Top 15 Performance Review Questions For More Productive Meetings

Frequent performance reviews allow you to give recognition to employees, help them achieve their goals, and identify areas for improvement, making it necessary for team growth.

This guide goes through 15 questions to ask before your next performance review meeting. We’ll also look at why you should ask these questions and how to answer them. 

What is a performance review?

A performance review is a meeting where managers evaluate employee performance while identifying strengths and weaknesses.

Most companies use annual performance reviews. However, weekly and monthly meetings are becoming increasingly popular as teams work remotely.

What to look for in a performance review

Consider these three factors when running a performance review:

  1. Strengths and weaknesses
  2. Actionable feedback
  3. Goal setting

Strengths and weaknesses

The most crucial factor to look out for during performance reviews is employee strengths and weaknesses.

By identifying weaknesses, members will know where to improve and this analysis allows your entire team to reach goals faster. 

However, managers often make the mistake of only focusing on weaknesses. This is demoralizing for employees, so you also want to acknowledge areas where they're doing a good job.

Actionable feedback

Provide feedback and additional resources so employees can turn weaknesses into strengths.

This could be sending employees on courses or forwarding links to useful resources like blog posts, online videos, and books.

Many teams also like holding virtual meetings where managers coach employees and offer first-hand training.

Goal setting

Setting performance goals is crucial because it gives your team something to aim at. Simply identify employee weaknesses, and use the SMART goal-setting method to strengthen them. SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

For example, if your digital marketer struggles with email marketing campaigns, a SMART goal could be to increase email conversions by 20% over the next three months. It's specific to your business, easy to measure, achievable, relevant to overall business objectives, and provides your employee with a particular time period.

Now let's look at some effective performance review questions.

Performance review questions to ask your manager

Here are five questions to ask during performance reviews to ensure productive meetings:

1. What have I excelled at this year?

2. Are there skills I need to pick up?

3. What can I do to give myself the best possible chance at a promotion or raise?

4. What qualities make your best employees stand out?

5. What is our company's greatest challenge?

1. What have I excelled at this year?

By asking this first, you start the meeting positively and get an idea of what you're doing well. This positivity carries into the rest of the meeting. Managers can also mention how you’ve strengthened issues discussed in previous performance reviews.

2. Are there skills I need to pick up on?

Sometimes, team leaders are hesitant to bring up areas for improvement, so it's your duty to ask.

Inquiring about weaknesses gives you insight into your skillset. For example, you might discover that your marketing conversion rates are high, but your click-through rate is low, so you’ll need to focus on writing more compelling headlines.

3. What can I do to give myself the best possible chance at a promotion or raise?

Although discussing promotions is intimidating, it's essential if you're looking to grow within a company.

When asking what you can do to give yourself the best chance of a raise, you’ll receive a set of targets. So by emphasizing and reaching these goals, you increase the chance of getting a raise or promotion.

4. What makes the best employees stand out?

This gives you an understanding of what makes employees stand out so you can focus on these areas and attract positive attention from company leaders. It also acts as a foundation and inspiration to return to when you're struggling to set or reach milestones.

5. What is our company's greatest challenge?

This makes recognizing business problems easy so you can adjust your skillset to solve them. It also shows managers you care and want to see the company succeed, setting yourself apart from other employees.

Performance review questions to ask your peers

Consider asking fellow colleagues these questions during performance reviews:

6. What's one professional skill you're currently working on?

7. What's your go-to productivity trick?

8. What behavior or trait do you attribute your success to, and why?

9. What's a mistake you made this year, and what did you learn from it?

10. If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?

6. What's one professional skill you're currently working on?

With this question, you’ll understand what your peers are struggling with, and how you can help.

If your peer asks this question, answer by mentioning something you’re struggling with and the steps you’re taking to improve. This could look like, “I’m currently working on writing better email subject lines. I took an online course a few weeks ago that really helped and I’m reading a book on persuasive digital writing.”

7. What's your go-to productivity trick?

If you're a copywriter struggling to write and focus for hours, you’ll learn handy tips and techniques from your colleague by asking this question. This might be installing distraction-free blockers on your desktop or working in a coffee shop.

8. What behavior or trait do you attribute your success to, and why?

It might surprise you, but many employees are more than happy to share their methods with you, and this question promotes self-development in the workplace.

If someone asks this question, mention a positive trait like the willingness to learn and mention books and online resources that helped you grow. 

9. What's a mistake you made this year, and what did you learn from it?

It’s even more valuable when talking to senior employees since they always have priceless nuggets of knowledge to share.

10. If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?

This gives you insight into your peers' frustrations and struggles, and you can work together as a team to solve these issues.

Questions to ask employee in performance review

Here are some helpful questions to ask employees during performance meetings:

11. What kind of work comes easiest to you?

12. What can I do to help you meet your goals?

13. Where do you feel there's room for you to improve?

14. What are two to three things I could do differently to better manage you?

15. Do you feel that the team is working well collaboratively?

11. What kind of work comes easiest to you?

This gives you an understanding of the strengths of each team member so you can outsource tasks more efficiently.

For example, if you're meeting with your content strategist and find that they love researching keywords and customer pain points but don't like writing copy, outsource ad creation to someone else.

12. What can I do to help you meet your goals?

With this question, you'll discover what employee goals are and the steps you can take to help them reach these objectives.

For instance, if an employee says they'd like to spend more time with their family, let them work from home. This helps the employee reach their goal while raising morale.

13. Where do you feel there's room for you to improve?

This allows you to help team members strengthen weaknesses and streamline work processes.

If an employee says they want to handle customer support calls better, send them on a course covering customer support.

14. What are two to three things I could do differently to better manage you?

This constructive criticism enables self-analysis, so you're constantly finding ways to enhance your management techniques. This pays dividends in the long run since employees feel heard, thus boosting engagement and work output.

15. Do you feel that the team is working well collaboratively?

Employees might bring up previous projects where they struggled to locate information. Or, perhaps contacting fellow team members takes hours.

After gathering feedback, feel free to use it to optimize work processes by implementing a team wiki or messaging app.

What's next?

An Atlassian report shows US companies waste over $37 billion annually on unnecessary long meetings and performance reviews.

So if you constantly find yourself in performance reviews, consider a free meeting productivity tool like Airgram.

It allows you to build meeting agendas and set timers for specific subtopics, so your performance review stays on track. 

And once your meetings are complete, use the highlights builder to create a five-minute video recap. This acts as meeting minutes so your team can return to it and refresh their memory.

Final thoughts on questions to ask in performance reviews

Performance reviews are essential since it provides self-analysis that promotes the growth of employees and managers.

So for your next performance review, ask your employees, peers, or managers these questions for a deeper insight into their strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and passions.