Great Performance Review Questions for Leaders

Posted by Julie • April 15, 2022 (Last modified May 12, 2023) • 4 min read

Today in one of my CEO peer groups, a fellow leader posed a question: How do you survey your internal leadership teams for feedback? What do you ask? What are great performance review questions for leaders?

What a great question for someone who is always looking for the best annual review questions, questions to ask during reviews, and more as part of performance management.  Commonly on performance reviews, organizations will ask something like:

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses? 
  • What are areas for growth?

I think there are more interesting questions we can ask both leaders and contributors that spark meaningful dialogue in our mid-year reviews and end of year reviews. I wanted to share some of the ideas that came forward, as it’s great collective wisdom from peers!

Tony York of Paladin Security likes to ask this when meeting with leaders:

  • What is one thing that is working right in our organizations?
  • If you could solve one problem that you or your team have, what would it be?
  • How does this role fit into your professional goals / career aspirations?
  • What do you like about your job?
  • What aspects of your job would you prefer not to have to do? Why?
  • How do you find out how well you are doing?  How do you know you are not performing well?
  • How well does your supervisor and those above him/her understand the technical problems you face in doing your work?
  • What do you see as your group’s crucial opportunities or challenges?   The organization’s crucial opportunities or challenges?
  • Who on your team is kicking a$$?  Who should we be recognizing for their efforts and dedication?
  • What can our organization do for you/ what do you need from us to be more successful?
  • What would you like to ask me?

Tony really liked this employee annual review question, from his list:

  • Who on your team is kicking a$$?  Who should we be recognizing for their efforts and dedication?

Tony says, “It was very helpful in identifying hi-po’s (high potentials) in the organization and always resulted in me meeting with that individual as well, because it is conversational and always leads to interesting discussions.” This is a great mid-year review question to help understand where teams are going.

Joe Bonnell of Alchemy Security is thinking about these annual review questions to ask his leaders:

  • On a scale from 0-10, how would you rate yourself as a leader? What can I do to help get you to an 11?
  • How do you respond when people directly question a decision that you made?
  • When you knowingly respond poorly to a suggestion made from a fellow Alchemist, how do you handle it?
  • What is your approach for taking responsibility when a team member fails to deliver against expectations? How do you respond?
  • Hands off or hands on? How do you ensure that commitments are achieved?
  • How do you make other people successful?
  • How do you handle conflict involving either yourself, or others?
  • What ticks you off?
  • What gets you amped?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next three-five years?

Dan Igoe, of Pure Brand, likes Joe’s questions, and reminds the group that an important question to ask ourselves, no matter what questions we ask our leaders, is how we will use the data gathered from each question.

Dan recounts, “One of the tricks a mentor told me was to take the survey yourself first to see if you would have any hesitation or bias in your answers if you had to share it with one of your team members….and even better, to actually commit to share your responses with a team member before taking the survey. If you do feel hesitation or bias, you may find yourself needing to tweak the question to get the data you will actually use with confidence.” Great advice, Dan.

What Does Trakstar Do?

At Trakstar, I ask these questions, and both the leader and I answer the same questions to check alignment.

  • What does success look like to you this year?
  • Was there anything that turned out differently than you expected in terms of success lately?
  • Do you feel heard? What makes you feel heard?
  • Is there something you perceive we have to “convince each other of” which, if you unconditional support, you’d fly?

Good luck, enjoy your conversations and the learning you will gather from the responses! Don’t forget to use these employee peer review questions to start greater questions.

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