- “Mona should work on communicating more clearly and concisely to avoid confusion. She could benefit from practicing active listening skills, focusing on the main message, and summarizing key points.”
- “Susan could benefit from practicing active listening to improve her communication skills. She could focus on asking open-ended questions, paraphrasing to confirm understanding, and being mindful of nonverbal cues.”
- “Paul should improve his written communication skills to convey his ideas effectively. He could benefit from attending writing workshops or online courses to improve his grammar, punctuation, and writing style.”
Leadership is the ability to inspire, guide, and motivate others to achieve a common goal. Managers should consider evaluating leadership by highlighting employees’ ability to lead and inspire others.
Some things to consider when evaluating an employee’s leadership skills are:
- Does the employee take initiative to solve problems and make decisions?
- Are they able to effectively delegate tasks and responsibilities to others?
- How do they motivate and inspire team members to achieve their goals?
- Can they provide constructive feedback and coaching to help team members improve their skills?
- Do they lead by example and demonstrate the values and behaviors that the company prioritizes?
Here are some examples of comments for employees with excellent leadership skills:
- “Jessica is skilled at guiding and supporting her team members to help them succeed. Her ability to delegate tasks effectively and empower her team members has resulted in successful project outcomes.”
- “Karina is quick to make decisions to help solve problems. Her skill has helped foster an agile team dynamic.”
- “Christie is an effective leader who consistently demonstrates strong communication skills and a clear vision for achieving team goals.”
Area of improvement
Consider these constructive comments for employees who need to work on their leadership skills:
- “Tomas should work on providing clearer direction and guidance to his team members to improve his leadership skills. He could benefit from practicing active listening skills, being more specific in his instructions, and providing timely feedback to his team members.”
- “Julianne could benefit from developing better interpersonal skills to communicate with her team members effectively. She could focus on being more empathetic, understanding diverse perspectives, and practicing conflict resolution techniques.”
- “Dan should work on delegating tasks to other team members and empowering them to take ownership of their work to improve his leadership skills. He could benefit from being more proactive in identifying team members’ strengths, delegating tasks accordingly, and providing regular feedback and reinforcement to encourage growth and development.”
Punctuality is the ability to arrive at work and meetings on time. During employee performance reviews, managers should approach comments on punctuality by highlighting the employee’s ability to arrive on time to work and meetings consistently.
Some things to consider:
- Does the employee arrive on time to work and meetings consistently?
- How do their punctuality and attendance affect the team’s productivity and morale?
- Have they faced any challenges that affected their punctuality, and how did they address them?
- How do they handle situations where they might be running late or unable to attend a meeting?
For punctual employees, some positive comments include:
- “Maria sets a great example for the rest of the team by always arriving on time to meetings and completing tasks on schedule.”
- “Heather’s commitment to punctuality has contributed to the team’s productivity, and her reliability has earned the trust of her colleagues. Her colleagues know they can count on her to arrive on time, and her reliability has helped foster a positive and collaborative work environment.”
- “Jason’s punctuality and timely completion of tasks is commendable. His dedication to meeting deadlines and arriving on time to meetings has also helped keep the team on track and productive.”
Area of improvement
Here are some performance review comments for employees struggling with punctuality:
- “Tai needs to make punctuality a priority and ensure he arrives on time to meetings. This could include setting reminders or alarms, allowing extra travel time, and planning for potential obstacles like traffic or public transportation delays.”
- “Khalila should take a proactive approach to manage her schedule for better punctuality. This could include prioritizing tasks, scheduling a buffer between meetings, and anticipating potential conflicts in advance.”
- “Sue should make a concerted effort to improve her punctuality, as her frequent lateness to meetings and work negatively impacts team productivity and morale. She could benefit from setting reminders and adjusting her daily routine to allow for extra travel time. It’s also important for her to communicate with her team if she anticipates being late or unable to attend a meeting to minimize the disruption.
Dependability is the trait of being reliable and trustworthy. During employee performance reviews, managers should approach comments on dependability by highlighting the employee’s work ethic and ability to be relied on.
Some things to consider:
- Is the employee consistently reliable and trustworthy?
- How do their dependability and work ethic contribute to the team’s success?
- Are there any areas where employees could improve their reliability or work ethic?
Here are some positive comments for dependable employees:
- “Sam has a strong work ethic and is highly dependable, which has earned him customer praise for his excellent customer service skills.”
- “Juan is trustworthy and dependable, and his team members know they can rely on him.”
- “Shang is committed to delivering high-quality work and is always reliable. His ability to manage deadlines effectively and maintain a positive attitude in the face of challenges is a source of inspiration for his team.”
Area of improvement
Here are some constructive comments for employees:
- “Steve should work on being more dependable by delivering work on time and meeting deadlines. He should prioritize tasks effectively and communicate any obstacles that may prevent him from meeting deadlines.”
- “Francis could benefit from improving her attention to detail to increase her dependability. She should double-check her work for errors and ensure all necessary information is included before submitting it.”
- “Paul needs to improve his reliability by consistently delivering high-quality work. He should review his work before submitting it and seek feedback from colleagues to ensure it meets the required standards. Additionally, he should take ownership of his mistakes and work to correct them on time.”
Tips on writing performance comments
Providing effective performance feedback requires careful consideration of the employee’s performance, strengths, and areas for improvement. Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing performance comments:
- Be specific. Provide specific examples and details that support your feedback. Avoid generalizations that might be unclear or open to interpretation.
- Be honest. Provide honest feedback even if it might be difficult to hear. However, be sure to offer feedback constructively and with a focus on improvement.
- Use objective language. Use objective language and avoid personal biases or emotions that may cloud your feedback. Stick to the facts and focus on specific behaviors and actions.
- Provide context. Offer context to help the employee understand the impact of their performance. Highlight how their work fits into the broader goals of the team or organization and the work environment.
- Complement general language with supportive comments on individual performance. While it’s important to provide feedback on overall performance, providing supportive comments on specific areas where the employee excels is also helpful. This can help reinforce positive behaviors and encourage growth in areas that need improvement.
- Provide actionable feedback. Provide clear and actionable feedback that employees can use to improve their performance. Offer guidance on addressing any areas for improvement and provide resources or support as needed. Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) and follow up to see if objectives are being met.
Get help from Upwork
Performance evaluation comments are essential for motivating employees, building a culture of continuous improvement, and helping employees develop their skills. If you struggle to write effective performance review comments, consider working with performance appraisal specialists on Upwork.
Performance appraisal specialists have experience and expertise in creating effective performance review comments. They work with businesses to provide comments tailored to employees’ job performance and specific goals.
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