12 of the best performance review questions to ask employees

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Performance review questions can help managers uncover valuable insights about their teams. This knowledge can allow them to better assist their team in reaching their goals and achieving peak performance. As a manager giving performance reviews to employees, it's crucial to understand what questions can provide the deepest insights. In this article, we explore why performance review questions are so important, explain the insights they can provide and offer 12 of the best questions to ask during your next review.

Why are performance review questions so important?

To understand why performance review questions are so important, it can help first to understand the purpose of a performance review. These periodic reviews are your chance to engage with employees by going over their performance, providing constructive feedback and asking them questions that can help you determine their goals. The intent of these exchanges is to provide a space for both employees and managers to share feedback. Effective performance review questions can help managers in several ways, including:

  • Creating employee personal development plans: By asking the right questions, you can help employees discover, for themselves, what they need for success. This can enable you to understand their personal development goals and the support they may require to achieve them.

  • Understanding how to become a better leader: Performance reviews are an opportunity to receive open feedback for managers and employees alike. They provide a space for managers to become more insightful, responsive leaders.

  • Providing visibility of skill gaps: Performance reviews can help HR departments and managers identify important gaps in their workforce, goal misalignments or any lack in resources preventing employees from reaching their performance goals.

Related: How to conduct employee performance reviews (with steps)

12 insightful staff review questions

The most helpful performance review questions are typically ones that prompt employees to provide insights into their personal performance, management and the business. Here are 12 of the most insightful questions for performance reviews and the reasons each one is so valuable:

1. What skills do you have that the company may use more effectively?

This question is often great for getting employees to think about their hard and soft skills in an objective, unbiased way and for them to recognise how they may improve the business overall. It also may give you insight into an employee's individual work ethic and values. By asking how the company can best use their skills, you can immediately begin to align employee and company values.

Related: What is a performance review template? (4 templates to use)

2. What deliverables are you most proud of? What deliverables are you least proud of? Why?

It can be incredibly valuable to know what your employees believe their greatest and weakest work achievement is to date to help you understand how they define success. This allows you to understand what tasks provide the most value and satisfaction to a given employee and how these tasks may align with company goals. Once you understand their preferred duties, you can provide them with other similar opportunities, which may increase their overall happiness and efficacy.

3. Do you have any concerns with your work environment? What may make you more productive?

Asking this can help employees see you care about their individual wants and needs and take these needs seriously by acting upon them. With environmental needs met, employees are often more motivated to produce higher quality results on a more consistent basis. Meeting these needs for each employee may greatly improve organic collaboration and business growth.

4. Which of your job responsibilities do you enjoy the most? What makes this task so enjoyable for you?

This set of questions prompts employees to think about the things they feel most successful when doing them. This can help you discover an employee's personality and whether they prefer creative challenges or intense, analytic ones. Learning these preferences allows you to cater to an employee's strengths and determine if they're ready for new challenges or advancement within the company.

5. What areas of professional development can you focus on to help you grow?

This question can help you gain insight into an employee's own understanding of what they require to gain new professional skills and what they can work on to achieve continual development. Their answer can act as a benchmark for future personal development plans so that they develop in the happiest, most professional way possible. It also can help employees think critically and consciously about their personal and professional goals, both now and in the future.

Related: How to write an effective performance improvement plan

6. What sticking points make it harder for you to accomplish your goals?

This question can help you determine the practical things that may stop employees from reaching particular goals, such as their working style, resources or office environment. Furthermore, it can give you an indication of how their goals align with those of the company. By understanding what's preventing an employee from succeeding, you can better work towards continuous career growth that synchronises with company values.

7. What were your biggest challenges during the last period, and why do you think they happened? What can you change to eliminate these in the future?

This question gives employees the opportunity to demonstrate their objective understanding of what and why things deviated from their plans. Their response can give you a good indicator of how they approach challenges at work and formulate solutions to these. It may also demonstrate how constructively they address weaknesses and sticking points, helping you navigate the support they need.

8. What do I do as a manager that is unhelpful when you're trying to complete tasks, and how can I improve this?

Asking for an employee's honest feedback on your performance as a manager can be a great way to level the conversation and make it one between two equally invested people doing the best job possible. It also can be a great way to learn an employee's preferred working style, enabling you to make them happier in the long term. Continuously working on improving yourself for your employees can propagate the same reciprocal behaviour from them.

Related: How to measure employee performance in 6 easy steps

9. Are there any ways you think the company can develop to become more inclusive or diverse?

Asking this question can be a great start to making some positive changes in the workforce and can show employees you take their input seriously. It can also give you a more human and less corporate understanding of the company's diversity and inclusion needs. Understanding these needs from the employees' perspectives allows you to consistently create a culture of respect, appreciation and growth.

10. How do you think the team works collaboratively? Have you noticed any potential areas of improvement for the team?

Asking this set of questions can help you determine an employee's investment in collaborative work and the value they place on it. It can also help you learn how well the team solves problems together and how well they can work towards common goals and accomplishments. Asking for areas where improvement may prove beneficial can help you maximise the potential for teamwork and demonstrate who might make a good team leader in the future.

11. Do you have any questions or concerns about the future of the company or your place within it?

This question is often an excellent way to get employees to think about the value they offer the company overall. Their answer to it can help you identify their level of personal or professional investment in the organisation and if they have any concerns about the organisation's future. This can help you identify what kind of reassurance each employee requires to feel safe and secure and whether their values match those of the company's plans.

12. Do you have any concerns about providing feedback to managers or team leaders?

This question is often incredibly useful for discovering how comfortable employees are with giving their honest feedback. It is typically beneficial to ask it in a way where employees feel as safe as possible. For example, you could send this question electronically to employees after your actual face-to-face staff review with them. Promoting a culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns can help everyone remain positive and productive.

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