Performance reviews are an important part of the career development for any individual. For the employer it’s the time to take stock of the progress made by the employee.
It also provides helpful insights to the employee and to prepare her for the direction of improvement in the future.
The performance review helps the manager analyze the performance of different employees and identify the ones that need more development and the ones that are more self-driven and independent.
All this said, performance reviews can be whacky, nerve wracking, confusing and many times ineffective. Employers need to be smart to get the performance review done quickly and effectively.
Making the review form more focused to elicit objective, positive and supportive answers that can be evaluated for better understanding of the employees, is a very desirable objective. This would also help them to be clearer with their duties, company’s expectations and their areas of improvement.
So while discussing the review form keep any eye on how the questions relate to the specific employee. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind while conducting a performance review:
How to Answer Performance Review Questions:
1. Avoid one word answers:
Try to make your questions more subjective than those that could be answer with one word. Let the employee give his view which could help you evaluate it in much better way.
For example, rather than asking “What is the problem in your work?” you can ask” what areas of the work you find problematic?”
2. Set a time duration for the Review process:
Decide on how long the performance review will last so that you can plan the review schedule. A review without a time duration just tends to create more problems than answers.
So let it be in episodes of 45-60 min so that the important areas are covered. Its helpful when you start the review meeting to say, “ Hey John, We’ve got 60 minutes to complete our review discussion” to set expectations.
3. Deal with Select but priority areas of the Review:
It’s advised that in a performance appraisal meeting, do not discuss more than 2-3 areas of improvement. It would give a focus to the meeting and would also help to identify and chart out solutions to issues in consultation with the employee.
The lower priority issues can be covered outside the review on a more day to day basis since they are not that critical in the first place.
4. Be balanced in your Approach:
Behaving like a dictatorial boss and just screaming your guts out on identified errors doesn’t help anyone’s cause.
It’s important to be supportive to your employers and together analyze the problems and try to identify solutions and changes that are needed.
5. Avoid being Arrogant and Sarcastic:
It’s important that your tone in the review is not arrogant or sarcastic. Don’t ever make the employee feel that you are taking undue advantage of your authority as the boss. Try to comment only on the performance and work rather than on their personal behavior.
If you expect the review to be rough because of poor performance, then its even more important that the tough message is delivered professionally and without any malice.
6. Highlight and praise the good:
Don’t hesitate to praise the good part of the employee’s performance. Be direct and specific about the good part of their performance and asking them to keep it up in the future. This would help in the increase of their morale to do more better work.
It’s also helpful that you praise qualities and character traits in general and highlight them with specific tasks or projects.
7. Cover the long period:
Try to talk about the period of time like 3 months, 6 months or even 1 month if you frequently conduct the meeting.
Don’t just discuss the recent activities. Focus on the long term performance so that message to the employee is clear that the evaluation is not based on a few recent data points for good or for bad.
8. Keep the Conversation flowing:
Its important to let the conversation flow in the meeting. Don’t interrupt any employee while she is saying and give them a patient hearing.
Let the conversation be light, polite and helpful but keep it focused on the areas that you specifically want to highlight.
9. Handling Emotions Sensitively:
You need to be calm and understanding with the employees. It may happen that some employees get emotional during the meeting.
Handling emotional outbursts carefully and sensitively will help you solve issues before the meeting ends rather than handling it after the meeting which affect morale and productivity in general.
10. Obtain a Commitment:
At the end of the review, ask the employee to give a commitment to the company that he would work on his weaker areas, solve the issues and show improved progress to the company.
Performance appraisals need to be handled with care to be able to generate effective results. For the really clued in managers this can be turned into an opportunity to regroup, inspire and drive significant performance results from employees.
The one question that gets asked every time a performance review is mentioned is the questions that need to get asked and answered in the review.
Here is a collection of some good questions that various HR Practitioners have used and recommended over various studies to ask an employee during performance review process.
Performance Review Questions:
1. What is your biggest achievement in (period of time)?
This question would help you to understand and make the employee herself realize the progress of her work towards her goals.
2. What has been your most challenging aspect of work?
The answer to this question gives you an insight of the problematic areas, weaker aspects and where she needs to work on and improve. This is an important discussion area.
3. What’s alternate way to do this job?
This answer let employee provide his ideas to perform a job which could be easy and different and more effective.
4. Which resources are helpful to you?
Resource planning is an important part of managing an organization. This answer would help you to realize which resources are really helpful and which are being waste. This would help you to use the potential resources and reduce waste.
5. Which part of job is your favorite?
This question would help you to know the part of job employee love to do which make him good at that. This is your area of highlighting areas that are enjoyable to the employee and emphasize positive reinforcement.
6. How we could help you with your job?
It’s important to know what your employee expects from you on your part. Asking him this question make a good bond between you two which would help you to develop his working.
7. How can fun add to the work?
Who doesn’t wish to have a fun element in their work? A break to play, or small competitions or appraisal presents can make it fun for employee to do the work. Asking this question would flood in with ideas to make the work easier and fun for them.
8. What are your plans with this job?
Every employee has some target planned from the current job. Do ask about plans, objectives are and how she wishes to accomplish them.
9. What are your strengths in this job?
This is probably a done to death cliché but asking this helps you understand whether the weaknesses turn into strengths over time or not. This question asked for multiple reviews over time will help you really evaluate whether the employee made progress in identified areas.
10. What have been you contribution in the team works or the total goal?
It’s important to know the contribution of the employee had in the team work and whether it matches standards expected by the team. Put simply, she might be outstanding individually but in a team does she pull the team up or drag it down.
11. What is the strongest/’weakest part of the firm?
You must know what an employee thinks is the strongest/weakest area of your firm. This would help you work on fortifying the strengths and improve the areas of weaknesses.
12. What you expect from the company?
This is the very important to be asked from new employees especially. Understanding their needs and expectations would help you develop better.
13. How you find the working environment of company?
Employees work in your office and need to be comfortable to deliver best results. So you must ask about the internal culture of the firm and their view on it.
14. Now rate your job satisfaction and reason for the contribution?
This must be last question of your review asking the employee to rate his job on what he feels and why.
A standardized review questionnaire with implemented and evaluated over time helps you keep an eye on employee development at regular intervals.
Implementing a timely and effective performance review process at your organization can help uplift employee motivation and productivity significantly.