Performance Review Writing Best Practices

What is the best way to complete and answer a Performance Review?

Jessica Backholm avatar
Written by Jessica Backholm
Updated over a week ago

Review Writing Best Practices

Helpful Hints Before the Review

  • Oftentimes Performance reviews are based only on what the manager can remember from the last few weeks before the evaluations are due to HR. Managers have to be intentional about taking and filing notes.

  • Don't neglect your top performers. If you're only addressing issues or focusing on the employees who aren't performing as well as others, you're missing an opportunity to express gratitude to those who shape the innovation, creativity and culture within your company.

  • It should be a 2-way conversation where issues and concerns, as well as successes and plans for the future are discussed.

  • It is important to ensure that the feedback being given is constructive in nature. For example, “your work isn’t good, you need to do better” is not actionable and doesn’t help people know what to correct.

How to Provide Strong Feedback

Be Honest and Critical

  • No worker is perfect, and there will always be room for improvement. Decide what is worth addressing, and don't hesitate to bring it up.

  • Demonstrate and expect clarity, both in what the manager expects from the employee moving forward and in what the employee needs from the manager.

  • Nothing will change if it is not addressed.

Provide Clear Examples

The more specific you can be with this feedback, the more impactful it will be for the employee

  • Achievement – Use this in a sentence to demonstrate the person’s success.

  • Communication skills – Personalize the review by noting the person’s proficiency with communicating.

  • Creativity – When people go above and beyond to uncover new and creative solutions, they appreciate recognition. Use phrases like “Created innovative solutions to reduce the drop-off rate”.

  • Improvement – Everyone likes to know they are growing in their role. "Continues to grow and improve," and "is continuously planning for improvement" are two constructive phrases to use in a performance review.

  • Management ability – The ability to manage others, as well as leadership skills are highly valuable skills to any employer and they should be acknowledged in the review process.

Choose Your Words Carefully

  • There’s always room for improvement, but be selective about what’s worth addressing, and choose your words wisely.

  • Provide advice and suggestions for improvement.

  • An effective strategy is to discuss the specific outcome in question.

  • Sometimes, we must have difficult conversations. However, character attacks don’t actually help people improve. If anything, they can have the opposite effect.

End on a Positive Note

  • Use this review as a way to get the employee back on track and leave them with a clear plan of action for moving forward.

  • Ensure employees not only know where to improve, but what they should continue doing.

  • Positive reinforcement and constructive feedback can go a long way in giving workers the confidence and drive they need to perform better.

Example Feedback Phrases

Positive Performance

You excel at [action], and I would love to continue seeing that from you.

  • You excel at creating thoughtful marketing decks. I would love to have you continue taking the lead on them, especially since I know you enjoy the creative process.

  • I’m really impressed with the way you revamped the weekly kickoff meeting. I want you to keep speaking out about processes you think could be improved.

I encourage you to keep doing [action]. I’ve received positive feedback that this has really helped the team [result].

  • I encourage you to keep being a sounding board for your teammates. Many of your team members say you’re a great listener, and they feel comfortable sharing ideas with you.

  • Multiple people mentioned how skilled you are at keeping everyone on track with tight deadlines, which has been beneficial for the team’s productivity. I’d love to see you continue to take the lead on this for future projects.

For Areas of Improvement

My feedback is for you to stop [action] because it results in [consequence].

  • I think you could improve the way you share updates with the rest of the team. Sometimes, people get left out of the loop so not everyone is on the same page.

  • An area you could improve on is prioritization – you’re always so willing to jump into new projects, which is great, but that results in unmet deadlines.

  • It would be great if you could recognize when you need help, and ask for it, so we can avoid any wasted effort or time.

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