19 Useful Phrases for Performance Management

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HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Friday, July 31, 2020

When it comes to providing feedback to employees, no matter their seniority or role, it must be handled in the right way. Giving vague, unhelpful, or just plain offensive feedback can have a num-ber of ramifications on your organization, not least of all employees could become disengaged or unhappy in their role.

Article 6 Minutes

Feedback is vital for progression, change, and employee engagement, as such, it’s important that you're getting it right. One of the most effective ways to do this is to think about the language you're using and choose your words carefully. To make this process easier and to prepare you to give strong, effective feedback now and well into the future, it pays to learn some useful phrases that can be used accordingly during a team meeting, annual review, or feedback session.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of 14 useful phrases for performance management, including some examples of how these can be used. We’ll also give you some insight into why these particular phrases and wording can be more beneficial than others. Memorize the ones that feel most relevant and comfortable to you and you’ll be equipped with the lexicon to provide great feedback to your employees.

Giving positive feedback

Giving positive feedback can be so rewarding for both parties. Of course, it’s nice for the employee to hear and for you to deliver, but it can also lead to higher levels of engagement, which in turn has a positive impact on the organization. Some phrases you can use for giving positive feedback include:

  1. I know your team really appreciates the way you {send them motivational emails when projects are taking longer than planned}. 
  2. When you offered to {take on the new Jones account} it was a huge help to your team.
  3. {Sally from sales} shared with us that your contribution to {their new marketing email campaign} was instrumental in {landing their new client}.
  4. We really value the way you {implemented a new digital filing system} because it helped to {save the organization time and money}.
  5. The organization really benefits from the way you're able to {reassess your team’s spending and make more room in the budget where possible}.

Even when you're delivering positive feedback, it’s a good idea to be as specific as possible, giving examples where you can. This will really help your employee to understand what they're doing right. It’s also a nice idea to explain how they’ve contributed to the success of the business and the impact they’ve had on other colleagues.

Highlighting their strengths

Following on from this positive feedback, it can also be a good idea to outline the areas in which your employees excel. This way they’ll be more likely to continue this behavior in the future and give it their full attention. Knowing what they're good at can also give them an enormous sense of pride in their work, so they’re more likely to be productive, creative, and engaged in their work. Some phrases that highlight their strengths could be:

  1. You really excel at {problem solving, you always take everything in your stride and ensure that everyone is satisfied with the outcome}.
  2. We are all so impressed with the way you {handled that conflict between Sam and Sean}.
  3. I really respect how you {take ownership of your workload and you always ensure every task is completed on time}.
  4. Multiple members of the team have mentioned how skilled you are at {analyzing the monthly data and providing useful insights to the team}.
  5. You are great at {training new members of the team} and this is really helpful because {it helps them to settle into their role quicker and do a better job}.

Using words like skilled, great, excel, can all help to highlight where their strengths lie and give reason to how their behavior and work style is beneficial to the organization.

Giving negative feedback

Giving negative feedback is never nice, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. By letting employees know where they’re failing and how they can improve, they can work on it in the future in order to become better and more satisfied within their job. Just be sure you never name drop other employees who may have complained about them and you never use harsh or offensive language. The following phrases can soften the blow and help you to deliver negative feedback:

  1. My feedback is that you {stop emailing your team late at night}. I say this because {it’s not healthy for you, it doesn't promote balance, and it makes them feel stressed as soon as they open their emails in the morning}.
  2. It has been brought to my attention that you {keep canceling your team meetings}, this needs to stop because {it can have a knock-on effect to the whole team}.
  3. When you {raise your voice to others} the consequence is {that they actually feel more stressed and are therefore less productive}.
  4. While you may feel that {marking your team’s projects or tasks as late} is helpful, it can actually {add pressure and cause them to feel stressed}. Perhaps in the future you could {email them first and find out if there is a reason the tasks have not been completed}.

When giving negative feedback, you must approach the subject gently and make sure your employee understands why their actions are problematic. Otherwise, they may just feel like they're being criticized with no real reason as to why or how they can improve in the future.

Setting them up for the future

On a similar note to the above, your feedback whether positive or negative should help to set your employee up for the future by outlining what you’d like to see from the moving forward. In particular, when delivering negative feedback, you need to give them actionable steps they can use to improve. Some phrases to help them move forward in their role could include:

  1. We urge you to keep on {supporting your teammates the way you do, they really appreciate it}
  2. I would like to see you stop {leaving your monthly reports until the last minute} and instead {make sure you set aside dedicated time at the end of each month to complete them}.
  3. I would ask that you {stop working through your lunch breaks} as this will {give you a chance to recharge before the afternoon}.
  4. I think it would be beneficial if you {started taking notes in every meeting so you can look back on what was said}.
  5. We would love you to {take on some new responsibilities} as we feel you're up to the challenge.

Setting them up for the future means mentioning any behavior that you’d like to see them let go, but also highlighting positive things you’d like them to carry on doing. This can also be your chance to start setting targets for them to help them improve by their next review.

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