The Best Questions to Ask in Performance Reviews

If you’re familiar with the BambooHR® Performance Management add-on, you know it comes with four built-in questions carefully designed to minimize subjectivity when analyzing responses and to provide actionable items for recognition and growth. Here are the four questions employees see when performing their self-assessments:

  1. How well does my company recognize my value? (Scored multiple choice)
  2. What would have the greatest impact on my ability to do my best work more often? (Multiple choice)
  3. What are some things I do well? (Open-ended)
  4. How could I improve? (Open-ended)

Managers receive the same questions, phrased to evaluate the employee. However, even if you’re familiar with Performance Management as an employee or manager, you might not know that Performance Management allows administrators to add up to three custom questions in addition to those four already provided. That’s why we’ve created a list of additional questions for performance reviews.

Should We Ask More Questions in Reviews?

Customers frequently ask us for ideas about what kind of questions would be good to ask in those “custom questions” fields. That puts us in a bit of a bind: wanting to help, but going against our own advice.

We created Performance Management to change the face of traditional performance reviews—long, annual or semi-annual sessions with lots of tough questions. In our opinion, dreading a review cycle serves nobody’s interests and makes it more likely that they’ll be put off or rushed through when they do happen. As for doing them only once or twice a year, well…we can’t remember what we had for lunch yesterday, so it’s hard to recall what we were working on six months ago.

The theory that underpins our Performance Management software is that reviews have a bigger impact when they’re relevant to what’s going on in employees’ daily work. Making them easier and more frequent takes some of the weight off the experience, which allows employees and managers to communicate more openly.

You can make reviews easier and more effective. We have the technology

Get BambooHR Performance Management

But, while we believe in keeping reviews shorter (and thus we encourage using just the four provided questions to start), we know they aren’t always enough—even here at BambooHR.

What Kind of Review Questions Should I Ask?

We approached creating our list of additional questions in the same way we developed the original questions above: by consulting a number of sources, including our friends at Deloitte and Gallup, and carefully wording the questions to minimize subjective or vague replies. Some of what you’ll see in the list are actual questions BambooHR has asked our own employees!

One of the ways we determine what makes for a good performance review question is by comparing it to Gallup’s 12 elements of employee engagement, or Q12. You may recognize these affirming statements from the well-known business advice book, First, Break All the Rules:

The 12 Elements of Employee Engagement

  1. I know what is expected of me at work
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Source: Gallup

If you’re looking for a way to develop your own performance review questions, one idea is to create questions that gauge whether or not one of the twelve engagement statements is true or false. If you want more detail, or a result that you can track over time, you can turn a yes/no question into a scored response. Going even further, if you are seeking action items like areas to improve upon or where you can recognize achievement, ask for a response in the form of a list, or, leave the response open-ended.

Top Questions to Ask in Performance Reviews

Here’s the list of additional questions to ask in your performance management program.

Best Performance Review Questions for Employees

These questions are for employees to answer during a self-assessment section of the review process.

Best Performance Review Questions for Managers

These questions mirror those above but have been phrased to ask a manager about their employee. This allows you to compare the manager’s answers to the employee’s and see whether they’re aligned.

Want more performance insights? Keep reading:

Best Principles for Performance Management

Additional Questions for Performance Management Assessments

The following is a compilation of even more questions we created while researching the performance review process. Some of them are for employees or managers performing a self-assessment, while others are intended to assess the performance of an employee or manager.

What questions have you been asking employees and managers in your performance reviews? We’d love to hear your best performance management tips and tricks, so please comment below with any suggestions.