We take you through some helpful performance review phrases to use when appraising an employee’s performance and encouraging them to improve.
What Happens in a Performance Review?
In customer service environments, like the call centre, managers conduct performance reviews quarterly, monthly and sometimes even weekly, usually taking on a 1-2-1 format.
These 1-2-1s will include a topic where the leader initiates a conversation in which they:
- Give feedback to the employee regarding their performance since the last review
- Identify areas in which the employee is doing a great job
- Identify areas in which the employee can improve
- Make the expectations of the organization clear
- Create goals with the employee
- Offer pay rises and sometimes promotions
From this list, we can see that giving feedback and goal-setting are two of the main aims of a performance review.
The phrases and advice below will help you excel in these two areas and help you to run the best performance review possible.
How to Give Feedback on Good Performance
Performance reviews offer you the chance to give good feedback to employees, to ensure that they know their good work is being recognized. But you don’t want your positive feedback to come across as “forced” due to the formal environment.
“To make sure that your compliment lands in the right way, it needs to form part of the natural conversation,” says Gavin Scott of Loaf Training.
It is therefore good practice to start a performance review with some open questions that get advisors to reflect on their own success.
Good open questions to kick off a performance review include:
- How have you improved your performance since our last review?
- What positive changes have you made to your performance since we last spoke?
- What have you accomplished in the last X weeks/months that you’re really proud of?
Using these questions, you are immediately making the employee feel good about themselves, by focusing on what they have done well.
When the advisor highlights a good area of performance that you’ve noticed too, you can AGREE with them and validate their progress.
When the advisor highlights a good area of performance that you’ve noticed too, you can AGREE with them and validate their progress.
If the advisor highlights a good area of performance that you’ve not noticed, you can congratulate them and ADD to that with some of your own observations – so you are discussing multiple good aspects of the advisor’s performance.
Both of these methods help to create a natural environment where a performance review compliment can land in the right way.
But what sort of phrases can we use to compliment good progress in a performance review?
Performance Review Phrases for Good Progress
Here are ten examples of performance review phrases that will help you to give good feedback.
1. “I agree. I have seen you improve in that area too. I saw it last week when you…”
Agreeing with a team member when they discuss where they have improved helps to create an environment where they are motivated to share more.
Adding an example also helps to make your compliment sound more genuine and encourages the employee to repeat the good practice.
2. “That’s great, and I think that’s just one of the many areas that I’ve seen you improve. You’ve also…”
Building on where an advisor has told you they have improved helps you to build a list of areas on which you can praise good performance. Receiving multiple compliments can be very motivating!
3. “By improving in this way, you are helping the organization to…”
Employees like to know that the job that they are doing has meaning.
Employees like to know that the job that they are doing has meaning. Making the connection between how the advisor is improving and wider organizational goals helps you to do this.
4. “I spoke to Jane recently and she said that you did a really good job when you…”
Passing on good feedback from colleagues is another nice way to give a compliment, while you are also encouraging your people to discuss one another’s successes. This can help to foster a nice sense of community.
5. “Your progress has really been reflected in your quality scores. You have been one of the top performers this month.”
Positive feedback is always best when it is based on facts and not hearsay. So use your metrics like quality scores, customer satisfaction and customer feedback to show the employee that their improvements are making a difference.
6. “I know that it took some time for you to get this right, but the improvement that you’re showing tells me that your hard work really is paying off.”
Recognizing an advisor’s hard work and showing them how their improvement is benefiting the business is not only motivating, but it will encourage them to continue grafting and getting better.
7. “If you keep improving in this way, I would be happy to look into how we can invest in the development of your future career.”
People are often motivated by their own personal development. By acknowledging this and supporting advisors with their development, you can encourage them to keep improving.
8. “It’s really great that you took something away from our previous session and have been able to improve in this way.”
Acknowledging when an advisor has positively adapted their call handling as a result of a previous performance review and thanking them for that is a nice way to better ensure that they will do so once again in the future.
9. “When you did… it helped us to achieve…”
Pinpointing great behaviours and actions, before explaining how they have benefited the wider organization, is a great way of encouraging advisors to sustain and repeat good performance.
10. “A customer that you dealt with wrote in to say thank you. Here’s what they said…”
Showing advisors that their good work was appreciated by customers is a nice way of building a customer-focused culture. Plus, who doesn’t like a nice compliment?
For more advice on giving compliments in the contact centre, read our article: 50 Great Complimentary Words to Use in Customer Service (With Examples)
How to Give Effective Feedback for Bad Performance
While an employee may be having an underwhelming impact in the workplace, it’s always best to start off with a positive, to create a comfortable environment for a constructive discussion.
In the customer service environment, there are always little positives to pick up on. Maybe the employee is hitting their schedule adherence targets, creating good working relationships or is celebrating a work anniversary. There will always be something.
Then, once you’ve created a comfortable environment, you can start to get into the areas you want to improve.
Once you’ve created a comfortable environment, you can start to get into the areas you want to improve.
To do this, you can once again use an open question like: Where do you feel there is room for you to improve within the next X months?
With the employee’s response, you can then think about how you can turn their words into a definite action that will help the employee to build up their performance.
If the employee doesn’t address the areas that you were looking for, you can try out a different open question that looks into a specific aspect of their performance.
Examples of open questions that you can use in this scenario include:
- Your quality scores have fallen back a little bit over the past month. What do you think might be causing that?
- We have noticed that many members of the team are struggling to adjust to our new system. Is this something that you’ve found to be a problem?
- I noticed that you have been late into work quite a few times recently. What barriers are preventing you being on time? We can maybe help you to remove these.
Again, use the employee’s response to the question to form a definite action for how they can improve. This ensures that your performance review has tangible outcomes.
But try not to put words into the employee’s mouth. Let them try to come up with their own solutions, so they take responsibility for their own growth.
Performance Review Phrases for Bad Performance
When an employee responds to your open question regarding how they can improve performance, each of the following phrases will help you to steer the conversation into a constructive and positive direction.
11. “I think that’s a great area to focus on. Let’s make a note of that and come up with an action plan of how you can improve that.”
When the employee tells you an area in which they can improve, turning those ideas into actions is key to making the employee’s goals seem attainable.
Asking the employee to write these actions down is good too, as it encourages them to make a commitment.
12. “Yes, I think it would be great for you to work on that skill. How do you think you can improve it?”
Getting the employee to come up with their own ideas for improvement increases the likelihood that they will buy into the idea and invest more energy into their own development.
13. “That’s a good place to start. Can you be a little more specific in where you want to improve in that area?”
Validate their initial response with positive words like “good”.
When an advisor is very general about where they think they can improve, validate their initial response with positive words like “good”. This will encourage them to dig a little deeper when you then ask for the specifics.
14. “That’s an interesting idea. Can you give me an example of when you struggled to do that?”
Another technique that you can use to help them be more specific is to ask for examples.
Then, you could ask the employee: what would you have done in hindsight? You can then use the employee’s response to build an action plan.
15. “Looking at your quality scores, I can see that product knowledge is an area that we can develop further. How do you think we can help you to build product knowledge further?”
When the employee isn’t giving much away, you can take charge of the conversation a little more – but don’t let them off the hook completely. Keep going with the open questions, so they lead the conversation.
To find more of our advice on giving negative feedback constructively, read our article: 9 Ways to Deal With Underperformers – Without Neglecting Rising Stars
The Art of Balancing Good and Bad Feedback
When giving feedback to an employee, it’s great to start with an open question that sets up a positive discussion about what they are doing well.
From this, you can find something that you can encourage the employee to continue to do.
Then, with this positive start, you can bring in something which the advisor can begin to do to improve their performance even further.
This method is based on Nick Drake-Knight’s Continue and Begin coaching model, and it is a great way to give feedback in a performance review.
The Continue and Begin technique can also help you in other situations in which you give feedback to an employee within the customer service and call centre fields. Quality monitoring sessions are a great example of such a situation.
To hear more from Nick himself on how to make the Continue and Begin model work in the contact centre, listen to the following episode of The Contact Centre Podcast.
Great Performance Review Questions to Ask an Employee
Performance reviews aren’t all about giving feedback to employees and setting targets.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some other questions which you can ask during performance reviews to gain some invaluable employee insights.
16. “What can I do to better support you?”
When an employee has a problem, they often blame management. This can be fair criticism that is useful in helping managers improve. But it’s a difficult conversation for employees to have.
So, use this question to create a safe space for employees to air their grievances, instead of letting those grievances build into resentment. The ideas that employees have may also help you to better support them.
17. “What can we do to make your job more enjoyable?”
A successful working environment is often built on purpose, potential and play.
A successful working environment is often built on purpose, potential and play. This play part is important, as everybody wants to have a little fun at work.
However, fun works best when the team buys into all of your ideas to improve employee engagement.
Employees are more likely to do this if you include some of their ideas in your engagement strategy, and you can collect their ideas by asking this question in your performance reviews.
18. “What motivates you to perform at your best?”
Everybody is motivated by different things and if you know what best motivates individual team members, you can tailor your reward and recognition programme to best suit them.
19. “If you had a magic wand, how would you change the working environment?”
The environment in which your team works can have a significant impact on their output and asking this question can alert you to some problem areas that are negatively influencing performance.
You can even use this question to find enthusiastic team members who may want to help out in redesigning your workplace, which may really help to boost their morale.
20. “What skills do you have that we could perhaps use more effectively?”
Finding out the skills and hobbies of your workforce gives you an opportunity to help them find ways to better use these in the workplace.
For example, people interested in IT can help code new website functions, people interested in video creation can make how-to videos for customers and so on.
21. “How do you think your role helps the company be successful?”
Employees are motivated by having a purpose, so ensuring they know how they help your organization to better meet its goals is important.
Asking this question helps to reaffirm this purpose, while it should also be a message that is spread around the workplace by leaders too.
22. “What do you like best about working for the company?”
It’s always useful to find out what you are doing well, so that you can accurately promote your workplace to potential recruits.
When you know what an employee likes about how you operate, you can go even further in this direction.
But not only that, when you know what an employee likes about how you operate, you can go even further in this direction, to better satisfy them and potentially provide more meaningful rewards.
23. “Are there any opportunities for career growth that you might be interested in?”
A lack of career progression is so often the cause of attrition in customer service, but by engaging with employees about their future ambitions, you can work together to create a progression pathway for them.
By having this conversation and coming up with a plan, you can keep your best employees and motivate them with meaningful opportunities for career growth.
24. “Do you feel like you are getting enough recognition for your good work?”
Use this question to find out where and how you can do more if employees feel as though much of their hard work is going unnoticed.
Remember, you cannot continuously motivate advisors if you are only recognizing their good work during a periodic formal performance review.
One Final Phrase
To bring an end to the performance review, we suggest using a phrase like the following:
25. “Our next formal review will be on… If you ever want any help in carrying out this action plan, just ask me and I’ll be happy to help.”
By closing the performance review like this, you are setting expectations, so the employee knows the timeframe in which they can implement their action plan.
Also by using this phrase, you are holding the employee accountable for their progress, while signposting where they can go if they need any further support.
For more of our advice on giving feedback in the contact centre, you can read the following articles: