Performance reviews have changed significantly over the past few decades. They aren’t merely annual meetings between a department manager or HR representative and an employee awaiting judgment.
Today’s performance reviews are dynamic sessions — scheduled at varying intervals and far more frequently than annually — that serve as an ongoing process intended to enhance employee satisfaction, happiness, and productivity — which benefits everyone.
Modern business leaders increasingly grasp the value of improving employee engagement to enhance employee performance. One way that forward-thinking organizational leadership accomplishes this crucial goal is through creating and fostering better connections with the employees, using various means, such as asking employees questions.
Why is it important to ask employees questions during performance reviews?
When a department manager or HR leader asks employees questions that reveal that they and organizational leadership care about their experience, it helps employees feel valued and motivated to improve and grow with the company.
Teams that score in the top 20% as far as engagement experience 59% less turnover, which is vitally important today. When managers nurture engagement through conversations — versus traditional, one-sided employee performance reviews — they not only create pathways for improvement, but it empowers employees to spread their wings and share bold new ideas and seek growth.
5 performance review questions managers can ask to improve employee engagement
Asking your employee questions during the performance review turns a tension-fueled, closed-door meeting into a highly productive brainstorming session. Even if you need to offer constructive criticism, you can facilitate positive outcomes on that front, especially with the right questions — substantively and tonally.
If you plan to employ this strategy during your next round of employee evaluations, you might need some ideas for conversation-starting and idea-sparking questions to get started.
1) Do you feel like the work you do is valued?
All employees who care about their career want to feel that they are doing a good job, that you recognize the good job they do, and that you acknowledge their value to the company, management, and their peers. Give your employees a chance to tell you how your organization is doing regarding employee recognition and providing a reassuring corporate culture.
2) What do you enjoy most about your job?
Let’s assume many people appreciate their paychecks most and hope they don’t cite that first and foremost. Beyond that, what inspires them to get up in the morning, greet fellow employees and management with a smile, and do their best? If your HR, management, and other leadership teams are doing things right, they will respond with thoughts, such as:
- An upbeat and inclusive corporate culture
- Belief in the company’s vision and mission
- Educational, training, and professional opportunities for growth in the company
- Opportunities for communication and collaboration among peers, teams, and leadership
3) Where would you like to make improvements in your work performance?
Before asking the question, reassure employees that you want their answer to this question and that it isn’t meant to serve as a personal indictment of themselves or their work. Let all employees know that you want them to feel as confident as possible when doing their daily and overarching tasks.
Ask them to give examples of times they feel they could have performed better and what they, or their manager or the organization, can do to make improvements. You might learn that you are using an outdated software solution or that their company computer or smartphone is missing an update that could make all the difference regarding timeliness, accuracy, and effectiveness.
4) What accomplishments make you the proudest?
Like the previous question, you want to let all employees know that their answer will help you support them in continuing on their path to success now and in the future. Employees might tell you about a new process they developed, a collaboration that resulted in success, or unprecedented sales figures. Follow up with a question about how they might continue to enjoy those successes.
5) What new challenges would you like to tackle with the company?
You might look at this question as a new phrasing of “Where do you see yourself in the company in the next five years?” Encourage employees to describe new tasks they would like to take on, any software programs they would like to learn, or if they want to pursue a leadership position.
These questions and others similar to them can help you find out where employees are at that moment and where they want to be in the future. More importantly, these questions and their delivery open new possibilities for employee engagement that translate to better employee satisfaction and retention.
Adam Berke is the co-founder and CEO of WorkPatterns, a company focused on cultivating the habits of great leaders and effective operators to help organizations around the world achieve their mission. Prior to that, he was part of the founding team of NextRoll (formerly AdRoll) and helped grow the company from three to 700 employees around the world. Along the way, he faced the personal challenges of evolving from being an individual contributor on the founding team, to becoming a manager, and eventually an executive who hired and managed other managers as the company grew.