Let’s face it, when it comes to management, there are few more stressful tasks than the performance appraisal. During an appraisal, the role of a great manager is to navigate the fine line between praising an employee’s success and critiquing/presenting recommendations on their weaker areas of performance. No simple feat, to say the least.

However, there is a tool that allows managers to mitigate the potentially deflating effects of a negative appraisal on employees’ motivation and bolster their confidence by praising the strengths of their work ethic. What is this tool? Three words: Performance Appraisal Phrases.

Performance appraisal phrases – or performance evaluation phrases – are carefully selected phrases that are designed to be succinctly honest, while simultaneously fact-based and reflecting documented incidents. They should be written in a way that is not personality based – i.e. in a way that could be taken personally by an employee – rather, entirely objective. The examples below show the nuanced way these phrases can both present areas for improvement, while not offending an employee.

The next time you find yourself writing an employee evaluation, be sure to consider the objectivity of your language, and always make sure you’re supporting your suggestions on fact. Good luck!

These examples of phrases for performance appraisals are divided into evaluations on three areas: Accountability, Critical Thinking and Attendance.



Sarah is extremely responsible to her team job, as she is very helpful in aiding others in completing tasks assigned to the whole group.


Sarah has, on three separate occasions, blamed internal procedures, policies and others’ performance for her own under-performance. This should be an area for exploration moving forward.

Critical Thinking


John considered pros and cons of [Situation X] very carefully to work out the most suitable solution.


John has a tendency to make decisions without thinking through its potential consequences.



We can rely on Lucy. She has no problems with attendance.


Management has noticed that Lucy takes breaks longer than she is supposed to.

What performance appraisal phrases do you find most successful? Tweet us @Snagajob!