Employee Review and Appraisal Comments: 18 Examples of What Not to Write

Have you ever had a comment like one of these made about you on your employee review?

  • “An invaluable member of the team.”
  • “Exceeds expectations.”
  • “Happy and cheerful while interacting with colleagues and managers.”
  • “A great listener.”
  • “Thinks about the happiness of colleagues.”
  • “A real team player.”
  • “Seeks opportunities to improve learning.”
  • “Passionate about working at this company.”
  • “Demonstrates a can-do attitude.”
  • “A complete professional in her field.”
  • “Always eager to help.”
  • “Strives to work well with every colleague.”
  • “Extremely gifted and talented.”

You may think these comments sound helpful, or at least professional. The truth is, they’re awful. Ditto with these negative comments:

  • “Has developed an atmosphere that does not promote innovation.”
  • “Always misses deadlines and is constantly behind on his objectives.”
  • “Always leaves everything to the last minute instead of working to a plan.”
  • “Communication is an area that must improve this year.”
  • “Should improve his time management.”
  • “Refuses to implement training and almost always goes back to his old habits.”



Some Closing Tips

  1. Before you write anything about an employee, ask yourself: “What is it that I want to accomplish by writing this? What new outcome do I want?”
  2. Instead of a box on your performance review form labelled “Comments,” call it “Results,” “What happened,” or “Achievements.”
  3. Know what the forms in your organization are for. Some managers treat them like records to be used in a criminal trial. Their real purpose is to reinforce good performance and to correct poor performance.
  4. When working with an employee who is having or causing problems, I often ask to see his or her performance review forms. I’m looking for trends:  Is this is a sudden aberration or a long-running downward spiral? Is there any evidence that a manager has tried to help this person? Well-written performance review forms will always make this clear and evident.
  5. Deal with employee issues immediately. Keep accurate, factual records of the employee’s actions and outcomes, and keep thorough records of the steps you’ve taken to remedy the issues. If problems escalate, doing that could save your skin. But more importantly, it’s an effective way to get employees back on track to performing well.


For even more help, buy “Praise and the Appraisal” 105 tips and techniques to make appraisals work.

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13 Responses to “Employee Review and Appraisal Comments”

  1. ivan lythgoe
    February 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Extremely useful comments and will be used

  2. February 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I find these comments very beneficial in steering me towards how I should now re-evaluate the ways that I have been writing my team mates performance appraisals. Insight provided is great and helpful for future use in my evaluations.

    • February 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm

      Hi Carolyn
      Keep up the good work – I’m sure they will appreciate it.

  3. katherina north
    February 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    why didnt you send a page of the way it sould look like

    • February 15, 2011 at 9:57 pm

      Hi Katherina, Let me know what you need and I’ll see what I can do

  4. January 15, 2013 at 4:35 am

    Hello, just wanted to mention, I enjoyed this article. It was funny.
    Keep on posting!

  5. October 7, 2013 at 5:16 am

    There are 19 not 18 comments! The first 13 are not awful but makes no sense when used in phrases as depicted. If managers do not understand that appraisal should be carried out in the context of the performance over the period under review, using measurable metrics then, they should not be managing people with a view to carrying out appraisals. Companies with managers like that would therefore normally have more to worry about than how its employees are being reviewed.

  6. December 2, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Very usefull comments.. Thanks a lot

  7. Johna409
    June 3, 2014 at 10:24 am

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  8. August 17, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Very helpful thanks

  9. August 29, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Rubique is one of the worst company, company knows to get hard work from employees but company doesn’t know to pay salary on time,am really not satisfied with this company bcoz it wont be able to pay salaries properly

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