No one likes to be told she is doing things wrong. However, this is often a significant issue that comes up during performance appraisals. By using certain phrases, a manager can reduce the anxiety of addressing negative performance issues and instead turn the experience into an opportunity for employee growth.

The Facts

Certain phrases can be used during a performance appraisal to increase the receptiveness of an evaluation and encourage improved behavior. These include: "What can we do to help you accomplish X?" and "Our goal for our next meeting is to..." and "Records show ..." Whenever possible, statements about an employees work should be substantiated with specifics. Instead of stating that an employee was constantly over budget on his projects, you put a positive spin on it by changing it into a goal to remain on budget next year. All goals that are established should have methods outlined by employee and manager to help ensure achievement.


The goal of a performance appraisal is to address workplace issues and encourage employee growth. These phrases encourage the self-discovery of internal and external causes of problems and provide the support necessary for employees to overcome them. For written evaluations, the use of active verbs would be used to convey specific actions for future improvement.


These phrases can help motivate an employee to change behavior or to strive for promotion opportunities within an organization. Facts do not place blame, but they do address problems that are occurring. Combined with honesty and clearly stated company expectations from a policy manual, an employer can determine if an employee is worth investing in, or if it is time to terminate the relationship.


While these specific phrases may not be more applicable for all issues addressed by a performance appraisal, you can use equally effective phrases by following these principles: If you cannot phrase the issue in a positive light, attempt to make the focus on a positive outcome. It is preferential to consider action plans and employee growth as opposed to remedial training. Do not place blame, give unsolicited advice or gloss over the ramifications of failures to meet company standards.


Even though you may utilize these phrases in a performance appraisal, the employee might not be receptive. This may be due to past experiences or preconceived outcomes the employee is unwilling to move beyond. In addition, some issues such as harassment or theft may encourage a hostile response no matter how they are phrased.