Performance reviews are a common way for organizations to evaluate an employee’s job performance and assess their overall contribution to the company. One important aspect of a performance review is adaptability, or the ability to quickly adjust to changing circumstances. Employees who demonstrate adaptability thrive in a variety of situations: client facing, under tight deadlines, and may be able to switch between front and back of house tasks seamlessly. 

According to a survey conducted by Harvard Business School, 71% of executives say adaptability is one of the most important leadership qualities today. This article from BBC states that people who are proficient in adaptability are 25% more likely to be employed. Considering what we know this is an essential soft skill for employees.

If it’s performance review time, coming up with direct feedback is one option. But I’ve also provide you with a second option to scroll down for examples and inspiration. Listed below are performance review phrases that offer positive feedback and constructive criticism for this employee behavior. 

What does adaptability mean in the workplace?

Adaptability refers to an individual’s ability to respond and adjust to changes in their work environment. This can include changes in processes, technologies, or even the people they work with. Being adaptable in the workplace means being able to quickly and effectively adapt to these changes in order to continue being productive and successful in one’s job.

One simple example of employee adaptability is when the global pandemic hit about two years ago. At the time, many office works had to quickly shift to working from home. This transition came easy for some employees, but others struggled away from a workplace.   

If an employee is not adaptable in the workplace, they may struggle when faced with organization changes or a changing work role. This can impact their productivity and effectiveness on the job, and may make it difficult for them to work well with others. In some cases, an employee who is not adaptable may be at risk of losing their job, especially in fast-paced work environment where automation is making some positions could become obsolete. 

Finally, adaptability is a highly valued skill in many industries, and employers often look for employees who are able to adapt and learn new things quickly. After all, the needs of businesses are constantly changing to adapt to consumer preferences and regulation. By remaining flexible as an employee, you’ll be ready for whatever curve ball life throws your way. 

Positive Performance Review Phrases for Adaptability

What are some ways your staff adapted during the last 12 months?

  • You consistently demonstrate your ability to adapt to new situations and challenges. Last month, you completed research about a new product we are considering bringing to market. You really stretched yourself in this situation and have no-doubt grown. 
  • You have shown to have a flexible mindset and are able to quickly adjust your approach as needed.
  • When it comes to the ability to adapt to changes in the workplace, you are quick on your feet. This even includes new processes and technologies.
  • Moving from an accounting position into a sales role is not a natural move. While the transition was at times challenging, your attitude toward the change was inspiring.
  • The employee has a keen ability to identify potential challenges and proactively develop solutions.
  • I know working from home with kids in the house isn’t easy. I really admire how you made a home office that provided you with a quiet space to work and be productive.
  • You regularly demonstrate an ability to take on new tasks and responsibilities seemingly with ease. You demonstrated an ability to complete self-learning projects and then execute on the information gained. 
  • Out of all employees, you have a proven track record of successfully navigating and adapting to changing conditions.

The employee has a positive attitude towards change and is able to quickly adapt to new situations.

  • You show a strong ability to adapt your communication style to fit the needs of your audience. Last year you provided presentations to waitstaff, customers, and even investors who were evaluating our restaurant chain for acquisition. These are all activities that would have stressed out some employees. 
  • You have a flexible approach to problem-solving and are able to find creative solutions in challenging situations. 
  • The employee has shown their adaptability in a variety of work environments and has consistently achieved success. I can’t believe how far you’ve come over the past year and can’t wait to see what the future holds. 
  • You are open to new ideas and are able to adapt your approach based on feedback and input from others.
  • You have a natural ability to adapt to new situations and quickly become a valuable member of the team.
  • The employee has a strong sense of adaptability and is able to remain calm and focused in high-pressure situations.
  • The employee has a flexible approach to their work and is able to adapt to changing priorities and deadlines.
  • You consistently demonstrate your ability to adapt and excel in new and unfamiliar environments.

Needs Improvement Performance Review Phrases for Adaptability

Writing a performance review about adaptability.

  • You need to improve your ability to adapt to new situations and environments.
  • Next year, I encourage you to get outside your comfort zone more. Schedule coffee dates with individuals outside your workgroup, take on projects, pitch your great ideas to management.
  • We noticed that you have struggled to adapt to change and new challenges in the workplace. I suggest taking our two hour video series on adaptability in the workplace. This video will give you the skills required to navigate a fast-changing workplace like this one. 
  • Has difficulty embracing and implementing new ideas and processes. We understand that you don’t like change. But think about the transition as another chance to learn and become more valuable to the organization. 
  • Needs to work on being more flexible and open-minded in their approach to tasks. I know you didn’t like the feedback the external consultant provided about your role. But why not give it a try? You may discover there are some valuable nuggets provided. 
  • Can be resistant to change and may require extra support and guidance in adjusting to new situations. Next year, instead of fighting against change, swim with the current instead and see how far you can go. 
  • Needs to improve their problem-solving skills in order to better adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Can be hesitant to try new things and may need to work on taking more risks in order to adapt to new challenges.
  • Needs to develop a better understanding of the importance of adaptability in the workplace.
  • You have a tendency to get stuck in your ways and may need to work on being more open to new ideas and approaches.

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  • Can be slow to adjust to changes and needs to improve ability to think on ones feet. We will be adding more menu items over the next 12 months and need you to be able to make new recipes. 
  • You need to work on their communication skills in order to better collaborate and adapt to the needs of your team. Try to be more curious about what employees are saying and thinking. There might be a better way to do things. 
  • You can be inflexible in your thinking and may need to work on being more open-minded in order to adapt to new situations.
  • Needs to develop a more proactive and forward-thinking approach in order to better adapt to changing circumstances. Last year, sales of our point of sale software was down and we’ll need to make ongoing pivots. 
  • You tend to be resistant to feedback and may need to work on being more receptive to constructive criticism in order to improve your adaptability in the office.
  • Needs to improve their ability to learn from their mistakes and use past experiences to inform their approach to new challenges.

Self-Evaluation Performance Review Phrases about Adaptability

Don’t get stressed out about employee appraisals.

  • I am quick to learn new skills and adapt to changing environments in the workplace.
  • I am able to easily switch between tasks and adjust to new situations, allowing me to be more productive.
  • I have a flexible approach to problem-solving and can think on my feet when the situation calls for it. I did my best to adjust to a new direct manager from outside the company. 
  • I am open to feedback and willing to try new things in order to improve. I spent my nights pursuing an MBA so I can be even more valuable to the company. 
  • I am able to adapt to new processes and procedures quickly and efficiently. I led a small team of waiters to make their largest amount of desserts upsells ever in the restaurant. 

I have a strong ability to learn from my mistakes and use that knowledge to improve in the future. I don’t make the same mistake twice. 

  • I am able to take on new challenges and responsibilities without becoming overwhelmed. I’m not afraid to push myself. 
  • I have a good understanding of how to adapt to different customer needs and expectations. I have really focused on improving my listening skills so I can pull out these little nuggets of value for the business. 
  • I am able to work well in a team environment and adapt to the varying styles and personalities of my colleagues. This was a big stretch for me because I typically enjoy doing things alone. 
  • I am able to adapt my communication style to different audiences and situations.
  • I have shown to be adaptable with my work style to different deadlines and time constraints.
  • I am able to quickly adapt to new technology and systems.
  • I am proactive in seeking out opportunities to learn and grow, and am able to adapt to new information and changes easily.
  • I am able to remain calm and composed in stressful or unpredictable situations, and adapt my approach as needed.
  • I am consistently looking for ways to improve my adaptability and flexibility in order to better serve the needs of the company.

Positive Performance Review Phrases for Flexibility

You demonstrated flexibility within your role.

  • Demonstrates a high level of flexibility in their approach to work tasks and responsibilities.
  • Is able to easily adapt to changing priorities and circumstances.
  • Has a positive attitude towards taking on new challenges and learning new skills.
  • Shows a willingness to take on additional responsibilities and work outside of their defined role.
  • Is able to effectively manage multiple competing priorities without losing focus or efficiency.
  • Demonstrates a strong ability to think on their feet and come up with creative solutions to complex problems.
  • Is able to quickly adjust their plans and approach in response to feedback or changing conditions.
  • Has a track record of successfully leading and coordinating cross-functional teams and projects.
  • Is able to effectively manage and resolve conflicts and challenges within their team.
  • Demonstrates a strong ability to anticipate and prepare for potential roadblocks or obstacles.
  • Has a reputation for being highly organized and able to effectively manage their time and resources.
  • Is able to effectively communicate and collaborate with team members and stakeholders to achieve common goals.
  • Is open to new ideas and approaches, and is not afraid to try new things in order to achieve success.
  • Has a strong ability to remain calm and composed under pressure, and is able to effectively manage stress and difficult situations.
  • Demonstrates a high level of resilience and determination, and is able to overcome obstacles and setbacks to achieve their goals.

Needs Improvement Performance Review Phrases for Flexibility

Changing work environments is a form of flexibility.

  • Your flexibility in handling changing priorities and unexpected tasks could be improved to better improve your team’s productivity.
  • You could benefit from being more adaptable and willing to try new approaches to prevent a hit in efficiency. Embracing the latest software updates will help you accomplish this. 
  • Your ability to adjust to different work styles and environments could be enhanced. I know you like the corner cubical, but you might also get value from being around different employees to broaden your network. 

You could improve your openness to feedback and new ideas. Don’t take it personally when someone adds an idea or provides feedback. They are only trying to be helpful. Always assume positive intent. 

  • Your flexibility in working with different teams and colleagues could be strengthened.
  • You could benefit from being more open-minded and receptive to change.

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  • Your ability to pivot and shift gears in response to changing circumstances could be improved.
  • You could benefit from being more flexible and willing to take on new challenges.
  • Your flexibility in managing your time and balancing competing priorities could be enhanced.
  • You could improve your ability to adapt to new technologies and ways of working.
  • Your flexibility in problem-solving and coming up with creative solutions could be strengthened.
  • You could benefit from being more open to collaboration and working with others.
  • Your flexibility in dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty could be improved.
  • You could benefit from being more adaptable and responsive to customer needs.
  • Your flexibility in navigating and learning new systems and processes could be enhanced. Working through a new process is always a challenge. But the payoff from an operations perspective makes the project worthwhile. 

What traits can you encourage for employees to improve their adaptability at work?

There are several traits that can be developed by employees to improve their adaptability at work. Some of these include:

  • Flexibility – Being open to change and willing to try new things can help employees adapt to new situations and challenges more easily.
  • Open-mindedness – Having an open and curious mindset can help employees approach new situations with a willingness to learn and grow.
  • Resourcefulness – The ability to think on one’s feet and come up with creative solutions to problems can be helpful in adapting to changing circumstances.
  • Resilience – Being able to bounce back from setbacks and continue moving forward can help employees stay focused and motivated when faced with challenges.
  • Collaboration – Working well with others and being able to communicate effectively can help employees navigate complex situations and find solutions together.

When providing feedback like this in an employee appraisal, I always try to be specific in my feedback as well. Always try to offer specific examples or ideas on ways adaptability could be improved. Could you take a class that provides instruction on dealing with change? Is there a special project the employee could take on that would test them? Build an actionable plan so that the employee knows what they can do to improve in this area.

Ultimately, encouraging this trait in your employees can help them develop their adaptability skills and become more successful in current and future roles. A strong emphasis on adaptability in a performance review helps employees understand the importance of this skill and ways to improve, ultimately benefiting both the individual and organization.