Performance Appraisal Buzzwords

Updated December 4, 2019
Performance Appraisal Buzzwords

One of the most nerve-wracking times for a worker is a performance appraisal, but it's the performance appraisal buzzwords that often sound like nails on a blackboard. What do those bizarre phrases mean in plain English? (And do people really talk like that?) Actually, yes, they do. It's the jargon of the corporation, and there are people in the human resources department who believe that kind of language is a sign of an educated employee. Fret not. You don't have to turn into an automaton to navigate your way around performance appraisal buzzwords.

Common Performance Appraisal Buzzwords

Performance appraisal buzzwords show up in your annual performance review, and there are some keywords that show up over and over. Here are a few examples of some of the buzzwords you can expect to see on your report.



If there is any word or phrase that lights a fire under a human resources manager, it's the word "team." Everything is done in teams or by teams, and if you aren't that most valued of employees, a "team player," you'd better start scoping out your unemployment office. Nothing, but nothing, thrills the jargon speaker as the "team player."

So what is a team player? This goes beyond middle school volleyball games. A team player is someone who gets along well with others, who keeps their head down and doesn't draw attention to themselves (individuality is the sworn enemy of the team player mentality.)

The employee with the proper "team player" mentality doesn't draw a line at his own work. His own work never ends. He takes on whatever is given to him, and if he has to he will do more than what seems reasonable or fair. He will pick up the load of a slacker fellow worker and the team player does that work and never says a word of complaint.

Yes, the team player is a very desirable employee. In other eras, "team player" might not have been appreciated as much as they are today, but then, we live in a far more linguistically-enlightened society.



For an area so dependent upon its own peculiar jargon, one of the most used and important of the performance appraisal buzzwords is "communication," and variations thereof.

Good team players need to communicate and to do it often and well. Employees will find that the word pops up continually in their company, and for a good reason.

While HR managers may not always be particularly adept at communication themselves, it's extremely important that everyone else in the company communicate well.

Things stall in companies where people don't know how to talk to one another. Communication refers to verbal and written wording, and one must be good at both to get a positive job performance evaluation.

Core Competencies

So what exactly are "core competencies"? That's a phrase that pops up quite often on the list of performance appraisal buzzwords. It's usually job position-specific, meaning that the core competencies, for, say, an administrative assistant would be the list of skills he or she would need to perform their job.

It's not just steno and typing. The list of competencies could be lengthy, including such things as:

  • Answering the phone professionally in a busy office
  • Dealing effectively and appropriately with communications involving office situations received by telephone
  • Taking accurate and neat notes
  • Deciding on the urgency of the communications
  • Using appropriate discretion on passing the notes to authorities

That means a secretary who takes a phone call and uses her judgment if the call is routine, or if it's an emergency she must get her boss's attention immediately.



Another word that routinely pops up in appraisals is "empowerment." This is an odd word, to say the least, when talking about the details of human resources professionals in big corporations.

One may think that big companies wouldn't want their employees to get too empowered; that could lead to dissatisfaction, unionizing, and strikes!

The idea behind empowerment is that it gives employees the sensation that they've taken their jobs into their own hands, and that they can now harness that feeling to take charge of their destinies to the company's betterment.

Meet the Objective

Now you're familiar with some performance appraisal buzzwords your employee appraisal can be a more useful and positive experience.