Performance review questions for managers


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During an employee appraisal a manager needs to listen more than they talk. This is easier to say rather than do. Most managers leap straight into giving their opinion of an employee’s performance and then giving the employee solutions on what they “should do to fix it”.

By talking more than listening managers can create over-dependence by their employees, leaving their employee waiting for instruction rather than taking independent action.

A good manager takes a leaf out of coaches book and asks questions rather than provide solutions. They know that great questions can help a person stop and reflect rather than just leap into action. Reflection is the greatest source of learning.

The other great part about questions is that it gets managers off the hook from always having to know every answer. When in doubt ask a great question rather than grapple for the answers.

With employee performance reviewsthe right question at the right time will help you deepen your relationship and understanding of the employee, as well as help them reflect on their own performance. You will generate more powerful and effective answers; and longer term employee growth through asking strong reflective questions.

Here are a few of my all time favorite employee appraisal questions that I have used with my own employees, as well as when sitting in on hundreds of employee performance review meetings with employees of the companies where I was HR Manager.

  • If you have done some form of personality profiling with your employees ask them “Tell my your MBTI/Belbin etc profile and why you think it matches you and how you work”
  • In the past 12 months tell me what you have learnt about the role you play in a group and how I can best work with you in that role.
  • What was your favorite project or task in the past 12 months and what made it so great? What specifically did you do to make it a success? What did I do that helped the project be successful? These questions help you identify the main motivators of your employee.
  • What was your biggest project or task mistake or failure in the past 12 months? What did you learn from this? Reflection on mistakes are critical ways to learn for the future. However, they also give you brilliant information on what specific situations you need to watch out for in the future as often it takes a few attempts before someone masters a particular failure pattern.
  • When you do a great job, how do you like to be recognized and rewarded? You need to dig a bit for this one – “money” is not an answer. Find out if a person likes public praise and recognition, extra learning and development opportunities or a quiet pat on the back.
  • Thinking of the future, if you could create your dream role what would that look like? How can we bring elements of that role into your present job? Don’t be put off if their dream job is outside your organization. There is always some element of their perfect job that can be brought into the present role – whether that is increased customer contact, extra development on financial skills or better computing experience, if you bring in those elements you can retain the employee for longer and better plan for smooth successions.
  • What specifically have you done to increase the value you contribute to the business than 12 months ago?
  • What new skills and experiences have you acquired in the past 12 months?
  • What specifically makes you stay with our business? What would tempt you to leave the business? These are great retention questions. Find out what makes employees stay and what makes them go and you will be better placed to retain your top employees.
  • What systems, processes or equipment would help make your job easier? Often little things make a huge difference and it isn’t until a person is asked that they will tell you. Commit to taking action on what they tell you and if you can’t take action then you need to tell the person why you are not actioning their request.
  • Thinking about the best managers you have had over the years, how do you like to be managed? What did they do or not do that made them a great manager? This will give you feedback on your own management style and what you need to do to improve it.

Of course you need to include questions relating to projects, goals and objectives, but by starting the discussion with deeper and more reflective questions you will be forming a great platform upon which to tackle those questions.

After all, your employee performance review process should be all about building productivity and relationships and not just about filling in the forms for the

Performance review questions for managers updated: October 20, 2018 author: admin

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