Performance reviews are an important part of being a manager. Just as you need to measure the progress of your project to determine if you need to adjust the cost, time or scope, you should apply similar oversight to your team.
While it can seem like a routine task, you shouldn’t approach it that way. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. The better your performance review, the better you can help your team by giving them the training, encouragement or project management tools they need to collaborate and work more efficiently.
Yes, performance reviews are worthwhile. Of course, you must do the due diligence and prepare for them. For instance, you need to have your performance review questions on hand, and those questions must be crafted to get useful information. But it’s also crucial that you know what answers are positive or negative, so you can properly evaluate your employee.
Follow these 10 sample performance review questions, and intelligently evaluate their answers, for a great interview.
1. What was your greatest accomplishment at work?
Start positive. Give the person a chance to express how they see their value in the company and explain where they feel they’ve excelled.
Good Answer: Almost anything will be positive if it’s an example of a true work accomplishment, extra-points for showing leadership and acting collaboratively.
Bad Answer: If they can’t come up with anything, that’s troublesome. Likewise if the only examples they can find are routine duties that they’re expected to accomplish. But a real red flag is if they take credit for someone else’s accomplishment.
2. What do you hope to accomplish over the coming year?
This is when you get your first nugget of information about the employee. How they answer will reveal where you can help them, via coaching or training, to meet those expectations. It’s also important for the employee to think about the future and set specific goals.
Good Answer: A detailed list of goals is good. It shows that the employee is thinking strategically about the future. The more those goals complement the company’s strategic goals, the better. Of course, you can also tweak their goals to become more aligned.
Bad Answer: This can range from safe and unambitious goals to outrageous and unrealistic ones. Again, if you have something to work with, you can adjust their goals to be more realistic. However, if they have no goals and show apathy in the face of the question, there’s going to be a problem.
3. What position at the company do you want to move to next?
By asking about their career goals in terms of their advancement in the organization, you can gauge how to help them achieve those goals. And, after conducting several reviews, you can chart the progress of their interests and ambitions.
Good Answer: They’re ambitious and demonstrate a clear understanding of their department’s hierarchy.
Bad Answer: They show no interest or answer unrealistically, such as they feel entitled to move into an executive position without having demonstrated sufficient worth or drive.
4. Where do you feel there’s room for you to improve?
This will form a picture of how perceptive the person is at understanding what their weaknesses are, and therefore gives you insight into how to bring them up to snuff.
Good Answer: There really isn’t a good or bad answer, because any answer will provide you with guidance on how to manage the person and make them a better employee.
Bad Answer: If there is a bad answer, it would be a refusal to acknowledge a weakness. If a person is not able to contemplate any weakness or shortcoming they might have, you’re probably dealing with an arrogant or delusional person, who is not an ideal team member.
5. Do you feel that the team is working well collaboratively?
It’s more than likely that your employee is working as a part of a team, and the well-being of that team is critical to success. Therefore, any insight on the dynamics impacting their productivity is helpful.
Good Answer: Whether the team is working together or at odds is less important than the perspective of the person answering the question. The more they enlighten you about the team’s inner workings, the better you’ll be able to resolve any problems and manage them more effectively.
Bad Answer: It’s bad if the person is oblivious to issues that are evident to you, or they act as if they’re covering up for teammate. Even worse would be a deflection of blame to avoid criticism.
6. What are the main drivers of success in the company?
This is a good way to learn how well the person understands the company’s priorities. They’re not going to know everything, naturally, but they should be aware of what counts as success within their own department.
Good Answer: The closer they are to understanding what the company values, the better. Whatever their answer, you’ll have a better idea of how in tune they are with the needs of the company.
Bad Answer: It’s bad if they reply with anything that is not logical or, worse, in opposition to the key drivers of success in the company.
7. Are you comfortable with our corporate culture, and are there areas that need improvement?
You know what the work environment is like for yourself, but it’s not easy to know how it feels for those around you.
Good Answer: You want to learn if there are issues in the cultural climate of the office, so hopefully those will be revealed if they exist. Plus, if they have concrete steps to improve that problem, it means that they’re invested in the organization and its ongoing success.
Bad Answer: If they have no problem with the culture at the office, that’s good, but you want to make sure that they’re being straight with you and not just giving you the answer you want to hear. Also, if their idea of a good culture is diametrically opposed to what the company feels is a good culture, then there’s a problem.
8. Do you have everything you need to perform your job?
Here’s a very constructive question because it offers the employee an opportunity to tell you directly how they’re limited or where they could improve their productivity if they are given some additional tool or resource.
Good Answer: A detailed understanding of the workings of the organization is important. Then, they can hopefully suggest new tools and resources that fit into that structure in order to have a positive impact.
Bad Answer: It’s not helpful if they ask for things that are impossible to supply them with. That shows they don’t really get the parameters and restrictions in which they’re working.
9. Where has management helped and hindered your work?
This is a bit of a loaded question, but the return can be of value if the employee is honest. Then, you’ll be able to see what is and isn’t working on the frontlines of the business.
Good Answer: Naturally, anything that the employee says that you weren’t aware of is a good answer. Ideally they respond in terms of the impact and results of your management.
Bad Answer: Bad might not be the right word, but it’s not helpful if the employee is cagey and doesn’t respond honestly. Therefore, it’s best if you can build trust with them so they’ll feel safe to share any criticism with you. Make sure they know that what is said will remain between the two of you.
10. Do you have any questions for me related to your work here and your future goals at the company?
This is a natural follow-up to the previous question and will help you gain employee trust while providing a roadmap to assist them moving forward.
Good Answer: A good answer is one that comes from a place of knowing the company’s dynamics, one that seeks a pathway to help the employee achieve their objectives, while remaining in alignment with the organization’s strategic goals.
Bad Answer: Again, one that shows an ignorance to the reality of the work environment, or is not professional but too personal.
Performance reviews can be managed, and as you start to build up an archive, it helps to have tools to collect and monitor the employee’s progress over the years. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that can do that, but also so much more, like project planning, tracking and reporting. Try our software for free with this 30-day trial, and then give us a performance review.