Trying to sum up an employee’s performance in a couple of sentences is tough, so we’ve developed an employee review template that not only speeds up the process, but ensures you give the most impactful feedback possible.
Our employee review template features handy sample phrases to use when writing performance reviews, covering important themes like strengths and weaknesses, goal progress, communication, teamwork, innovation, efficiency, and reliability, and we’ve even included phrases for specific categories of employees like remote workers. All 138 examples are shared below, but you can also download our performance review examples .pdf or spreadsheet here.
Our employee evaluation template can be used for almost any type of performance appraisal but is particularly useful for manager-led reviews, which form an essential part of the review process. As managers tend to work closely with their direct reports and review their goal progress regularly, they’re really well placed to provide the kind of valuable feedback that employees crave (2).
But before we get into the employee review template, let’s talk about how managers can make their performance reviews truly meaningful.
Performance Review Tips for Managers
Performance reviews are designed to provide employees at all levels of the organisation with valuable feedback that will help them improve and grow. But the latest research paints a different picture entirely. According to one study, just 13% of employees and managers and 6% of CEOs believe that their company’s performance review process is useful (1). So what needs to change?
There are 6 elements to consider:
- The format of the review - 360 degree reviews featuring self-reflection, upward, peer and manager feedback are fast becoming the gold standard.
- The frequency of the review - once a year is no longer sufficient, as research tells us that most employees favour continuous feedback, meaning continuous, monthly or quarterly reviews (2).
- The channel we use to carry out the reviews - paper and spreadsheet-based solutions aren’t nearly as efficient or effective as dedicated performance review software like Frankli.
- The content of the reviews - the participants’ feedback needs to be of a high quality in order to influence performance.
- The relationship between the subject and reviewer - feedback is more effective when this relationship is built on trust and respect.
- The follow-up after the review - for feedback to be really impactful, employees need to have regular, performance-focused conversations with their managers.
While points 1-3 are generally determined by leadership or HR teams, it’s up to managers to maximise the potential of points 4, 5 and 6. So let’s look at how we do this.
1. Invest in your relationship.
Research shows that feedback has a greater impact on performance when employees trust the source of the feedback (3). This means that the work starts long before you sit down to write your review. You’ve got to invest time in building strong relationships with your people, ones that are based on trust, respect, transparency and autonomy.
2. Communicate your positive intentions.
Performance reviews and feedback exist for one reason - to help people get better at their jobs. But this is easily forgotten when employees are faced with an in-depth critique of their work. It’s important that managers take the time to communicate their positive intentions before, during and after the review. They should let employees know that they’re not going to have their weaknesses put under a microscope, and that the focus will always be on improvement for everyone on the team.
3. Reference employee data.
There are two ways to write a performance review. You can sit down at your desk and expect the words to flow, or you can gather all the information relating to the employee’s performance, and use that as the basis for your feedback. The second option is, of course, the easier and more effective one. Be sure to seek out information on goal progress, 1:1 meeting notes, praise shared and anything else that might provide insights into the employee’s performance before you get started.
4. Consider how your feedback will be used.
In some cases, performance review feedback is shared directly with the subject. In others, feedback is sent to a manager or other team member, who then shares a summary of the feedback with the subject. Either option can work well, but it's important that you know where your feedback is going - if in doubt, ask your HR lead or whoever is running the review. If, for example, you know the subject will be reading your constructive criticism word for word, you might be more cautious about how you phrase it.
5. Use our sample phrases as a starting point.
Even when you know what you want to say about an employee, it can be hard to find the words. Sample phrases, like the ones we’ve shared below and made available as a free performance review examples .pdf and spreadsheet, give you something to work from, making the process quicker and easier.
6. Describe what you’ve observed.
There are no two ways about it - giving constructive feedback is difficult. If you’re going to empower your people to do better, you need to separate opinion from fact. When in doubt, be literal - describe the situation or behaviour as you observed it. “You were late to 3 meetings last quarter,” is better than, “You’re bad at timekeeping.”
7. Describe the impact of the action.
Whether you’re giving positive or negative feedback, it’s important to link it to wider outcomes for the team and company. For example, “You delivered your report a week late, which meant we missed the opportunity to pitch for that account,” or “You consistently hit your monthly sales targets, which really helped us achieve our group target for the year.”
8. Focus on the future.
Performance reviews provide an opportunity to reflect on the past, but research shows that the impact of the feedback is greater when it’s focused on the employee’s opportunity for growth and improvement (4). So by all means, discuss what happened during the review period, but be sure to use these insights to understand how performance can be improved in future.
9. Follow up with a dedicated 1:1 meeting.
Writing a performance review is only one part of the process. It’s critical that employees meet with their managers after the review to discuss the feedback and make a plan for how to action it. Remember that this should be a two-way conversation. Employees should be given the opportunity to respond to the feedback and suggest ideas for their own improvement.
10. Hold regular performance-focused 1:1 meetings.
Performance conversations should be happening regularly, so don’t forget about them after the review has been completed. It’s up to individuals to set the right rhythm for performance-focused 1:1 meetings - weekly and fortnightly 1:1s are the most popular.
How to Use Our Employee Review Template
- Bookmark this page or get the downloadable version (performance review examples .pdf or spreadsheet), so you have these examples at your fingertips when it’s time to complete your review.
- Use the headings to find the right examples for your employee. Save or highlight any that you think might be useful.
- These sample phrases are designed to be customised, so don’t forget to edit them using the bracketed text.
Employee Evaluation Template: Sample Phrases
- “(Name) exceeded expectations this quarter.”
- “(Name) would benefit from further training in (SEO).”
- “(Name) shows strong (time management) skills.”
- “I would love to see (Name) give more of their attention to (project management).”
- “I would like to see (Name) work on their (customer response times) this quarter.”
- “(Name) shows a clear aptitude for (leadership).”
- “(Name) needs a lot of help with (prioritising tasks).”
- “(Name) excels at (hiring and recruitment).”
- “(Name) demonstrates a lack of interest in (expanding their skillset).”
- “(Name) has difficulty with (expressing themselves in group settings).”
- “(Name) proved their ability to (lead a team) this quarter by (delivering a new product feature on time).”
- “(Name) is a huge asset to (Company X). We’re grateful to have such a creative and focused individual on our team.”
- “Having (Name) on our team has been a game-changer. Their work was instrumental in helping us achieve our goals this quarter.”
- “(Name) takes challenges in their stride. Their enthusiasm has had a positive impact on the entire team.”
- “Customer service is (Name)’s superpower. I can really see the impact of their work on the team’s performance this quarter.”
- “(Name) responds well to change and always faces challenges head-on.”
- “(Name) admits errors and informs others when unable to keep a commitment.”
- “(Name) embraces constructive feedback and is always keen to improve their performance.”
- “I can always count on (Name) to find workarounds when problems arise.”
- “(Name) is an exceptionally hard worker. They’re always willing to lend support to their team members.”
- “I believe in (Name)’s organisational skills, but I’m not seeing them in practice. I’d love to see them lead a project this quarter.”
- “I’d love to get more support from (Name) in the early stages of new projects.”
- “I see room for improvement in the way (Name) conducts meetings. I think our team could be more productive if we stick closely to our meeting agendas.”
- “I think (Name) could benefit from more detailed discussions around expectations, so we can avoid disappointment in future.”
- “I appreciate (Name)’s dedication to meeting deadlines, but the quality of their work sometimes suffers as a result.”
- “I’d like to see (Name) contribute more to group problem-solving.”
- “I would love to see (Name) spend even more time on sales outreach this quarter.”
- “I see room for improvement in (Name)’s timekeeping.”
- “(Name) missed 3 meetings this quarter, which delayed progress on an important project.”
- “(Name) asks the Development team for help on a daily basis. I’d like to see them invest more time in problem-solving before they submit these queries.”
- “I would like to see (Name) show more flexibility with schedule changes and accept more last-minute requests.”
- “(Name) struggles with speaking up in team meetings. I’d like them to practice providing feedback in the moment.”
- “(Name) is extremely proficient in the areas of product testing and bug management.”
- “(Name) has brought a huge amount of value to the marketing team through their experience in previous roles.”
- “(Name) would benefit from further training in HTML.”
- “(Name) is incredibly focused and hard-working, but their lack of industry knowledge has caused a number of issues this quarter.”
- “(Name) brings a huge amount of knowledge to each design project, which provides great inspiration to the rest of the team.”
- “(Name) generously shares their knowledge with team members.”
- “(Name) sets well thought out goals and continuously strives to achieve them.”
- “(Name) achieved every single one of their goals this quarter.”
- “(Name) didn’t achieve any of their goals this quarter, despite consistently delivering a high quality of work. I suggest we need to look at scaling back their goals”
- “(Name) underdelivered on 2 goals this quarter, which was disappointing as it affected the progress of several team goals.”
- “(Name) didn’t achieve one of their goals this quarter, but their contribution to several team goals was invaluable.”
- “(Name) made terrific progress on their goals this quarter, despite some major setbacks last month.”
- “(Name) is incredibly focused when it comes to goals, and their hard work has really paid off this quarter.”
- “(Name) showed great initiative on (project X). I really appreciate their enthusiastic and energetic approach.”
- “(Name) was thrown in at the deep end with (project X), but still managed to deliver an incredible campaign.”
- “(Name) did a brilliant job on (project X). They showed that they’re capable of taking on larger projects and more demanding clients.”
- “(Name) showed initiative in developing ways to streamline several sales workflows, which increased our team’s productivity by 15%.”
- “(Name) consistently delivers high-quality work, but requires quite a lot of encouragement. I’d like to see them show more initiative.”
- “(Name) always strives to improve team processes, which inspires other members of the team to find efficiencies in their workflows.”
- “(Name) introduced a new system for logging customer contact details that improved accuracy by 34%.”
- “(Name) manages their time effectively and is always looking for a way to enhance an existing process.”
- “(Name) demonstrates excellent time management skills.”
- “I’m really impressed with the quality of (Name)’s pitches, but I would love to see a quicker turnaround.”
- “(Name) works well in a group setting, but I feel their independent work could be more efficient.”
- “(Name) is already a high achiever, but I think there are efficiencies to be made if they embraced batch working.”
- “Consistency is one of (Name)’s biggest strengths. I can always count on them to get the job done well and on time.”
- “(Name) took ownership of some new duties this quarter and was extremely diligent in ensuring these assets were delivered.”
- “(Name) consistently delivers a high quality of work.”
- “Some of (Name)’s work this quarter, for example on (Project X), has been exemplary. But I’d like to see more consistency across the board.”
- “(Name) doesn’t always follow through on promises. I’d like to see them give more regular and more accurate updates on the status of their work.”
- “As (Name) missed 2 important deadlines this quarter, I’d like to explore how they could improve their reliability.”
- “(Name) is always willing to support their colleagues when things get busy.”
- “I really value (Name)’s creativity. They’ve shown great bravery in taking risks this quarter, which paid off at every turn.”
- “(Name) brings an enormous amount of creativity to their work. I can always rely on them to bring new ideas to a meeting or a project.”
- “(Name) inspires everyone on the team to think more creatively.”
- “(Name) always offers creative solutions to new challenges.”
- “(Name) could increase their contribution to the team by offering some solutions to the recent dip in customer retention rates.”
- “I”d like to see more idea sharing from (Name) this quarter.”
- “(Name) consistently delivers projects on time and to a high standard, but I’d like to see them push themselves further and explore some new ideas this quarter.”
- “(Name) did an excellent job on their presentations this quarter.”
- “I appreciate how thorough (Name)’s reports were. It really helped us understand how to move forward with (project x).”
- “I really value (Name)’s attention to detail. They’re incredibly focused and results-oriented in everything they do.”
- “(Name)’s attention to detail is remarkable, and has benefitted the team on so many occasions.”
- “(Name) missed a lot of small details during the last sprint, which set the whole team back.”
- “(Name)’s output is really impressive, but their reports were missing a few entries this month. Next time, I’d prefer a smaller output and greater accuracy.”
- “(Name) is really results-oriented, which is fantastic, but recently, the quality of their work has suffered.”
- “(Name) works tirelessly to maintain strong customer relationships.”
- “It’s easy to see why customers love working with (Name). Customers really appreciate their fast response times and attention to detail.”
- “Our customers can’t say enough good things about (Name), and that really speaks to their customer service skills.”
- “(Name) went above and beyond the call of duty for two customers this quarter.”
- “(Name) is great at managing customer expectations.”
- “(Name) managed all customer communications during an unexpected outage last month, and did a terrific job of minimising the impact. If it wasn’t for their quick response, we may have lost some customers.”
- “(Name) is always quick to help customers find solutions to their problems.”
- “(Name) didn’t respond to 3 customer queries this quarter, which caused a lot of frustration, and meant other team members had to step in to resolve the issue.”
- “(Name) has made terrific progress in the last couple of months and has really exceeded my expectations.”
- “I really admire (Name)’s commitment to learning.”
- “If (Name) was interested in improving their presentation skills, it would really contribute to their career opportunities.”
- “(Name) has gained so much confidence this quarter.”
- “(Name) is always keen to hear feedback that could help them improve on their performance.”
- “(Name) is performing well in their role, but I’d like to see them explore career development opportunities this quarter.”
- “(Name) is still making the same mistakes they made last year. We need to find a way to help them grow in this role.”
- “(Name) is an excellent communicator and listener. We could all learn a lot from their approach.”
- “(Name) worked really hard this quarter to communicate the desired outcomes of each project and ensure that everyone was on the same page.”
- “I really appreciate the clarity (Name) provides on each new project.”
- “(Name)’s excellent communication skills ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.”
- “I would love to hear (Name) give more context when providing feedback. I think it would be useful for the whole team to understand how their work feeds into the company’s success.”
- “(Name)’s communication skills are excellent. I really appreciate how clearly and efficiently they get your point across.”
- “(Name) always expresses themselves clearly and succinctly.”
- “(Name) facilitates effective, open communication between team members.”
- “I really appreciate (Name)’s enthusiasm during meetings, but this sometimes means that other team members don’t come forward with ideas or feedback.”
- “(Name) could work on making their status updates shorter.”
- “(Name) really embraced teamwork during this quarter, stepping in when a teammate was unable to travel for an important meeting.”
- “(Name)’s work was instrumental in helping us achieve our team goals this month.”
- “(Name)’s work has been of great benefit to the team. I can always rely on them to provide their teammates with support when needed.”
- “(Name) is a team player, as demonstrated by their willingness to contribute to group projects.”
- “(Name) is always insightful and respectful when delivering feedback.”
- “(Name) should work on their delivery of constructive feedback. On a couple of occasions, their feedback was a little too blunt, and made their teammate feel deflated and unmotivated.”
- “(Name) is performing well at their operational duties, but is having some trouble connecting with the rest of the team.”
- “(Name) is diligent about meeting deadlines.”
- “(Name) meets and exceeds timekeeping expectations.”
- “(Name) has proven that they’re capable of working to tight deadlines.”
- “(Name) missed some important meetings this quarter. We need to develop a plan that ensures this doesn’t happen again.”
- “(Name) missed 3 deadlines this quarter. In future, I’d like them to highlight issues sooner, so we can request help from other departments.”
- “(Name) needs to work on time management. They would benefit from some coaching in this area.”
- “I expect to see a huge improvement in timekeeping from (Name) this quarter.”
- “(Name) does an amazing job at living and breathing our mission and values.”
- “(Name)’s hard work and positive attitude has made (company x) a better place to work, for everyone.”
- “Through their work on (project x), (Name) has helped build a culture of trust and collaboration.”
- “(Name)’s work has been invaluable in moving us towards a more transparent culture.”
- “(Name)’s energy and enthusiasm is infectious - it makes us all want to work harder and do better.”
- “(Name) is always generous with new team members. They make new starters feel welcome and comfortable, which contributes enormously to our company culture.”
- “Some of (Name)’s behaviour this quarter did not align with the company’s culture.”
- “(Name) is an inspiring and empathetic leader for their team. They’ve had an incredibly positive impact on morale this quarter.”
- “(Name) takes the initiative to support and encourage new team members.”
- “(Name) has proven their leadership skills by building a high-performing team.”
- “(Name) is skilled in all areas of leadership, particularly strategic thinking and conflict resolution.”
- “(Name)’s leadership yielded good results this quarter, but I’d like to see them improve in the areas of empathy and active listening.”
- “(Name) has demonstrated excellent interpersonal skills, but I’d like to see them improve their organisational skills before advancing to a leadership position.”
- “(Name)’s team made good progress this quarter, but I’d like to see them delegate more.”
- “(Name) works really well in a remote environment. They communicate effectively with their teammates and give helpful updates on what they’re working on.”
- “(Name) does a good job of keeping teammates updated on their progress.”
- “(Name) is an excellent communicator and always participates enthusiastically in meetings.”
- “(Name)’s communication skills and efficiency have helped them thrive in a remote environment.”
- “(Name) works well independently, but I’d like to see them collaborate with their teammates more effectively this quarter.”
- “(Name) needs structure and regular communication in order to have a productive week.”
- “I’d like to see (Name) adjust the balance between synchronous and asynchronous work this quarter.”
1. Leadership IQ, Performance Appraisal: New Data Reveals Why Employees And Managers Dislike Them. 2. Shana Mertens, Eveline Schollaert, and Frederik Anseel, How much feedback do employees need? A field study of absolute feedback frequency reports and performance. 3. Siliang Tong, Nan Jia, Xueming Luo and Zheng Fang. Strategic Management Journal, The Janus Face of Artificial Intelligence Feedback: Deployment Versus Disclosure Effects on Employee Performance. 4. Jackie Gnepp, Joshua Klayman, Ian O. Williamson and Sema Barlas. The future of feedback: Motivating performance improvement through future-focused feedback.