As a versatile project manager and HR content writer, Michelle develops successful organizational development programs and shares insights with the world at large to facilitate healthy workplace cultures of diversity, inclusivity, and advancement. She has written about manager development, remote work, project & time management, employee well-being, and other relevant topics to help people excel in the modern workplace.
Pub: July 27 2020
Upd: November 14 2022
Employee reviews are a critical part of any organization’s people strategy. They provide managers and employees with a dedicated space to share feedback, discuss areas of improvement, or plan future goals. They also provide useful data about employee sentiment and performance while uncovering strengths and weaknesses.
One of the most difficult things to do for performance reviews is coming up with the ideal questions to ask. After all, managers want to know how their employees feel, how successful (or unsuccessful) employee performance was during the past year, how their employees influence their team members, either positively or negatively, etc. Everything and anything that helps improve performance management.
In this article, we want to provide you with some performance review questions that’ll help you craft an excellent performance evaluation.
The structure of a performance review directly correlates to how effective it is. When setting up a performance review, consider the following:
- Schedule the meeting in advance. This gives both parties enough time to prepare by reflecting on the past year, as well as collecting examples of successful projects or feedback.
- Keep a conversational tone. Both parties have valuable input and should share it. Reviews should never be a monologue! Insightful employee evaluation questions can spark some great conversations about performance.
- Keep it balanced. Performance review questions should review what went well over the year, as well as what did not go as well. Do not focus too much on one or the other - this leads to missed opportunities for discussion and planning.
- Communicate the desired outcomes and next steps for the review process. Is this a review to look backward at the previous year's performance, an opportunity to set personal goals for the future, or both?
Good performance review questions make the difference between effective and ineffective performance reviews. Performance review questions should have a clear set of answers, limited scope, and relate to specific goals or job functions. Consider the questions below when preparing for your next performance review.
Overall Performance Review Questions:
- Let’s talk about your goals for the year. Which were completed/not completed? What contributed to these outcomes?
- What did you accomplish this year that you are most proud of?
- What motivates you in your day-to-day work?
- What are your ideal working conditions to be as productive as possible?
These evaluation questions set the tone for the rest of the performance review by giving a big picture description of how the year went. Employees can talk about their accomplishments for the year without coming off as bragging, as well as provide their manager with necessary information regarding motivation and productivity.
- What do you see as your strengths? How do they help you complete your work?
- How can we use your skills more effectively?
To effectively run a team, a manager needs to identify the team members' strengths and weaknesses. This is often done by observing employee performance, but employee self-reflection also plays an influential role. By asking these performance review questions, managers can fill any knowledge gaps and better use their employees’ skill sets to drive further success on the team.
Areas of Improvement:
- Where do you feel there is room for you to improve?
- What goals/deliverables were you least proud of? Why? How will you do those differently in the future?
- What 2-3 things will you focus on in the next quarter to help you grow and develop?
- What can I do to help you better meet your goals?
Talking about areas of improvement usually inspires dread on the employee side. But it gives both managers and employees some space for honest self-reflection. These employment review questions explore why specific projects did not succeed as planned, along with offering manager support where needed.
- Which job responsibilities/tasks do you enjoy the most? The least?
- How do you think your role helps the company succeed?
During performance reviews, these questions provide employees with valuable space to let it all out - what do you actually like about your role? Managers can identify pain points that are blocking success and put employee performance into context. By asking an employee how their role connects to the success of the company, managers help employees to think about the big picture and how all positions relate to organizational goals.
- What are your most important goals for the next quarter/year?
- How do you see yourself progressing within the company? What would you want your next position to be?
- Are there any professional development opportunities that you want to explore in the near future?
- Where do you feel there is room for us as a company to improve?
Forward-looking employee review questions are a vital part of any performance review. When thinking about employee development and the future of their team members, managers need to have a clear understanding of how their employee envisions themself growing within the company. By understanding long-term plans, managers can motivate and mentor their team by providing career development opportunities and introducing them to people of interest. This is also important for succession planning down the line.
- How do you prefer to receive feedback and/or recognition for your work?
- Do you have any concerns when it comes to giving me feedback? How can I alleviate them?
- What are two to three things I could do differently to manage you better?
- What do I do that is most/least helpful for you when it comes to completing your work?
It’s commonly said that employees don't leave organizations; they leave managers. These performance review questions allow managers to foster a stronger relationship with their team by opening the floor to harder questions. Employees sometimes don’t feel comfortable giving feedback to managers, so by including this in performance reviews, not only do managers get relevant information on how to drive better performance, but they also receive feedback on how to improve their management skills.
At their best, performance conversations with insightful review questions inspire an ongoing dialogue between managers and employees. Both parties need to have a dedicated space to discuss areas of improvement, successful behaviors, and future plans. By using these performance review questions and following the guidelines above, your next performance evaluation will give you the insights you need to move your team forward in the year to come.