Level up your employee performance reviews with these winning phrases

a manager and her employee enjoying their meeting as they complete their employee performance review

Performance reviews can be nerve-wracking for managers and employees alike. Research shows that poorly conducted performance reviews can lead to frustration, negative competitiveness among teams, and a decreased willingness to take risks.1 

In turn, managers may not be candid when discussing performance issues, missing the opportunity to hold a meaningful conversation and provide constructive feedback. We’ve created a framework to help you make your next performance review count. This framework includes a list of performance appraisal phrases to make the review process easier and more effective.

Table of contents
What are employee performance reviews?
Why the right phrasing matters
How not to frame employee feedback (and what you should do instead)
Get performance management right with F4S
Use these phrases to nail your next performance appraisal
Need help planning your performance review?
Take the guesswork out of employee performance reviews

What are employee performance reviews?

A performance review is an evaluation of an employee's job performance over a given time period. It is a formal assessment that aims to identify an employee's strengths and weaknesses (at F4S, we call them blindspots).

Regular performance reviews are an essential part of every employee's professional development. Depending on the appraisal, managers work with employees to set career goals, discuss how to overcome blindspots, or help employees understand their strengths.

These reviews play a vital function in the workplace, though sometimes, discussing an employee’s shortcomings can be delicate. For this reason, getting your phrasing right is essential.

Why the right phrasing matters

When it comes to delivering an effective performance review, phrasing matters. Nobody likes to have their weaknesses exposed. Employees may feel vulnerable, on edge, or defensive when their shortcomings are discussed and this can lead to less-than-ideal outcomes.

This may cause some managers to tip-toe around issues that need to be addressed. In many cases, a fear of conflict can get in the way of productive and robust conversations that need to be had.

Managers conducting performance reviews can also run into problems when they don’t take their employees’ motivational traits into account before delivering feedback, and inadvertently de-motivate the employees they’re trying to help. It can be a difficult needle to thread, but in these cases, effective phrasing can be your best friend.

How not to frame employee feedback (and what you should do instead)

Before discussing how to approach your performance review, it’s time to put an end to a popular, but outdated approach to employee feedback: The ‘Feedback Sandwich’. This method involves ‘sandwiching’ negative feedback between two layers of positive feedback.

For instance, let’s say you’re providing feedback on an employee's presentation skills.

You begin with a layer of positive feedback:

You give detailed presentations with attractive, well-designed slides.

Next, you slip in the negative feedback filling:

You often lack rigorous research and speak too quickly.

Then, you complete the sandwich with another layer of positive feedback:

You have a confident delivery and an impressive handling of audience questions.

While a bit of positive feedback could ‘cushion the blow’, there are good reasons to avoid this technique. According to Harvard Business Review columnist Roger Schwarz, the sandwich approach can undermine your feedback.2

He writes:

“Imagine telling the people your strategy. You would say something like, “Stacey, I have some negative feedback to give you. I’ll start with some positive feedback to relax you, and then give you the negative feedback. I’ll end with more positive feedback so you won’t be so disappointed or angry at me when you leave my office. How does that work for you?”

In short, it can feel contrived and inauthentic.

What’s more, this traditional approach has been used for almost 50 years.3 Employees have no doubt come across it in the past. If they recognize you’re using it this can undermine their trust in you, as well as the validity of the positive feedback being offered.

Instead of this, it’s better to be direct, and give positive feedback, when it’s due, naturally and authentically. 

It’s often best to simply offer constructive feedback that’s geared towards the employees’ growth and development. You don’t need to sugarcoat negative feedback, but you do need to consider how you phrase it to avoid unnecessary discomfort.

Get performance management right with F4S

When it comes to performance management and building a positive team environment, knowing what motivates your team makes all the difference. That’s where F4S comes in. We’re a performance and collaboration platform that helps leaders develop stronger, more effective teams.

Unlock your team’s motivations by encouraging them to participate in the complimentary F4S motivations assessment. Upon completing the assessment, you can establish a team profile to understand what drives your team. By doing so, you'll gain valuable insights into how to approach feedback with each team member, allowing for easier, more effective performance management.

F4S dashboard

Use these phrases to nail your next performance appraisal

Before getting into the phrasing, it’s important to understand the evidence-based approach on what aspects of your employees' performance you’re reviewing. At F4S, we use the 48 unique workstyle motivations. Based on 20 years of solid scientific research, these motivations allow managers to measure an employee’s alignment with their job role in an objective sense.

Here is some more information about the motivational traits, complete with phrases.

Action Level: Initiation vs. Patience and Reflection

Action Level refers to an employee’s motivation for starting new tasks or reflecting and ideating before acting. Like each of the 48 motivational traits, both have their merits and there is no right or wrong. Whether or not these traits are strengths or blindspots depends on the employee's responsibilities.

Here are some examples of performance review phrases you might use when addressing feedback for these motivations.

"Takes charge in initiating tasks, ensuring seamless prompt execution."
"Could benefit from improving time management on new tasks."
"Initiates tasks with impressive speed and accuracy, consistently driving successful project outcomes."
"Needs to work on handling tasks with increased speed to drive project success."
"Consistently takes prompt action, enhancing overall team efficiency."
"Needs to show greater initiative in taking charge of tasks to meet project deadlines effectively."
"Begins tasks swiftly, contributing to smooth project execution."
"Encouraged to be more proactive in beginning tasks.”
"Consistently takes the lead with new tasks. Shows initiative in driving projects forward."
"Needs to develop faster task initiation to improve workflow and team effectiveness."
"Able to reflect and think strategically when approaching challenging tasks."
"Could benefit from more forethought before beginning projects."
"Takes a measured and thoughtful approach to their work."
"Tends to begin projects without close consideration leading to errors"
"Demonstrates insightful thinking and a patient approach, resulting in well-considered decisions and constructive actions."
"May benefit from further developing patience, as taking more time in decision-making could lead to more well-rounded outcomes."
"Exhibits a discerning and patient approach, leading to well-crafted strategies and successful outcomes."
"Encouraged to incorporate more reflection into their approach, as thoughtful analysis can enhance problem-solving.”
"Demonstrates the ability to assess situations that lead to effective execution."
"Suggested to cultivate patience and reflection as valuable qualities that can positively influence their performance."

Action Direction: Goal Orientation vs. Away From Problems

Action Direction refers to how you position yourself toward goals and obstacles. People who score high on Goal Orientation are target-driven and strive toward achievement. Those who score high on Away From Problems are more cautious and risk-averse. 

While our culture typically rewards people with a strong Goal Orientation, depending on circumstance, Goal Orientation can also be a liability.

For example, if you’re managing a team of analysts at a Venture Capital firm, employees who score high in Goal Orientation may overlook details that point toward risk, leading to bias reporting on prospective investments. On the other hand, employees who score high on Away From Problems may be more risk averse and, therefore more likely to detect red flags.

Here are some examples of performance review phrases for these motivational traits to use in your next performance evaluation.

"Consistently setting ambitious yet achievable objectives and driving the team towards success."
"Could benefit from setting, and working toward objectives."
"Demonstrates a proactive approach to goal setting, positively impacting overall team performance and outcomes."
"Needs to strengthen their focus on results."
"Has a positive attitude and regularly achieves and exceeds goals."
"Shows limited drive for setting and meeting objectives."
"Has a strong sense of vision and ability to achieve positive outcomes."
"Needs to place more value in striving to reach performance benchmarks.”
"Highly achievement orientated, and is driven toward meeting and exceeding performance goals."
"Could benefit from coaching to stick to and reach objectives."

If your employee has this motivational trait, here are some tips to help you provide valuable feedback and communicate with them better:

"Demonstrates a keen ability to identify potential stumbling blocks and address concerns proactively."
"Needs to develop an awareness of factors that stand in the way of reaching their goals."
"Highly adept at recognizing errors and potential issues, ensuring a smooth and error-free workflow."
"Tends to not notice things that may hinder reaching their objectives."
"Demonstrates a strong aptitude for foreseeing and avoiding issues, leading to well-informed choices."
"Can be too “tunnel-visioned” when pursuing targets and may overlook factors that get in the way."
"Strong ability for detecting and mitigating potential risks."
"Can overlook important details when focused on achieving desired outcomes.”
"Possesses an exceptional skill in identifying concerns and finding effective solutions."
"Has the tendency to miss key details that impact their ability to reach targets."

If your employee has this motivational trait, here are some tips to help you provide valuable feedback and communicate with them better:

Authority: External Reference vs. Internal Reference

In the context of F4S motivational traits, Authority refers to whether you tend to consult external sources (data, reports, feedback, or advice from others), or you make decisions based on your intuition or ‘gut feel’.

Of course, this tendency may vary on a case-by-case basis, but your course on this metric refers to your overall tendency in one direction, or the other. As with all other F4S traits, whether each of these amounts to a strength or a blindspot is situation-dependent.

Here are some performance review comments to use during the appraisal process for both External Reference and Internal Reference.

"Strong research skills. Consults a wide range of sources before making decisions."
"Needs to develop more trust in others’ insights and ideas in meetings."
"Puts trust in their team and taps into a diverse set of voices before deciding next steps."
"Would benefit from developing a strong research acumen for making more well-rounded decisions.."
"Considers multiple sources of information before acting."
"Has a tendency to make decisions based on a whim. Would benefit from consulting more team members."
"Always open to learning from others and improving."
"Needs to integrate more data and research into their work approach."
"Receptive to input from the team and open to suggestions."
"Insights and decisions would be improved by taking a more collaborative approach with the team."
"Highly confident decision maker."
"Extra time spent going over minute details can lead to slower decision making."
"Shows a great degree of decisiveness and strong critical thinking skills."
"Has a tendency to get bogged down in unnecessary details."
"Efficient decision maker. Saves time by limiting back and forth."
"Has a tendency toward “analysis-paralysis” when deciding on best steps."
"Confidence in their own critical-thinking skills, leading to fast and decisive choices."
"Needs to trust their judgment more when making decisions."
"Shows strong independent thinking and decision-making abilities."
"Could simplify decisions by trusting their intuition more."

Task Direction: Procedures vs. Alternatives

When it comes to approaching business functions and workflows, it can be difficult to know when to keep things the same, or to find alternative ways of doing things. The good news is, F4S has identified two key motivational traits that make some people more biased toward following Procedures or finding Alternatives.

It’s often helpful to have a mixture of people who score high on both traits on your team to get the best of both worlds, but there can be instances where either trait can become problematic.

Here is a list of performance review tips for both Procedures and Alternatives.

"Highly dependable. Follows established procedures and produces consistent results."
"Would benefit from narrowing their focus when approaching new tasks."
"Highly methodical in their approach, ensuring precision and accuracy in all endeavors."
"Could improve their engagement with established practices, leading to more consistent and reliable results."
"Plans and executes tasks methodically, leading to efficient processes and successful project outcomes."
"Suggested to view routine tasks as valuable components of the work process, contributing to successful project outcomes."
"Takes an orderly and systematic approach to their work."
"Encouraged to adhere to established guidelines unless improvement is necessary."
"Consistently follows procedures to ensure things are done “the right way”, every time."
"Needs to embrace structured approaches as they play a vital role in achieving desired outcomes."
"Highly innovative in their approach. Always seeking innovative solutions to improve outcomes."
"Could benefit from improving existing procedures for better results."
"Flexible and adaptable to change. Often comes up with creative solutions for improving workflows."
"Is encouraged to adjust and optimize key processes for improved outcomes."
"Regularly develops new and improved alternatives for existing systems, paving the way for improved results."
"Has a tendency toward following procedure closely, sometimes at the expense of better outcomes."
"Always open to new and better options leading to new and creative ideas."
"Could improve upon existing methods with more experimentation."
"Highly creative and flexible. Able to generate novel solutions to complex problems."
"Is encouraged to develop new ways to achieve better outcomes."

Scope: Depth vs. Breadth

We all have different levels of resolution in which we look at work-related problems. Some love to dive into the specifics and explore things in Depth. Others are generalists who prefer to go for Breadth. Instead of digging into the nuts and bolts of the issues, they prefer to zoom out and look at things from a birds-eye view.

Both of these approaches have their pros and cons, and both of these traits are more suitable for some roles than others. For instance, Engineers often need to be highly detail-oriented, whereas an Office Manager needs to be across many different details at once.

Whether or not Depth, Breadth, or any other motivational trait is a strength or weakness is often context-dependent.

Here is a list of performance feedback phrases for both Depth and Breadth.

"Has a deep knowledge of their field, contributing to well-informed and high-quality decision-making."
"Could benefit from developing a more meticulous approach to ensure thoroughness in tasks."
"A meticulous approach to their work, leading to excellent problem-solving skills."
"Suggested to adopt a more attentive approach to their work."
"Extensive knowledge base leads to reliable output."
"Often has a difficult time with honing their focus to improve precision in various tasks."
"Highly focused on the specifics, leading to polished, high-quality work."
"Could benefit from developing a more vigilant approach to avoid potential oversights."
"Strong technical knowledge and skills add considerable value to the team."
"Needs to improve attention to essential elements, resulting in improved outcomes."
"Has a well-developed bird’s-eye perspective. Strong ability to spot trends and patterns."
"Highly detailed-oriented focus may be complemented by stepping back and looking at problems more holistically."
"Big picture thinker who makes valuable contributions and informed strategies."
"Tendency to hone in on details sometimes leads to missing wider trends."
"Broad and multi-faceted perspective leads to an innovative approach to their work."
"Needs to take more factors into account when delivering solutions."
"Highly perceptive and creative with a broad understanding of many facets of the industry."
"Has a tendency to 'miss the forest for the trees'. Encouraged to zoom out and consider other details more often."
"Skilled at connecting the dots and able to discern trends and patterns from disparate sources of information."
"Could benefit from shifting analysis to account for more details."

Communication: Neutral Communication vs. Affective Communication

At F4S, our research indicates that not only do people communicate differently from one another, but communication styles fall into two distinct categories. Employees who display an Affective Communication style are bright, warm, and bubbly. They place more value on bringing their whole self to work and showing their personalities more readily. Neutral communicators prefer to carefully consider their words before speaking.

Those who have a Neutral Communication style are more prone to speaking plainly and directly. They demonstrate a distinctly professional presentation, and they typically focus on concrete things and tend not to get caught up in their emotions. Needless to say, there are pros and cons to each communication style, but it’s often the case that employees need to develop their skills for both types of communication.

Here is a list of performance review phrases for Neutral and Affective Communication.

"Strong communication skills when it comes to delivering clear and direct feedback."
"Could benefit from developing the ability to communicate more directly."
"Able to remain neutral in stressful situations and emotionally charged environments."
"Could develop more effective use of professional, plain language when communicating with the clients."
"Able to remove emotion and stick to the facts."
"Could benefit from developing a more neutral, professional style of communication."
"Adept at clear communications. Delivers instructions and feedback directly and without emotion."
"More clarity and straightforwardness are needed when communicating with the team."
"Focused on objectivity and clarity in speech and communication."
"Could benefit from developing more clear and effective communication skills."
"Warm and friendly communicator. Builds an atmosphere of trust in the workplace."
"Occasionally comes across as reserved. Could be beneficial to work on expressing thoughts and ideas more openly."
"Expressive communicator. Easily builds a strong rapport with the team, contributing to a positive work environment."
"Has a tendency to be reserved. Building stronger connections with the team may foster a more collaborative work environment."
"Excellent at building relationships and making positive contributions to a friendly and welcoming company culture."
"May benefit from showing more enthusiasm and engagement to foster stronger connections with colleagues."
"Strong interpersonal skills enable them to exert a positive influence on the team."
"Encouraged to be more expressive, and to open up to the team more."
"A “people person”. Able to put people at ease and facilitate easy, collaborative communication."
"Sometimes appears reticent to open up and connect with the team. May benefit from connecting more with the team."

Responsibility: Shared Responsibility vs. Sole Responsibility

Some employees are natural team players. They prefer to Share Responsibility for team and organizational goals and they thrive on working towards those goals as a team. On the other hand, some employees prefer to take Sole Responsibility for their work.

A lot of ink has been spilled about “taking complete ownership” of all work responsibilities and in life, in general. While it’s true that taking sole ownership is valuable in many contexts, when working toward collective goals in diverse teams, it can often get in the way of progress. There are some job descriptions that lend themselves better to Sole Responsibility (this is often associated with those in leadership positions), while those who are more motivated by Shared Responsibility often do well in roles that involve collaborative teamwork.

Here is a list of performance review phrases for Shared Responsibility and Sole Responsibility.

"Strong team player. Shows a strong focus on reaching team and organizational goals."
"Would benefit from engaging in mutual ownership of team goals and objectives."
"An exceptional team player, consistently collaborating with colleagues to achieve common goals."
"Encouraged to demonstrate greater support for collective objectives to strengthen teamwork and boost overall performance."
"Highly motivated by the team's success, consistently aligning their efforts to achieve organizational objectives."
"Encouraged to integrate individual efforts with the team's goals, enhancing collaboration and effectiveness."
"Outstanding teamwork skills, as they are motivated to work together towards shared goals."
"Encouraged to embrace the value of team objectives, fostering a more cooperative and successful team environment."
"Selfless dedication to team success, always willing to go the extra mile to help their colleagues achieve shared objectives."
"Recognizing the importance of aligning individual efforts with team objectives will contribute to a more constructive and successful team environment."
"Commended for their clear sense of responsibility for their tasks, making them a valuable asset to the team."
"Needs to work on taking greater initiative in individual tasks and their outcomes."
"Proactively takes charge of all responsibilities."
"Consider working on embracing a more self-driven approach to enhance overall efficiency and effectiveness."
"Takes full ownership of their responsibilities, demonstrating an outstanding work ethic."
"Encouragement to develop a more independent approach in tasks."
"Demonstrates high levels of personal accountability for their work."
"Suggested to develop a more proactive attitude in independently managing tasks and challenges."
"Excellent ability to work autonomously and motivate themselves."
"Needs to exercise more independent control over tasks."

Change: Evolution vs. Sameness vs. Difference

Brands, business functions, and workflows all need a healthy balance between incremental Evolution, repetition, and Sameness, and sometimes, it’s necessary to shake things up and do things differently (Difference).

Knowing when each of these is appropriate can be difficult for one individual to decide, so it’s often necessary for teams to have a balance of each trait to make the right decision.

Let’s take a look at Twitter’s rebranding to “X” to illustrate the difference. While it’s common for most brands to steadily evolve over time, the decision to entirely rebrand to “X” likely would have been driven by those who are high on Difference, while the proposal likely received pushback from those who showed a preference for Evolution or Sameness.

The same could be said for Facebook’s rebranding to “Meta”. Marketing teams often need a healthy mixture of these traits for brands to retain their recognizability, evolve and adapt to the times, and, when necessary, radically change to meet rising market demands. With this in mind, there is no right or wrong, but there are cases where employees need to adjust to perform their roles better.

Here is a list of performance review phrases to give meaningful feedback on Evolution, Sameness, and Difference.

"Steadily works toward improvements at all times."
"Struggles to explore opportunities for process improvement, which could enhance overall efficiency."
"Shows a strong commitment to making continuous improvements to their output."
"Could benefit from being more open to reviewing and refining existing work processes."
"Takes an iterative approach toward improving workflows and jobs functions."
"May need to work on balancing the desire for change with maintaining stability and continuity."
"Demonstrates a strong ability for innovative thinking and improving processes."
"Could improve on recognizing the importance of change management and involving stakeholders in the process."
"Continuously strives for growth, demonstrating consistent improvements on any given task."
"Suggested to embrace a well-considered approach to change, ensuring alignment with team objectives and needs."
"Consistently delivers a steady and reliable output, contributing to predictable results."
"Encouraged to explore new perspectives and possibilities to enhance existing processes and approaches."
"A dependable worker who maintains a consistent level of productivity and always delivers tasks on time."
"Opportunities for growth lie in embracing fresh ideas and challenging the status quo for continuous progress."
"Reliably meets expectations and maintains a steady output."
"Encouraged to think outside the box on new developments while maintaining standards."
"Demonstrates a commendable ability to sustain a consistent level of performance."
"Has a strong inclination towards preserving existing methods, but taking calculated risks can open new avenues for success."
"A reliable and steady performer, consistently producing output that meets expectations."
"Encouraged to find a balance between maintaining stability and introducing subtle enhancements."
"Highly innovative thinker. Generates fresh and unique ideas."
"Shows a strong inclination for frequent changes. Considering the value of stability in our processes may lead to improved outcomes."
"Able to begin from scratch and devise unique solutions to novel problems."
"Needs to place more trust in existing processes."
"Highly adept at creative thinking. Capable of reimagining solutions to solve complex issues."
"Encouraged to make improvements one step at a time, rather than reinventing from scratch."
"Generates new and innovative ideas, carving out original paths forward."
"Exploring ways to build upon, rather than replace, existing methods can lead to a more streamlined workflow."
"An inventive and revolutionary thinker. Highly original in their approach to delivering solutions."
"Encouraged to explore improvements within the framework of our current processes to maximize their effectiveness."

Influence: Achievement vs. Affiliation vs. Power

While some employees are driven by Achievement and recognition for their hard work, others are more motivated by being a part of a team and developing a sense of Affiliation in their workplace. Influence also involves an employee’s motivation for Power which refers to their willingness to take on leadership positions.

A successful company needs people who have each of these traits, but issues can arise when people who score too high on some of these traits are in the wrong roles. For instance, scoring low on Power if you’re in a leadership position may not be ideal, and employees who score high in Affiliation may not be satisfied in roles that require them to work autonomously.

Here is a list of phrases to give helpful performance feedback to your employees.

"A significant contributor to accomplishing tasks and securing positive results."
"Encouraged to work on building a more focussed mindset to achieving tasks and delivering projects efficiently."
"Produces results in a timely fashion."
"May benefit from exploring ways to remain focussed to achieve tasks."
"A self-motivated and proactive individual, who consistently takes the initiative to deliver tasks."
"Suggested to develop a more self-assured approach in achieving tasks to foster productivity."
"Takes decisive action to hit goals. Quickly implements effective solutions."
"Recognizing the importance of being a self-starter will contribute to personal and professional growth."
"A valued contributor to workplace relationships."
"Encouraged to invest time in building stronger workplace relationships."
"Significant contributor to building a positive team culture."
"Could make a greater contribution to building a more positive work culture."
"A natural leader, making a significant contribution to driving business goals."
"Could develop more confidence to be in positions of influence and leadership."
"An efficient operator with immense confidence to achieve ambitious outcomes."
"Would benefit from building confidence in influencing others to drive business outcomes."

Work Approach: Use vs. Concept vs. Structure

In the context of F4S motivational traits, your Work Approach is split between Use, Concept, and Structure. If you score high on Use, you’re a self-starter with a strong action bias. You’re self-motivated and decisive and you execute quickly. If you score high on Concept, you’re more of a conceptual thinker who likes to understand the “Why” and “How” before committing to action.

Lastly, Structure refers to your motivation for organization, planning skills, and rigor in your approach to your work. As with all F4S motivational traits, each of these has its place in a dynamic team environment.

Here are some phrases to use during the performance review process for each of these traits.

"A strong self-starter who is quick to take action."
"Encouraged to work on building a more proactive mindset to initiate tasks and projects efficiently."
"Produces results in a timely fashion."
"May benefit from exploring ways to overcome hesitation and proactively jumpstart tasks."
"A self-motivated and proactive individual, who consistently takes the initiative to start and complete tasks."
"Suggested to develop a more self-assured approach in starting tasks to foster productivity."
"Takes decision action. Quickly implements effective solutions."
"Recognizing the importance of being a self-starter will contribute to personal and professional growth."
"Thrives in self-directed tasks and achieving personal goals. A “go-getter”."
"Has room for growth in embracing opportunities for commencing tasks to drive project progress."
"Has a deep conceptual understanding of processes and systems."
"Needs to enhance their ability to analyze and understand the rationale behind ideas and processes."
"Possesses a strong sense of the “why” behind job functions."
"Has room for growth in comprehending the 'why' behind ideas and the purpose of various processes."
"An analytical and curiosity-driven thinker with a solid understanding of their role."
"Encouraged to delve deeper into the underlying principles and reasoning behind proposed initiatives."
"A highly adept conceptual thinker, they effortlessly connect complex concepts to form comprehensive strategies."
"Suggested to embrace a more analytical approach to understand the 'why' behind processes and functions thoroughly."
"A strategic conceptual thinker consistently devises original and forward-thinking solutions."
"Could improve by recognizing the significance of conceptualization for insightful decision-making."
"Highly developed organizational skills."
"May benefit from incorporating more systematic planning and organization into their work approach."
"Has a deep understanding of business processes and functions."
"Struggles with maintaining a well-organized workflow, which could be improved for better outcomes."
"A highly methodical and detail-oriented individual. Their organization skills contribute to seamless and efficient workflows."
"Consider working on implementing a more organized system to track progress and deadlines."
"Their systematic and organized approach fosters clarity and efficiency, streamlining complex business operations."
"Could improve by recognizing the value of a structured approach in achieving desired results."
"A strategic and structured thinker. Has a strong understanding of complex workflows and business functions."
"Suggested to embrace a more organized and methodical approach to enhance overall work performance."

Rules: Compliance vs. Assertiveness vs. Tolerance

When it comes to adherence to rules, whether they are company cultural norms or business practices, we all have different motivational styles.

Employees who are high on Compliance are team players, who consistently uphold standards and espouse team values. They are committed to doing things “the right way” and following well-trodden paths. Employees who score high on Assertiveness are more likely to set the rules that those who are high in Compliance adhere to. They’re natural leaders who make confident, bold decisions.

Lastly, those who score high on Tolerance are flexible and accommodating towards the rules, and others’ interpretation of them. They tend to be people-people who thrive on working with a diverse range of approaches and ideas.

Here are some impactful performance review phrases for these traits.

"An exceptional team player who consistently upholds company standards and values."
"Needs to improve compliance with company policies and procedures to ensure a consistent and reliable workflow."
"Consistently embodies company values, fostering a collaborative team dynamic."
"Shows room for growth in adhering to established guidelines, which can lead to potential inconsistencies in work."
"A reliable team player who supports company objectives by upholding standards."
"Could benefit from better understanding and following of compliance requirements to mitigate potential risks."
"Takes on additional responsibility when it comes to ensuring compliance with set procedures and standards."
"Encouraged to take compliance seriously and integrate it into their work routines for greater efficiency."
"Demonstrates a strong commitment to the company’s core values and work standards."
"Needs to be more mindful of compliance expectations to avoid potential disruptions in project execution."
"Displays confident assertiveness, effectively communicating ideas and taking the lead in decision-making."
"Can struggle to assert themselves in challenging situations, leading to difficulties in decision-making."
"Direct communication style fosters open dialogue and constructive feedback among team members."
"Needs to work on being more confident in expressing ideas."
"Demonstrates effective communication of ideas and takes charge in decision-making."
"Struggles to assert themselves in team meetings. Would benefit from speaking more often."
"Consistently complies with set procedures and standards."
"Needs to build confidence in asserting themselves, as it can lead to greater collaboration and engagement within the team."
"Strong leadership skills. Sets and adheres to standards and inspires others to do so."
"Shows a hesitancy to take charge and exhibit self-confidence in challenging situations, leading to difficulties in decision-making."
"Open and accepting. Embraces diversity and respects various approaches to tasks."
"Could benefit from being more receptive to alternative approaches in the workplace."
"Demonstrates commendable tolerance for different perspectives, fostering a collaborative and inclusive work environment."
"Needs to work on developing a greater sense of tolerance and acceptance towards different working styles."
"A highly adaptable employee who welcomes diversity and practices acceptance in all aspects of work."
"Could benefit from listening to and accommodating alternative approaches to team projects."
"Recognized for their open-mindedness and respect for individual differences, contributing to a positive team dynamic."
"Has shown room for growth in respecting others' approaches, in order to foster a collaborative work atmosphere."
"Their receptive and accepting attitude towards others' ways of doing things cultivates a sense of unity and understanding among team members."
"Encouraged to be more flexible and understanding of different ways of doing things for improved team dynamics."

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Take the guesswork out of employee performance reviews

One of the major issues with managing a diverse team is understanding what makes each individual ‘tick’. Without a scientifically validated system for identifying key drivers of performance in the workplace, leaders often feel like managing their teams requires guesswork. Get to know your team's unique motivational traits. Invite your team to complete the free F4S assessment to find out what motivates them at work.

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Impress yourself and others with your attention to detail! Develop a genuine appreciation, energy and stamina for detailed thinking to execute your vision, measure performance in yourself and others while also accelerating your ability to learn and change.

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5 - 15 minutes
 per session
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2 sessions per week
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Personal Power

In this high impact eight week program Coach Marlee will help you increase your comfort and confidence to be in positions of influence and leadership, navigate organizational politics and also help you develop greater confidence to compete and influence at the top of your industry or field.

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5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
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Multiply Your Impact

Multiply your impact by embracing the experience and genius within others. During this eight week program Coach Marlee will help you to develop a genuine appreciation for experimentation and data and a willingness to empower the opinions, feedback and insights within your team and others in your life.

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5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
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Trust Your Gut Feel

Explore, strengthen and stand by what you believe in at work and in life. Trust in your ‘gut feel’ and point of view is especially helpful for influencing, starting your own business, having your personal needs met and for living an authentic and meaningful life.

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5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
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Big Picture Thinker

Inspire yourself and others to see the bigger picture! Increase your comfort and use of abstract and strategic thinking to gain a broader perspective in work and life. Big picture thinking is key in communication, leadership, businesses, selling, marketing, and situations where you need to get the gist of things quickly.

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5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
illustration of a woman sitting down and reflecting representing reflection and patience

Reflection & Patience

Develop ‘step back’ mastery for increased self-awareness and developing mindsets and tools for constant improvement. Reflection and patience is core to consolidating learning, development, strategic thinking, recharging and living an authentic and meaningful life.

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5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
illustration of a person empowered for a fast start

Start Fast

Close the gap between your great ideas and starting them. Energy and drive for starting is key for inventing new things, starting businesses, selling, marketing, socializing or in situations where you need to think on your feet.

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5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
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Increase EQ

Explore, develop or strengthen your emotional intelligence (EQ). Awareness of your and others’ emotions is at the heart of influencing, ‘reading people’, impactful communication, deep relating and authentic connection at work and in life.

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5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week
Person with a dart aiming at a target representing Goal Catching

Goal Catcher

Inspire yourself and others to see and achieve grand visions and goals. A focus on goals is especially helpful for inspirational leaders, starting your own business, impactful communication, or for achieving awesome outcomes at work and in life.

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5 - 15 minutes
 per session
icon of a calendar
2 sessions per week


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“I learned to make real progress, take action, review”

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“I learned how to chunk up and see the bigger picture before turning to the details”

Show more testimonials
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"This program has helped me to be less impulsive and really think before acting"

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“This program helped me kickstart my journey to wellbeing. Never could I have imagined an AI coach being this good - as if you're talking to a real human and how Marlee made me accountable to my goals. Super awesome experience that you definitely got to try!”

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"The changes I made with Marlee, had an immediate impact in the relationship dynamic I was working on in the program"

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“This coaching program has helped me improve the way I connect, relate and communicate - deepening my relationships with others and also with myself”

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“I have always found it hard to ‘slow’ down but this helped me to see how I can slow down to speed up”

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“I found the importance of setting goals. It’s a mindset”

Show References
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  1. Lattice Team, How Your Brain Responds to Performance Reviews, 2018.
  2. Schwarz R, The “Sandwich Approach” Undermines Your Feedback,HBR, 2013.
  3. Ash, MK, People Management, 1984.

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