Believe it or not, employee reviews are pretty amazing. Seriously. Did you know that employees who get accurate and consistent feedback feel more fulfilledin their jobs? Or that reviews can help employees feel 4.6 timesmore empowered to do their best work? Yeah, employee reviews are powerful and a valuable piece of your performance managementstrategy.
But here’s the age-old problem: what questions do you ask for employee reviews? Now that’s a tough question. So let’s look a little deeper at employee reviews, what makes them effective, and some great employee review questions or what you should be asking your employees on their next reviews.
What Is an Employee Review?
An employee review, also known as a performance review, is a formal assessment of a staffer’s work, including their strengths and weaknesses. And reviews are about more than feedback — they are also an opportunity to jointly set future performance goals.
Many companies hold annual reviews, but more and more companiesare moving toward quarterly, reviews, or even weekly reviews. When done well, performance reviews help employees, managers, and the company see what’s going well and where there are spots for development. These frequent check-ins can enable faster improvements or adjustments.
There are a variety of review structures to choose from, including self-assessment, upward feedback and 360 reviews. The type of performance review you choose will determine who’s involved in the process but, typically, a review includes the employee, their manager, peers and/or customers.
Whichever format you pick, the ultimate end goal is the same: to help employees grow and the organization to improve.
What Makes an Effective Performance Review?
As we mentioned earlier, employee reviews can drive growth, development, fulfillment, and empowerment when done well. And that’s the key: an employee review improperly handled will fail to deliver the potential benefits. So how do you make sure your performance reviews are great? Here are a few things to consider:
- Specificity. Both the questions posed and answers given during a review need to be specificto be effective. Vague questions are hard to answer, and indistinct answers rarely lead to measurable action plans. Deploying the SMART framework(specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timed) can help you craft useful inquiries and responses.
- Include the constructive. Positive feedback is great, but constructive criticism is also important—especially when growth is your goal. When constructive feedback is given with a growth mindset, where both context and action steps are provided, it can actually help build trust.
- Avoid comparisons. A manager comparing two employees can pit them against each other, which is never the point of a performance review. Employees should be measured against company standards and their potential, not each other.
- Keep it structured. Off-the-cuff isn’t an ideal review approach. This can happen when protocols are unclear, or if a particular reviewer doesn’t know what they should be doing. Either way, it’s important to keep employee reviews structured, such as having set questions and an institutionalized process, to help everyone get the most out of it.
Areas for Discussion in a Performance Review
What areas should you focus on in a performance review? Here are a few ones we consider key:
- General performance. How is the employee doing in the big picture?
- Strengths of the employee. What aspects of the job are they really knocking out of the park?
- Recommendations for improvement and areas for growth. Recognizing opportunities for improvement is the step in increasing performance, but delivering this feedback must be done with sensitivity.
- Relationship with manager. How do the manager and employee get along? How is communication?
- Current position and requirements. Are all the expectations of the role being met?
- Goals and plans for the future. Take the time to create a development planthat aligns the employee’s goals with the company’s needs.
Employee Review Questions: What to Ask
Okay, that leaves us with one final aspect to address: the questions to ask during an employee review.
To start,, here are a few things not to ask, and why they don’t work:
- What are your goals? (Way too vague)
- Are you happy with your job? (A little loaded and very vague)
- What’s something you’ll do differently next quarter? (Again, vague)
You’re probably picking up on a theme here. Vague questions are not going to cut it. So now let’s look at some good questions you could use on your next employee review:
- What personal strengths help you do your job effectively?
- Which goals did you meet? Which goals fell short?
- How do you think your role helps the company meet its goals?
- What would you change about your role?
- What do you see as your biggest opportunity for improvement?
- What do you need from me or the company to support your performance and development?
- What experience, project, or action are you most proud of since the last review?
- What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
- What is it like working with your team? (This is a great way to gauge work environment)
Like we said, these are amazing questions to help structure your employee reviews.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, employee review questions like these are designed to help you carefully craft employee reviews, so performance reviews can be a powerful tool your company has at its disposal. The end goal, of course, is employee development. Seventy percentof employees would consider quitting their job to work with someone invested in their development. Make your company a place where employees want to work because you are invested in their success and development.
Looking for other ways to boost your employees’ success, development, and wellbeing? Talk to a wellbeing specialist.
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.