47 Smart Performance Review Questions for Your Next Employee Review

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47 Smart Performance Review Questions to Revolutionize Your Reviews

Performance reviews often get a bad rap. They're seen as the corporate version of a report card, and nobody loves report cards, right? But when done right, performance reviews can have a positive impact on retention, engagement, productivity, and morale. They're the cornerstone of your performance management program.

Imagine transforming the dread of reviews into anticipation, where managers and employees alike are jazzed about the insights they'll gain. This isn't about dredging up the past year's misdemeanors; it’s about sparking a conversation that propels forward momentum and allows for the sharing of meaningful feedback.

This requires asking questions that don't just look back but launch us forward—questions that are like keys unlocking potential at every turn. In this guide, we’re flipping the script on performance reviews. We’ll arm HR leaders and managers with the 20 best performance review questions for your performance review templates that dive deep and accelerate growth and improvement. By the end of this read, you’ll have a playbook that equips your managers to not just conduct reviews but to craft conversations that map out a future as bright as your team’s ambition.

Elevating the impact of employee reviews

Gone are the days of dry, checklist-style performance reviews. It’s time to pump some life into these conversations. By revolutionizing the review process with probing questions, we’re not just ticking off boxes—we’re unlocking a treasure trove of insights. It's about shaping an effective performance review culture that thrives on constructive feedback and conversations that stretches every employee's performance to the limits.

The role of your managers in performance reviews

Managers aren’t just evaluators; they're the architects of team success. They’ve got the inside scoop on their team and hold the key to unlocking each member's potential. Their mission? To set the stage with clear performance goals, dial up the feedback frequency, and turn review time into a strategic dialogue that’s all about growth. We want to help you ensure that when it's time for those formal sit-downs, there are no surprises—just a mutual drive to explore strengths, address the rough patches, and discuss employee aspirations.

Transforming standard review dialogue

By tailoring performance conversations to align with personal career ambitions, managers can craft an engaging experience for every employee, making every review as unique as the individual in the room. It's about building an arena where open, honest exchanges are the norm, and where the aim is not just to look back but to co-create a roadmap for the journey ahead. The right approach can have a true impact on employee engagement.

Standard Review Dialogue:

Manager: "So, looking at your sales numbers, you've met the expected targets. That's good. However, your client feedback scores need improvement. Try to work on that for the next quarter."

Employee: "I understand. I'll work on improving my client interactions."

Engaging and Effective Review Dialogue:

Manager: "I've noticed you've hit your sales targets consistently, which is fantastic. What's your secret to maintaining such steady performance?"

Employee: "I think it's about understanding the customer's needs. But sometimes, it's challenging to handle difficult clients."

Manager: "I see, it sounds like you have a real strength in client understanding. How about we explore some advanced communication strategies to turn those challenging interactions into opportunities? I'd also love to hear about your career goals and how I can support you in reaching them."

Employee: "That would be great! I've been thinking about leadership roles and how I could start preparing for that path."

Manager: "Perfect, let's outline some leadership development steps and see how we can align them with your daily work to give you exposure and experience in that area. How does that sound?"

Employee: "Sounds like a plan. I'm excited to see where this can go."

In the standard dialogue, the manager provides generic feedback without much depth or guidance for improvement. In the engaging dialogue, the manager not only recognizes the employee's achievements but also opens a discussion about career aspirations and personal growth, making the conversation more dynamic and future-oriented.

Check out our 170+ performance review examples, phrases and comments to transform review dialogue in your organization.

By recharging the review process, we do more than gauge performance; we spark a transformation that propels not only the individual but the whole team towards a horizon of shared success.

The art of asking: crafting the right performance review questions

Engagement skyrockets when the right performance review questions are tossed into the ring. Good questions are the springboard for dynamic dialogue, launching a deep dive into the individual’s day-to-day victories, unmet targets, and the very elements that propel their best work. It's about asking the kind of questions that not only unpack the story behind the data but also spark the kind of insights that can catapult an employee's growth. Good examples of these types of questions include asking about an employee's strengths and how they contribute to their job performance.

Setting the scene: performance review questions on overall performance

Before diving into the details, it’s crucial to frame performance reviews with the big picture in mind. Take a step back to see the whole canvas before focusing on the brushstrokes. Start with questions that capture the broad scope of an employee's contributions and satisfaction.

Mediocre questions:

  • How would you rate your performance this quarter?
  • Are you happy with your current role?

Great questions:

  • What accomplishments this quarter are you most proud of? 
  • Which goals did you meet? Which goals fell short?
  • What motivates you to get your job done?
  • What can I do to make your job more enjoyable?
  • What are your ideal working conditions to be the most productive?

Unearthing the gold: performance review questions on strengths & challenges

Start with questions that dig for the gold beneath the surface. Use strategic inquiry designed to spotlight an employee’s resilience, resourcefulness, and readiness to improve.

Mediocre questions:

  • What are your biggest strengths?
  • Do you feel your strengths are maximized here?
  • What will you do differently next quarter?
  • Is something holding you back from doing your best work?

Great questions:  

  • What personal strengths help you do your job effectively?
  • What makes you the best fit for your position?
  • What skills do you have that you believe we could use more effectively?
  • What kind of work comes easiest to you?
  • What goals/deliverables were you least proud of? Why? How will you do those differently in the future?
  • What 2-3 things will you focus on in the next quarter to help you grow and develop?
  • What can I do to help you better meet your goals?

Looking forward: performance review questions on future outlook

Encourage managers to swap the rearview mirror for a telescope. Future-focused questions transform a standard review into a launchpad for career trajectory and skill-building that benefits both the employee and the organization. They set the stage for what will be discussed in your next performance review.

Mediocre questions:

  • What are your goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Great questions:  

  • What are your most important goals for the next quarter?
  • What do you want your next position at this company to be? How would your responsibilities change?
  • What professional growth opportunities would you like to explore in order to get there?
  • What type of career growth is most important to you?

Getting personal: performance review questions for individual needs

Tailoring questions in performance reviews is like curating an art gallery; each piece requires a unique frame. Encourage managers to craft questions that resonate with the individual roles of their team members, questions that probe the depths of their daily tasks and tap into their personal career aspirations. This personalized approach ensures that each performance review helps further develop employees, setting them up not just for success in their current role, but for advocating for their own performance and reaching their career goals more quickly and efficiently.

Mediocre questions:

  • Are you satisfied with your job?
  • Do you think you’re contributing to the company?

Great questions:  

  • Which job responsibilities/tasks do you enjoy most? Which do you least enjoy?
  • How do you think your role helps the company succeed?
  • What do you like least about your current role? What would you change?
  • What do you like most about working for this company?
  • For the creative marketer: What innovative marketing strategies are you eager to explore this quarter?
  • For the tech specialist: Which emerging technologies do you think could catapult our systems to the next level?
  • For the customer service star: What feedback have you received that sheds light on our customer experience, and how can we act on it?

Strengthening the feedback loop: performance review questions for continuous growth

Cultivating a feedback loop in performance reviews is like nurturing a garden; it requires consistent care and attention to truly flourish. Guide managers to foster a culture where feedback is an integral part of the daily workflow, a steady rhythm rather than a once-a-year symphony. Encouraging managers to ask these refined questions not only nurtures employee growth but also fortifies the manager-employee relationship, ensuring that each team member’s development is an ongoing priority.

Mediocre questions:

  • Do you get enough feedback from me?
  • Are our one-on-one meetings helpful?

Great questions:

  • What type of feedback has been the most actionable for you, and how can we make it even more impactful?
  • When discussing project feedback, which aspects help you grow and which aspects can we improve?
  • Can you share an instance when feedback led to a positive change in your work approach?
  • How can we enhance the way recognition is given for your accomplishments?
  • In what ways can I support you better in translating feedback into tangible results?

 

Aligning the stars: performance review questions for organizational alignment

When it comes to performance reviews, connecting an employee's day-to-day to the broader galaxy of the company’s mission is key. Think of it as helping each team member chart their course among the stars, making sure every effort propels the whole organization into new frontiers. These questions aim to weave individual aspirations with the company's broader narrative, transforming the performance review into a collaborative exploration of alignment and impact. It's about more than finding a place in the organizational chart; it's about ensuring each employee feels like a pivotal part of the journey towards shared success.

Mediocre questions:

  • Do you understand the company's goals?
  • Do you see how your work fits into the big picture?

Great questions:

  • Reflecting on our mission, how do you see your role evolving to further contribute to our collective success?
  • In what ways can we better align your talents and interests with our strategic objectives?
  • How do you think your current projects support our mission, and what new initiatives could amplify that impact?
  • What aspect of the company’s vision excites you the most, and how can we tailor your objectives to tap into that enthusiasm?
  • Can you identify any gaps between your personal goals and the company’s direction, and how might we bridge those for mutual growth?

From conversation to action: following up on performance reviews

The journey doesn’t end with the conversation; it’s just the beginning. Transforming insights gleaned from reviews into actionable steps is crucial. Outline clear, achievable steps based on the discussion, and set timelines for performance review follow up. This ensures that the momentum from the review propels forward movement and growth.

Accountability isn’t a solo act; it’s a partnership. Establishing support mechanisms, such as regular check-ins and providing the necessary resources or training, reinforces the commitment to the employee’s development. It's about showing that the organization is invested in turning their aspirations into achievements.

Fostering a culture of continuous development

HR can play a pivotal role in nurturing a culture where growth and learning are part of the everyday fabric of the organization. Encouraging a mindset where development is ongoing and valued not only enhances individual careers but also enriches the organization as a whole.

The end of a performance review shouldn’t mean the end of the conversation. Encourage managers to maintain open lines of communication, fostering a dynamic where feedback and development discussions are an integral part of daily work life. This continuous dialogue ensures that development is a constant journey, not just an annual event.



Conclusion

We’ve journeyed through the art of asking the right questions, the importance of creating a conducive environment for feedback, the steps to translate conversation into action, and the significance of fostering a culture of continuous development. These elements are the seeds for growing a vibrant, engaged, and high-performing team.

HR leaders are the sculptors of this new era of performance reviews, equipped with the tools to carve out a space where growth, feedback, and development are interwoven into the very DNA of the organization. By championing these practices, HR not only elevates individual careers but also propels the organization toward a future where continuous improvement and engagement are the norms, not the exceptions.



Frequently Asked Questions


What makes the best performance review questions?

Good performance review questions are those that go beyond evaluating performance and focus on employee development. They should help identify strengths, areas for improvement, and challenges faced by employees. Questions should be specific, clear, and have a clear intention and purpose. They should also encourage open and honest communication and avoid triggering defensive reactions from employees. Asking follow-up questions can help dig deeper and gain more detailed insights.


What are some effective performance review questions?

Some effective performance review questions include: "Can you share a recent accomplishment you're proud of?" "How do you handle feedback and criticism?" "What support or tools could help you perform better?" These questions encourage reflection, communication, and growth within the review process.


 

Make your performance review process more effective, efficient, and engaging. Quantum Workplace's performance review software helps your managers and teams prepare for, facilitate, and follow up for better reviews and better performance.

 

Published March 20, 2024 | Written By Natalie Wickham