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Performance reviews are a precious opportunity for managers to connect with their team members and provide feedback and coaching to improve performance and engagement.

Wondering what questions to ask to conduct an effective performance review?

You’ve come to the right place. Here we’ll share 35 performance review questions and give some guidance for developing your own.

35 Performance Review Questions

General Performance

  • How do you rate your overall performance during this period?
  • What achievements from this period are you most proud of?
  • Did you achieve the goals you set out to achieve?
  • What challenges did you face?
  • In what areas do you think you could improve your performance?
  • Have you contributed to any projects outside of your current responsibilities?
  • How have you demonstrated [X] company value over this period?

Learning and development

  • How do you see your role evolving in the team?
  • What are your career aspirations and how can we support them?
  • Which areas do you think you can improve in?
  • Which tasks do you find most challenging?
  • Are there any new skills you’d like to develop?
  • What learning and development activities are you planning on developing over the next period?

Focusing on employee strengths

  • What's something you're good at that you wish I knew?
  • What work inspires you the most?
  • What aspects of your job do you feel particularly confident and skilled in?
  • What do you want your future self in the coming year to look like?
  • What's your mantra before coming to work every day?

Job satisfaction

  • What part of your current role do you enjoy the most?
  • What part of your current role do you enjoy the least?
  • How do you stay motivated and engaged in your work?
  • What do you like most about working here?
  • Do you feel like your work is appropriately appreciated and recognized?
  • Do we nurture an acceptable work/life balance?
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Manager feedback

  • Which areas can I improve as your manager?
  • This manager is responsive to my requests when I need to escalate a concern
  • This manager demonstrates accountability for their teams’ results
  • This manager supports me in meeting my personal and professional goals
  • This manager provides helpful, ongoing feedback to help my performance

Organizational feedback

  • How can we better support you as an organization?
  • Do you feel the organization stays true to its values?
  • Do you feel we do enough to nurture a productive company culture?

Peer review questions

  • This person demonstrates teamwork to help us meet our goals
  • This individual contributes value to team meetings
  • This individual communicates effectively with the wider team
  • What’s a piece of constructive feedback you’d like to share with this person?

How To Develop Performance Review Questions

The above list is by no means exhaustive and we encourage you to develop questions unique to your team and organization (and share them with us!).

Developing performance review questions requires a thoughtful approach that aligns with your organization's goals, values, and the specific roles of your employees. 

Here are some steps and tips to guide you in creating effective performance review questions:

Understand organizational goals and values

  • Align with objectives: Ensure that your questions are aligned with the overall goals and values of your organization. This alignment helps in assessing whether employees are contributing effectively to these objectives.
  • Role-specific criteria: Consider the specific requirements and expectations of different roles within your organization.

Focus on key performance areas

  • Job responsibilities: Include questions that directly relate to the employee's main job responsibilities and tasks.
  • Skill development: Ask about the acquisition of new skills and knowledge pertinent to their role.
  • Problem-solving and innovation: Include questions that probe how employees handle challenges and their approach to innovation.

Encourage self-reflection

  • Self-assessment: Questions should encourage employees to reflect on their performance, achievements, and areas for improvement.

Foster future development

  • Development needs: Include questions that help identify the training and development needs of the employee.
  • Goal setting: Ask about their personal career goals and how they see their role evolving in the organization.
  • Career aspirations: Understand their long-term career aspirations to aid in their professional growth.

Ensure clarity and relevance

  • Clear and concise: Make sure the questions are clear, specific, and easy to understand. Avoid asking two questions in one.

Balance between past performance and future potential

  • Past performance: Assess past achievements, challenges, and overall performance.
  • Future potential: Include forward-looking questions that focus on potential growth, future contributions, and career development.

Incorporate feedback mechanisms

  • Two-way communication: Ensure some questions allow for feedback on the management and the organization, fostering a two-way communication process.
  • Actionable feedback: Design questions that lead to actionable feedback, which can be used to improve both individual and organizational performance.

Use a mix of quantitative and qualitative feedback

  • Quantitative feedback: Can be demonstrated as a numerical value. A classic example is the 1-5 Likert scale. This helps with creating an overall rating at the end.
  • Qualitative feedback: Difficult to present numerically but just as valuable. Can be combined with a numerical value to add extra context.

Adapt and evolve

  • Review and update: Regularly review and update your questions to ensure they remain relevant and effective.
  • Feedback on questions: Seek feedback on the performance review process itself, including the effectiveness of your questions.

Utilize the right tools

Performance management software. These applications simplify the performance review process, helping to set and track goals, analyze productivity, record achievements, and plan for the future.

They also incorporate modern elements like collecting 360-degree feedback from team members, continuous feedback loops, and one-on-one check-in tools.

Toward Better Performance Reviews

Many employees (and managers, let’s face it) don’t exactly relish the annual or bi-annual performance review.

But, when conducted with employee development at the fore, they turn from meaningless box-ticking exercises into productive conversations that boost employee engagement and performance.

For more, check out Liz Lockhart’s excellent article on how to conduct performance reviews.

Join The People Managing People Community

For further guidance on performance management, join the People Managing People Community, a supportive community of HR and business leaders sharing knowledge to help you progress in your career and make greater impact in your org.

By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.