60 Employee Evaluation Comments You Can Use on Performance Reviews

60 Employee Evaluation Comments You Can Use on Performance Reviews
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Many people dread performance evaluation. This goes for both employees and managers alike. It seems like a corporate rite of passage that gets everybody anxious. Worse, it happens regularly. And, some may say, it happens way too often. Also, there is much doubt whether the process is wholly accurate or complete. Moreover, some managers may even find it a burden to make time for it given their busy schedules and things going on in their personal lives. However, when done correctly, evaluations can help not only improve performance but also employee engagement.

In this article, we take a look at the diverging views of employees, managers, and HR leaders on employee evaluations. We explore actionable recommendations for writing comments on performance reviews, plus sample phrases you can use for core aspects of employee performance.

60 Example Employee Evaluation Comments You Can Use

  1. Different Perspectives on Employee Evaluations
  2. Getting Started: How to Write Performance Reviews
  3. Employee Comments on Performance Review: What to Write
  4. Writing Finish to A Performance Review

Different Perspectives on Employee Evaluations

The annual performance review is one of the most commonly used feedback methods in organizations. Yet, according to a survey by Reflektiv (2019), 92% of American professionals prefer receiving feedback more frequently than once a year. In the survey, 72% of the respondents said that they want to be given feedback at least monthly. On the other hand, 49% said that they want feedback from their manager at least weekly. Feedback is very important as they can form the basis of your instructional design using various models such as ADDIE

Preferred Frequency of Feedback by American Workers

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Source: Reflektiv

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Employees and managers do not seem to be on the same page on how frequently performance appraisals should be done. The Growth Divide Study conducted by Wakefield Research shows that 70% of companies still use annual or bi-annual performance review schedules. Moreover, 94% of company executives think that employees are satisfied with their performance review process. 

However, this could not be farther from the truth. The same study shows that 62% of employees say that their process is incomplete, 61% think it is outdated, 22% say that it is too general, and 6% say that it is too infrequent. An overwhelming majority (94%) also said that they want their managers to point out their mistakes and development opportunities in real-time.

Source: The Growth Divide Study

Other issues prevent companies from utilizing performance reviews as an effective feedback tool. One of these is the perceived inaccuracy of annual performance reviews versus semiannual or more frequent reviews (SHRM & Globoforce, 2018). Secondly, executives do not prioritize giving performance reviews. As a result, they often delay or reschedule them. Therefore, the feedback is not timely or relevant anymore. Lastly, biased reviews can lead to employees being bypassed for promotion.

Industry surveys confirm that having an ineffective feedback process impacts employee engagement and retention. Based on research by Reflektiv (2019), 85% of American workers will think of leaving their jobs after an unfair job review. Conversely, 89% of HR professionals said that ongoing peer feedback has a somewhat or very positive impact on the organization. As such, managers should make the most of performance review sessions and give employee evaluation comments effectively.

Getting Started: How to Write Performance Reviews

Knowing where to start can be the hardest part of writing performance evaluation comments. However, there are various frameworks and approaches you can use to lend structure to your feedback. Consider using the techniques below to get the ball rolling on your performance review.

1. Give them a SWOT analysis of their performance.

A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is a planning technique that is commonly used for helping guide an organization’s business strategy (Parsons, 2018). However, this framework can also be used to identify the employee’s training needs (Moore, 2019). Strengths and Weaknesses are internal attributes while Opportunities and Threats are external factors.

Start by writing the positive attributes of the employee, followed by his skills gaps and negative attributes that hinder him from achieving his goals. Next, explore opportunities like training programs that address those skills gaps and other ways for the employee to improve performance. Lastly, think of possible threats that can adversely impact his work (Indeed, 2019).

2. Point out areas for improvement.

Giving employee evaluation comments on areas for improvement helps them build the relevant skills they need to be promoted or get a raise. To make such kind of feedback meaningful, check how they are fulfilling their job requirements and the organization’s goals. Common areas for improvement include time management, experience, engagement, communication, and accepting feedback. 

Aside from these, you can also revisit their performance review from the previous period to see the progress they have made. Take note of any new skills, training, or certifications they have acquired within the review period (Indeed, 2019). Of course, there are many digital tools that make processing data easier. Information processing theory research literature suggests that data handling and processing can improve business performance. So, it is also best to see which digital technology aids would fit your organization. 

3. Help them set SMART goals.

You can help your peer or direct report move forward in their career by suggesting SMART goals. SMART stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This system, which is credited to management guru Peter Drucker, helps people avoid setting goals that are too vague or unrealistic. It also identifies an action plan and the support needed to make someone’s goal possible. (Mind Tools, n.d.).

To make the goal specific, be clear about what the person should accomplish and why he/she should do it. Measurable goals mean there should be a way for the employee to know if he is progressing towards your goals. To be achievable, the person must be able to accomplish it within a certain time. On the other hand, relevance answers whether or not the goal is worth pursuing based on the employee’s long-term goals. Lastly, a time-bound goal means that there is a deadline for when it should be accomplished (Mind Tools, n.d.).

By writing down goals, the employee has a higher chance of achieving them. This is supported by a study from psychologist Dr. Gail Matthews who found that people with written goals accomplished significantly more than people who did not write down their goals.

Source: Matthews (2015)

4. Give constructive feedback.

Focusing too much on positive comments makes employees feel like they have nothing more to improve on. On the other hand, feedback that mostly dwells on negative aspects of one’s performance can make employees feel unappreciated. Constructive feedback is a delicate balance between both. It recognizes the strengths of an employee while also giving them points for improvement (Jones, n.d.).

To give constructive feedback, it helps to focus on facts and outcomes, not the employee’s personal attributes. It should also be given as close as possible to when the event happened. More importantly, it should be delivered in a sincere and straightforward fashion to be effective (Jones, n.d.). And, while you do, put some extra effort into personalizing your feedback by getting to know an employee’s situation. You may want to phrase similar feedback—let us say about tardiness—differently when addressing a typical employee or when giving it to someone working full-time in college. The latter may have different HR needs and other plausible pathways to success.     

Employee Comments on a Performance Review: What to Write

Employees need motivation. Your words matter. Sometimes simple employee motivation quotes or thoughts help. More importantly, performance reviews will help them grow. As such, it is important to consider reviews carefully. If you are at a loss for words, below are some sample phrases to get you started. Whether you are giving positive or negative feedback, you can use these as starting points for a fruitful conversation.


Meets or exceeds expectations:

  • Has strong oral and written communication skills that allow him/her to express ideas clearly and effectively.
  • Clearly communicates job requirements and expected outcomes.
  • Can relay key business decisions effectively.
  • Is skilled at delivering difficult messages to employees, management, and customers.
  • Shows active listening skills and a willingness to understand other people’s points of view.

Below expectations:

  • Needs to improve his/her communication skills to avoid being misinterpreted by others.
  • Needs to work on delivering messages with confidence in order to be a good communicator.
  • Is encouraged to speak up in meetings and offer his/her ideas or suggestions.
  • Can improve active listening skills by paying attention and limiting interruptions when a colleague speaks.
  • Often gives unclear instructions. Avoid misunderstanding by providing examples, giving specific time frames, or clarifying with others if the instructions were well understood.

Collaboration and teamwork

Meets or exceeds expectations:

  • Is happy to help a colleague with a task even if it is outside his job description.
  • Does not hesitate to ask help from others when he needs it.
  • Has good working relations with team members.
  • Promotes cooperation and harmony within the team.
  • Readily shares ideas and techniques with team members.

Below expectations:

  • Readily takes on assignments but has shown unwillingness in helping others who are struggling with their tasks.
  • Does not ask help from others even when needed.
  • Excels at completing individual tasks but can benefit from collaborating with others.
  • Can be a better team player by taking on a team role that maximizes his strengths.
  • Can foster good working relationships with team members by focusing on shared interests.

Decision-Making & Problem-solving

Meets or exceeds expectations:

  • Employs creativity and resourcefulness in finding solutions to business problems.
  • Displays good judgment and makes decisions based on facts.
  • Analyzes problems carefully, explores multiple solutions, and finds the optimal solution to the issue.
  • Maintains an objective stance when assessing a problem or situation.
  • Avoids getting carried away by emotions when making a decision.

Below expectations:

  • Needs to improve on analytical skills to weigh the pros and cons of different solutions and to choose the best one
  • Has difficulty in looking for acceptable solutions.
  • Tends to make rash decisions based on incorrect assumptions.
  • Has shown an unwillingness to address gaps in problem-solving skills by attending training.
  • Struggles with collecting information and seeking expert advice to understand what needs to be done.

Quality and accuracy of work

Meets or exceeds expectations:

  • Always pays attention to details and produces high-quality work.
  • Takes the time to double-check his work to ensure high levels of accuracy.
  • Produces consistent results that internal and external stakeholders can rely on.
  • Passes work deliverables with minimal to zero errors.
  • Understands the importance of turning out quality, accurate work

Below expectations:

  • Has made frequent errors that were detrimental to the business.
  • Produces output that has unacceptable levels of errors.
  • Passes output that often requires rework.
  • Does not allow for enough time to check his work for accuracy.
  • Needs to revisit the key requirements of the job to understand the quality of work expected.

Attendance and dependability

Meets or exceeds expectations:

  • Always arrives at work on time.
  • Has no unscheduled absences, except for emergency situations.
  • Always gives supervisor notification and seeks approval when he cannot go to work.
  • Plans time off from work following company policy.
  • Can be relied on for doing overtime work.

Below expectations:

  • Shows proficiency with his work but can improve performance by being more punctual.
  • Has recorded multiple instances of going to work late.
  • He follows his work schedule but has had documented instances of exceeding break time.
  • Sometimes leaves for work without finishing the day’s deliverables.
  • Frequently leaves work early to attend to personal matters.

Ability to accomplish goals and meet deadlines

Meets or exceeds expectations:

  • Frequently completes deliverables in a timely fashion.
  • Always sees projects through to completion.
  • Has embarked on projects with a tangible impact on the company’s goals.
  • Takes ownership for achieving his own goals and that of his team.
  • Sets clear and achievable goals that are tied to the company’s mission.

Below expectations:

  • Sets goals that are unrealistic or not achievable.
  • Does not take responsibility for unmet goals and deadlines.
  • Shows an unwillingness to be flexible when things are not going as planned.
  • Can be more effective at achieving goals by learning how to delegate to others.
  • Needs improvement in planning work to be able to meet deadlines.

Writing Finish to a Performance Review

Giving performance evaluation comments is no easy task. This is especially so when employees, managers, and HR leaders have conflicting views of how often these assessments should be done. And, this might not be something that you would really learn after graduating fresh with an HR degree. Still, that does not mean that performance reviews are without value and should be scrapped altogether.

Workers participating in the review process can make it less of a painful experience by following a few guidelines. These include giving a holistic view of the employee’s performance using the SWOT framework. Pointing out areas for improvement, recommending SMART goals, and providing constructive feedback also make the conversation more productive. No matter what kind of feedback you are giving, being mindful of one’s language helps to frame the discussion from a results-based and action-oriented approach.



  1. Business Wire (2019, July 22). New Reflektive research indicates unfair performance reviews prompt most employees to consider quitting. Business Wire.
  2. Cision PR (2018, April 4). New study uncovers a major gap in employee and employer expectations for performance management and growth. Cision PR News Wire.
  3. Globe Newswire (2018, October 25). Yoh Survey: Lack of respect, broken promises, and overworking employees are top issues with managers that would make employed Americans consider new jobs. Globe Newswire.
  4. Indeed. (2019, December 12). How to Write an Employee Evaluation (With Examples and Tips). Indeed.
  5. Jones, D. (n.d.). 7 ways to give valuable and constructive feedback to staff. Seek Employer.
  6. Mind Tools (n.d.). SMART goals: How to make your goals achievable. MindTools.
  7. Moore, M. (2019, April 26). How to do an employee performance SWOT. Bizfluent.
  8. Parsons, N. (2018, April 5). What is a SWOT analysis, and how to do it right (with examples). LivePlan.
  9. Reflektiv (2019, July 22). New Reflektive research indicates unfair performance reviews prompt most employees to consider quitting. Reflektiv.
  10. Savara, S. (n.d.). Writing down your goals – The Harvard Written goal study. Fact or fiction? Sid Savara.
  11. SHRM & Globoforce (2018). The 2018 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Report. Dublin, Ireland: Globoforce.
  12. Status (2019). 2000+ performance review phrases: The complete list [performance feedback examples]. Status.net.

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