42 Employee Review Questions Every Manager Should Ask

Performance reviews help managers gain valuable insights from their teams. Use these questions to understand your team’s goals and help them reach their optimal performance.

Employee Review Questions

An employee review is a type of meeting that takes place between a manager and employee, usually at the end of the year. It’s a discussion that covers employee performance and where feedback is openly exchanged by both parties.

Performance reviews are the perfect opportunity to provide constructive feedback to your employees, to understand their personal goals and to make a plan to attain them together. In fact, giving and receiving feedback is a pillar to any performance review. It’s also a chance for managers to become better leaders by gaining valuable takeaways from their team. 

It’s really important to take some time, whether it’s every six months, or every year, to just zoom out. And as a manager, look at the person’s career and where it’s going. What went well over the past six months, and what didn’t go well?”

Interview with Lenny Rachitsky, Former Product Lead at Airbnb

To obtain even more valuable insights during a performance evaluation, you can ask targeted and specific questions, concerning performance, important goals and aspirations. For that reason, Fellow has outlined the kind of questions that every manager should ask during a performance evaluation. These questions are going to prove that you value employee engagement, the development of your team, and that employee growth and satisfaction is your priority. 

Keep scrolling for essential performance review questions that you should be asking your team members:

42 Employee Review Questions

Overall performance and accomplishments

Start performance reviews by understanding how your team member feels about their overall performance. This kind of employee feedback is important to see what your team members are proud of and to understand how they feel they’re performing in general.

As a review process, it’s a good idea to ask about how the team member did in realizing or not quite realizing their previously set goals. Find out what motivates them and which kind of working conditions allow them to thrive. Here are some questions you can use to start a conversation about your direct report’s overall performance:

Employee strengths

It’s important that you focus on your team members strengths and acknowledge what they’re doing well in their current role. In asking employees about their perceived strengths, you’re also going to gain additional perspective, because qualities they share with you may be different than the ones you notice. In many cases, there are skills that managers are unaware of, because the employee hasn’t had the opportunity to showcase them yet.

Learning about employee strengths from your employee is a great performance management opportunity for you to understand how you can manage strengths and utilize them for the benefit of the organization. Ask questions such as:

Areas of improvement

Next, you want to focus on areas of improvement. This part of the performance review process isn’t negative by any means – in fact, it’s going to teach you what your employee wants to work on and how you can help them get there. There’s always room for improvement, no matter how well an employee is performing, so don’t shy away from constructive feedback, because it’s valuable for any effective employee. In a recent article by the Harvard Business Review, they highlight:

“Employees want more accurate and candid negative feedback, so it’s a win for all if managers can give it. But managers should be aware of potential implications for their employees’ well-being and on retention if evaluations become too harsh.”

On that note, make sure you’re taking a constructive rather than critical approach. It’s a good idea to focus on 1 or 2 points, instead of overloading employee feedback that might seem negative, won’t be recalled and that will feel overwhelming. Here are some questions you can ask to start a conversation about your teammate’s areas of improvement:

Current role

When you discuss your team members’ current role, you gain an understanding of what they’re enjoying about their job and which responsibilities they might not be loving as much. This gives you the opportunity to reorganize their daily tasks where you can, to accommodate them and therefore also keep them motivated.

Asking about how an employee believes their specific position supports the company’s success will let you know if they feel like they are part of the bigger picture and if they recognize the value they’re adding. Don’t forget to inquire about what your employee likes about their role. This way, you can ensure that those aspects of the job are nurtured and grown to promote satisfaction in the workplace.

Future outlook

When you ask about employee aspirations and goals, you begin to understand what really motivates them. Think about what kinds of tools and resources you can offer to support professional development and see what you can do to help them achieve their goals for the next quarter.

Because the majority of business has been conducted in a remote setting this year, in another article, the Harvard Business Review makes a great point that managers may need to shift the way they look at performance reviews for the future. In their interview with Mark Mortensen, associate professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD they share:

“In this (remote) environment, you may need more frequent, smaller evaluations such as semi-annual or quarterly check-ins. This will give you, the manager, ‘an opportunity to provide real feedback’ and gives employees the chance ‘to make adjustments and calibrations’…. This period ‘represents an opportunity to pivot toward a people-focused management system, built around resilience and agility, instead of efficiency and competitiveness at any cost’”. 

Here are some questions you can ask to start a conversation about the future:

Manager-employee relationship

A performance evaluation serves as a great chance to build relationships with team members. Everyone likes to be managed in different ways, so it is really important that you discuss what kind of management style works best for your employees.

In discussing how to give and receive feedback and recognition, you are learning about how to best teach, motivate and support your team. It might be a good idea to ask how often each employee likes to be checked-in with. Sometimes more frequent and informal conversations can be a lot more effective. Lasty, ask about if there’s anything you can do to better support them in their role. 

Company culture

Company culture is a huge part of employee engagement and satisfaction. It’s important that when you check-in with your team members that you get a sense if individuals feel as if they are really a part of the larger collective.

A major aspect of company culture is adapting and changing business practices as trends emerge. Asking your employees if they’re comfortable with your corporate culture is hugely helpful to understand how to boost employee productivity and efficiency. Our work environment is extremely influential on productivity so make sure that you understand how the corporate environment impacts employee engagement and where improvements can be made to work life. 

Summary

Performance reviews help managers gain valuable insights from their teams. If you want to use this opportunity to understand your team’s goals and help them reach their optimal performance, make sure to ask about the following 7 topics:

  1. Overall performance and accomplishments
  2. Employee strengths
  3. Areas of improvement
  4. Current role
  5. Future outlook
  6. Manager-employee relationship
  7. Company culture

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