What those performance review phrases actually mean

It’s the time of year when many communicators are getting (and giving) job evaluations. Here’s what some of those well-worn phrases really mean.

Performance reviews decoded

For many, January is performance evaluation time.

Whether you’re writing one for your employees or will soon be the recipient of one from your boss, you should take a moment to unravel the “HR speak” so prevalent in these documents.

What follows is a sampling of phrases from performance reviews, along with their possible translations. How many of these have you seen before—or used?

Phrase: Ben does not understand the importance of corporate attendance policies.
Translation: You’re late every day.

Phrase: Ellie demonstrates an entitlement mentality.
Translation: You think it’s okay that you’re late every day.

Phrase: John is too focused on changing established procedures.
Translation: You try to convince others that it’s okay to be late every day.

Phrase: Cindy uses her position to dominate and intimidate others.
Translation: People are afraid of you, Cindy.

Phrase: Jan remains unwilling to carry out tasks that are “below” her.
Translation: You need to learn how to use the Intranet.

Phrase: Greg has not performed well in creating an honest and open environment for the employees he supervises.
Translation: Your employees purposefully avoid talking to you.

Phrase: Peter lacks credibility in his messaging.
Translation: No one believes anything you say.

Phrase: Bobby exhibits a domineering work style.
Translation: You’re an insufferable jerk and people don’t like you.

Phrase: Bobby does not demonstrate concern for what others think of him or how well he works with others.
Translation: Because you’re an insufferable jerk, you don’t care that people don’t like you.

Phrase: Marcia is very loyal and affable, but not very dependable. She does not produce much substantive work.
Translation: Marcia . . . you’re a suck-up.

Phrase: Brenda consistently takes a practical, hard-nosed approach to things without thinking how she could creatively solve a problem.
Translation: Try something new for once, Brenda.

Phrase: George often lets anger, frustration, and anxiety show.
Translation: You can’t yell at people. Please stop yelling at people.

Phrase: Greg does not consistently avail himself of existing technology.
Translation: You need to start using your intranet.

Phrase: Marcia spends an excessive amount of time engaged in conversations that are not work related.
Translation: Stop gossiping and get back to work.

Phrase: Jordy lacks basic skills in business writing.
Translation: You can’t write your way out of a paper bag.

Readers, any other phrases you’d care to share?

Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor and a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more from her at impertinentremarks.com.


2 Responses to “What those performance review phrases actually mean”

    Patricia Mees says:

    Phrase: Jackson is a loyal employee.
    Translation: Jackson knows his skill set is lousy and no one else would ever hire him.

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