Performance reviews are a fundamental and crucial part of the HR process for countless companies.
They can be just as beneficial for individual workers as they are for businesses. The employee receives valuable manager feedback, guidance and direction on the next steps in their professional development, while the business gains insights into various aspects of workforce performance and sentiment, from recent achievements to job satisfaction.
However, it's all too easy to get employee assessments wrong, often as a result of poor planning and inefficient use of time. One of the best ways to prepare for these events and to ensure all participants benefit from them is to think carefully about the questions you want to ask. Here are six examples you should consider using:
1. Tell me about a recent achievement you're proud of
One of the most important things you'll want to gain from any review is an up-to-date insight into recent employee performance.
Rather than starting with a vague question such as, 'How have things been going for you recently?', consider asking staff about their latest successes to gain more specific and illuminating answers.
The employee's response will, firstly, shed light on their own performance and development, but it will also help you learn more about the underlying processes, structures and support that made these personal achievements possible.
2. What strengths help you do your job well?
Asking about sources of pride and professional satisfaction can naturally lead into a discussion about the employee's key strengths. This is an important topic of conversation if you want to learn more about the knowledge and abilities available in your workforce.
Again, it's best to be specific and ask about capabilities that have helped the individual do their job to a high level, or that they feel could be applied in other roles or capacities. Employee assessments are a good opportunity for managers to build a clearer picture of staff skill sets and to focus on how these capabilities can be put to the best possible use for the business.
3. Where do you feel you have the most room for improvement?
Of course, performance reviews need to focus on more than strengths and achievements. They should also delve into areas where people have fallen short of their targets or need to improve.
This part of the conversation doesn't need to be negative. In fact, it can be one of the most positive and constructive aspects of the whole process, because it involves managers and employees working together to make plans and set goals for ongoing professional development.
4. How can we support your professional development?
On the subject of employee growth and development, one productive way to approach this is by asking specifically about what the company can do to help employees progress in their careers and reach their goals.
Ask them about what they have learned and the skills they have already gained in their current role, as well as their future outlook and long-term ambitions. In close collaboration with your employees, you can then devise professional development plans that balance individual objectives with the company's broader strategic goals.
5. What would you like to see your manager do differently?
It goes without saying that effective management is crucial to the success of any business, and performance reviews are an excellent opportunity to learn more about standards of management in your company, and whether the methods being used are really working for employees.
Asking people for their views on how managers could do things differently can yield a range of positive results. It gives staff the chance to discuss where managers might be falling short without being overly critical, and also demonstrates that the company is interested in what its employees have to say.
Furthermore, it gives you the opportunity to evaluate and improve practices in crucial areas of the manager/employee relationship, such as giving and receiving feedback.
6. How can we build a better company culture?
Building a strong company culture should be a key goal if you want to forge lasting employee relationships, retain your most valuable staff and attract the sort of talent that will drive the business to future success.
Engaging with the people on the frontlines of your organization is the best way to understand your culture in its current state, and how it should change and improve to deliver the best possible experiences for the workforce.
Examining this topic during performance reviews is particularly important if you're focused on goals such as improving diversity and inclusion, which many organizations now see as critical to their success.