Constructive criticism can help you determine which areas to improve on, while positive feedback can help you be more motivated. That is why most managers hold performance reviews for their employees.
In this article, our experts share good questions to ask during your next performance review. Here are their insights:
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- “Based on the long-term goals of our department, how do you envision my position’s growth alongside those goals?”
- “What skills or metrics do you feel I need to attain between now and then that would make me the best candidate?”
- “Where do you feel the greatest need in our department is over the upcoming year? How can I fill this need in my role?”
- “What professional development opportunities are there that I can get involved in over the next year?”
- “What am I doing right now that I need to improve on?”
- “What can I do to make your job easier/more productive/less stressful?”
- “Where do you see me in 2 – 3 years and what do I need to do to get there?”
- The best questions to ask will depend on your specific professional goals
- “What new processes have been implemented, or what changes have been made, as a result of employee feedback this year?”
- “Am I on track for my next career goal at this company?”
- “Is there any training I can do to improve my performance or add further value?”
- “I feel my particular strengths are X and X, but I don’t think they’re being fully utilised. Is there a way I can use these strengths to benefit the company?”
- “Can we have more regular performance discussions?”
- “How can I be more productive in my work?”
- “What do I need to do to get from position A to position B (or up to salary x).”
- “How can I get more involved?”
- “What’s one thing you see me doing (or failing to do) that holds me back?”
- When asking questions, be as specific as you can
- “If you were to give me an “exceeds expectations” on my next review, what specifically would I be doing differently?”
- “I am actually surprised by that rating, and I want to understand it. Can you share with me a few things I did that stood out for you?”
- “What could I have done better in the past quarter?”
- “What’s the biggest thing/aspect I should improve in the upcoming quarter?”
- “What are the tasks/projects I need to complete to receive a promotion?”
- “What do you think is my biggest strengths. What is my biggest weakness?”
- “What is one thing I could do to maximally impact our team in the next 3-6 months?”
- Soliciting specific examples provides clarity on what you should keep doing, and where you may need to improve
- Balance developmental feedback with positive feedback
- “How can I improve?”
- Other questions to bring to your review should relate to the company and its future
- Ask what kinds of challenges their department or company is looking to tackle in the future
- Ask the employer if there is a specific skill the employer would like to see the employee take the initiative to learn how to master
- Reviews need and must be future-focused
- Your questions should surround your accomplishments, improvements, and overall growth as an employee
- “How can I be useful to my team members?”
- Good questions to ask during a performance review would vary depending on the person’s generation
- Take the initiative to ask on what you can improve on
- “What skills would make me more effective in my role and how can I better help my teammates?”
- It is good to show that you have done some honest self reflection
- Ask questions that show an initiative in developing yourself as an employee
- “How am I getting in my own way without realizing it?”
- “What are the things I did that went well and what are those that need improvement?”
- “Is there anything you can think of that would not make me eligible for promotion?”
- “Where do you feel there’s a room for an improvement?”
- “What is expected of an employee to accomplish over the next quarter, six months and year?”
- “What are the goals of the department?”
- “What are the main drivers of success in the company?”
- “Are they any actionable ways I can improve in the short and long term?”
- Ask your boss what they think your strengths are
Matt Yako, M.Ed.
CEO & Founder, Inner Circle Career Coaching, LLC
“Based on the long-term goals of our department, how do you envision my position’s growth alongside those goals?”
This question allows for your manager to reply in earnest about if your skillset will be vital to the future of your area. It gives insights into where you should focus your efforts as they tell you exactly what, in their own words, are the goals of the future according to them.
The trick with this question is that you can then take this information and build personal development goals for the year ahead based on what is said by your manager.
You should set attainable metrics for yourself that showcase how you in your current role you are serving to meet the goals that are described. This sets you up for success for next year’s annual review!
“What skills or metrics do you feel I need to attain between now and then that would make me the best candidate?”
“If I was to be considered for a promotional opportunity in the future, what skills or metrics do you feel I need to attain between now and then that would make me the best candidate?”
“Can we meet quarterly or halfway through the year to have a check-in meeting in order to assess these metrics?”
A follow up question is needed for this second one. Both questions put together presents to your manager that you have a desire to learn and grow while gaining insight into their perception of your abilities.
It gives you concrete goals from their point of view of what you still need to accomplish and/or learn in your job before you can take the next step.
The beauty of this question is that it opens the dialogue for you to tell your boss what you want in the future as well. Do you want direct reports? Do you want to continue to be an individual contributor but have more oversight over larger projects? This is the time to be open to them.
In essence, it is a way to craft your future in the office and negotiate it before a promotional offer is in hand.
“Where do you feel the greatest need in our department is over the upcoming year? How can I fill this need in my role?”
Where will your manager be focusing their energies to better the department in the year ahead? The answer you get from this question will tell you.
If you are able to quickly provide ideas where you fit into these goals after s/he presents them then that makes you look great! This will really impress them and prove that you are invested in being a team player and in the future of the department.
It also shows that you have taken time to think and strategize where the office can/should be going as it evolves into the future.
“What professional development opportunities are there that I can get involved in over the next year?”
No manager wants a stagnant employee that isn’t looking to continue to develop. You don’t need to want to work your way up the ladder into a management position, but everyone in the workforce today needs to be a life-long learner and continue to gain new skills or refine the ones they already have.
Asking about professional development opportunities shows a willingness to continue on an upward trend and keep the department on the cutting edge.
It can only help personally in your career journey as you gain professional development experiences that make you more marketable and less expendable if/when budget cuts are on the table.
Leanne E. King, MA, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
President & CEO, Seeking HR
Supervisors and employees typically dread the annual performance review process. The process, done right, takes time and initiative by both parties. Employees want to be heard and they also want to know where they stand and no one likes an “ill-timed work surprise.”
A few questions that employees may ask to help get them in the right frame of mind and better yet in the good graces of their evaluator include:
“What am I doing right now that I need to improve on?”
This question lets the supervisor/evaluator know that the employee is interested in doing a good job and considers the current opportunity a worthwhile investment of their time. It also demonstrates an interest in improvement, growth and success.
This type of question from an employee opens the door for meaningful conversation and constructive feedback.
“What can I do to make your job easier/more productive/less stressful?”
This question demonstrates commitment to the supervisor and the organization – working smarter, not harder. This speaks to the employee’s work ethic and understanding that there is always room for improvement.
“Where do you see me in 2 – 3 years and what do I need to do to get there?”
This question demonstrates loyalty to the supervisor and the organization. High turnover and job-hopping are on the rise, any employee expressing a desire to be retained by an employer is good, not only from an institutional knowledge perspective but also reducing hiring costs.
HarperCollins Leadership Author | Founder & Executive Director, Professionals In Transition
Think of a performance review as the opportunity to tune up both your career and the current job position that you are in. During normal times, you are reviewed mainly on metrics.
In our current COVID-19 environment, all metrics should be thrown out of the window because of these extraordinary times.
However, (before your review) a best practice would be you to demonstrate how you have been spending your time, what you have accomplished and what training you have taken since the pandemic began.
There are a number of “igniter” questions that you can ask your boss during your performance review. An igniter question stimulates the conversation, establishes rapport, reduces tension and maintains a positive atmosphere throughout your review. Consider asking these:
“How has our short & long-range plan changed in relation to COVID-19?”
“Can we review my personal metrics in relation to the revised Short Range & Long Range Plan?”
You ask these questions to have your boss recognize and review with you the impact that COVID-19 has had on the company and the trickledown impact that it has on you.
“In what ways can I help you?”
“Are there other tasks or responsibilities that I could take on to make your job easier?”
These questions “signal” to your boss that you are prepared to do what-ever-it-takes to help your boss and thereby help the team, and perhaps help you pick up some additional responsibilities and increase your promote-ability.
“What are my blind spots?”
“What is your greatest frustration when it comes to my management and communication style?”
“What are the things I can stop doing?”
With this being the first COVID-19 performance review, everyone on all levels are in new territory. These questions stimulate conversation on improving your performance without being confrontational.
Being proactive and prepared for your performance review will enable you to effectively get the feedback you need for career success and a performance-based salary increase.
Executive and Leadership Coach
Asking questions in your performance evaluation is a great way to take charge of your professional development and show your boss that you are engaged and thoughtful!
The best questions to ask will depend on your specific professional goals
You should start by asking yourself a few questions to plan for the performance evaluation:
- “How did I perform this year?”
- “What accomplishments am I most proud of?”
- “How did I contribute to the results of our team or the organization?”
- “What is my next professional goal?”
- “What do I need to know to help me achieve that goal?”
- “What am I hoping to get out of this performance evaluation session?”
- “How has my bossed help me to be successful?”
Then use questions as a way to steer the conversation so that you will get actionable information or feedback.
- If your next goal is a promotion, you might ask, “What skills or experiences do you feel I need in order to get promoted?” or “What is your advice about how I can acquire those skills or experiences?”
- If you are looking to acquire or use particular skills, “How can I gain supervisory experience?” or “I really enjoy writing. What opportunities might be available for me to do more writing as part of my role?”
- If it’s a raise you want to ask, “What will it take for me to earn a salary increase?”
- If you want to know more about other areas of the company, you could say, “I’m really interested in understanding production. What are some ways I might learn more about that area?”
We are always more engaged and fulfilled in our work if we are using our strengths.
If you are only receiving constructive feedback during the session, you might ask “What feedback do you have regarding my strengths?”
You can also help the other person recognize your good work by selecting a situation in which you performed well and asking, “What feedback do you have regarding my work on the SmithCo project?” This will get your boss to focus on your contributions. It will also increase the “feel good” chemicals in their brain.
Speaking of which, in addition to asking questions, be sure to express your gratitude, especially for how they have helped you. “I really appreciated your nominating me to work on the Jones account. It really helped me develop my analytic skills.”
Key things to remember: Be proactive. Be specific. Be positive. Ask open-ended questions rather than questions that require a yes or no answer.
Don’t wait for your performance evaluation to have this kind of conversation and ask for feedback. The most successful people use every opportunity they can to learn and get feedback.
Michael Trust, MPA, SPHR, PHRca, SHRM-SCP
Human Resources Director, Michael Trust Consulting
The performance review is a great time to get feedback from your boss about what you’ve done well and not so well during the performance review period. Unfortunately, in many organizations, these reviews happen annually (if at all).
In today’s business world, real-time feedback is more critical than ever. Having said that, here are some questions that you can use in your next performance review (as applicable to your situation):
- What did I do very well and how can I further develop this (skill, behavior, etc.)?
- What did I not do as well as you expected? What specific things was I deficient in? May I come up with a plan to present to you about how I will correct this and seek your guidance, input, and support in achieving this?
- What goals do you have for me for the next review cycle? What resources have been allocated to help me achieve these goals? May I come up with a plan to present to you with a roadmap for this, and seek your guidance, input, and support?
- What can I do outside of my normal duties to gain more exposure to (an area where you want or need (or both) more exposure) and will you support me with this?
- What does my future path in this organization look like today, understanding that businesses and needs change over time? What do I need to do to continue on this path?
Founder and CEO, Clear Review
Performance reviews an opportunity for employees to air their grievances, to get feedback and to ask for training.
There are a number of questions employees can ask that will help to improve their employee experience, while also enhancing their performance and their overall engagement at the organisation and with their role.
Below are just a few great examples.
“What new processes have been implemented, or what changes have been made, as a result of employee feedback this year?”
Feedback doesn’t mean anything if nothing is done with it. This question shows your manager that you are interested in how your organisation is improving.
The answer to this question is very telling. If no changes have been made in light of employee feedback, this demonstrates that your company is unwilling, or unable to change.
It also shows that the exchange of feedback is ultimately a waste of time — your voice isn’t being heard.
If, on the other hand, your manager can point to a few examples of positive changes that have been made as a result of feedback, this shows you are working for a dynamic company that is happy and eager to take employee feedback and opinions on board.
“Am I on track for my next career goal at this company?”
This question demonstrates you, as an employee, are motivated and engaged. You want to remain with the company and you want to progress.
Your manager should be able to tell you what training you need in order to advance, or what steps you need to take in order to climb the ladder.
Beware of evasiveness — you deserve an honest, straightforward answer. If you’re unable to progress in your current organization, you might need to consider looking elsewhere for opportunities.
“Is there any training I can do to improve my performance or add further value?”
This question shows that you are willing and eager to do all you can to learn, develop and progress. Your employer should be more than happy to provide relevant training.
If there is no training available and if you are not going to continually develop, you need to question whether this career or this company is right for you, or whether you feel you’re at a dead end.
“I feel my particular strengths are X and X, but I don’t think they’re being fully utilised. Is there a way I can use these strengths to benefit the company?”
Developing on our weaknesses is always a good idea, but if you have particular strengths and skills that aren’t being utilised, you should highlight this to management.
They may be unaware of these skills and they could stand to hugely benefit the organization. And, of course, everyone likes to work with their strengths.
“Can we have more regular performance discussions?”
Continuous performance management and regular coaching conversations offer a whole host of benefits, and they’re great for employee engagement and morale.
If you’re stuck with one performance review a year, ask this question and see if your company is ready to adapt their performance management system and evolve for the betterment of their employees and for performance overall.
Executive & Career Coach| Author, “Winning the Game of Work”
Employees are typically most successful when their contributions meet or exceed the expectations for their roles.
Your performance review is the rare time when you and your manager can step outside the day-to-day pressures of the workday and focus on your goals and the value that you bring to the organization.
Your annual performance review is a golden opportunity to gain insights on what you’ll need to do differently to achieve the career success you desire.
To position yourself as someone who is serious about advancing, prepare yourself for your performance review as you would for a job interview.
Here are a few questions that can provide you with the information you’ll need to move ahead:
- What could I have done to better meet expectations?
- What areas of development do I need to work on in order to be ready for the next stage in my career?
- What should I do more of? Less of?
- How can I make a bigger contribution in the coming year?
- What can I do to grow in my current position?
- What do I need to do to get promoted?
- What do you see as a potential career path for me from my current position? What will I need to do achieve that?
Don’t look at your performance review as a perfunctory exercise in “checking the box” or one where your boss is in the driver’s seat.
View your performance review as an important opportunity to review and evaluate your career progress where you can recalibrate your route to help you get to your goal most efficiently.
Vice-President, People | Co-Founder, Zety
A performance review is not only the time for your manager to assess your work and achievements during a certain period of time. It is also the time for your own reflection and planning further changes and goals.
So, depending on what you want to accomplish, here are some sample questions you can ask:
“How can I be more productive in my work?”
If your performance review indicated a drop in productivity (especially now, when most employees moved to remote workspace), ask your manager’s advice.
It might be a matter of getting a few simple but useful tips and getting extra tools that increase productivity or help you plan your work better. Good managers usually have a few tricks up their sleeves, considering productivity is one of the traits they must possess.
“What do I need to do to get from position A to position B (or up to salary x).”
If you got a positive performance review, but you feel a bit stuck in a dead-end, this is a good chance to discuss and plan the next steps.
Discuss with your manager what you need to do to move up in your position, get a higher salary or other benefits. Make a detailed and solid plan.
“How can I get more involved?”
Perhaps you failed to reach your quarterly goal, though you tried really hard. For some managers and company owners, will matters more than skill.
Instead of focusing on failure, ask your manager if you can get involved in other projects. Perhaps a new employee needs training, or a report needs to be taken off your manager’s hands. Try to be engaged and helpful; this will always score you extra points on your performance reviews.
Work is not only about ticking off tasks, but it’s also about being a team player, a good colleague, and a reliable employee.
Executive Coach | Talent Optimization Expert | Author, “The Rise of the Agile Leader: Can You Make the Shift?“
Giving and receiving feedback requires self-awareness and understanding your own personal triggers that can make it difficult to hear criticism.
Almost everyone, from new hires to C-suite veterans, struggles with receiving feedback. Taking feedback well is a process of sorting and filtering.
You need to understand the other person’s point of view, try ideas that may at first seem a poor fit, and experiment with different ways of doing things.
You also need to discard or shelve critiques that are genuinely misdirected or are not helpful right away. But it’s nearly impossible to do any of those things from inside a triggered response.
Instead of being open to listen and learn, your triggers can lead you to reject, counterattack, or withdraw. Work on specific techniques that can help you effectively manage and filter your triggers.
Can you pause, even if for an instant, before you react verbally or through body language? Are you asking how the person you’re responding to will receive your response/reaction? Will you be effective in your response/reaction? Can you wait before you respond? Do you know and are you anticipating what your triggers are and why?
“What’s one thing you see me doing (or failing to do) that holds me back?”
Don’t ask unfocused questions like “Do you have any feedback for me?” Make the process more manageable by asking a colleague, a boss, or a direct report, “What’s one thing you see me doing (or failing to do) that holds me back?”
That person may name the first behavior that comes to mind or the most important one on their list. Either way, you’ll get tangible information and can flush out more specifics at your own pace.
When asking questions, be as specific as you can
Research has shown the more specific you are the easier it is for the person to provide feedback and the more helpful the feedback will be. Focus on the top one or two things you are working on.
For example, “I’m working on listening more and not rushing to my opinion, can you please let me know how I’m doing?” Ask for feedback after a situation where you are trying to work in a particular area.
Director of Training and Volunteers, Empower Work
In our experience, the best questions to ask during a performance review are the questions to which you want answers. Typically, those are questions that help you understand where you stand with your boss and what you need to do differently in order to get a better rating.
The first objective of a performance review, after all, is to ensure employees and employers are clear on where they stand. Unfortunately, so many of the people who come to Empower Work, do so precisely because they don’t know – and that’s really hard.
“If you were to give me an “exceeds expectations” on my next review, what specifically would I be doing differently?”
For example, If the biggest improvement area on your performance review was in the area of accountability, one question to ask your manager might be, “If you were to give me an “exceeds expectations” on my next review, what specifically would I be doing differently?”
And it may help to then ask yourself, “do I have a clear path to make those changes?” If so, great! If not, what would you need to ask your manager to get more clarity?
If your boss shares feedback that you don’t understand or gives a rating that you don’t expect, this is a great area to ask more about! For example, your boss shared that you received an “exceeds expectations” on communication, and you weren’t expecting it. It’s easy to pass this by because it’s positive.
It’s great to focus on the strongest area, not just areas of improvement so that you understand what’s working well and how you can expand on that.
Ultimately, the best questions you may want to ask are those to ensure clarity and alignment so that you walk away confident where you stand. We’ve learned and believe deeply at Empower Work–and as my work as a coach–that the best questions are the ones that are clear and specific to the situation and the person.
You know yourself and what may feel clear or unclear – follow that instinct and ask specific questions to get the clarity you need.
HR Manager, ResumeLab
There are a lot of great questions one can (and should) ask during their performance review. If the answers are not addressed during the review, it’s worth asking your supervisors the following:
“What could I have done better in the past quarter?”
This one is a low hanging fruit. You’re showing that you care, are ambitious and want to continuously improve. Key traits desired by any company.
“What’s the biggest thing/aspect I should improve in the upcoming quarter?”
This question goes more into the specifics and the nitty-gritty of daily responsibilities. In other words, which change of behavior would have the most significant impact on the desirable outputs moving forward.
“What are the tasks/projects I need to complete to receive a promotion?”
Once again, you’re demonstrating your desire for growth and advancement, within the ranks. You’re not resting on laurels, but instead continually aiming higher.
“What do you think is my biggest strengths. What is my biggest weakness?”
A classic question as well as a useful litmus test, to verify how you’re evolving, if you’re in agreement with your supervisor, and how you can work on overcoming your biggest challenge(s)
“What is one thing I could do to maximally impact our team in the next 3-6 months?”
A personal favorite, as it speaks volumes about your dedication and determination as well as your commitment to the betterment of your department/company in the mid-term.
You should also have plenty of feedback for your supervisor. Also, the more factually and data-backed each of your arguments is, the better. We’re not robots, but using objective facts takes out the bias and potentially hurt feelings from the process.
Leadership and Career Coach
I recommend the questions below. You’ll note a few themes.
Soliciting specific examples provides clarity on what you should keep doing, and where you may need to improve
It’s also useful to ask your leader to identify examples of others’ work to create a model of what you may need to do to advance.
Balance developmental feedback with positive feedback
To advance in our career, we need to not only know where we can improve but the power of our strengths. Our strengths come easily to us, and at times, we can be blind to how important they are.
Another benefit of hearing positive feedback is that it helps to protect our brain from going into threat mode. If we feel safer, we are more able to hear what our leader is telling us.
Soliciting specific examples and asking for developmental and positive feedback will provide more clear direction on how to succeed in your current position as well as advance to the next role.
- Can you identify a project or activity that I have worked on that exceeded your expectations? Can you specify what it was about how I handled that responsibility that exceeded your expectations?
- Can you identify a project or activity that I have worked on where you feel there was opportunity for improvement? Can you specify what I could have done differently, and why that would have been more effective?
- Can you describe the behaviors and activities of a person at my level who you believe is ready to be promoted?
- Can you tell me what skill, traits, or behaviors that you’ve seen me exhibit that you believe will be useful when I advance to the next level? Can you say why you identified those particular skills as assets?
- In order to advance in my career, what skills, traits, or behaviors do you think I will need to continue to build? Why do you see those skills, behaviors, or traits as important to hone?
President, Executive Search
Performance reviews should be seen as opportunities, a chance to learn how others see you, and a time to subtly put yourself forward.
“How can I improve?”
The most important question to ask is “How can I improve?”. This can and should be repeated in several ways many times. Basically you want to convey that you want to continue to grow in your ability to do the job and advance in the organization.
Don’t see it as a negative, but rather view it as a door you want to open to greater opportunity. If your reviewer does talk about where you have fallen short, asking for pointers about fixing problems is appropriate.
If you have specific issues and anticipate that your reviewer will want to talk about them, be sure to plan ahead to see what language you can use to explain yourself in a positive way.
It’s also very appropriate to ask how your performance can be enhanced even if you are a superstar. The point is that you want to convey energy and enthusiasm for the job which indicates your interest in taking on a bigger role in the future.
Other questions to bring to your review should relate to the company and its future
In this time of the pandemic, it makes sense to ask about future plans not only as it relates to yourself but the enterprise as a whole. Showing sensitivity to the decisions that all businesses are facing is most important.
Director of Operations, MyCorporation.com
Ask what kinds of challenges their department or company is looking to tackle in the future
It’s a bit difficult at the present moment to ask this question during a performance review, but I would recommend employees ask what kinds of challenges their department or company is looking to tackle in the coming year — or even the next six months. This gives employees the chance to determine how their skill sets may be used to help reach goals and milestones.
Ask the employer if there is a specific skill the employer would like to see the employee take the initiative to learn how to master
Not only does mastering this skill allows businesses to meet and achieve specific challenges, but it also positions employees to be able to wear many hats at work and juggle a wide variety of responsibilities outside of their initial job description.
A good example of this may be a business that has had to downsize due to COVID-19 and is being run by a lean, skeleton crew.
An employee who works in customer service may also assume social media responsibilities on behalf of the business. They’ll learn how to create content, schedule it, share it, and engage with customers afterward.
This allows the employee to expand their duties in the workplace and help solve a problem the business may have — who will run the social media department if there’s not enough in the budget for a new hire? — in the short- and long-term.
Erin Spencer, SHRM-CP, PHR
Co-Founder & Senior HR Consultant, My Change Agent
Performance reviews can be seen as a “dreaded event.” Let’s be honest—managers can’t find the time to do them and employees are nervous to be a part of them.
Employees are worried about constructive criticism and if they are going to get the raise they really want. Managers are terrified and often lack the skills to have a difficult conversation. That mindset has to change.
Reviews need and must be future-focused
They need to focus on what the employee can do to grow and what the manager is going to do to support them—personally, professionally and yes sometimes financially to achieve those goals. It’s not just a “review” of all of the tasks, duties, and responsibilities. Instead, it’s a professional growth discussion. If a manager shows that they care, guess what? The employee will do their best work.
So, what questions should an employee be asking?
- Where do you see my biggest strengths? Where can I improve and how do you plan to support me in that effort?
- Are there others within our organization (or even outside) that you think I could gain perspectives from by talking to them? Would you be willing to make recommendations to those connections?
Last, but not least, managers should be hiring people better than themselves and elevating them up. Don’t hold them back. If you find out they are not challenged at their job and don’t respond accordingly, then they are likely going to leave. Wouldn’t you rather see your employee become the next CEO than leave to go to work for someone else?
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader,” John Quincy Adams.
COO, Turning Point HCM
As an employee, there are several ways that you can prepare yourself for your performance review so that you can get the most out of it for your future and leave feeling accomplished.
First, it is best to prepare for your performance review by doing a little bit of self-reflecting and review of your own work.
Try your best to be objective here, by asking yourself, what projects could I have focused on more? what was my star accomplishment this quarter?
You should be prepared to answer questions from your management about goals that you have met since the previous review, ways that you have tried to improve yourself in this company, and an honest review about how you feel you have been completing your tasks.
Not only should you prepare to answer questions, but employees should also use this opportunity to ask management the right questions.
Your questions should surround your accomplishments, improvements, and overall growth as an employee
Questions to ask:
- Do you feel my work is improving at a steady rate?
- What improvements do you feel, if any, that I could make? Is there anything I can enhance or improve upon?
- Where do you see my biggest growth potential?
- What are the three goals that we can set for me over the next 6 months to a year?
It is always important to discuss the next steps and goals for you as the employee to reach between now and the next performance review. It shows that you are motivated and interested in advancing your career.
It also ensures that you can be performing your tasks to the best of your ability, all while having a clear path to success.
If you outline clear goals and next steps during your review you will know exactly what is expected of you, and there will be no surprises when it comes to your next review and you will have no trouble describing your improvements as they apply directly to your expected job tasks.
Founder, Search Pros
“How can I be useful to my team members?”
When at work, people oftentimes focus on their work and their work only, so when it comes to reviews, people would focus on how they can make changes for their improvement.
Though this is effective for individual reasons, it is a good idea that people find ways on how they can be of benefit to those around them.
From a higher person’s point of view, this can greatly benefit the team as a whole when they are all watching out for each other and not only themselves. This also gives the impression that you are a selfless individual by caring about your coworkers.
Performance reviews mean different things to different generations.
Good questions to ask during a performance review would vary depending on the person’s generation
Boomers, for example, tend to be workaholics slightly obsessed with purpose, meaning, vision and calling.
They’re going to be wanting more feedback about opportunities for leaving a greater legacy, ways they can be more aligned with (or directing of) a company’s mission and values.
Xers are your classic natural-born entrepreneurs.
They will be looking for feedback on how effectively their bosses believe their work is contributing to the bottom line of the company.
Equally important, they may want some additional compensation for shaving expenses, opening a new market, or cutting out a middleman.
Xers tend to be very turned off by behavior-based performance evaluations and feel “I did my job, and well. We’re good, right?”
Risk-averse Millennials feel extraordinary pressure to succeed but have a challenge being the younger adults in a workforce with risk-taking, self-initiating Xers and Boomers as supervisors and company leaders.
Millennials should always be asking questions about how best to get to the next notch in their career paths.
These can be questions about steps they should take to move up and how they can do a better job to have greater career potential within the organization. (Most of them want just a couple/few employers over the course of their life and would like to know they have a bright future at your company.)
As well, Millennials should ask for more concretely defined tasks and projects, additional rounds of feedback, and opportunities to go above and beyond their stated job requirements.
A blindspot for Millennials tends to be soft skills. They often don’t know the basic aspects of work culture that Boomers and Xers know but flaunt. Asking for feedback (and remediation) on their attire, their writing skills, and communication skills may help them as well.
Co-Founder and COO, Chargebacks 911
Take the initiative to ask on what you can improve on
When conducting performance reviews, I’m always impressed by employees who take the initiative to ask me what I think they can improve on.
This question gets my attention because it lets me know that they take their work seriously and opens the door to honest dialogue.
Their active participation in the discussion shows me that they respect my opinion and are willing to make changes if necessary. I’ve also found that individuals are more receptive to constructive criticism or feedback when they are the ones who first initiate it.
“What skills would make me more effective in my role and how can I better help my teammates?”
In my opinion, these questions are indicative of an employee who genuinely cares and is looking to improve their performance. These questions reveal an awareness of how an individual’s actions can affect those around them, and they are a good way to start a meaningful and productive conversation.
Personally, I am more at ease when I get asked what can be improved because we are then able to brainstorm ideas together. I believe that someone with the right attitude and willingness to learn is an irreplaceable team member.
When employees come prepared to a performance review with their own questions, it helps the meeting feel fluid and less one-sided. I prefer an engaging discussion where both parties contribute and can learn from each other.
Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
It is good to show that you have done some honest self reflection
I suggest preempting your supervisor’s potential critiques by stating where you have fallen short and how you would go about improving your performance for the next year. So don’t just give yourself a glowing review without your own self-evaluation. Everyone falls short on something.
Of course, state what you have done right, but also state what you can do better.
For example, if one of your performance measures is to publish reports, yet you have not published any in the previous year, this will be obvious to your supervisor.
Rather than having them point it out to you, say that you are aware of this lack, then state how you plan to fix the problem such as you have enrolled in a class, sought mentorship from another colleague, or bought some books for your own self education.
Doing this will work to show that you have thought about your work critically and have plans to improve on the important aspects of your job.
COO, Surf Search
Performance reviews are more than just opportunities for a raise or promotion. They are useful occasions in which candidates can glean insight into further career advancement and development within the company.
Ask questions that show an initiative in developing yourself as an employee
As recruiters who speak with candidates curious about new opportunities daily, the questions candidates ask about new jobs could be instead be directed to their current position whether they’ve been there for one week or one year.
Some great questions for a candidate to ask in order to show initiative in developing themselves in their career during a performance review:
- What can the company offer in terms of expanding your skillset?
- What can the company offer in terms of mentoring and/or training?
- Does the company provide a plan or timeline for getting there?
If the manager doesn’t have answers or there is no plan in place, this shows the company’s lack of investment in the development of their employees and signals a time to move on.
Whether or not an employee decides to stay, they should always get a written confirmation of a good performance review to use during the interview process with new potential employers. If a review is exemplary, candidates should consider asking managers to write a reference or endorsement on LinkedIn.
Public endorsements make candidates look good, while showing that the company is a place that appreciates their employees.
Even if a performance review is not about a raise or a promotion, employees can still use them to their great advantage in their career advancement.
Career Expert, Career Addict
A performance review is a great time to analyse your achievements, set new goals and regain some lost motivation. That said, it can be difficult to know what to say if you’ve never had one before.
So, to get the most out of your next performance review, consider asking the following questions.
- “Can you tell me about the development of the business?” This question shows that you’re in it for the long run and are invested in the business.
- “How can I take on more responsibility?” By asking this question, you’ll show that you’re keen to do more and advance the career ladder.
- “What advancement opportunities do I have?” This will open the gateway to discussing your future, promotions, and salary increase.
In conclusion, use your performance review to make suggestions and discuss your advancement opportunities, so you can realign your goals to those of the company.
Coach | Digital Strategist | Speaker | Consultant
“How am I getting in my own way without realizing it?”
Even if we’re performing at a high level, we may be doing things that are totally invisible to us that are slowing us down or creating avoidable obstacles.
Another favorite question is, “What is one shift I could make that if I did it right now, would create a massive change in my performance or my team?” These questions invite feedback and thinking based on what could be rather than simply on what is currently happening.
“What are the things I did that went well and what are those that need improvement?”
This question helps identify both good and bad practices. When employees know their healthy and toxic actions, they can act correspondingly.
Upon knowing their good practices, employees become conscious of doing productive habits more than usual. Additionally, it might help them discover a trait that others appreciate but they don’t notice themselves. Once they identify such qualities, they strive harder because of its known impact.
Consequently, when employees become aware of their shortcomings, it helps them focus on improvement. Also, co-workers and leaders play a vital role in expediting the transformation by being supportive.
Founder, VSS Monitoring
There are a lot of great questions to ask during a performance review, but there is one question you should always ask if a promotion is set in your sights.
“Is there anything you can think of that would not make me eligible for promotion?”
This is powerful for a few reasons:
There is a psychological reason for this. You are giving them total authority to say why or not you should be promoted.
By giving them this power they are responsible for everything they say during this conversation. Additionally, this sets your own expectations to see if it is reasonable to be given the promotion and helps you plan accordingly.
In essence, there are three types of responses.
The first type of response is when they say there is no reason you shouldn’t be promoted. By not providing a reason if you continue to maintain your level of work then you can cite their lack of answer in future promotion discussions.
The second type of response is when they do state something. If they do provide a reason and you are able to show significant improvement then it really strengthens your argument for getting promoted.
The third response is when they say they will need to get back to you and think about it. This is usually a good sign, but you should not get excited yet. You’ll have to make sure you follow the advice in the next paragraph if you get this response.
If you get the second or third type of response then you definitely want to schedule a follow up. For the second type of response schedule something within 3 months to have another talk with your supervisor or whoever is giving the performance review.
If you get the third response ask them how long they need to think over and look at what they need to provide an answer. Push to schedule it within one month, but ideally, it is within 2 weeks.
This shows your supervisor that you are taking this seriously and that they should too – you expect a quick follow up to this answer as you are really gunning for this promotion.
Start these promotion questions early (aim for 6-12 months before you want to get promoted) and aim to have these every 3-6 months, depending on the company.
HR Manager, Survey Sensum
Performance reviews are an important part of every employee. It’s the need for an employee to measure the progress of the project they are working on. Performance reviews are worthwhile and are very crucial for every employee to know their positive or negative feedback.
The best questions which an employee can ask during their performance reviews are:
“Where do you feel there’s a room for an improvement?”
Most of the employees want to do the best job. Employees can significantly benefit from knowing what the management thinks of their performance.
Once employees are aware of the needs and desires which would help them to grow, can develop actionable goals. This can help the employees to get where he or she wants to go.
“What is expected of an employee to accomplish over the next quarter, six months and year?”
Sharing company goals for the coming months and the coming year of the time can boost employee performance. This would help employees to understand their coming position within the team.
During the discussion, only employees can communicate their wishes. Employees can mention their expectations in terms of work they want to perform in the coming future.
“What are the goals of the department?”
Most of the employees are not aware of what the company is trying to do, or even their own department. This happens because of training or communication gaps.
So, this is the best time where employees can question the organization goals. And as a team what they are supposed to do. What kind of work delivery is being expected out of them.
“What are the main drivers of success in the company?”
This will help an employee to understand the company’s priorities. Employees are not aware of everything, naturally, but they should be aware of what counts as a success within their own department.
The closer employees are understanding the company values, the better. Would help employees to tune their idea according to organization needs.
Director of Operations, WikiLawn
It’s always a great idea for employees to ask questions during their performance review. The more you can understand about your managers’/coworkers’ perception of you, the better off you’ll be. Even if you have a positive performance review, it’s important to ask questions.
“Are they any actionable ways I can improve in the short and long term?”
Let’s say your reviewer says your interactions with customers leave something to be desired. They’re somewhat vague, just rating you as below average in that category. You need to examine that rating and find out why. When you ask them that question, they can give you ways to improve that you can actually implement.
This will help you turn performance reviews from some vague, nebulous thing into a way you can actually improve while remaining engaged with the people who will be reviewing your performance again in the future.
Insurance Expert, Car Insurance Comparison
Ask your boss what they think your strengths are
You can also ask if they have ideas for how to use those strengths in areas of your work that need improvement.
Sometimes you’re very aware of what your strengths are and others notice the same, but other times you may be surprised by what others notice as your strengths.
A good boss will notice strengths and should be pleased to be asked for their observations. Asking this question puts your boss in a mentoring capacity which will benefit you in the long run and will help your boss to be more vested in you.
By forcing your boss to see your strengths and help you work through using those strengths to address your weaknesses, your cooperation and teamwork will grow stronger.
As an employee, you should appreciate an honest perspective from those you trust. When your boss notices something strong about your performance that you hadn’t even realized, it’s likely that trait is natural and will lend itself to addressing your weaknesses.
Asking what others see as your strengths and weaknesses is good for you because it can help you to pinpoint how exactly you will improve and it forces you to make yourself teachable. But, it’s good for your boss too because it forces them to be involved in your betterment.
Thinking deeper and coming up with new ideas is a challenge that makes everyone better at their job. When you’re aware of what others see as strong points in you, you can better capitalize on those abilities and work on making them even stronger.