I'm an Employee Engagement Expert — Here Are 12 Questions the Best Managers Ask in Annual Reviews

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Garima Sharma10
April 15, 2024 at 2:15AM UTC

An organization’s productivity, growth and profitability are all dependent on its key asset: its workforce. Employee performance reviews and appraisals help support employees in their growth and development—which in turn support the company’s growth and development.

Organizations run all kinds of appraisals to assess employee performance. It could be a simple one-on-one meet with the manager, or a skill assessment or even a 360-degree feedback review. The appraisal type may vary depending on the unique circumstances of every organization. In the end, all appraisal methods have a common vision. Employee performance reviews:

  • Evaluate current and future employee performance and give out fair rewards and recognition.

  • Identify training and development needs to help employees fill in performance gaps.

  • Have clear KPIs or OKR methodology in place to help set goals.

  • Facilitate healthy communication between superiors and subordinates.

  • Help employees realize their performance level, strengths and areas of improvement.

  • Offer a platform to employees to express their opinions and concerns.

  • Provide regular feedback for better job performance.

Yet performance appraisals don’t just benefit the company’s performance goals; they also play a pivotal role in an employees’ working life. Employees value regular praise and recognition. Employees need to feel valued to be fully engaged and productive. That’s where appraisals come in.

A concrete appraisal system offers an opportunity to give your employees sincere feedback, enabling them to work smarter and better. Performance reviews also help maintain stronger cohesion between managers and employees. They led to higher employee engagement, retention rates and overall positive workplace culture.

Questions managers should ask in performance reviews.

By asking relevant questions, managers can dive deep into employee performance and elevate employee motivation, employee satisfaction, goal achievement and much more. Here are the types of questions managers can ask their teams and make the entire appraisal exercise effective and successful.

Questions based on overall performance. 

The obvious agenda behind running performance reviews is to assess and appraise performance. In addition to manager evaluations, self-assessment is also critical for employee growth.

1. What accomplishments are you most proud of? Where do you think you fell short?
2. What are the ideal working conditions for your productivity?

Questions about strengths.

Appraisals are also about making your employees realize their true potential and leverage it.

3. What personal strengths help you perform your job effectively?

4. What among your various tasks comes easiest to you?

Questions on areas of development.

Performance reviews need to focus on helping underperformers address their blind spots.

5. What can you do differently in the future to address a shortfall?

6. What areas will you focus on in the next few months to help improve, grow and develop?

7. What can I do as a manager or mentor to help you meet your goals?

Questions around current and future roles.

Analyzing the current and future roles and responsibilities helps managers in succession planning. It also makes them better prepared for business scenarios that may lay ahead. 

8. Are you happy with your current role and are you motivated?

9. What do you like the least about your current responsibilities? What would you like to change?

10. What do you think your next possible position at this company will be? How do you think your role will change?

Questions on the manager-employee relationship. 

People don’t leave companies, they leave managers. It’s important to ask these tough questions to improve your working relationship with your direct reports.

11. What are the two things I could do differently, to better manage and engage you?

12. How can I change my behavior to help improve the working relationship?

For managers, running constructive performance reviews and promoting strategies that are conducive to better performance hold great importance to company productivity. Running performance reviews is also about supporting your employees to improve and grow. Asking the right questions enables employers to make more informed and rational decisions around employee development. 


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Garima Sharma the Lead — Talent Assessments & Employee Engagement at GreenThumbs. She is a subject matter expert for personality assessments, talent management, 360 Degree Appraisals, employee engagement, feedback surveys, etc. She is also a blogger who loves to write articles, posts, whitepapers and more in the HR space.

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for managers during performance review time? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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