How Do You Write a Manager Performance Review?

A young Black woman leads her team in a project meeting


INTOO Staff Writer


When managers perform well, it helps a company to thrive. The opposite is also true; underperforming managers can create an array of problems for companies that thwart the business from operating at full capacity and progressing steadily towards higher levels of success. 

Because manager performance is so crucial for overall company success, it is vital for companies to review their managers’ performance and provide feedback at regular intervals. However, despite the importance of manager reviews, many business leaders do not know how to write effective manager performance reviews. 

In this article, we will explain everything you need to know to write great manager reviews.

What Is the Purpose of Conducting a Manager Performance Review?

The purpose of conducting manager performance reviews is to provide the managers at your company with meaningful feedback that can help them to better understand what they are doing right and what they need to improve. 

When managers have a better understanding of these areas, it can be easier for them to focus on what they need to do in order to get better at their jobs and grow as a leader

Many employees actually would like to have more feedback at their jobs. In fact, roughly 65% of employees report having this view. 

Managers learning to be better at their jobs is not just a win for them, it is also a win for your whole company, because better managers equal a better and more efficient company. 

Why You Should Approach a Manager’s Performance Review Differently

Writing a manager’s performance review is different than writing a performance review for a general employee. This is because managers carry more responsibility within the organization and usually perform a wider range of tasks when leadership is factored in. Managers need to have skills associated with delegating work, training and supporting employees, and ensuring their teams work effectively together. Also, the performance of the manager’s direct reports is partially reflective of the manager himself or herself. 

So, when you write a manager’s performance review, you have to consider a wide range of variables and skills, both soft and hard, including leadership and organizational capabilities, and managerial style. As a result, you should approach a manager’s performance review with these particular considerations in mind. 

A female senior director gives her male direct report a manager performance review5 Steps to Effectively Evaluate a Manager’s Performance

1. Discuss outcomes that have been observed

In this part of your manager performance review, you should detail the exact outcomes that the manager affected. For example, if you are writing a performance review for a sales manager, you might explain how it has been observed that the sales manager’s team generated $5 million dollars in sales. 

You should include any statistics or data that is relevant to the manager’s performance. This can include data from peer and self-reviews. Including this information will help to give the manager an understanding of the results he or she achieved during the review period. You can also include any other information that you have observed about the manager’s behavior or handling of various tasks in this section. 

2. Explain how the manager’s performance has met or not met goals or expectations 

Once you have written about and explained all of the data and your own observations regarding the manager’s performance, the next step is to describe in detail how the performance has met or not met expectations. For example, if time management is a concern, you may want to detail how a project that was supposed to be finished by April 20th was delayed until May 2nd and the impact this had on the organization. 

Conversely, if a manager has been meeting all expectations, then you should highlight this information as well. Keep the tone of your writing professional and respectful. 

3. Be direct and specific 

When you are writing your performance review, you should try to be direct and very specific. Get to the point and don’t be vague, even if you know that the manager might not particularly like what you write. You can also use “I” statements so that you are demonstrating accountability for your review. For example, you can say, “I noticed that you were late for work 12 times this quarter.” 

Being direct and specific prevents you from providing feedback that is misunderstood. It also prevents your managers from thinking that if they make mistakes or don’t live up to expectations that it will go unnoticed. 

4. Try to remain objective and avoid being biased 

There are a number of ways a person could accidentally write a manager performance review tinged with unconscious bias. For example, a reviewer may tend to view managers who are similar to him or her in terms of personality, height, age, etc. more favorably. A reviewer may also give too much weight to a manager’s recent performance and thus neglect to focus on the manager’s performance throughout the entire length of the review period. 

You should always strive to be as objective and fair as possible. This also means reviewing the manager’s performance based on the requirements and expectations of the job as opposed to how he or she compares to the performance of another manager, such as a top performer. 

5. Provide recommendations for steps the manager can take to improve performance

In your manager performance reviews, it is important not just to tell managers what they might be doing right or wrong. It is also important to be constructive with feedback about what they need to do to reach a higher level of performance or to set themselves up for advancement within your organization. 

If the manager is making critical mistakes in a specific area, provide instructions for how he or she can avoid making these mistakes. If a manager is performing well in a certain area, give him or her praise and encouragement to keep performing these tasks well. You can also give him or her recommendations for additional things he or she can do to boost their team’s morale and performance.

A bald male senior director gives his direct report, a female manager, feedback during her performance reviewExamples of Positive Feedback for Managers

Here are examples of positive feedback for manager reviews. 

  1. “I noticed that you met your sales goal of 10,000 units for the quarter. Well done!” 
  2. “Through the peer reviews I read, it has become clear to me that your peers think you are doing a great job.” 
  3. “Not only were you able to prevent the project from going over budget, which is excellent, but your team completed the project well ahead of schedule. You exceeded expectations in both areas.” 
  4. “I have witnessed many interactions that you have had with the employees who report to you and I noticed that your communication skills are exceptional. Keep up the good work!” 
  5. “There were 18 percent fewer customer complaints for your department this year. Well done.” 

Examples of Negative Feedback for Managers

Here are some examples of negative feedback for managers. 

  1. “I noticed that you fell short of your sales quota by 300 units.”
  2. “We have received 3 complaints from the employees who report to you that you have an ‘overly aggressive’ managerial style.” 
  3. “I noticed that there were 3 statistical errors in your presentation to our clients. We always strive for zero statistical errors in presentations. So, this is an area that needs to be improved.” 
  4. “I saw that you were regularly late to work last month. It is important to set a good example for your team by being on time.” 
  5. “Unfortunately, your department failed to meet its production quota under your leadership. Here are three steps I would recommend in order to fix this for next year…” 


Writing manager reviews might not be the most comfortable or thrilling part of your job. However, in order for managers to improve at their jobs, they need to hear meaningful and constructive feedback from their supervisors. Companies that provide consistent feedback also have turnover rates for employees that are lower compared to companies that do not.

After reading this article, you should have a much better understanding of how to write manager performance reviews that will make an impact in a respectful and professional way. In every stage of the employee lifecycle, INTOO helps employers protect their brand through effective candidate experience, career development, and outplacement services. Contact us to learn how we can make a difference for you and your employees.

INTOO Staff Writer

INTOO staff writers come from diverse backgrounds and have extensive experience writing about topics that matter to the HR and business communities, including outplacement, layoffs, career development, internal mobility, candidate experience, succession planning, talent acquisition, and more.

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