Performance Review Comments: Everything You Need to Know

Professional performance review comments tell an employee what they did well, and what needs improvement. If done as an approach for improving rather than criticizing, such performance reviews can offer good feedback to workers and managers. If done wrong with the latter approach, it can lead to discrimination and harassment lawsuits.

According to Fast Company, a well -known website for progressive business leaders, 74 percent of younger workers leave reviews without understanding the level of their performance. A 2017 Employee Engagement Report stated 79 percent of employees do not believe review processes to be helpful.

In any work situation, many issues stem from other departments and employees, communication issues, and distribution problems. A performance reviews recognizes those facts and classifies those issues in a manner that gives a more honest view of the state of the company.

As such, performance reviews are not just reviews of an employee, but also of the entire company, its policies, and implementation of programs. 

Performance Review Phrases

Performance reviews need to have standardized language of common comments so that the process may be more efficient. Performance review comments may be about teams, not just individuals. In face to face meetings, the comments need to have detailed explanations that an employee can use to improve. Writing consistent and detailed employee reviews, as well as learning to use language that facilitates improvement takes training. Beginning with a concrete example in a performance sets the tone so that it is evident the comments are about the work rather than the person. The following is a set of questions that you could use to help with your performance review processes.

  • Does the company use goals to start a work process?
  • What portion of the work done is significant?
  • Can the work be measured in increments?
  • Was the work assigned attainable at the time?
  • Did the employee have the resources necessary to do the job?
  • Was the work assigned a reasonable request?
  • What quality assurance program measures the product or service offered?

In most cases, the issues with an employee need to be obvious for it to be addressed. Supervisors and managers need to balance a performance review between positive and negative feedback. Comments by supervisors need to be specific, short and matter of fact. Management must admit where they need to improve. Otherwise, it comes out during litigation. The following areas need coverage:


Optimal levels of work need to have a reference within that industry for that particular company to have its accomplishments measured. It must be evidenced-based. Create a list of strategies that helped and a list of strategies that did not perform as expected with a possible reason and numbers to support. Participation in program development needs to be listed and what part the employee took part in.

Example:  Improved production by Y% with task MNOP              


Policies and procedures needed to run a business or a task in the business done by an employee are considered administrative. Does the employee establish effective systems of communication and information retrieval for their position? Does the employee file and keep documents organized? Does the employee improve the administrative systems in place?

Example: Developed successful administrative process for xyz task which resulted in % documents filed appropriately


Behaviors that share knowledge, create good work relationships, and make positive work environments classify as coaching. The social aspects of work such as interest in employees, amount of support given, giving advice, and respect can be harder to measure.

Example: Implemented a continuous improvement model with five-minute sharing of issues discovered with the work that day. Summarized to 3 key points with a solution given the next day.


Communication centers around business goals, expectations, and issues. It also deals with company policies, maintaining appropriate work environment, and keeping employees communicating about the work.

Example:  Employee L used three-point question technique to remain on CDE issue

Other areas to cover in performance reviews include cooperation, creativity, delegation, innovation, or planning. It depends on the industry and work which classifications you need.

Appraisal Consistency

The goal remains to improve the work environment overall by helping each employee reach their potential in the framework of the company goals. Those giving the review must consistently rate each employee’s tasks. Standardize the comments to the major tasks and leave room for individualized facilitation. After the performance review ask the individual to come up with their individual goals for the year and turn that in.

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