40 Performance Review Questions HR Can Implement

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40 Performance Review Questions HR Can Implement

A performance review is a crucial time for employers and employees alike, meaning employers must ask the right performance review questions. What they ask workers will not only give them a good idea of the employee’s day-to-day tasks, successes, and areas for growth, but it also gives them a better sense of what the company can do better to support its workers and thrive on all fronts.

HR plays an essential role in ensuring that performance reviews are carried out fairly, transparently and with the right goals in mind. By working in lockstep on these employee reviews, managers and HR practitioners can ensure everyone in the company is on a path toward success.

What is a performance review?
The 3 major benefits of a performance review
40 performance review questions 
Tips for effective performance reviews

What is a performance review?

 Usually an annual rite (although some companies do them twice a year or more), a performance review is a time to give and get feedback to ensure everyone at the company is doing their part and furthering their professional development. 

Managers meet with their employees for a formal one-on-one sit-down to discuss how the employee is faring at the company and what they can do to continue thriving and contributing to the company’s goals. Typically, managers will review the employee’s strengths and successes to highlight what they’d like to see more of, but they will also discuss potential areas for growth and where the employee needs to focus their efforts.

 If there are serious issues with an employee’s performance, this is the time to raise them. It shouldn’t just be a list of grievances, however — it’s important to come up with the next steps for the employee so they know what they need to do to succeed. Demoralizing a worker is the opposite intended effect of a review.

In fact,  regardless of whether a performance review will be positive or negative,  the employee and employer should use this meeting to set goals for the next year (or however long it is until the next review) so that a clear route to success is defined for everyone involved. 

 It’s also a good time for employees to raise any concerns that could impede their progress. This way, the manager is aware of any factors that could be affecting a worker’s performance — illness, problems with a teammate, dissatisfaction with a project —  so they can better support them in their role.

The 3 major benefits of a performance review

  • Opens up communication. Managers can discuss areas of concern and areas where the employee is excelling. A performance review also provides the employee with an opportunity to discuss growth aspirations or concerns that they may have as well. 
  • Encourages career growth. It’s a time for employees to learn about how they can progress in their roles, while managers can determine who’s deserving of a pay raise or promotion.
  • Motivates employees. Constructive feedback helps employees not only to feel valued by their managers but also supported in their efforts. This will lead to a more motivated employee. 

40 performance review questions 

There are various performance reviews you can implement within your organization. These include: 

  1. 360-Degree performance review 
  2. Team performance review 
  3. Project-based performance review 
  4. Annual performance review 

We will discuss the types of performance review questions to consider when using each of these types of assessments. 

360-Degree performance review questions 

A 360-degree performance review is when feedback for an employee is solicited from various colleagues: Managers, direct reports, and coworkers from different levels all provide their thoughts on the employee. The employee feedback questions should focus on how they’re performing in every aspect of their role in the company (hence the name).

  1. What are some of the things that this employee is doing well? 
  2. What are areas of improvement you believe for this employee?
  3. How can this employee further embody the company values? 
  4. How well does this employee manage their workload and in meeting deadlines? 
  5. Describe this employee in 4 words
  6. What strong skills does this employee exhibit? 
  7. What skills does this employee need to further develop?
  8. Describe whether this employee displays creative problem-solving skills or teamwork. Provide examples of situations where this happened. 
  9. This employee communicates well with the team?
  10. Describe an area of their role that the employee is excelling at. Provide an example

Team performance review questions 

During a team performance review, a single employee isn’t evaluated. Instead, an entire team is given feedback from a manager, and then they discuss how to move forward together to achieve more success based on this evaluation.

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These employee feedback questions should focus on determining each member’s skills and contributions as well as how they’ve been working together as a unit.

  1. How do you feel you contribute to the team as a whole?
  2. What are ways you can improve when it comes to working on this team?
  3. How do you describe the way the team works together?
  4. What are the successes the team has had?
  5. Were there times the team didn’t hit goals?
  6.  What do you believe caused any inter-team issues this year?
  7. In what ways can the team work together more seamlessly this year?
  8. What could the team do to build more unity?
  9. What goals should the team set for the next year?
  10. How can the company support this team in reaching these goals?

Project-based performance review questions 

In a project-based performance review, employees are evaluated based on their work on one specific project. It’s not about how they’ve been doing overall, but how they succeeded on this one task. As such, the employee feedback questions should be centered around how they completed the project and their thoughts on the process and final result.

  1. What were your initial thoughts when you were first assigned this project?
  2.  How would you describe the work that went into completing this project?
  3. What help did you receive from other coworkers?
  4. What was your level of comfort in handling this project?
  5. Were there any issues that came up while working on this project?
  6. If so, how were these issues dealt with?
  7. How would you describe the final result?
  8. What would you have done differently if you could redo this project?
  9. What kind of work would you like to do moving forward?
  10. How can we better support you on your next big project?

Annual performance review questions 

An annual performance review is the standard review most employees undergo. They meet with their manager once a year, receive feedback, discuss the feedback, and set goals and next steps. Employee feedback questions should look back on the past year as well as look forward to the next.

  1. What do you believe were your greatest accomplishments this year?
  2. Were there times you didn’t meet your goals this year?
  3. What are ways you believe you could improve in your role?
  4. What do you like most about your role at this time and what do you like the least?
  5. What personal strengths do you bring to your role?
  6. What strengths do you have that aren’t being utilized in your role at this time?
  7. What personally motivates you to do good work?
  8. What do you personally hope to accomplish at the company this year?
  9. What will it take for you to make those accomplishments happen?
  10. How can I support you to meet your goals for next year?
Effective Performance Reviews HR Best Practices

Tips for effective performance reviews

It’s up to HR professionals to ensure that employers are running performance reviews that are effective — as well as being done with professionalism and compassion. Consider these tips while providing guidance to managers when it’s time for employee reviews.

1. Develop a performance review process

It’s usually up to HR to create a clear and easy-to-follow performance review schedule and format. You’ll want to nail down deadlines, write self-assessment forms, and organize any apps or other technology needed to run these reviews. 

For example, a 360-Degree assessment form could be developed with the questions pre-populated on a Google form.

2. Communicate the performance review process to employees

For the performance review to run smoothly, everyone involved should know how it works. Inform every employee how these performance reviews are set up and what they need to do to fulfill their part: where to find their self-assessment forms, who they need to provide feedback for,  how they should be setting up their meetings, and so on. 

For example, train managers on how to effectively run a performance review. Add instructions to the assessment form to help employees correctly complete their performance review form. 

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3. Keep records of conversations

It’s important to keep records of every performance review. This will allow the company to track an employee’s progress — or see if they are consistently not meeting benchmarks. This will affect an employee’s eligibility for promotions or higher compensation, so it’s good to have on hand.

Develop templates of the questions to be asked by managers and ensure that the completed forms are saved and stored to be referred back to in future performance reviews. 

4. Stay present during any difficult reviews

Similarly, if there is reason to believe a performance review could be problematic — it’s focused on a behavioral issue rather than a quality-of-work one — you’ll want to sit in on that meeting. The company wants to be legally protected, and you’ll also be able to act as a mediator between employee and employer, potentially eradicating tension.

5. Plan follow-ups to address any major concerns

Sensitive or concerning information can come out of performance reviews. For instance, you may learn some employees are experiencing major discontent, or burnout, or that there is something going on in a team that is impeding it from achieving success. HR may need to step in to assist managers in handling these types of situations and provide additional follow-up conversations with employees. 

How HR can help managers with performance reviews

  • Coach employers on how to run meetings. Employers may be experts in their fields, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily know how to run a performance review. Explain exactly what they need to do to make these meetings go smoothly.
  • Ensure employers are aware of any potential legal issues. One of HR’s main goals is to protect the company and its employees. That means you’ll want to flag any potential legal red flags managers may plan to have in a conversation, and guide them away from it.
  • Provide training on giving constructive feedback. Similarly, it’s not always obvious what constructive feedback is. Discuss what advice actually helps employees and how it should be communicated. For example, harsh words, a dismissive tone, and a lack of guidance on how to improve will simply de-motivate a worker.
  • Help managers set goals with employees. Go over what employers would like to see from their workers in the coming year — and then work through what it would take to make that happen. This way, you can help formulate the right goals to pass on to your employees.
  • Ask for feedback on how the performance review process itself went. As we know, everyone needs feedback. HR isn’t exempt. Ask managers and employees alike what they thought about the process and if they would change anything. You can even just run a simple email survey. This will allow you to determine what you need to tweak the next time performance reviews roll around.

Key takeaways

  • Performance reviews are for everyone’s benefit. It’s essential to ensure the company is running smoothly, employees are happy and motivated, and paths to promotion and higher compensation are communicated.
  • HR managers play a crucial role in the performance review process. A performance review may take place primarily between a manager and a direct report, but it’s up to HR managers to oversee the process and make sure it’s run effectively.
  • The employee review questions you ask should be adjusted depending on what kind of review it is. Not every performance review is alike, so it shouldn’t be treated that way. Tailor the questions to the experience, so you get the most pertinent information. 
  • Keep in mind what the end goal of the performance review questions is. Ultimately, you want to ensure managers are running performance reviews that will make employees feel happier and do their best work. That means employers need to be asking workers the right kind of questions to identify ways to make that happen and root out any issues.
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