150+ Helpful Performance Review Phrases for Managers

In this article, we discuss the do’s and don’ts of performance review phrases. Choose your next comment from this list of 150+ review phrases across 17 work areas


min read

Reviews can be overwhelming for those giving it as well as those receiving it. 

As a manager, you need to ensure that the performance review phrases and comments you use create the delicate balance between providing critical feedback covering areas of improvement and ensuring a positive attitude to motivate the employees

To make the entire process effective, we have compiled a list of 150+ performance review phrases and captions that you can use with a list of phrases to avoid and best practices for providing reviews on areas of improvement. 

How to use performance review phrases 

Before we jump onto the review phrase examples that you could use, let’s discuss how you should use them to ensure maximum efficacy.

  • Don’t use generic phrases or buzzwords for all performance reviews
  • Make the reviews personalized for each employee
  • Add context or quantify the review phrases with information and data points relevant to the employee
  • Use performance phrases that are context specific 
  • Leverage performance review phrases to identify key behaviors for each segment of performance appraisal

Read: Top 10 performance review tips for managers that actually work

Which performance review phrases should you avoid 

While the intent of employee review phrases is to provide appropriate feedback to the employees, there are certain practices and comments that you should avoid. Often, using such phrases will dilute the impact of your conversation. To ensure high levels of effectiveness, you should avoid:

1. Being vague

Steer away from using cliched review phrases which don’t have any substance or communicate impact like ‘Mr. A is an excellent communicator’

This is a generic statement. You should rather use phrases that add value to the statement like ‘Mr. A doesn’t shy away from asking questions in case he has doubts about the conversation.’

2. Comparing two colleagues

You need to ensure that your performance review phrases do not hint on any level of comparison between two employees.

Avoid statements like, ‘Ms. P was able to close 10 deals in 6 months, however, you closed only 6.’

3. Being absolute

On whichever side of the spectrum your performance review falls, ensure that your phrases are not absolute. Put simply, you should stay away from comments that include the terms Always/Never. Even if you want to show incidence of more than one time, use terms like seldom/frequently. 

For instance, avoid phrases like, ‘Mr. Q never speaks up during meetings.’

4. Humiliating or downgrading the employees

The intent of using performance review phrases is to ensure that you are able to communicate your feedback in the most meaningful manner

Using statements that humiliate or look down upon the employees defeats the purpose. Ensure that your statements have a constructive tone to them.

It is best to negate statements like, ‘Ms. L is the worst person on the team, she can never get anything right.’

5. Being uncertain

Finally, be very firm and sure of the performance review phrases you use. 

Terms like maybe, I am not sure, etc. will downplay the impact because the employee will get a sense of your uncertainty and may not take the feedback very seriously

Avoid using phrases like ‘I think Mr. G has been outperforming his targets for the last 3 months.’

How to provide reviews on areas of improvements

Not all instances where you will use performance review phrases will be completely positive in nature. Rather, there will be multiple instances when you will have to talk about the areas of improvement for your employees if you really want to see them grow. However, delivering reviews on the latter can be overwhelming. Fortunately, the following tips can help you be well prepared for it.

1. Be specific

Don’t throw random generic statements when you want to speak of areas of improvement. It may seem a good way to avoid confrontation, but you will end up not yielding any impact. 

For instance, instead of saying, ‘You did not perform well’, use statements like ‘Your performance in the last project was not upto the mark due to several missed deadlines’

2. Be regular

Next, if you are providing review or feedback for areas of improvement, try to make it as soon as possible, once you identify the challenge. The sooner you share the review, the more relevant it will be. 

For instance, saying, ‘Mr. X did not meet sales targets in the first quarter’ when you are sitting in the last quarter will not yield much impact. 

3. Try to not get personal

Finally, ensure that the performance review phrases you use do not come across as a personal attack on your employees. They should focus on the behavior or attribute you wish to talk about and not the person specifically. 

For instance, instead of commentating ‘You are not serious about your work’ use statements like ‘Your performance in the last quarter indicates a lack of taking ownership’

150+ useful performance review phrases 

Let’s quickly walk through the top 150+ performance review phrases that you can use for performance management and feedback for your employees. We have categorized them under specific performance aspects to make them easier to comprehend. 

1) Quality Of Work Performance Review Phrases

You can use these phrases to describe your assessment of whether or not the quality of work has been as per company standards. 

Generally, quality of work is intrinsically linked to high levels of motivation, commitment and productivity

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Has an exceptional attention to detail
  2. Consistently follows up and prevents work from falling through cracks
  3. Work is well researched and articulated
  4. Double checks the work before submitting
  5. Maintains a proper plan to ensure nothing is missed

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. More focus is needed to ensure greater accuracy
  2. Has been inconsistent in the quality of work delivered
  3. Needs to put more effort into producing reports that are error free
  4. Doesn’t follow an established process of completion and checking of work

2) Job Knowledge Performance Review Phrases

Every role or job comes with a set of expectations and responsibilities. If an employee is foggy on this understanding, chances are high that he or she will be unable to deliver as per expectations.

Clear job knowledge will help employees set clear expectations of themselves and ensure effective performance  

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Has been able to translate strategy into results
  2. Is able to address organizational challenges with technical knowledge
  3. Was able to yield 10% higher sales by leveraging new techniques
  4. Keen to upskill in the domain of operation
  5. Understands the changing job requirements and is willing to adapt

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Is not able to meet changing market expectations
  2. Has not been willing to take on opportunities to learn new skills required
  3. Unable to provide technical solutions to the problems at hand
  4. Is unsure of the skills required for the job

3) Attention To Detail Performance Review Phrases

Attention to detail is a subset of quality of work and is critical for most roles.

Employees that have high levels of attention to detail are often more proactive and deliver error free work

On the other hand, a lack of the same leads to a high number of inaccuracies.

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Displays high levels of patience
  2. Is highly organized and ensures clarification at every stage
  3. Produces work that requires minimal iterations
  4. Maintains a checklist to ensure everything is delivered on time
  5. Undertakes multiple rounds of proofreading before delivery

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Delivers unreliable or incomplete output frequently
  2. Tries to focus on multiple projects at once
  3. Tends to overlook requirements in an attempt to complete work on time
  4. Doesn’t spend adequate time on details

4) Dependability Performance Review Phrases

As a performance component, dependability refers to the degree to which you can rely upon your employees to deliver quality work consistently and put in extra effort if the need arises 

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Displays high level of performance every day
  2. Has shown time and again that he/she can be counted on during uncertain times
  3. Doesn’t shy away from commitment to handle multiple projects
  4. Doesn’t complain if the need arises to put in extra hours at times
  5. Ensures high quality of work consistently

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Is seen struggling with keeping up with deadlines
  2. Rarely delivers what is agreed upon
  3. Tends to shift ownership to others 
  4. Takes leave of absence without prior intimation regularly

5) Initiative Performance Review Phrases

Initiative is an attribute that is exhibited by only a few employees who take ownership of getting things done without being asked to. 

Initiative is generally found among employees that feel a sense of affinity towards the vision and values of the organization and seek to make an impact

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Proactively sets goals and OKRs for oneself
  2. Participates in activities that goes beyond KRA
  3. Often tries to engage in areas to deliver more value
  4. Constantly takes ownership of new projects and assignments
  5. Is willing to go out of the way to help others

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Requires constant reminders and supervision
  2. Resists taking on new responsibilities and participating in activities
  3. Unwilling to set goals and add value to projects
  4. Barely completes the work allotted to him/her

Read: How often should you conduct performance reviews

6) Teamwork and Collaboration Performance Review Phrases 

When you are working in an organization, you seldom work in silos. You often have to collaborate, co-create and collectively work with your team members towards a shared goal. An employee can be a great individual contributor but may not excel in teamwork. However, high levels of teamwork and collaboration lead to greater engagement, commitment and a positive culture. 

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Was active in seeking inputs from all team members during the last project
  2. Has shown proficiency in delegating tasks and following up
  3. Has been actively participating in all brainstorming sessions
  4. Facilitates unity in the team by promoting open communication 
  5. Has built a rapport with everyone in the team

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Has a poor record of showing up for team meetings
  2. Does not willingly share ideas or feedback with others in the team
  3. Rarely encourages colleagues and is less than willing to seek feedback
  4. Is unable to delegate work in an effective manner

7) Productivity Performance Review Phrases

Productivity refers to the output an employee is able to deliver, both in terms of quality and quantity. Employees that show high levels of productivity are an asset to the organization. Providing regular performance feedback on productivity can enhance the same by making employees aware about the gaps. 

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Constantly delivers on or before time
  2. Has been instrumental in meeting targets in the last quarter
  3. Ensures minimal distractions to deliver volumes of high quality work
  4. Focuses on using tools and techniques to work in a smart way
  5. Achieved sales target 5 days ahead of time for the last month

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Has been asking for extensions on deadlines
  2. Unable to focus attention on work for a long time, leading to below average delivery
  3. Lacks organizational skills leading to little progress in productivity
  4. Has shown reluctance to work on new projects

8) Attendance Performance Review Phrases

While it is true that employees must be given adequate time off, taking leave of absence very frequently and without prior notice can impact an organization in more than one way.

Attendance is not limited to showing up at work, but also permeates to meetings, sessions and learning initiatives. It is an overt display of commitment and engagement and low levels can be an indication of potential attrition

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Consistently shows up for meetings on time
  2. Doesn’t take unnecessary breaks during work hours
  3. Informs about time off well in advance
  4. Ensures things are managed well with Out Of Office (OOO) automatic emails when not available
  5. Doesn’t make others wait for a pre-scheduled meeting

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Shows up late or is a no show during workshops
  2. Does not take initiative to respond to meeting invites
  3. Spends excessive time on non-productive things during work hours
  4. Extends meetings unnecessarily

9) Communication Performance Review Phrases

Poor communication among employees can lead to misunderstanding, high stress, poor company morale and much more. On the flip side, streamlined communication results in greater engagement and a better experience. Constant feedback on communication can help prevent instances of miscommunication and clarity at all levels.

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Is able to communicate his/her ideas in a concise yet informative manner
  2. Consistently asks questions in case there is any confusion
  3. Ensures the every point he/she makes is relevant and well articulated
  4. Doesn’t shy away from starting a conversation, especially on a difficult topic
  5. Is not afraid of saying “let me get back to you”, when he/she is not sure of the answer

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Has been observed using language that is not welcome by others
  2. Is unwilling to listen to others/ take feedback
  3. Avoids meaningful conversations
  4. Is often verbose and written communication is not clear

10) Integrity Performance Review Phrases

Employees with high levels of integrity often align with strong moral values and believe in ethical business practices. 

Guiding integrity through performance review statements can help build an attractive and reputable employer brand for the organization

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Ensures that commitment is adhered to
  2. Makes an effort to do what is right
  3. Does not take the easy way out
  4. Maintains a high level of discipline, confidentiality and ethics at work
  5. Follows business principles diligently

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Indulges in office gossip
  2. Doesn’t give in 100% if left unsupervised
  3. Tries to pin blame on others and makes comments in the process
  4. Is found breaking rules on more than one occasion 

11) Leadership Performance Review Phrases

Leadership as a quality is integral for your employees if you seek to build a healthy succession pipeline

Reviews on leadership capabilities can help budding leaders build the right skills, competencies and attitudes to take up new roles and positions without any challenge. 

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Successfully led the last team project and recorded 15% increase in sales
  2. Provides meaningful feedback to peers and colleagues with clear actions
  3. Deals with people with empathy and compassion
  4. Encourages team members to unlock full potential
  5. Helps others when they are stuck in work 

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Rarely shows appreciation or acknowledges others
  2. Doesn’t set a positive and authentic example for others
  3. Creates a culture of shifting accountability and fear
  4. Lacks the willingness and skills to delegate work

Read: Top 7 tips to improve leadership effectiveness 

12) Problem Solving Performance Review Phrases

Problem solving is one of the most critical skills for the 21st century. Employees no longer have to just undertake repetitive tasks, but have to indulge in critical thinking to address real world challenges. 

Creating a culture of problem solving can help you ensure resilience and business continuity even during uncertainty and ambiguity

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Proactively suggests new and innovative solutions to problems
  2. Always comes with a few solutions to the management when a challenge arises
  3. Views problems as opportunities 
  4. Helped address a customer complaint leading to 10% increase in customer stickiness
  5. Is good at preempting and evaluating challenges

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Rarely comes up with ideas or suggestions during brainstorming sessions
  2. Sticks to the processes and practices and shies away from experimentation
  3. Fails to comprehensively understand the problem
  4. Is hesitant to change the conventional flow of processes and work

13) Adaptability Performance Review Phrases

Surrounded by uncertain market conditions, employees need to display high levels of adaptability. Be it picking up new skills, or pivoting priorities as the need arises, adaptability is highly critical today. Consistent feedback on adaptability can help employees gauge the importance of this quality and focus on developing the same. 

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Is willing to adjust priorities, deadlines based on changed realities
  2. Thinks on the feet and quickly responds to a new challenge
  3. Believes change can lead to better outcomes
  4. Upskilled himself/herself in 3 months to deliver the last project successfully
  5. Makes conscious effort to remain agile

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Is reluctant to move out of the comfort zone
  2. Feels overwhelmed when asked to adjust priorities and take on new work
  3. Unable to maintain calm and composure when uncertainty strikes
  4. Rarely attends sessions on change management

14) Flexibility Performance Review Phrases

Close to adaptability lies the quality of flexibility to describe employees who are not rigid and set in their own ways. They are open to new ideas and are willing to accommodate in case the need arises.

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Has a positive attitude when there is a need to accommodate or change
  2. Shows proactiveness in case of urgent changes 
  3. Is willing to embrace change
  4. Adjusts well with new responsibilities and duties
  5. Is willing to adjust when others request

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Doesn’t move away from what he/she believes is right
  2. Is not willing to view things from others’ point of view
  3. Rarely helps others if there will be no impact on him/her
  4. Unwilling to work according to schedules of others

15) Adherence To Policy Performance Review Phrases

While it is important to innovate and think out of the box, a certain level of adherence and compliance to policies and practices is integral for a thriving culture. For instance, certain HR policies, POSH policy, etc. need to be adhered to, to ensure the maintenance of a professional decorum and create a safe workspace for everyone. 

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Respects and follows all policies set by the company
  2. Ensures that any instance of poor compliance is reported immediately
  3. Is vocal about commitment to policies
  4. Has deep knowledge about the content and intent of each policy
  5. Makes an effort to engage in different committees, initiatives to further the policy impact

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Is unaware about the policies that exist in the organization
  2. Doesn’t make an effort to attend workshops/sessions organized on key policies
  3. Doesn’t actively make an effort to adhere to policies
  4. Dismisses colleagues when they quote policies to him/her

16) Achievements Performance Review Phrases

Though not exactly a performance parameter, it is very important to get in line performance review phrases that talk about achievements of the employees. While positive phrases can reinforce the achievements, areas of improvement can help reach the desired levels. 

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Ended the last quarter with 20% more sales than the previous one
  2. Saved $1 Million for the company by leveraging automation tools
  3. Outperformed other teams by exceeding the target by 15%
  4. Increased customer stickiness by 15% by reducing complaint resolution time to 24 hours
  5. Increased organic traffic on the website by 35% leveraging the right SEO techniques

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Missed meeting the target for last month by 5%
  2. Unable to meet deadlines because of lack of organization
  3. Finds it difficult to deliver error free work consistently
  4. Needs to focus on better social media engagement to increase organic traffic

17) Professionalism Performance Review Phrases

Despite the rise of a casual work culture, especially with the advent of remote work, there is a need to maintain a level of professionalism to ensure the right culture. Performance review phrases on professionalism can help employees understand what is desirable and how it ultimately impacts productivity, performance, retention and engagement at large.

Phrases to indicate performance is acceptable or exceeds expectation

  1. Has high levels of integrity and work ethic
  2. Ensure communication in a professional way without using abbreviations, emojis, etc.
  3. Doesn’t get worked up and shows it to others even under pressure
  4. Dresses according to the need of the workplace
  5. Converses in a polite yet convincing manner

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Has a hard time keeping personal life away from work
  2. Sometimes talks to colleagues in a manner that is considered offensive
  3. Doesn’t maintain workplace hygiene
  4. Is often dressed in casual clothes which don’t gel well with the nature of the setting

Suggested Reading

Performance review tips for managers

When and how frequently to conduct performance review

Sudeshna Roy

Marketing, SuperBeings

Hi There! I am Sudeshna. At SuperBeings, I lead our content strategy to bring you the best and latest on everything related to people management

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Agile and OKRs: What You Need to Know to Thrive in a VUCA World

It is no longer an assumption that the traditional approach to annual goal setting and review has run its course. The VUCA world demands more quick and adaptable business models.

While the agile values and methodology was initially created for software delivery, you can apply the same to transform how you set and achieve your business goals. 

In this article, we will focus on:

  • Relevance of agile and OKRs in the VUCA world
  • Importance of leveraging agile techniques for OKRs
  • Best agile and OKR framework for growing organizations

Why you need to reimagine goal setting in the VUCA world

Traditionally, goal setting has been a very static and long-term process for organizations. Here are a few key components of traditional goal setting and performance management:

  • Annual or multi-year goals with little or no interventions at regular intervals to realign on changing priorities
  • Top-down approach — goals being set by those at the top with minimal inputs from those working on the ground
  • Only annual feedback cycles and the inability to identify or address challenges in real time
  • Lack of flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances or situations, which are uncertain and ambiguous

This form of goal setting and performance management had relevance for organizations operating in steady and stable market conditions. 

However, in today’s VUCA world, the pace of change is skyrocketing and organizations unable to tide with the same are finding it extremely difficult to survive, let alone thrive. 

Some of the reasons to reimagine goal setting for VUCA world include:

  • Increased globalization requires businesses to be agile and adapt to changes at all times
  • Focus on creating short term goals and action plans
  • Need to relook at business priorities due to changing market conditions and customer expectations 
  • Need to incorporate constant feedback from diverse stakeholders
  • Need to focus on collaborative goal setting over top down command

Relevance of agile and OKRs for growing organizations

While it may not be apparent in the first look, agile and OKRs are quite complementary and combining the two can be a great step for growing organizations. Here’s why —

  • OKRs can help you understand the end goal and envision what success will look like. 
  • On the other hand, the agile methodology can enable you to create the right roadmap with frequent experimentation to reach the OKRs successfully. 

Here are a few reasons why you should combine agile and OKRs for your organization:

  • Set shorter goals for each quarter with the flexibility to look at the results in real time
  • Agile iterations based on learning which can be communicated across teams 
  • Shorter feedback cycles which prevent investment losses that might occur if the whole project/ goal has to be reworked
  • Continuous improvement with frequent retrospectives which can enable you to reflect on what is working well
  • Focus on collaborative goal setting and performance management with team autonomy
  • Agile approach to progress tracking

How to use agile techniques for OKRs

Now that it is clear why working agile and OKRs together makes sense for growing organizations, let’s quickly explore the top ways in which you can apply agile techniques to your OKR framework to make goal setting and performance management suitable for the VUCA world. 

Agile Value 1: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

  • Ensure collaborative OKR setting, assigning OKR champions and the right team members to execute the same
  • Facilitate clear understanding and communication of the intention and expectation behind each OKR and the responsibility for every team member

Agile Value 2: Working software over comprehensive documentation

  • Focus on clear outcomes and key results instead of comprehensive literature on why something is important
  • Facilitate shorter feedback cycles to gauge challenges early on and ensure feasibility of the OKRs
  • Reduce administrative overheads and complex processes related to OKR setting and progress tracking by using a simple, integrated OKR tool

Agile Value 3: Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

  • Ensure continuous development by taking real time feedback from internal customers i.e. stakeholders in the leadership

Agile Value 4: Responding to change over following a plan

  • Facilitate dynamic planning over a static plan with quarterly OKRs
  • Ensure adaptability to change, uncertainty and ambiguity
  • Promote short cadence to gauge achievability and relevance of key results early on

Best agile and OKR framework

In this last section of agile and OKR for better goal setting and performance management, we will uncover the top framework. 

We have combined the best components of different frameworks like waterfall goals, delivery agile, scaling, full stack agile, into a single framework with 5 major components that can help you enhance the complementary potential of agile and OKR 

This approach can help you leverage the benefits of agile methodologies and OKR framework to impact all aspects of organizational structure for achievement of goals, including the culture, strategy, initiatives, tactics, etc. The framework is premised on:

1. Create value based OKRs

  • Focus on creating value based OKRs instead of activity based
  • Activity based OKRs are effective for specific projects, but for organizational goals, the focus should be on value
  • Instead of focusing only on the outcomes, have a clear understanding about how each of the outcomes can create value for the organization
  • The activities for each OKR should be a part of the agile roadmap and not the end destination

If you are struggling with combining agile and OKRs for your organizations, chances are you are focusing on activity based key results which often resemble agile steps, leading to confusion and inability to meet goals. 

2. Facilitate horizontal alignment for shared OKRs

  • Encourage collaborative OKR setting with realistic timelines and short intervals
  • Make OKRs team/ department specific and acknowledge avenues for collaboration and alignment between teams on shared OKRs
  • Acknowledge OKR dependencies between teams and facilitate transparency and horizontal alignment
  • Avoid splitting OKRs for a shared goal between teams, rather create opportunities for working together

For instance, if you have an event coming up and wish to successfully execute the same, the objective will be common, with specific value based key results for each team.

Objective: Successfully execute the 7th edition of our annual event

Key Results

  • Get 1000+ unique registrations
  • Raise INR 20,00,000 in sponsorship
  • Curate 5 high impact panels
  • Get 10+ media and affiliate partners
  • Get 5000+ impressions on social media with organic promotion

If you look closely, while the objective is shared, key results are spread across sales, marketing, and even product/ services teams

3. Combine quality and quantity results

Your agile and OKR framework should enable you to get the best of both worlds when it comes to results. Agile results by nature are qualitative in nature and focus on the features that you wish to ascertain in a specific period of time. On the other hand, OKRs are driven by metrics. Thus, you can use a combination of the two for effective results:

  • Use OKRs to validate goals set using the agile methodology
  • Ensure each key result has a quantitative (data) and qualitative aspect (value)
  • Use a combination of agile and OKRs to ensure that your progress is positively impacting the organization

The combination can help you create an ideal balance between outputs and outcomes which are both critical when it comes to goal achievement and performance management. 

4. Promote use of data

  • Leverage data and evidence to create your agile based OKRs
  • Instead of creating OKR based on leadership opinion alone, validate the same with market study
  • Don’t rely completely on hypothetical representation, undertake primary and secondary research to ensure relevance and perceived achievability


Using data and not relying solely on opinions will help you set agile OKRs which don’t under or over estimate the goals. For instance, if the market data on traffic to a new website in your industry is 20,000 clicks in one week, your OKR can focus on reaching 25,000 to make it aspirational but achievable up to 80%. 

However, if you set the target at 50,000 or above, it will become too far fetched and the team might not even strive for it. On the flip side, if the target is only at 10,000, it will not encourage your employees to push the boundaries. Thus, you need to replace opinions and command OKRs with data backed experimentation.

5. Build self organizing teams

  • Provide you teams with a clear idea of what the larger vision looks like
  • Encourage them to set their own OKRs and help with a direction to achieve the same
  • Facilitate team autonomy and empower your team members with the right tools and resources like SuperBeings to not only set OKRs, but also track progress in real time and grade them at the end of the cycle. (Learn more)

Self organizing teams are important for growing organizations as they proactively take onus and ownership of achieving OKRs and lead to a greater degree of success. Step away from controlling detailed plans for each OKR and encourage the leadership to provide direction. 

Wrapping Up

To conclude, if you combine agile and OKR, you have for yourself a clear model for success which you can easily apply to goal setting and performance management. Furthermore, leveraging the right technology resources can help you stay on track and enable you to thrive in the VUCA world. 

min read

How to Create a High Performance Culture Using OKR Methodology?

Like most fast growing organizations, you might also be leveraging the OKR methodology to set, implement and facilitate effective goal setting to maximize growth. If not, you should start using OKRs ASAP.

OKRs not only provide an excellent goal setting framework but also drive high performance when implemented strategically. Most importantly, with enhanced goal visibility and transparency, OKRs ensure that everyone is on the same page which is the foundation of a cohesive and high performing culture. 

In this article, we will discuss 8 ways in which you can adopt the OKR methodology to build a thriving company culture.

Use OKR methodology in 8 ways

1. Focus and clarity

A high performance and thriving company culture is based on the foundation of clarity and focus. When there are 100 things to focus on, your employees will eventually lose sight of what’s actually important and might feel burdened with non-priority tasks. This will lead to a poor employee experience and limited productivity, both situations that prevent an impactful culture.

However, when you apply the OKR methodology, you will be able to limit your focus on 3-5 top priorities which will attract attention, energy and efforts across the organization. You will then be able to create a high performance culture by dedicating all your resources to the key priorities to realize impact. 

2. Collaboration and alignment

A culture that thrives on collaboration, teamwork and alignment is one which creates maximum impact. The OKR methodology can help achieve this in an effective manner. On one hand, everyone is clear about their role in the OKR achievement, which makes collaboration seamless because everyone is on the same page and no one steps on the shoes of others. 

On the other hand, OKRs can help your employees align their responsibilities and tasks with the overall vision of the organization, motivating them to contribute to the big picture. 

To learn more about how to align teams using OKRs, read this

3. Agility and resilience

Recent times have shown that uncertainty and ambiguity will continue to mark the new normal. Thus, a culture of agility, resilience and responsiveness is critical for fast growing organizations. The OKR methodology can help achieve the same. 

OKRs are cognizant of the changing environment and have the flexibility to be adapted to the same. 

More importantly, you can leverage the OKR methodology to foster a culture that focuses on outcomes and is not fixated on the tasks to achieve the outcome at hand. 

4. Continuous engagement and reflection

One of the top challenges of building a great company culture is a siloed approach and annual reflection. This leads to surfacing of major risks and problems which result in high rates of attrition, absenteeism and lower levels of motivation, productivity, etc. 

However, the OKR methodology adopts an approach of continuous engagement and reflection. You can create a regular cadence to check OKR progress for each of your team members, even daily is effective. 

This continuous engagement and reflection can enable you to preempt risks before they surface and leverage the power of communication to address them in real-time. Invariably, a culture built on continuous engagement leads to greater impact and high levels of performance as well as employee satisfaction. 

5. Transparency 

The lack of transparency is one of the key obstacles for many fast growing organizations that seek to create a thriving company culture. A way out often seems difficult to navigate. Fortunately, the OKR methodology can help address this challenge as well. When you use OKR, especially with the support of an effective OKR tool, you can facilitate high levels of transparency. 

Everyone in the organization will not only know their role, but also will have a complete view of the level of performance for others. Such transparency can help you increase coordination of efforts and give everyone the visibility of what’s happening across the company. 

6. Non-hierarchy

You may agree that most fast growing organizations these days seek to replace a strict hierarchy with a more flat organizational structure that facilitates inclusion of diverse ideas, thoughts and opinions. However, many struggle when it comes to actually implementing this thought. 

Adopting OKRs can solve this problem.

By nature, the OKR methodology is based on a collaborative foundation where a top-down approach compliments a bottom-down approach for goal setting. 

This suggests that while the skeletal structure of the goals might be laid down by those in the top leadership, you can give all employees the freedom and autonomy to create OKRs for their teams and verticals. 

When your employees participate in setting the OKRs they have to execute, the level of ownership is much higher. Thus, you can leverage the OKR methodology to create a thriving culture built on greater ownership and a flat organizational structure. 

7. Open communication and feedback

With a focus on continuous engagement and reflection, the OKR methodology can help you facilitate open communication and feedback. Many studies have shown that a culture that facilitates regular feedback along with open channels of communication is more likely to thrive than one which does not. 

In the OKR methodology, when you constantly track your OKR progress (download our free template for tracking OKRs), you will be armed with data backed insights to offer regular feedback for your employees. Furthermore, you can also leverage the same to start meaningful conversations with your team members in case you feel that there is any kind of disconnect. Such open communication can help you create a truly inclusive culture when employees feel their voice is heard. 

8. Accountability and recognition

Finally, a company culture that thrives has two major components supporting it, accountability and recognition.

  • On one hand, only when your employees are accountable will they give in their 100% to create a high performance culture. 
  • On the other hand, if you don’t recognize the efforts of your employees frequently and in an effective manner, they are bound to feel demotivated with a lack of encouragement, leading to a poor employee experience and culture. 

The OKR methodology is an answer to both these challenges. 

  • First, being regularly reviewed, tracked and organization wide visibility makes accountability a given for fast growing organizations leveraging OKRs. Since everyone knows what the other person is responsible for, there is a development of a culture of accountability. 
  • Second, with regular tracking, monitoring individual progress becomes seamless for managers. Invariably, they can track the performance of their team members and recognize efforts in real time. This leads to a culture of recognition which is bound to see high levels of engagement, motivation and satisfaction. 

Empower your culture with the OKR methodology

Now that you know how the OKR methodology can help you in many ways to create a thriving culture, it is also true that as a fast growing organization with multi-pronged focus, leveraging OKRs is a challenging task. To address the same, you can collaborate with an integrated OKR tool like SuperBeings to automate the OKR adoption and maintenance.

With SuperBeings, you get to — 

  • Keep OKRs at the center of your business activities by aligning everyday tasks 
  • Reduce friction in goal management with zero context switching (by integrating Slack, Teams and Gchat)
  • Stay ahead of risks with a bird's eye view on key OKR status as well as compare progress over time with automated daily OKR tracking
  • Connect OKRs with Meetings tool to automate OKR check-ins and empower managers with data-backed AI driven actionable templates for meaningful conversations

Learn more about the OKR tool here. Otherwise, to see this in action, book a quick call with one of our experts. Also, get all your questions answered on the same. 

See Also

How to Run a Successful OKR Progress Review  

The complete guide to adopting OKRs (PDF)

Master OKRs in just 10 days: Free email course

min read

How to Write Negative Employee Reviews (Examples + Templates)

With performance management becoming a critical part of organizational success, giving effective employee reviews is becoming a crucial part of a manager’s responsibilities. While regular employee performance reviews focus on illustrating the strengths and what worked for employees and the organization at large, there needs to be an equal focus on areas of development in case of poor work performance

If you look closely, writing negative employee reviews is often considered to be more difficult because the words need to be chosen very carefully. It needs to have a developmental tone rather than a critical one. 

What are negative employee reviews?

As the term suggests, negative employee reviews are reviews delivered to employees who have underperformed and need to be pulled up to the expected levels. It involves a variety of components which include:

  • Problem statement i.e. an illustration of poor performance, how it has been manifested and its impact on the overall organizational success
  • A clear understanding of the level of performance which is expected
  • A potential way or action items to correct the poor performance and improve

To get actionable ideas of how to deal with poor performance issues at work, read this

Writing and delivering negative employee reviews is very important for any organization that seeks to maintain a high level of employee performance. It is critical to ensure that:

  • Poor performers are aware of their level of underperformance and have a clear picture of what’s expected from them
  • Those who are underperforming get an opportunity to improve or face the consequences of consistently performing poorly
  • Underperformers are given the right support and guidance to improve their work and efforts to meet the expectations

Why should you be cautious of your words?

When you are writing negative employee performance reviews, you need to be extremely cautious of the words you choose. Using the right words will help the receiver acknowledge and work on the suggested points, while using words that are too harsh or critical can lead to adverse consequences. There are a few reasons which make the choice of words extremely important. 

  • The right words can help negative employee reviews focus on the developmental aspects and the impact of poor performance on the organization, rather than criticizing the person in general
  • They can help ensure that the job and the performance are the focus of the employee reviews and not the character or the personality of the person
  • Being cautious also ensures that the negative employee reviews don’t have a negative impact on the mental and emotional wellbeing of the employee and are taken in a constructive spirit.

The same review when offered with the right words can be more powerful and have a larger influence. 

For instance a statement like ‘you interfere too much in the work of others’ can be seen as a personal attack and may yield a defensive response from the receiver. 

However if you frame it in a different manner like ‘if you give others greater autonomy and freedom to work in their own way, you will be able to inspire greater creativity and innovation’, you will be able to put your message across and also help your employees understand how it will make a difference. 

Download: Free guided 1:1 meetings template to get personalized meeting recommendations

Tips for writing negative employee reviews 

In addition to being cautious of the words you use, there are a few other tips which you must keep in mind while writing negative performance reviews, including:

1. Keep it crisp and structured

While giving negative reviews is difficult, don’t beat around the bush and get straight to the point. However, instead of directly saying what isn’t going well, try adopting the sandwich approach. Start with a positive comment, add areas of improvement and end it with some suggestions and action items. 

Example: Tina has an excellent eye for detail and is very dedicated to her work. However, she often misses the deadlines which has led to a delay in 30% of her projects resulting in poor client experience. It would help her performance greatly, if she is able to prioritize her work better and keep an organized calendar for timely delivery. She can consider using the latest project management tools to facilitate better prioritization. 

2. Don’t get personal

Second, negative employee reviews should focus on the job or the role and not the person specifically. Steer away from using words or phrases which may end up combining performance and personality of the person. Your review should be specific towards performance challenges and not generalize that performance challenge is a personality trait.

Example: Instead of saying, “you are not punctual”, you can say that “I have seen you arrive late for meetings frequently, leaving shorter time for discussions. It would be best if you could be more punctual to respect others' time and make the most effective use of the same.”

3. Focus on progress

When you are writing negative performance reviews, you must focus on the progress and how a change in behavior and attitude can help them in the long run. Simply mentioning what went wrong and the associated process might lead to demotivation. 

Example: Some of your work has had grammatical errors in the past, maybe because you were trying to complete a lot at once. I am sure if you prioritize some tasks and create an action plan, your work quality will be better. 

4. Offer facts

Don’t simply give negative employee reviews about the problem area, but back it up with facts and data points. This will help you illustrate a pattern and establish that your review is not based on a single incident. Also, it will make your review more credible and authentic and not just a few words strung together. This will also help you in being very specific.  

Example: It has been observed that 40% of your customers claim that you don’t have adequate knowledge of your product, leading to a poor experience. 

5. Give examples

There might be some performance parameters which are difficult to add quantitative data points to. In such cases, you can offer specific examples of underperformance, especially if it has been repetitive. It is ideal to have at least 2-3 instances of poor performance to make your point stronger. 

Example: It has been noticed that in the aspiration to get your work perfect, you end up delaying projects. It was observed in project X with client A, project Y with client B as well as when the internal submission for Z was due. 

Pro-tip: Use our free Performance Review Phrases template to get 50+ examples of writing a negative review positively

How to deliver a poor performance review?

Once you write the negative employee reviews, you exactly know what you want to say to your employees. However, the way you deliver it also has a big impact on how it is received. To make the process simple, we have compiled a list of some of the best practices to help you deliver a poor performance review in the best way possible:

1. Connect in person

If you are delivering a negative performance review, it is best to do it in person, or if your team is remote, over a video call. If you deliver it over an email, you cannot be sure of the tone and context in which your words will be read. 

It might backfire by being read as more critical than developmental as per the intent. Furthermore, when you are delivering the negative reviews face to face, you can also use your gestures and body language to facilitate authenticity and empathy. 

2. Steer away from yelling

No matter how poor the performance has been, when you are delivering negative employee reviews, you should stay away from yelling or using foul language. Since the focus is on facilitating development for your employee, yelling will only defeat the purpose, making the employee demotivated and pushing them towards even lower levels of confidence and motivation. Furthermore, it will negatively impact your organization from an employer brand perspective. It can also create a negative impact on the wellbeing of your employees. 

3. Add anecdotes 

While delivering the review, you may want to add some personal stories or anecdotes if you have yourself been through something on those lines. This will help you connect better with your employees and make them trust you more. Furthermore, it can enable you to illustrate how they can turn poor performance into something better with a live example in front of them. 

4. Make it a dialogue

Your negative review shouldn’t be a monologue where you deliver what you have written with the employee absorbing it as a passive recipient. Instead, make it a dialogue by putting forward questions to understand the reasons behind poor performance and how you and the organization as a whole can help turn the table. Hearing their side of the story is extremely important before deciding on the next steps. 

4. Create a safe environment

When you are delivering negative employee reviews, you need to create a safe environment. It should not be harsh and the employee should feel comfortable in receiving what you have to offer. Also, make sure you deliver the review privately and not publicly shame your employee. They should see it as a developmental conversation in a safe environment, where they can also voice their opinions. 

5. Make it regular

Finally, negative employee reviews need to be regular and not come as a surprise to your employees at the end of the year. Regular reviews will give your employees enough room to improve their performance. Furthermore, it will give them a clear picture of what to expect when the year closes. 

To learn how SuperBeings can help you have guided conversations around negative performance review with AI recommendations based on performance and goals history as well as maintain a steady cadence to maximize the impact of such conversations, see this

Offer suggestions and follow up

After you have delivered the negative reviews to employees, the natural next step is to create a plan for improvement to help your employees reach the level of performance you expect out of them. This is a critical part of the performance management and talent development process for employees who have been consistently underperforming. Here are a few ways you can help your employees improve their performance.

1. Create action items collaboratively

If you have reached this level of negative employee reviews, you and your employee would be on the same page about their level of performance. Thus, it is best to create a list of action items that can help them improve their performance. To create the next steps, you must:

  • Ensure the steps are specific and not generic which only state the objective
  • Create steps which are aspirational, but achievable at the same time
  • Ascertain that there is an intended result for each decided step
  • Collaborate and brainstorm with your employee to create action items which are agreed upon by both
  • Align timelines and other factors to achieve success

2. Document the next steps

Next, your focus should not only be on planning the action items, but documenting them as well, because once they are out of sight, they’ll be out of mind. Furthermore, documenting them will help you remember the agreed steps and track progress every now and then. 

Clearly document what needs to be achieved, by when and how. It can be a good idea to encourage your team members to constantly document their experience as well to help discuss what has been working well and what needs to improve. 

3. Draft a Performance Improvement Plan (PiP) if needed

Depending on the performance issue, you may want to introduce a performance improvement plan for your employee. It is a formal tool to address performance challenges which outlines specific goals and expectations along with clear actions that need to be undertaken over a duration of 30-90 days.

For more details on PIP, check out A guide to implementing a performance improvement plan (PIP)

4. Set up a cadence

You also must set up a cadence to discuss performance improvements or challenges once the next steps are agreed upon. Unless you connect regularly to discuss the status, you might find yourself at square one at the end of the next performance review period as well. 

Depending on what needs to be achieved, you can set a weekly, fortnightly or monthly cadence to connect with your poor performers. While it may be seen as a regular review, it will also act as a reinforcer for them to ensure there is some improvement everytime the cadence to meet comes up. 

5. Define metrics

When you are determining the next steps, it is important to identify the associated metrics as well. For instance, if you want your employee to become more detail oriented, your metric can focus on reduction in errors by a specific percentage over a specific duration of time. 

The metrics will help you measure whether or not there has been an improvement in the performance as desired or not. At the same time, the metrics will help your employee move towards a specific goal. 

6. Follow up

While you have a set cadence, you may also want to check-in or follow up from time to time to make your employee comfortable enough to reach out to you in between your cadence for connecting. The follow ups can be over emails or calls or simple messages to check if everything is on track and to offer them any support whichever is needed. Especially in the beginning, you may need to check from time to time in case there’s any additional support that the employee needs to work on the action items. 

7. Evaluate progress

Finally, to ensure that your negative employee reviews translate to impact, you must focus on evaluating progress. Use the metrics you defined to gauge the level of progress and document it whenever you evaluate the same. This will help you establish a trend over time. 

Furthermore, if you feel the progress is below expectations, try to understand the rationale behind the same to check if putting the employee on a performance improvement plan will make more sense. 

Wrapping Up

By now, you must have gained a clear understanding of how to write, deliver and follow up on negative employee performance reviews constructively. If you are keen to learn how best to connect negative performance issues with regular 1:1 meetings with your team members with technology, book a quick demo with one of our executives. We would love to show you around :)

See Also

How to use Start Stop Continue feedback framework for high performance

10 performance review tips for managers that actually work

How to use employee coaching to unlock performance

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