Performance management

Staff Performance Review: A Step-By-Step Guide (210 Phrases)

Learn everything about staff performance review with our step-by-step guide. Explore the top 210 phrases for giving effective employee feedback and review.
Staff Performance Review A Step-By-Step Guide

So, it’s time to conduct a staff performance review.

Not sure where to start?

How to prepare for it?

And, what exactly to say while giving feedback?

Don’t worry, this guide is the perfect place to get started.

You’ll learn a step-by-step guide on conducting performance review, along with tips to prepare as a manager. Plus, we will also share 210 example phrases for your inspiration.

Let’s jump right into it!

What Is A Staff Performance Review?

What Is A Staff Performance Review?

A staff performance review is a process where an employee’s job performance is evaluated by their manager or supervisor.

It’s a formal assessment that looks at how well the employee has been doing their job, and identifies areas where they did well and where they need improvement.

Performance reviews go beyond the normal feedback given in day-to-day interactions. They are structured assessments that become part of an employee’s permanent record.

Typically, the review period covers the past year, but it can also be shorter or longer depending on company policy.

Pro-Tip: Performance reviews differ from other types of feedback in their level of formality and consequence. Unlike normal praise or constructive criticism given on the spot, review feedback is carefully considered and tied to important outcomes like pay raises and promotions.

Why Conduct Staff Performance Reviews?

Here are some top reasons why conducting staff performance reviews is so important:

1. Alignment:

Reviews ensure that individual employees are working towards the overall goals of the organization.

2. Development:

Reviews identify areas where employees need training or mentoring to advance in their careers. This benefits the company by building a more skilled workforce.

3. Rewards:

Reviews are often directly tied to decisions about pay raises, bonuses, and promotions. Linking rewards to performance incentivizes employees to do their best work.

4. Retention:

Employees who feel their performance is fairly recognized and rewarded are more likely to stay with a company.

5. Consistency:

Regular reviews set a rhythm for feedback throughout the year. This consistency is key to maintaining high performance over time.

How Often To Conduct Staff Performance Reviews?

Most companies do performance reviews every year. But some do them more often.


An annual review gives a big-picture look at the employee’s work. It’s a good time to make major decisions about raises and promotions. But problems might not get caught quickly.

Every 6 Months:

Doing reviews twice a year takes more time, but it keeps performance top of mind. It’s especially good for new hires or struggling employees who need more help.

Every 3 Months:

Quarterly reviews work well for fast-paced jobs where goals change often. The regular check-ins take some pressure off. But managers have to be careful not to let reviews take over their schedule.

Monthly or Weekly:

Quick, casual chats can fill in the gaps between formal reviews. These ‘check-ins’ build good manager-employee relationships and solve small issues fast. But they shouldn’t replace official reviews.

The best choice is a schedule that fits the pace of the business. Quality matters more than quantity regarding staff performance reviews.

Growing companies might need more reviews, while stable teams can do well with just one per year.

How To Conduct An Effective Staff Performance Review?

How To Conduct An Effective Staff Performance Review

Here’s a step-by-step guide on conducting an effective staff performance review:

Step 1: Set Clear Goals

Before you can measure performance, you need to define what success looks like.

Start by setting clear, measurable goals for each team member. These should be tied to the bigger goals of your department and the company.

Make sure every employee understands their goals and how they’ll be evaluated. Get their input too—people are more invested in goals they helped create.

Step 2: Choose Your Review Method

There are a few different ways to structure performance reviews. Here are some of the most common:

  • Self-assessment – Employees rate their own performance and reflect on their strengths and areas for improvement. This is a great way to encourage self-awareness and personal growth.
  • Manager assessment – The manager evaluates employee performance based on goals and job duties. This provides an outside perspective and helps identify blind spots.
  • 360-degree feedback – Input is gathered from the employee’s manager, peers, and direct reports (if applicable). This gives a well-rounded view of performance but can be time-consuming.
  • Ratings scale – Performance is scored on a numbered scale (e.g., 1-5) in key areas. This makes it easy to compare performance over time but doesn’t provide much detail.

Most effective review systems use a mix of these methods.

For example, you might have employees do a self-assessment, then discuss it with their manager who adds their own evaluation.

Step 3: Gather Details

To give a fair and accurate review, you need to gather data from a variety of sources. This might include:

  • The employee’s self-assessment
  • Your own observations and notes from throughout the review period
  • Feedback from coworkers or customers
  • Metrics like sales numbers, project completion rates, or customer satisfaction scores

Consider the whole picture, not just recent events. If you’re asking for feedback from others, give them enough context to provide helpful input.

Step 4: Write the Review

Now it’s time to put your findings into a formal written review.

Start with an overview of the employee’s overall performance, highlighting key strengths and accomplishments.

Then, go into more detail on each of their goals or job duties. Discuss what they did well and where they could improve.

Be specific and give examples to back up your points.

Use clear, objective language. Focus on behaviors and results, not personality traits.

End with some concrete next steps, like new goals, training recommendations, or areas to focus on in the coming months.

Step 5: Deliver the Review

The performance review meeting is your chance to have an honest, productive conversation about the employee’s work.

Create a comfortable environment and give them your full attention. Share the highlights of the written review and give them a chance to respond and ask questions.

Listen more than you talk. Ask open-ended questions to get their insights and ideas.

Work together to set new goals and create a plan for meeting them. Offer your support and be clear about your expectations.

After the meeting, have the employee sign the review and give them a copy. Make sure to follow up on any action items to show that the process was meaningful.

Step 6: Standardize The Whole Process

To make your performance review system as fair and effective as possible, it’s important to standardize the process.

  • Create clear guidelines and templates for each step, from goal-setting to written reviews. This ensures that everyone is evaluated consistently and helps avoid bias.
  • Train your team members who would be conducting reviews and give constructive feedback. Provide resources and support to help them improve their skills.

Most importantly, make performance reviews an ongoing process, not just a once-a-year event. Encourage regular check-ins and feedback sessions to keep everyone on track.

Top 7 Tips To Prepare For Staff Performance Review As A Manager

Here are some of the effective tips to prepare for staff performance review as a manager:

1. Schedule In Advance

Book performance review meetings at least 2 weeks ahead of time. This gives you and your employee time to prepare. Send a calendar invite with an agenda so you’re both on the same page.

2. Review Their Goals

Pull up the goals you set with the employee in their last review. How did they do? Make notes on their progress and any obstacles they faced. This will guide your discussion.

3. Gather feedback

Don’t just rely on your own observations. Ask for input from coworkers, other managers, and even clients. Send a quick email or use a survey tool to get well-rounded feedback.

4. Make a list of key points

Jot down the most important things you want to cover – both strengths and areas for improvement. Having a clear outline will help you stay focused during the meeting.

5. Prepare Your Questions

Performance reviews should be a two-way conversation. Plan open-ended questions to get the employee’s insights.

For example, “What are you most proud of this quarter?” or “Where do you feel you need more support?”

6. Brush Up On Your Feedback Skills

Giving feedback is an art. Take a few minutes to read up on best practices. Remember to be specific, focus on behaviors (not personality), and balance positive and constructive comments.

7. Get In The Right Mindset

Put yourself in a growth-oriented frame of mind. Your role is to be a coach. Think about how you can help your employees reach their full potential.

With a little preparation, you’ll be ready to lead a productive, meaningful performance review.

Performance Review Example Phrases

1. Accountability

Accountability is essential for your team’s performance. It means taking ownership of actions, decisions, and results.

When employees are accountable, they follow through on commitments. They take responsibility whether things go well or not.

Takes full ownership of their projects and resultsCould take more initiative in driving projects forward
Proactively communicates status and any challengesMore frequent updates would help keep everyone aligned
Readily admits mistakes and works to fix themCould approach setbacks with a more solutions-oriented mindset
Consistently meets deadlines and quality targetsHas room to improve on-time delivery of a few key items
Holds themselves accountable without promptingCould benefit from setting own checkpoints to stay on track
Follows through on all commitments big and smallA bit more follow-up on action items would strengthen trust
Role models accountability and inspires othersCould share lessons learned to help team grow in this area

2. Attendance And Punctuality

Employees need to show up regularly, ready to work, for your business to run smoothly.

Being on time and present is a core job responsibility. Frequent absences or lateness quickly cause various problems.

Maintains excellent attendance and is always on timeA few too many last-minute PTO requests recently
Has perfect attendance record for the quarterOccasionally a few minutes late in the morning
Arrives early, ready to tackle the daySome long lunches have been extending past allotted time
Gives ample heads up for pre-planned days offUnexpected absences put extra burden on the team
There and engaged for all critical meetings and milestonesMissed a key deliverable due to unexcused absence
Maximizes full workday and respects others’ timeTends to wrap up a bit early, especially on Fridays
Dependable team player you can always count onMore predictable attendance would improve reliability

3. Communication Skills

Effective communication is the key component of great teamwork.

Employees need to share information and ideas clearly, both verbally and in writing. They need to listen closely to understand others. And all communication should be professional and respectful.

Communicates key points clearly and conciselyEmails could be more succinct and scannable
Listens attentively to understand others’ viewsOccasional lack of eye contact/engagement when listening
Structures messages logically for easy understandingCould be more upbeat in tone when presenting
Remains calm and professional even in tense situationsEmotions sometimes cloud objectivity in tough convos
Checks for understanding and invites questionsCould pause more often to give people time to absorb info
Speaks up confidently in group settingsMay benefit from some public speaking coaching
Writes clear, error-free, well-organized documentsGrammar and formatting could use a bit more polish

4. Aptitude

Aptitude reflects an employee’s ability to learn, understand, and apply concepts.

You want to hire and develop people with high aptitude to perform well in their roles. This includes capabilities like problem-solving, strategic thinking, and creativity.

Quickly grasps and applies new informationCould ask more clarifying questions when learning
Consistently demonstrates deep subject matter expertiseSome industry trends and best practices to brush up on
Analyzes situations from multiple angles thoroughlyMay over-analyze at times when decisiveness is needed
Draws insightful connections others often missCould connect ideas a bit more linearly for others to follow
Creatively problem-solves even the toughest challengesMay benefit from systems thinking framework when issues are complex
Skillfully breaks down concepts and teaches othersCould confirm understanding more overtly with newer team members
Has innate knack for the most critical parts of their roleSome secondary skills that could be developed for more flexibility

5. Flexibility

You need team members who adjust quickly to new priorities. Who wear multiple hats to help when and how they’re needed. And who maintain enthusiasm and productivity through change.

Adapts seamlessly to changing project needsCould embrace new approaches a bit more readily
Always ready to help outside their core roleMay want to better balance reactive vs. proactive work
Maintains great attitude and energy despite surprisesA little more notice on direction shifts would help motivation
Prioritizes fluidly to ensure key deliverables are metSometimes over-indexing on original plan vs. new realities
Learns new skills and processes enthusiasticallyChange management strategies could ease transition pains
Offers creative ideas to streamline team’s effortsMay benefit from bouncing ideas off others more frequently
Proactively shares knowledge to increase team agilitySome key institutional knowledge to be better documented

6. Dependability

You need employees who do what they say they’ll do. Who follow through and keep their word, even when it’s hard. Dependable team members earn trust and deliver great performance.

Consistently delivers on all commitmentsStruggles to say no and then sometimes falls short
Always there when you need them, ready to helpOccasional surprises when deliverables aren’t ready on time
Takes full responsibility for follow-throughRelies too heavily on reminders to complete tasks
Proactively communicates if a deadline is at riskOften a bit behind where they should be per project plan
Makes realistic commitments they can be counted on forCould double-check feasibility before agreeing to requests
Reliably picks up the slack when others are strugglingSeems overloaded with work, may need to better prioritize
Steadfast work ethic and dedication every single dayWork-life balance may be strained, risking burnout

7. Leadership

Developing leadership skills is vital for career growth and business success. Leaders inspire others and drive great results. They have emotional intelligence and strong people skills. And they align their teams around strategic goals.

Skilled at rallying team around shared visionCould more clearly connect tactics to big picture strategy
Adept at coaching and developing junior team membersMay let a bit too much autonomy too soon for new hires
Leads by example with work ethic and positivityWalking the talk on work-life balance would boost credibility
Makes tough decisions confidently and objectivelyDecisiveness when stakes are high has room for growth
Adapts leadership style to motivation of each employeeCould check in more frequently with direct reports
Proactively tackles conflict and has courageous convosMay benefit from more curiosity before problem-solving
Thinks strategically to position team for the futureRegular strategy sessions with team would ensure alignment

8. Compliance

Compliance with company policies and the law is non-negotiable.

Employees must follow all rules and guidelines. Especially around critical areas like safety, ethics, and inclusivity. Compliance violations put your organization at serious risk.

Always adheres to company policiesCould use a refresher on recent compliance updates
Completes all mandatory trainings on timeTest scores show a room to strengthen compliance knowledge
Makes ethical decisions, even under pressureMore proactivity and better judgment needed with client gifts policy
Follows safety protocols regularlyOccasional reminders needed for proper PPE usage
Speaks up if they see potential compliance issuesCould be more direct in raising concerns vs. hinting
Committed to fostering an inclusive environmentMicroaggressions underline need for deeper DEI work
Properly handles confidential data and informationAttention to detail on document retention could be enhanced

9. Achievements

Talking about achievements is energizing and informative for employees. It shows them their hard work matters. Use staff performance review as a way to celebrate their progress.

Delivered X project Y weeks ahead of scheduleEfficiency came at the expense of peer input and buy-in
Exceeded sales quota by X%, making the President’s ClubDiscounting put a slight dent in overall profitability
Drove a X percentage point gain in customer satisfaction scoresKeeping the momentum going next quarter will be key
Had X articles published in prestigious industry journalsCould collaborate more with PR to amplify the reach
Launched X new product features with glowing customer feedbackMore beta testing would have caught a couple small bugs
Negotiated a new vendor contract with $X in cost savingsBrought procurement in a little late for optimal terms
Mentored X interns resulting in X conversion to full-timeProviding more structured onboarding would set interns up for success

10. Teamwork

Teamwork essentially means collaboration and cooperation—supporting each other’s values.

Through various team-building activities you can develop teamwork with your employees. But overall, teamwork starts with trust.

One of the best ways you can ensure effective teamwork is by sharing communication and workstyle preferences.

Always eager to collaborate and ideate with colleaguesCould improve balance between socializing and executing
Openly shares information and resources across the organizationMay sometimes overshare sensitive info before it’s finalized
Reliably pitches in when a teammate needs helpProtecting own bandwidth is important to avoid overextension
Asks great questions to draw out others’ inputCould share own opinion more readily and directly
Communicates clearly and effectively with all stakeholdersAdapting to different communication styles takes concerted effort
Resolves conflicts quickly with grace and maturitySeparating emotions from issues is an ongoing growth area
Well-liked and respected by teammatesMay hesitate to voice concerns with popular ideas

11. Work Quality

Work quality is the foundation of an employee’s performance. It reflects their attention to detail, skill level, and pride in their work.

High-quality work is error-free, thorough, and meets all goals. It exceeds customer expectations.

Consistently delivers exceptional, error-free workProofreading could catch a few more typos/mistakes
Takes great pride in the quality of their deliverablesRush jobs sometimes cause standard procedures to be skipped
Has an impeccable eye for detailMay get caught up in the weeds and lose sight of big picture
Constantly finds ways to improve outcomesNeeds to confirm changes align with quality standards
Always meets or exceeds customer expectationsMore proactive status updates would ease customer concerns
Follows quality control processes to a teeCatching issues earlier could reduce time spent fixing them later
Work is a shining example for others on the teamSharing best practices more widely would uplift everyone

12. Development

Continuously developing your people is key to retaining them.

Employees value opportunities to learn and grow. They want to build their skills and progress in their careers.

When they feel stagnant, they start looking elsewhere. That’s why employee development is such an important area to focus on.

Proactively seeks out development opportunitiesCould better align development goals with business needs
Embraces stretch assignments enthusiasticallyMay be taking on too much and needs help prioritizing
Applies new learnings quickly and effectivelyNeeds a plan to sustain skills once training is complete
Demonstrates strong self-awareness of strengths and gapsReceiving feedback is still a growth area
On an accelerated path for promotionNext level will require deeper cross-functional knowledge
Seen as a go-to mentor for othersCould provide more specific guidance vs. general advice
Always looking for ways to expand knowledge and skillsMay benefit from narrowing focus to avoid getting overwhelmed

13. Training

Effective training is crucial to employee performance.

Both on-the-job training and formal programs. It gets new hires up to speed faster. And keeps experienced staff sharp. Without training, costly mistakes and inefficiencies emerge.

Actively participates in all required trainingScored below passing on latest compliance quiz
Picks up new concepts and processes quicklyCould ask more clarifying questions during training
Helps design and deliver stellar training sessionsMay be overestimating how much context audience has
Applies training on the job consistentlyStruggles to adapt methods to unique situations faced
Dedicated to continuous learning and upskillingNeeds to be more selective and focused with training choices
Viewed as the go-to person for X skill or knowledgeCould be more proactive in sharing expertise with others
Training has significantly improved quality of workStill room to improve efficiency of applying new skills

14. Problem-Solving

Problem-solving skills are essential in every role. Your employees tackle challenges big and small daily.

Finding effective solutions is the key to delivering results. Efficiently too, without wasting time and resources.

Quickly gets to the root cause of complex issuesCould engage others earlier before solution is fully baked
Always looks at problems from multiple anglesMay get analysis paralysis and needs to drive to action faster
Comes up with creative solutions that delight customersSolutions could better address potential privacy concerns
Stays focused on solving the right problem effectivelySometimes lets perfect be the enemy of good enough
Anticipates and prevents problems before they happenBackup plans need more detail to be worked upon
Bounces back quickly from roadblocks and pivots gracefullyStrength through prolonged challenges can decline
Serves as a role model of great problem-solving for othersCould be more transparent about problem-solving approach

15. Creativity

Creative employees find unique ways to handle any problem. They come up with fresh ideas to improve products and processes. That’s why it’s important to encourage creativity in your organization.

Consistently generates great creative ideasNeeds to let others weigh in before getting too attached
Approaches every challenge with fresh eyesMay go for novelty over feasibility at times
Artfully builds on others’ ideas to make them even betterCould be more vocal and assertive when pitching own ideas
Creativity has led to XYZ resultsSometimes lets great ideas fizzle out without proper follow-up
Inspires and energizes others to be creative in their workKeeping creative energy high can come at the cost of focus
Finds ways to be creative even within constraintsMay self-censor ideas, thinking they’re too crazy
Always looking for ways to improve and innovateCould be more selective and strategic with creative efforts

Using Staff Performance Review Softwares

Staff performance review software is a type of HR software that digitizes and automates the performance review process.

Instead of juggling spreadsheets, word docs, and endless email threads, you can manage everything from one platform.

The big benefit is saving time. With all the information you need at your fingertips, you can complete reviews much faster.

But it’s not just about efficiency. Performance review software also:

  • Keeps everyone aligned by clearly displaying goals and expectations.
  • Makes it easy to give and request feedback in real-time.
  • Ensures consistency with standardized review templates and rating scales.
  • Identifies top performers and skill gaps with detailed reporting and analytics.

Some of the most popular performance review softwares include:

  • Lattice – Lattice is an all-in-one people management platform that excels at performance reviews. It offers customizable templates, automated workflows, and integrations with slack and other tools.
  • 15Five – 15Five is known for its continuous performance management features. Employees check in weekly to share wins, challenges, and feedback. This feeds into light-weight quarterly reviews.
  • BambooHR – BambooHR is a comprehensive HR suite that includes a robust performance management module. It’s a good fit for small to midsize businesses that want an all-in-one solution.
  • PerformYard – PerformYard is a dedicated performance management system that’s all about customization. You can create your own review forms, rating scales, and workflows to fit your unique needs.

Visit our hrtech’s marketplace to check out a wide range of tools and softwares that can help you simplify your HR process. From performance review to talent analytics and development, there is a tool for every need in our marketplace. Explore now!

Performance review softwares are especially helpful when you:

  • Have a growing team and need to scale your processes
  • Want to build a culture of continuous feedback
  • Need detailed insights into employee performance trends
  • Struggle to get reviews done on time
  • Want to reduce bias and ensure consistency

Avoiding Common Staff Performance Review Mistakes

Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid during the staff performance review:

Being Too General With Your Feedback

When you give feedback like “keep up the good work” or “you need to improve your attitude,” it’s too general to be useful. The employee won’t know exactly what they’re doing well or what needs to change.

Always give specific examples and actionable suggestions.

For instance, instead of “your work needs improvement,” try “I’d like to see you double-check your calculations before submitting reports.”

Focusing On Personality Over Performance

It’s important to avoid comments about an employee’s character or personal traits in a performance review.

Stick to discussing work-related behaviors and outcomes.

For example, rather than saying “you’re not a team player,” you could say “I’ve noticed you tend to take on projects individually. Let’s discuss how you could collaborate more with your colleagues.”

Not Listening Enough

Performance review should be a two-way conversation.

Make sure you’re giving the employee plenty of opportunities to share their perspective and ideas.

Ask open-ended questions like “What do you think is going well?” or “Where do you feel you need more support?” And really listen to their responses.

Rushing Through The Conversation

Feedback conversations can be uncomfortable, so it’s tempting to rush through them as quickly as possible. But resist that urge.

Take the time to have a thoughtful, thorough discussion. Book enough time in your calendar, minimize distractions, and give the employee your full attention.

Making Comparisons To Other Employees

Phrases like “you’re not as detail-oriented as your colleague” or “why can’t you be more like your teammate?” aren’t helpful.

They can lead to disappointment and unhealthy competition.

Instead, focus on the individual’s own performance and growth. Measure them against their previous work and their specific goals.

Overemphasizing Recent Events

It’s easy to let an employee’s most recent triumphs or mistakes color your whole perception of their performance. But it’s important to consider their work over the full review period.

Keep notes throughout the quarter or year to remind yourself of key incidents, both positive and negative.

Saving All Feedback For Review Time

Feedback is most effective when it’s given in the moment, not saved up for a formal review. Don’t let small issues slip away or good work go unrecognized.

Make a habit of offering real-time guidance and praise. Even a quick chat or a note of thanks can really mean a lot in the long run.

Not Following Up After the Review

The performance review meeting is just the beginning of the performance management cycle.

The real work comes after, in the follow-up and ongoing coaching. Make sure you’re checking in regularly on the goals and action items you discussed.

Book meetings, send reminder emails, and offer support and resources as needed.


Staff performance review can feel a bit challenging at first. But with the right strategies and tools, you can conduct effective performance reviews effectively.

Just remember to be specific, clear, and balanced in your feedback. Celebrate success and work together on areas for improvement.

Looking for expert guidance? Connect with our top HR experts at hrtech! With years of experience, they can help you select the right tools and strategies to enhance your HR processes. Contact us today to learn more!


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