Performance reviews can be powerful tools when used correctly as they create a strong line of communication between manager and employee which constantly stays open. You can use the performance review process to tweak performance issues and to reinforce positive work which increases productivity and improves overall workplace morale. To make the most of the performance reviews in your firm, here are 12 performance review questions that you need to be asking as part of the process.
12 performance review questions
Throughout the year, whether during informal catch-ups or formal meetings, you can use some or all of these to help structure your conversation. Remember that your employees may have ideas or topics that they want to discuss as well so make sure that each conversation has a balanced mix of both.
Research has shown that there are 12 topics that individuals typically want to discuss with their Manager, so here are some example performance review questions that you can ask in each area.
1. Feedback - how do you feel your performance has been?
Many employees want constructive feedback on their performance at work so discuss this with them, asking them their views at first. Use a feedback model with them (e.g. SBO - Situation, Behaviour, Outcome/Impact) to review their performance and suggest what could be done differently. (Here’s a guide on managing low performers)
2. Strengths/areas for development - what do you do really well? What do you need to improve on?
Always ask what they think are their strengths and weaknesses first before giving your opinion as this provides a better-rounded discussion. Approach their areas for improvement in a positive way such as highlighting specific examples of where they may have already made steps in the right direction.
3. Work relationships - how effective are your relationships with colleagues and clients?
Relationships are essential to workplace productivity and morale and therefore, output, so this is an essential performance review question to ask. Make sure to review the quality of these relationships and work together on how these can be improved.
4. Progress - have you achieved your current objectives?
Reviewing current objectives and whether these have been met is an important area to cover in your performance reviews. Look at if they have been met (if not, why not?), if they still apply, and where appropriate, agree on new objectives for the next 3 months.
5. Expectations - do you know what is expected of you?
Clarify what you expect from your employee in terms of their performance and their progress. Make sure that they are clear on how their objectives will be measured and what success looks like to you. This should be a discussion, not a lecture.
6. Current development - do you feel that any development is needed for your role?
Discuss whether any development is required to ensure that they can meet their objectives in their current role. Whether it is their own personal development or something that needs to be done on your end, discuss and agree on the next steps.
7. The firm - are you aware of the future direction of this firm?
Your staff needs to be clear on your firm’s overall objectives and future direction to work effectively and efficiently, so update them on the firm’s strategy. Keep this brief but cover the external environment and influences as well (find out how to get staff to support your growth plans).
8. Aspirations - where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Ask your employee about their career aspirations and devise a plan with them to help them get there. There may just be future opportunities in the organisation that they can go for but they’ll need to work on certain areas or complete certain training first.
9. External opportunities - what opportunities are the most appealing to you (in or outside of the firm)?
Some individuals may want to talk about opportunities outside of the firm, especially if they reach a certain level and cannot progress anymore, so consider discussing this with them including what is most appealing about these opportunities. Maybe there are opportunities within the firm that are similar. Alternatively, if they ask this question, you don’t have to discuss it if you don’t want to.
10. Future development - what goals have you set and what do you need to work on to meet your aspirations?
Helping your employees meet their goals by providing them with any support that you can could increase their motivation and productivity. Discuss this with them and see what you can do.
11. Work in general - how do you feel about your work?
What is good or not so good about their work? How do they feel about their role and work now as well as in the future? Getting your own feedback from your employees can help you make improvements which will increase workplace morale and ultimately output.
12. Work-life balance - what is your work-life balance currently like?
It might be great or it might be suffering. By asking your employees if there is anything they would change about their work-life balance, you can make sure that you are giving them the support that they need.
By making the most of your reviews with a couple or all of these 12 performance review questions, you can make sure that you have a structured conversation that covers all of the main topics.