Performance Reviews

Performance Review Strengths and Weaknesses Examples

March 22, 2024
March 22, 2024
Catherine Tansey
Lattice Team

While it can be easy for great managers to spot strengths and weaknesses in team members, articulating them in the written word doesn’t always come easily. Writing a stellar employee strengths and weaknesses section on a performance review demands a distinct set of skills beyond just observation. 

When done well, the positive and constructive feedback delivered during a performance appraisal can inspire growth and boost employee performance. Below we look more closely at the importance of accurately addressing strengths and weaknesses in performance reviews and share guidance on how to do so effectively. 


Why Performance Review Strengths and Weaknesses Matter

Beyond serving as a track record of an employee's natural aptitudes and areas for improvement, performance evaluation strengths and weaknesses are an opportunity to drive performance. The key to doing so may be to focus more acutely on strengths — even while trying to improve a weakness. 

“Leveraging strengths can be a key way to overcome weaknesses by connecting the dots for someone on how they may use an existing skill in a new setting to fill the gaps,” said Jane Garza, head of people, North America, at direct-to-consumer retailer Quince

Garza gave the example of an individual who may excel in their technical field but struggle to build relationships cross-functionally. “They can leverage their technical skills in a new context to bridge that gap by offering to mentor or provide technical guidance to colleagues on projects. By sharing their expertise, they can build stronger relationships with team members and enhance collaboration,” she added. 

Clearly communicated strengths and weaknesses engender confidence, reduce uncertainty, and boost retention.

Great performance appraisals reduce uncertainty by providing employees with a clear understanding of their performance, fostering confidence, and bolstering their ability to surpass expectations. When employees are anchored in the reality of their accomplishments, they’re empowered to continue improving. 

Yet a lack of clarity is pervasive at work. Gallup research found that globally, only one in two people strongly feel they know what’s expected of them at work. Put another way, half of employees aren’t clear on their roles. According to that same article, past Gallup research has found that role clarity is linked to improving productivity, reducing safety incidents, and lowering turnover.

With the high costs of hiring an employee’s replacement, performance reviews can be a helpful tool in the retention toolbox. Clear performance feedback can help clarify role expectations, and that clarity in turn supports lower turnover, as Gallup found.

Examples of Performance Review Strengths and Weaknesses

Noting employees’ strengths and weaknesses in reviews can drive future performance, motivate employees, and clearly articulate where they should maintain and where they can improve.

Specific language and details linked to impact is key, according to Garza. “In well-written examples, the detail should provide context on the impact the strength and/or weakness has on the work itself,” she said.

Six Examples of Employee Strengths

The purpose of sharing employees’ strengths is to create a record of success, encourage employees’ natural aptitude, and recognize their wins. Below, we share performance review examples that highlight six different strengths.

1. Exceptional Communication Skills

Rajeev excels at public speaking and has excellent presentation skills. He combines his analytical and interpersonal skill sets to share a data-driven narrative while reading the audience and identifying opportunities to engage them. At our most recent user conference, Rajeev’s presentation on product updates resulted in the extension of three existing contracts. 

2. Strong Relationship Building

Lara excels in building relationships with external stakeholders. Clients regularly provide positive feedback praising her for her innovative approaches to problem-solving and great communication. Her ability to foster rapport and build relationships was instrumental in landing four new enterprise accounts last month. 

3. Goal-Oriented Approach

Shereene’s results-driven and detail-oriented approach to project management supports the team in meeting our goals. She is adept at identifying the most mission-critical tasks and ushering those to completion by engaging cross-functional partners, delegating tasks, or pulling in additional resources. This keeps projects on time and budget and supports us in continuing to meet and exceed expectations.

4. Team Building and Collaboration

Damon creates an environment of open communication and trust among the employees and management by treating all suggestions and requests equally, freely sharing praise with the team, and being willing to admit mistakes or demonstrate learning. When working cross-functionally or with outside stakeholders, Damon replicates his success in fostering an emotionally safe environment of professional camaraderie and teamwork. His regular contributions to team building have supported an environment of emotional safety on our team. As a result, the team has come up with several innovative solutions recently, including X, Y, and Z. 

5. Conflict Resolution Skills

Shandra consistently and effectively manages conflict across teams, preventing larger interpersonal issues from arising and keeping projects on track. When conflict does arise, Shandra addresses it immediately among the involved parties and ensures they respect one another’s turn to speak. Recently, her adroitness in managing conflict prevented a misunderstanding between marketing and sales about the new systems from escalating and harming the working relationship between functions.

6. Creative Thinking and Innovation

Ali is adaptable and flexible when trying to identify problems and find solutions. This encourages creativity among the team and allows us to capture significant market share. For instance, when we were tasked with overhauling the marketing strategy for a new product launch, Ali proposed a social media campaign built around gamification to engage our audience. She spearheaded the campaign development and created the interactive quizzes we used to drive engagement. Thanks to Ali’s ideas and initiative, our social media engagement skyrocketed and helped create significant anticipation for the product launch. 

Giving an example of one way to improve will benefit you in the long run, as they will see you as a partner in their development.

Six Examples of Employee Weaknesses

Employee weaknesses should be viewed as opportunities for development rather than indicators of incompetence or inadequacy. They spotlight areas where employee improvement can lead to better work performance. Just as with highlighting strengths, it's crucial to be specific when addressing weaknesses and to connect them to their impact on the job.

“Ensure any constructive criticism is tied to something tangible, i.e., give a specific example so your team really understands where it is coming from,” said Lori Scherwin, founder of Strategize That, an executive coaching and talent development firm.

Scherwin also recommended tying constructive criticism to suggestions for improvement to not only give the employee an actionable step to take but also support the manager-employee relationship. “Giving an example of one way to improve will benefit you in the long run, as they will see you as a partner in their development beyond just the boss. Sometimes it's as easy as showing them you care about their career progress, and not someone simply asserting power to get things done,” she added. 

Below, we share examples of employee performance reviews that spotlight six different weaknesses and suggestions for improvement.

1. Procrastination and Time Management Issues

Juan tends to procrastinate on tasks and struggles to manage his time efficiently. This creates apparent overwhelm across the team and causes project and workflow delays. For example, Juan often fails to reach out to cross-functional team members in a timely manner to secure the deliverables needed to complete his own work. He then makes an urgent request, which creates unnecessary stress among team members. Moving forward, I would like to see him set clear weekly goals and use techniques like time-blocking to improve his time management skills and meet deadlines. 

2. Difficulty in Adapting to Change

Alex is resistant to change and frequently requires additional support to adjust to new approaches and systems or pivot during a project. This was evidenced by their delays in submitting project work due to frustration with messaging adjustments. As a result, two team members had to work over the weekend to finalize the project. Despite this challenge, Alex demonstrates innovative thinking and effective communication skills. I believe with the right support, they can excel in meeting evolving client and team needs, suggesting their struggles may be more psychological than skill-based. In the future, I’d like to see Alex embrace the creative challenges of evolving client needs with a positive attitude and see it as a way to improve their own adaptability. 

3. Inability to Effectively Delegate

Rashid consistently struggles with effectively delegating tasks. He regularly assumes the tasks himself when he is not satisfied with the progress or quality of the project. I know Rashid is a self-proclaimed perfectionist, but in failing to delegate to others, he creates an untenable workload for himself, risks burnout, and prevents his colleagues from having professional development opportunities. I’d prefer to see him work alongside his direct reports to ensure they understand the task and for them to assume responsibility. 

4. Lack of Confidence in Decision-Making

Kris frequently relies on their colleagues’ knowledge and expertise and is reluctant to offer their own input during the decision-making process. When they do take a leading role in decision-making, they often second-guess their choice and seek out contrary opinions to avoid being responsible for the decision. This undermines Kris’s opportunities to advance into management, which is a stated goal of theirs. It also prevents the team from benefiting from Kris’s unique point of view and keeps Kris from experiencing small failures, which are a natural part of any work environment. Moving forward, I’d like Kris to practice providing their opinion and assume a more prominent role. They have excellent ideas and are very capable, and I’d like to hear more from them. 

5. Poor Communication Skills

Finn’s team members and colleagues regularly express frustration with his behavior when challenges arise. This creates animosity on the team and prevents the team from accomplishing their stated goals. For instance, when there were delays in the implementation of the new ERG last month, Finn’s team members reported feeling unfairly criticized and blamed. This is unacceptable, and in moments when Finn is feeling frustrated, I expect him to take a break or come and speak with me to prevent outbursts that harm team dynamics. 

6. Limited Attention to Detail 

Leandra’s work often includes typos and errors in Excel formulas. This creates the need for another team member or myself to review her work before building on it. Twice in the past quarter, this has resulted in an error being sent to a client. Leandra is a talented analyst, and these small errors erode her authority within the team and with external stakeholders. Moving forward, I’d like Leandra to finalize deliverables one day before project deadlines so she can review them with fresh eyes the following day to strengthen her attention to detail. 

To give well-rounded feedback, it's important to ensure you have a full picture of what your team is doing, how they are perceived, and how they view their own performance.

How to Identify Employee Strengths and Weaknesses

Great managers pull from their available resources to ensure they have the most accurate information when identifying employees’ strengths and weaknesses. 

“To give well-rounded feedback, it's important to ensure you have a full picture of what your team is doing, how they are perceived, and how they view their own performance. This can help you rethink strengths and development areas and give better feedback on how they can grow and be promoted from within,” said Scherwin. 

To start, create a habit of tracking employee performance — wins and opportunities for improvement — in the moment. “Make a mental note to stop and jot down notes every time you have a reaction to someone on your team doing something exceptional. Write down what they did and what you noticed so you can share back with full context,” Garza recommended. 

Managers should also refer to 360-degree feedback, employee self-assessments, and past performance reviews to identify employee strengths and weaknesses. 

360-Degree Feedback

Pulling in feedback from team members allows you to gain intel from others. “Managers often don't see how employees ‘show up’ to others, especially in environments where cross-functional collaboration occurs,” said Julie Lamothe-Jensen, founder and principal at Moxie HR Strategies, an HR consulting firm. “Therefore, seeking input from those who work more closely with an employee is helpful to get a comprehensive perspective.” 

360-degree feedback, which collates input from peers, teammates, and even clients, is an effective way to gain “a fuller picture of their performance, and identify any blind spots, areas for improvement, and unrecognized strengths,” Garza said. 

Employee Self-Assessments

Self-assessments serve as another valuable reservoir of inspiration. These reviews can demonstrate employees’ self-awareness and shine a light on elements of their performance that may not initially come to mind for managers. Thoughtfully crafted, well-written self-evaluations offer contextual nuance that helps managers identify employee strengths and weaknesses. 

They also offer a glimpse into an employee's perception of their role within the team and the organization at large, unveiling potential career aspirations or developmental requirements.

Use Technology

Referring to your performance management software is an effective way to source insight when writing employee strengths and weaknesses. 

As the repository for employee performance, performance review software is full of data-driven insights and specific examples. With Lattice Performance Management, managers can get an at-a-glance view of employee performance over time, and quickly glean inspiration for the strengths and weaknesses section of the performance review.

How to Build on Employee Strengths and Improve Weaknesses

After compiling a clear track record of employee strengths and weaknesses and discussing them with employees, managers can build upon these conversations to further continued growth. 

Next, Lamothe-Jensen said managers can “focus the performance conversations around what the organization and or manager wants, needs, or expects of the employee in the coming year.”

“This can include collaboratively setting new quarterly goals with well-defined, measurable deliverables and outcomes; discussing any behavioral changes needed; and talking about career development opportunities and identifying solutions for shoring up any knowledge or skill gaps required,” Lamothe-Jensen added. 

This is a good time for managers to work with employees to create an individual development plan (IDP). Not to be confused with a performance improvement plan (PIP), IDPs are collaborative documents that aid managers and employees in creating a clear plan of action to meet professional goals. 

How to Give Feedback on Employee Strengths and Weaknesses

Effective feedback establishes clear expectations and guides performance improvement. When done well, feedback enables managers to create better-performing teams to meet and exceed strategic priorities. Per Grammarly’s 2023 State of Business Communication report, 72% of surveyed business leaders said that effective communication increases their team’s productivity.

“Always start by focusing on the big picture goal: You should only deliver feedback focused on getting someone to thrive and excel,” Garza said. Taking inspiration from a favorite article published in Harvard Business Review, Garza recommended managers follow these steps when providing feedback: 

  1. First, seek to understand the person’s aspirational career trajectory.
  2. Next, train yourself to spot this person’s moments of success (specifically those that’ll enable them to thrive along their aspirational career trajectory).
  3. Then, regularly replay those moments, making sure to add your voiceover and reaction. For example, you could say, “When you did ABC, I was so impressed because X, Y, Z.”

Helping Employees on the Path to Growth

The best managers are more coaches than commanders. By identifying strengths and weaknesses in employees, managers can support employee growth, equip the organization with the skills and competencies needed to drive success, and contribute to a high-performance culture

Learn how to empower your employees with effective performance reviews with Lattice Performance Management.

Key Takeaways

  • Clearly communicated strengths and weaknesses create confidence and reduce uncertainty.
  • Well-written reviews should provide context on the impact the strength and/or weakness has on work.
  • Great managers reference past feedback, goals, and other datapoints when identifying employees’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Performance management software makes it easier to pull these datapoints at a moment's notice.