Revamp Your Performance Reviews by Starting with These 3 Questions

Posted by Julie • August 9, 2016 (Last modified December 13, 2022) • 3 min read

Performance reviews have long been viewed as a checkpoint in one’s employment. We’ve said it before, but the performance appraisal is a management tool for success, and the process lives among employees, which means that in order to remain relevant, it needs to be turned on its head every once in awhile.

Before the next appraisal, ask yourself these questions, because the success of the performance appraisal depends as much on the manager’s participation as it does the employee’s.


What motivates this employee?

What inspires this employee to come to work? What commands their attention when they arrive and what carries them through the less than desirable parts of their job? Of course, finances can be a motivator, but there’s also more to be said about their time; after all, a paycheck can be obtained elsewhere. Why do they do WHAT they do? Do they have friends at work? Are they inspired by a challenge for the team? Do they have a competitive nature? Are they in it for the good work your organization does? There are many reasons that an employee might come to work. You have to find what that is, for all your people.

Understanding what retains employees and maintains their productivity will alter how you approach performance management, including the performance review. Identifying motivators will give you a better idea of what each employee needs to do their job better and what might be standing in their way of progress. It helps you anticipate their needs and prepare for solutions feedback.


What are this employee’s strengths and weaknesses?

Gallup found that out of the 37% of employees who had supervisors that focused on their strengths and positive characteristics, 61% were engaged at work. This is almost twice the American workforce average and clearly shows that focusing on the things that employees do well will make for a happier team. Unfortunately, in order to make any progress, the negatives have to be mentioned as well and luckily, 57% of employees want to hear criticism.

Constructive criticism is important to performance, so take the time to see both strengths and weaknesses before your employee enters the office. When it’s necessary to deliver negative feedback, follow it up with some of the strengths that make their work so valuable. The employee will know they are appreciated and will be invested in the improvement.


Where do I see this employee working in 6 months?

Today’s workforce is considering the next step when they take a job. No matter what industry, they’re interested in the career ladder or what the position will mean to their future and skill development. This is especially true for high potential employees. If you want to keep them interested in a future with your organization, then you should have an idea of how you can help their career progression.

Employment is, and always will be, a relationship built on mutual benefits and luckily you have some to offer. Before the performance review, think about the strengths and weaknesses you’ve identified. How can those relate to the future at your company? What can they offer to other departments or teams and how can you help them make the transition? In the performance review, discuss those future plans and work together to see if their aspirations match. Setting goals with employees instead of for them is another way to grow their excitement for the work they do every day.

The performance review should be full of depth. It should contain as much insight from the manager as it does the employee. When leadership is as invested in employee performance as is the employee, the company benefits greatly. These aren’t the only performance review questions to consider, but they are basic enough to begin including right away.


If the performance management process seems overwhelming enough as it is, don’t let your employees suffer. Explore a management software that takes some of the work out of your hands so you have more time to devote to your workforce.


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