What to say in a performance review [with examples]

Unlock employee potential with innovative performance reviews. Discover what's next in fostering growth and development

What to say in a performance review [with examples]
  1. The benefits of performance reviews
  2. Setting meaningful goals for performance reviews: some examples    
  3. Constructive feedback in performance reviews
  4. Writing effective performance reviews (with examples)    
  5. Performance review best practices
  6. Performance review examples    
  7. Innovative performance review techniques
  8. Using technology to streamline performance reviews    
  9. Performance reviews and examples: final thoughts

Performance reviews serve as vital instruments for organizations aiming to foster employee growth and advancement. When approached effectively, they offer valuable feedback, establish meaningful objectives, and motivate employees to realize their utmost potential. In this article, we will explore innovative performance review examples that can benefit companies and employees alike.

The benefits of performance reviews

To promote employee growth and development, performance reviews are a vital organizational tool. Giving feedback, identifying improvement areas, and recognizing achievements all facilitate continuous communication between managers and employees, building trust, and promoting employee engagement and motivation.

Identifying employees who are excelling versus those who require additional support or training is critical for any organization. This is where performance reviews come in. They serve as the main tool for making informed decisions on crucial personnel decisions like promotions and performance improvement plans.

Investing in performance review is vital for employee growth and staff retention. The process allows regular feedback and creates an environment of constant enhancement, giving maximum potential for employees. The significance of effective performance reviews is undeniable in promoting growth and development opportunities amidst the workforce.

The benefits of performance reviews:

  • provides valuable feedback for employees
  • identifies areas for improvement and growth opportunities
  • fosters ongoing communication and trust between managers and employees
  • recognizes achievements and promotes employee engagement and motivation
  • facilitates informed personnel decisions for organizations
  • helps employees understand their value within the organization and how their work contributes to broader goals
  • drives organizational success through effective performance management

Setting meaningful goals for performance reviews: some examples

Performance reviews provide an excellent opportunity for employees to set measurable and achievable goals.

Meaningful goals motivate employees, manage their performance, and advance their careers. Here are examples of good performance review objectives:

  • Improve work quality by 20% by quarter end through feedback and training.
  • Attend three relevant workshops or complete online courses over the next six months to develop skills in a specific area.
  • Lead the project team and demonstrate effective leadership skills by achieving all project milestones and achieving successful outcomes.
  • Increase customer satisfaction by 10% by implementing a new customer communication strategy.
  • Improve your teamwork skills by participating in regular team building activities and promoting a positive team culture.

It’s important to set goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound). These goals should inspire employees to grow while providing a clear path to success.

Goals that are too vague can lead to confusion, while goals that are too unrealistic can lead to anxiety and stress.

When setting goals, employees should be encouraged to provide input and work with managers to ensure the goals align with their strengths, interests, and overall career goals. This collaborative approach increases employee engagement, ownership, and buy-in.

Constructive feedback in performance reviews

One of the most important aspects of any performance review is providing constructive feedback. While it can be difficult to provide feedback that assesses employees' weaknesses without reducing their motivation, it's critical to design feedback in a way that promotes growth.

Examples of things to say in a performance review:

"You're doing an excellent job in your current role, but I've noticed some areas where you could develop your skills further. For example, your communication with other departments could be more proactive and clear. Let's work together to achieve something and develop plans for improvements in this area.”

This performance review example shows how to strike a balance between recognizing an employee's strengths and highlighting areas for development.

It’s important to actively frame feedback and provide concrete examples so employees understand how to improve.

Another effective feedback technique is the sandwich method, which involves inserting positive feedback between constructive feedback. This approach can help employees feel valued while providing guidance in areas where they can improve.

Here is an example of a conversation between Mark and his manager:

performance review example – conversation between Mark and his manager

Ultimately, the goal of constructive feedback is to help employees reach their full potential. By providing constructive and supportive feedback, performance reviews can motivate employees to improve and develop.

Writing effective performance reviews (with examples)

The ability to prepare adequate and informative performance reviews for staff is one of the mandatory qualities of a manager or supervisor.

To write a performance review, one should possess detailed knowledge, logical reasoning as well as good communication skills.

Here are some examples of how to write performance reviews that are clear, concise, and impactful:

1. Focus on specific achievements

In writing performance reviews, it is important to focus on the achievements of employees over the course of the evaluation period. This proves to the employee that his/ her effort and commitment is recognized through listing down achievements.

Instead of saying, “In sum, John performed well all over the twelve months,” how about saying: “John exceeded the sales target by 20 and carried out new plan system.”

2. Identify areas for improvement

It is imperative to recognize an employee’s strengths and achievements; also equally important to point out areas of concern.

It gives constructive insights into how an employee can improve and develop.

3. Use specific examples

To provide effective feedback, one should reference specific situations. Examples make the feedback more practical and highlight realistic actions.

For instance, instead of simply stating that Jack manages time poorly, it's more impactful to say that he missed two project deadlines by a quarter, causing backups within the team.

4. Offer growth opportunities

Performance appraisal should not just rate performance in the past but create avenues of growth and development. Managers and supervisory staff ought to urge employees to set goals for their work.

For instance, if one wants to phrase it more diplomatically, instead of starting with, “For Laura to improve her leadership skills...” try saying, “Laura has great potential to become an effective leader, and we can help her through proper training and mentoring.”

By following these examples, managers and supervisors can write good performance appraisals which spur staff members into aiming for higher targets. This improves their productivity and promotes corporate growth.

Performance review best practices

Conducting effective performance reviews involves a combination of preparation, communication, and ongoing follow-up. These best practices can help managers and employees streamline the process and maximize its impact:

  • Provide regular feedback: Performance evaluations should not be restricted to once a year or half a year. Instead, managers ought to help workers develop by giving continuous feedback. Regular check-ins will keep them aligned while their progress is monitored to ensure early intervention.
  • Set clear expectations: The employees should know exactly their obligations regarding performing the job, measurement of performance and company’s targets. The manager must ensure that these expectations are made from the start, then are always updated in view of various changes.
  • Be objective: If they are going to be conducted at all, they ought to be based on hard data like performance metrics instead of just personal opinions. It may facilitate the fairness of an evaluation process.
  • Focus on behaviors: Instead of just evaluating outcomes, it is better for such performance review to be directed toward the behavior. Specific behaviors also enable employees to identify what areas need improvement and learn how to develop new skills.
  • Link performance reviews to development opportunities: Performance evaluation is a chance to unmask any weaknesses in development. It is important for managers to collaborate with employees when devising action plans that identify training and development programs aimed at career growth.

Find out more about the trends and challenges of performance reviews in our recent article.

Performance review examples

Here's a table providing practical illustrations of poor phrasing commonly found in performance reviews, along with examples of improved and more constructive phrasing for each type of review:

1. Goal-centric reviews

This reviews shifts focus from past successes to future goals and gets employees and managers working to define their key objectives and outcomes. By engaging employees in the goal setting process, companies can increase employee engagement and ensure it is aligned with overall company objectives.



"You failed to meet sales targets."

"Let's work together to improve your sales performance by setting specific, achievable goals for the next quarter."

"Your project outcomes were disappointing."

"Your project outcomes didn't meet our expectations. Let's set clear objectives for your next projects to align with company goals."


2. Strengths-based feedback

Instead of dwelling on weaknesses, this approach emphasizes leveraging employees' strengths and aligning them with job responsibilities and opportunities.

By recognizing and nurturing employees' talents, organizations can maximize individual potential and contribute to overall team performance.



"You're not good at multitasking."

"Your focus on one task at a time allows you to excel in delivering high-quality results. Let's continue leveraging this strength."

"Your communication skills need improvement."

"You have strong communication skills that can be even more effective with some refinement. Let's explore ways to enhance your impact."


3. Continuous coaching and feedback

Regular check-ins and feedback replace the traditional annual review. Managers provide ongoing guidance, support, and constructive feedback to help employees stay on track and improve their performance. This approach fosters a culture of growth and development.



"You miss deadlines consistently."

"I noticed some challenges with meeting deadlines. Let's discuss strategies and resources to help you improve in this area."

"Your performance has been subpar."

"Your recent performance doesn't reflect your full potential. Let's have regular check-ins to address any hurdles and maximize your growth."


4. Peer-to-peer reviews

Involving peers in the performance review process allows for a well-rounded evaluation from multiple perspectives. Peer feedback can provide valuable insights into collaboration, teamwork, and communication skills, enabling employees to identify areas where they can enhance their interactions with colleagues.



"You're difficult to work with."

"Your collaborative skills have room for improvement. Let's explore how you can build more effective working relationships."

"You don't contribute much in team meetings."

"I've noticed opportunities for you to become more active in team meetings and share your valuable insights. Let's work on this together."


5. Developmental reviews

These reviews focus on identifying and addressing employee skill gaps through targeted training and development opportunities. By investing in employees' professional growth, organizations demonstrate their commitment to nurturing talent and fostering a learning culture.



"Your skills are lacking."

"I've identified some areas where you could benefit from skill development. Let's discuss training opportunities to help you grow."

"You're not ready for a leadership role."

"To prepare for a leadership role, we can create a development plan to enhance your leadership skills and experiences."

Innovative performance review techniques

Traditional performance reviews often rely on a top-down approach where managers provide feedback to their subordinates. However, innovative techniques are emerging that involve a more collaborative and comprehensive evaluation process.


A performance review method where employees evaluate their own performance is called self-assessment. Self-assessment can increase employee participation by enabling them to identify their own abilities, thus improving their overall motivational levels. It can also enhance the feedback provided by managers, resulting in a comprehensive appraisal.

Peer-to-peer feedback

Include feedback from peers, friends, and other interested parties. Employees may develop deeper insight into their performance when subjected to a range of approaches, leading them to know what they need to improve upon. As such, peer feedback promotes a collaborative and team-oriented culture, enhancing communication and productivity.

360-degree reviews

These evaluations are holistic as they come from a variety of sources such as managers, peers, subordinates, management information systems, and others that interact with the employee. Such an approach will provide holistic assessment while addressing weaknesses as well as success points. Also, this evaluation may contribute to a better understanding of a given employee’s behavior. This leads to a more targeted approach to employee development.

By embracing these innovative performance review techniques, organizations can enhance their evaluation process and promote employee growth and development.

Using technology to streamline performance reviews

Managers and organizations often view performance evaluations as a difficult task; it involves significant efforts to gather information, give feedback, establish targets.

Nevertheless, the task has become easy and efficient due to technology. The application of performance management software makes it possible for managers to simplify any given performance review process.

Most companies today implement some type of performance management software to help with performance reviews. This helps managers keep track of their personnel’s performance in line with pre-established goals & objectives. With this software, managers can also set up reminders for year-end personnel appraisal and monitor the progress of individual work plans throughout the year.

For instance, BambooHR, a type of performance management software, allows managers to produce their own performance review templates.

Another similar software, 15Five, allows managers to collect employee feedback and establish significant targets in synergy with the organization’s aspirations.

Find reviews to BambooHR, 15Five, and other similar tools on our HR software reviews page.

Overall, technology has brought a great change in performance reviews that makes them simpler, more accurate, reliable and effective. The right software solution makes it possible for companies to optimize their performance assessment, enhance employees’ involvement in the process and reach higher results.

Performance reviews and examples: final thoughts

Effective performance reviews are a crucial aspect of employee growth and development. Understanding the advantages of performance reviews, the significance of establishing meaningful goals, delivering constructive feedback, and crafting effective performance assessments will assist you in conducting successful performance reviews.

Innovative techniques like peer-to-peer feedback, self-assessments, and performance management software are valuable tools. They facilitate improved employee performance through reliable assessments.

Remember to always conduct performance reviews on a regular basis, provide employees with meaningful feedback, use appropriate performance metrics, and link performance reviews to training and development opportunities. Embrace innovation, stay objective, and be open to feedback to make the most of performance reviews.

Did you find the performance review examples helpful? Do you have any examples to add? Feel free to share them with us in the comment section below.

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