December 19, 2014

4 questions to ask employees during performance reviews

Effective managers ask the right questions during performance reviews.

Performance reviews should be a two-way street, with managers asking about ways they can improve.

Managers often mistakenly believe they have to have all of the answers, but one of the keys to leading a successful performance review is asking the right questions and listening. It’s crucial that you go into the meeting with a curious attitude and an open ear, making it clear that you want to find out more about life from your employee’s point-of-view. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Do you feel you’re doing “the best work of your life,” and if not, what can we change? Human resources thought leader John Sullivan writes for talent management publication TLNT that top workers are most likely to stay if they feel they are doing meaningful work. If they don’t believe they’re doing the best work of their life, ask what you, as a manager, can do to change that.
  • How do you like to be rewarded? Many managers spend countless time and energy trying to determine how to best motivate their employees. To make things even more complicated, there is rarely a one-size-fits-all approach. One worker might like a lunch out with the boss, while another prefers a bigger Christmas bonus. Regardless, you’ll never know until you ask.
  • What are your long-term goals and how will you meet them? Oftentimes employees become disenchanted with their jobs when they start to feel “stuck,” without the opportunity to learn, grown and achieve. The Harvard Business Review recommends giving your direct report the chance to share any professionals goals, along with their strategies for meeting them. This gives you the chance to offer support and assume a mentoring role, helping to craft a plan for advancing their careers. A good follow-up question: How would you like to measure your progress in this area?
  • What can we change to improve productivity? Inc. Magazine suggests asking each employee what one process should be axed or edited. If two out of three say that they see the biweekly departmental meeting as a time-suck, for example, you might consider changing or eliminating it. By addressing something you might not have even realized was a problem, you could dramatically improve office morale and worker productivity. Of course, your direct report may mention something unrelated to a process. Perhaps the office is too cold for them to concentrate or a person at the next cubicle plays music too loud. All of this is important information you are unlikely to get without requesting it first.

Asking questions to elicit valuable feedback, giving employees insight into their own behaviors and helping them improve their professional performance is easier said than done. The good news is this skill can be learned. If you would like to get better at leading your direct reports through the review process, explore Mastery Technologies’ dozens of management training courses. These efficient, cost-effective learning tools can help you lead your team onward and upward.

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