Employee Review Questions Do's and Don'ts

Interacting with your employees during one-on-one meetings and reviewing their progress and achievements is essential to improving the performance of those employees. However, employee review questions tend to not actually evaluate performance and have little impact on employees actually reflecting on anything.

employee review questions

But why is this? 

Asking the wrong employee review questions could be the answer.

The issue with many employee review questions is that they’re too broad and vague to actually evaluate or reflect on anything. Instead, these questions leave both the manager and the employee with little to think about.

So, one of the key things to do is to abandon generic employee review questions altogether and create a specific list focused on your team. You need to target your questions based on the employee to really get at performance, motivation, and covering both personal and company or team goals. By adding depth, the review becomes a conversation instead of a pointless meeting or stressful evaluation. 

The point is to focus on the value the employee brings to the team and for the manager to give helpful feedback to aid employees on their path to personal and professional growth.

We will cover poor examples first, and then suggest some better questions to ask instead. 

About Overall Performance:

When going into performance, it’s best to start positive. Let your employee talk about what they think they bring to the company and where they think that they excelled. Then, you can move onto the “whys” that led to that success.

Don’t Ask:

How would you rate your performance this quarter?

This is vague and gives little to work with. You want to focus on specifics, and when dealing with overall performance, focus on the positives first. 

Instead of asking how you would rate performance, ask what goals they meet and what accomplishments that employee had. If you think those don’t evaluate character, you’d be surprised at how much people share when allowed to talk with more specific questions.

In addition to goals, you’ll likely discover who is self-motivated and pleasant to work with. Likewise, you’ll gain insight into who has the greatest technical knowledge and who produces exceptional work.

By asking questions in a positive tone about goals, you’ll know who has understood the goals and kept them in mind while doing their daily tasks. You’ll know who thinks they’re good at time management or who frequently misses deadlines and acknowledges it as a problem as a sacrifice that comes with doing work well.

By focusing on the positive for the general overview, you can then move in the direction of addressing problems by going deeper into which goals were not met during the quarter. You can use the positives the employee identified to then find solutions to reach those goals. 

Do Ask:

  • What accomplishments this quarter are you most proud of?
  • Which goals did you meet and which goals need more work?
  • What work environment do you need to get the most done?
  • What was your single greatest accomplishment at work?

About Areas to Improve:

Don’t Ask: 

What do you think you’ll do differently in the coming quarter?

As a vague question, your employees are likely to not really expand on this and will just say what you want them to hear without any real reflection.

What’s holding you back from doing good work?

By focusing on the negatives and on the employee, you fail to open a good, honest space to discuss improvement.

Do Ask:

  • What can I, the manager, do to help you better meet your goals?