Managers: 15 Performance Review Questions You Should Be Asking

Performance reviews can help you gain valuable insight from your team. Use these 15 questions to understand employee goals and gain a clear vision with regards to performance.

By Kate Dagher  •   July 21, 2020  •   7 min read

A performance review is an opportunity for you to provide some helpful feedback to your employees, to understand their goals and to make a plan to attain them together. It is also an opportunity for managers to become better leaders by gaining valuable insights from their team.

Asking targeted and specific questions during employee evaluations can help you gain a clear vision with regards to performance, important goals and aspirations.

Creating your performance review to hold an in-depth conversation with your employees is going to show them that you value their development and are there to support them in any way that you can to see their growth come to fruition. 

What is a performance review?

A performance review is a meeting that takes place between a manager and an employee. It’s a two-way conversation which discusses employee performance, effectiveness and where feedback is provided by both parties. This feedback can then be used by both the manager and employee to improve their own performances. 

We suggest including the following topics in your performance review meeting agenda:

  1. 360 feedback: collect feedback from your direct report’s peers.
  2. Achievements: focus on your employee’s wins and progress.
  3. Opportunities: discuss your direct report’s opportunities for improvement.
  4. Ideas: ask for feedback about the company and team culture.

The performance review is also a great opportunity to talk about anything administration related, such as requesting time off, asking for a raise in salary, or inquiring about a possible promotion. The review process is a great time to talk about professional development but it is also an opportunity to build a stronger relationship between a manager and team member. 

Pro Tip

Don’t wait for performance reviews to exchange feedback. Remember to schedule regular one-on-one meetings where you talk about roadblocks, priorities, and opportunities for improvement. Download the definitive guide to one-on-one meetings to learn more.

The Art of the One on One Meeting

15 Top questions to ask in a performance review

It seems like there are a million questions that managers can ask during employee evaluations. Moreover, some questions are much more effective than others for these performance review conversations. For that reason, the Fellow team has outlined 15 questions that any manager should be asking during employee reviews.

To keep you as organized as possible, we’ve divided them into subsections so that you know what question to ask at which point in your conversation. 

Let’s start with some questions that inquire about your employee’s overall performance: 

Questions about performance ⚡️

A great way to start a performance review is by gaining a general idea about how your employee is feeling about their overall performance in their role. Employee performance is definitely affected by the work environment, which makes it important to ask about how your employee feels about their working conditions. 

As a review process, it is also important to ask about how they did in realizing or not quite realizing their previously set goals and find out what motivates them

Here are some great questions to gain some insight on your employees’ overall performance at work:What are your ideal working conditions to be the most productive?

1) Which goals did you meet this quarter?

2) Which goals fell short?

3) What motivates you to get your work done?

Questions about employee strengths 💪

It is very important to talk about the strengths of your team member and acknowledge what they are doing well as part of their performance evaluation. In asking them about their perceived strengths, you may realize that the qualities they share with you are different than what you may have expected. This is why it serves as a great learning opportunity for you, as a manager. 

It is not only essential to talk about what makes your employee a great fit for their role but to also ask them which skills you can optimize for the benefit of your organization as a whole. Maybe they have a great skill that you are unaware of because the opportunity to showcase it has not yet presented itself. 

Here are some questions that you can ask to talk about your employee strengths: 

4) What projects / skills / accomplishments are you the most proud of? 

5) What skills do you have that you believe we could use more effectively?

Receive Constructive Feedback Work

Questions about growth and areas of improvement 🌱

No matter how incredible any member of your team is, there is always room for improvement! It’s important to go over this part of the performance review with a constructive, rather than critical approach. 

Discussing areas of improvement and constructive feedback is also going to educate you on what your employee wants to work on specifically and how you can help them get there. 

Here are some questions to enrich your knowledge on areas your employee would like to work on: 

6) What 2-3 skills will you focus on in the next quarter to help you grow and develop?

7) What can I do to help you improve in these areas / better meet your goals?

Questions about your employee’s current role 🔍

In discussing your team members’ current role, you can gain an understanding on what they are enjoying about their position and which responsibilities they’re just not loving. This way, you can reorganize their duties as much as possible to accommodate and motivate them. 

Asking about how they believe they think their specific position helps the company succeed will let you know if they feel like they are part of the bigger team and recognize the value they’re adding. If they aren’t recognizing it, that is something you can help them with! In inquiring about what your employee likes about working for your organization, you can ensure that those qualities are nurtured and grown to promote happiness in the workplace. 

Here are some questions that you can ask to talk about your employees’ current position: 

8) Which job responsibilities/tasks do you enjoy most? Which do you least enjoy?

9) How do you think your role helps the company succeed?

10) What do you like most about working for this company?

Questions about the future outlook 🚀

Asking about your team members’ aspirations will help you understand what really drives them. 

Look into what kinds of tools and resources you can provide to best support your employees’ professional development and see what you can do to help them meet their goals for the next quarter. 

Here are some questions that you can use to learn more about your team members career aspirations and professional goals: 

11) What type of career growth is most important to you?

12) What are your most important goals for the next quarter?

Questions to foster a stronger relationship 🤝

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. You also have the opportunity to learn about how you can be more helpful to your team when it comes to getting their work done. Lastly, you can discuss if your team member feels you could be checking in with any other team members to gain additional insights on their performance. 

Here are some questions that you can use to foster a stronger manager-employee relationship: 

13) How do you prefer to receive feedback and/or recognition for your work?

14) What do I do that is most/least helpful for you when it comes to completing your work?

15) Is there anyone else it would be valuable for me to check-in with and get feedback from?

How to run effective performance reviews 

Performance reviews don’t have to be a meeting that managers and employees dread. Quite the opposite, they are a fantastic opportunity to learn about one another and discuss exciting opportunities that lie ahead. 

These conversations are extremely important, so make sure that you are planning them with enough time to really dive deeply into how your employee is doing in every aspect of their work. It’s also a good idea to plan extra time so that you can freely discuss any questions, concerns or have some extra time for simply catching up on more of a personal level. 

Refer back to these 15 questions to ask during a performance review to keep your discussion on track and yield insightful information from your team members! 

Finally, consider using an app like Fellow to collect 360 feedback and track all your meeting notes and action items in one place.

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