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The Best Questions To Ask in Performance Reviews

HR & Compliance

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Updated on:
April 11, 2024
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Updated on :

April 11, 2024
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The Best Questions To Ask in Performance Reviews


Employee performance reviews are important meetings between an employer and employee that offer the opportunity to discuss job performance, set goals, identify areas of potential improvement, and recognize successes. During the review, employers should openly communicate their strengths and weaknesses with employees. The objectives are to:

  • Provide constructive feedback that can help them develop as professionals
  • Agree on specific goals to measure progress within a given timeline
  • Encourage the development of new skills or career paths

From the employee side, they should take responsibility for outlining their achievements and aspirations while also being open to criticism and suggestions from their manager. This allows both sides to have an effective exchange showing mutual respect toward one another. That, in turn, lays a foundation for better job satisfaction and engagement.

Good employee reviews rely on key factors: good processes and good performance review questions.

Should We Ask More Questions in Reviews?

More isn’t always better. Both sides should ask questions to understand each other more deeply. What's important is asking the right kind of questions.

Asking the right questions for reviews lets you not only employee performance and create an environment of open dialogue and exchange. The right questions help employers gain more insight into the overall job satisfaction of their employees, as well as what may be affecting or limiting their progress or productivity on the job. Review questions need to be tailored to each individual or role within an organization, as this will contribute to a better understanding of job performance in relation to company objectives and allow feedback that facilitates professional development.

Employers should ask questions specific to each individual’s work style and talent. This could include topics such as time management skills, professional development goals, are collaboration efforts between team members. Open-ended conversations during reviews allow both sides to discuss expectations honestly while maintaining a positive outlook toward improvement.

For example, managers should focus on specific areas within their team and how employees view them as strengths or opportunities for improvement. Employees could also be asked what motivates them or how they measure their achievements against set goals and objectives. The idea here is not just for employers or employees to ask lots of questions in general but that both parties are methodically learning about each other's work experience – opening an honest dialogue about employee engagement levels for better job satisfaction overall.

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What Kind of Review Questions Should I Ask?

When conducting an employee review, it’s essential to ask questions to understand how the employee is performing and progressing. Some common questions to ask during a performance review include:

  • What accomplishments has the employee achieved over the past period?
  • What challenges did they encounter along the way?  
  • How does this individual's performance compare with those around them?
  • What areas might benefit from improvement or additional training?  

Remember, an effective review provides both parties comprehensive information about each other, facilitating communication and collaboration.

The Elements of Employee Engagement

Depending on your company policy and culture, employee engagement can be defined through four key elements: loyalty, trust, commitment, and motivation. However, for a more generalized approach that can suit a broader audience, we can categorize employee engagement into three main elements: commitment, involvement, and energy.

For performance reviews to be effective in creating engaged employees, these elements must be considered:

  • Commitment: Are employees motivated by their work? This can be gauged by discussing possible career aspirations and paths each employee would like to pursue.
  • Involvement: How involved are staff in decision-making processes relating to their job roles or team goals? Ensuring you create an open dialogue about how decisions could have been handled differently is key for engagement.  
  • Energy/excitement level: Uncovering new values throughout a review that could positively affect future projects or plans can also help foster enthusiasm within the workforce — something feedback should strive towards at all times.

Best Performance Review Questions for Employees

To ensure a constructive result from the review process, it's best to provide thought-provoking employee review questions to help both sides better understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The following list contains a few example review questions for employees that would be beneficial during this kind of exchange:

  • Strengths and weaknesses: What are your greatest strengths in your current role? How can we better support you to complete tasks more effectively? Are there any areas where you'd like additional training or development opportunities?
  • Challenges: What aspects of the job do you find most challenging, and how are you attempting to address them?  
  • Knowledge awareness questions: Do you feel well informed about changes in our company and industry that may affect your role?
  • Suggestions for improvement: Do you have any suggestions for further improvement of business processes within the team/company that derives from your insight into the day-to-day operations of our unit?
  • Goal-setting questions: What personal goals would you like to discuss for future review periods, including objectives related to increased responsibility or performance targets?

Best Performance Review Questions for Managers

Performance review questions for managers and employees are different, focusing on the leadership style or individual contribution that a manager has shown.

For example, managers might be asked how they communicate expectations to their team or how successful their efforts have motivated individual staff members. On the other hand, employee performance reviews will generally focus more closely on self-assessment of strengths and weaknesses as well as setting achievable goals. Of course, it is also important to ask both groups questions around industry knowledge — current trends/updates impacting activities at work — so understanding is kept current across all levels within an organization.

Some of the best questions to ask include:

  • Communication questions: Is the manager clear in communication and expectations?
  • Leadership questions: Do they exhibit effective leadership qualities during challenging projects/situations?
  • Motivation questions: Are they successfully motivating and engaging their team? If so, how?
  • Development of self and others: How have their efforts contributed to developing individual team members’ skill sets over time? Should be done to cultivate a culture and maintain support for ongoing learning/development?
  • Productivity questions: What could make them more efficient as managers or increase overall group productivity, given the latest updates in industry trends?

Additional Questions for Performance Management Assessments

There are also some questions for employee reviews that are just good to ask in general. They can further contextualize situations and my additional insights or let the review party know you’re interested in their feedback.

  • Problem-solving/decision-making: Can they calmly and quickly assess complex problems, identify root causes and take appropriate action?
  • Accountability and results: How has their performance affected the broader organization in meeting strategic objectives or other critical outcomes?  
  • Innovation: Do they think the organization is doing enough to bring innovative ideas into the team? How can they facilitate further groundbreaking problem-solving?
  • Team collaboration/synergy: What role do they play within a larger team environment when fostering an atmosphere of collaboration and communication openness towards others’ perspectives (and constructive criticism), if any?

Find Excellent Team Members With Skuad

As your company rapidly expands, you'll likely need extra assistance. For successful performance reviews and beyond, a comprehensive recruiting and hiring process is the foundation for success.

If a global workforce is part of your vision, you'll have extra considerations since international and remote employment regulations can get complicated quickly. 

Skuad is a global employment and payroll platform that handles complex employment activities on behalf of organizations. Skuad enables organizations to hire contractors and full-time employees in over 160 countries without setting up subsidiaries. With Skuad, organizations can also onboard talent, manage payroll and ensure compliance with country-specific employment laws.

To know more about Skuad, book a demo today.

About the author

Catalina Wang is a Human Resource Consultant. She manages recruitment, onboarding, and contract administration staffing for many organizations and remote teams. She’s passionate about efficient HR management and the impact of tech on hiring practices.

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