Performance review season can be a difficult time for everyone. For employees, it means proving themselves to HR and upper management, and for HR, it means developing effective and detailed investigative questionnaires. Both sides have a lot riding on their performance. If employees goof their performance reviews, they could miss out on a promotion or, worse, get fired. If HR produces a sloppy measure, the entire company can suffer. So what are some phrases to put in your performance reviews and why?

This is because performance reviews play a vital role in businesses. Reviews highlight where employees need more training, whether workers are performing productively, who is worth promoting, where the company has succeeded over the past few months, and much more. Teasing out all this information requires some carefully worded lines of questioning. Therefore, phrasing is everything. To take some weight off your HR team’s shoulders, we’ve gone ahead and made a short primer of phrases that can boost your company’s performance review process. Check them out here.

Performance Review Phrases

Our Categories

While it’s not possible to generalize a performance review to every single employee in the company (some departments require more specific questions), the categories we have selected are standard to most performance reviews. They cover the broader skills that employees need to work productively in a company.

Keep in mind that, in order to build a truly effective review, you may need to include more than what we have shown here.

Leadership Skills


Work Attitude

Creative Solutions

Time Management

Interpersonal Skills


Self-Review Questions

Peer Review Questions

Looking into the Details

As you may have noticed, there are a few repeated styles of questions or phrases. Many are direct, to-the-point questions about an employee’s performance. Some ask the reviewer to rate the employee on a scale. Others have the reviewer look back on the employee’s past work and connect it to the future. Asking a variety of question types helps to provide a rounder, more detailed image of the employee. These types of questions also help to guide the employee toward their future goals and expectations.


Writing an effective performance review requires a specific tone and a specific set of measures. With so much riding on a well-conducted performance review cycle, it’s crucial to master the art of phrasing the performance review. Sticking to similar phrasing, as shown here, will guarantee that you tease out all the necessary information in a professional way. With the right information, you’ll be able to make the appropriate changes to your company in the coming year. Download the ebook “The Skeptics Guide to Performance Management and get started on improving your performance management process.