Annual performance review phrases sample
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Performance review guides
Like most senior executives, Doug Bettinger believes in giving ongoing feedback to his direct
reports. He wants them to know what they’re doing right and how they can improve their job
But Bettinger doesn’t rely on annual performance reviews. Instead, he prefers monthly and
quarterly “process reviews” that provide a more comprehensive, detailed analysis of both the
employee’s performance and how it ties into the firm’s latest product-related news.
“Our process reviews usually take two to four hours and we like to do them face-to-face,” says
Bettinger, chief financial officer of Avago Technologies, a semiconductor firm co-headquartered
in Singapore and San Jose, Calif. “Our CEO does process reviews for our general managers and
their director-level staff, and I may travel with him or other management team members” to
administer the reviews in person or via videoconference.
In these meetings, the top brass don’t just rate an individual’s performance or competencies in
specific areas. They discuss the company’s goals and financial milestones, along with product
and project updates as they relate to each employee.
“As a result, employees understand what they need to accomplish and how they’ll be measured
in terms of how we define success,” Bettinger says. In reviewing a new product rollout, for
example, he might address questions such as, “How is this product resonating with our
customers?, “Are we behind or ahead of schedule?” and “If we’re not on track, how will we
change to get back on track?”
By connecting an employee’s daily activities to larger operational issues, a process review has
more impact than a traditional performance review that’s narrower in scope. Rather than critique
a manager’s work in isolation, the focus expands to evaluate the status of products or projects
under that manager’s purview.
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Keep Score of Performance
Entrepreneurs love launching businesses, but they usually dread conducting performance
reviews. It’s rarely gratifying to tell employees what they’re doing wrong or why they’re not
getting a pay raise.
Fortunately, there are creative solutions that make such reviews easier to administer. Start by
placing less emphasis on formal appraisals. Shift your focus to educating workers about what
For new hires, have their job description double as a performance evaluation tool. List the tasks
they need to do and your expectations for their role.
“Make the job description document serve as your performance review document,” says Rick
Galbreath, president of Performance Growth Partners, a leadership development firm in
To ensure that employees understand how their performance contributes to the organization’s
bottom line, use a “balanced scorecard.” Popularized in the 1990s, it’s based on a summary
report consisting of key measures along with desired targets.
The scorecard results enable both employer and employees to keep track on a daily basis of
individual performance as it impacts larger outcomes. Appraisals thus become a relatively
painless outgrowth of a simple scoring system that everyone understands and accepts.
Deliver Criticism That Sticks
While assessing an employee’s performance is typically a structured process involving forms and
rating systems, it’s also a test of your communication skills. You need to deliver constructive
feedback in a supportive tone while explaining the consequences of continued
If you overdose on faultfinding, you risk alienating the people you’re trying to help. Workers
tend to tune out or defend themselves if they perceive their boss in attack mode. What you view
as straightforward input may come across as stinging criticism to your angry or quivering
“You can’t pat a dog and kick a dog at the same time,” Galbreath says. “Audit yourself to make
sure you’re mixing some positive comments with negative ones.”
To criticize performance without provoking a backlash, provide neutral descriptions rather than
expressing opinions. Cite specific examples to support your general observations—and include a
time, place and activity to pinpoint the behavior that needs to improve.
If you want an argumentative service rep to speak more diplomatically, for instance, say, “I
observed your conversation in the showroom at noon today with the roofer who wanted shingles,
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and I noticed you pointing in his face while your voice volume turned a few decibels louder.”
That’s better than saying, “You were too loud and aggressive today.”
II. Performance review tips
1. The employee should never hear about
positive performance or performance in
need of improvement for the first time at
your formal performance discussion meeting,
unless it is new information or insight.
Effective managers discuss both positive
performance and areas for improvement
regularly, even daily or weekly. Aim to make
the contents of the performance review
discussion a re-emphasis of critical points.
2. No matter the components of your performance review process, the first step is goal
It is imperative that the employee knows exactly what is expected of his or her performance.
Your periodic discussions about performance need to focus on these significant portions of the
employee’s job. You need to document this job plan: goals and expectations in a job plan or job
expectations format, or in your employer's format. Without a written agreement and a shared
picture of the employee’s goals, success for the employee is unlikely.
3. During preparation and goal setting, you need to make how you will evaluate the
employee’s performance clear.
Describe exactly what you’re looking for from the employee and exactly how you will evaluate
the performance. Discuss with the employee her role in the evaluation process. If your
organization’s performance review process includes an employee self-evaluation, share the form
and talk about what self-evaluation entails.
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4. Avoid the horns and halo effect in which everything discussed in the meeting involves
positive and negative recent events.
Recent events color your judgment of the employee’s performance. Instead, you are responsible
to document positive occurrences such as completed projects, and negative occurrences such as a
missed deadline, during the entire period of time that the performance review covers. (In some
organizations, these are called critical incident reports.) Ask the employee to do the same so that
together you develop a comprehensive look at the employee’s performance during the time
period that your discussion covers.
5. Solicit feedback from colleagues who have worked closely with the employee.
Sometimes called 360 degree feedback because you are obtaining feedback for the employee
from his boss, coworkers, and any reporting staff, you use the feedback to broaden the
performance information that you provide for the employee. Start with informal discussions to
obtain feedback information. Consider developing a format so that the feedback is easy to digest
and share by the manager.
6. If your company uses a form that you fill out in advance of the meeting, give the
performance review to the employee in advance of the meeting.
This allows the employee to digest the contents prior to her discussion of the details with you.
This simple gesture can remove a lot of the emotion and drama from the performance review
7. Prepare for the discussion with the employee.
Never go into a performance review without preparation. If you wing it, performance reviews
fail. You will miss key opportunities for feedback and improvement and the employee will not
feel encouraged about his successes. The documentation that you maintained during the
performance review period serves you well as you prepare for an employee's performance
8. When you meet with the employee, spend time on the positive aspects of his or her
In most cases, the discussion of the positive components of the employee’s performance should
take up more time than that of the negative components. For your above average performing
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employees and your performing employees, positive feedback and discussion about how the
employee can continue to grow her performance should comprise the majority of the discussion.
The employee will find this rewarding and motivating.
9. The spirit in which you approach this conversation will make a difference in whether it is
If your intention is genuinely to help the employee improve, and you have a positive relationship
with the employee, the conversation is easier and more effective. The employee has to trust that
you want to help him improve his performance. He needs to hear you say that you have
confidence in his ability to improve. This helps him believe that he has the ability and the
support necessary to improve.
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