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What Questions to Ask In a Performance Review

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Performance is the key to success. Many companies use performance reviews to develop relevant feedback related to their employees' performance. However, things are pretty complicated when evaluating one's competencies and creating an employee performance review. Many business managers and team leaders lack knowledge about supporting a performance conversation.

But before jumping to what performance review questions are the most suitable for effective professional development, let's get some deeper insights into how personal goals and employee engagement affect one's ability to do their job effectively. g

How we source our data

Our experts conducted a research study to determine what aspects Human Resources managers and team leaders are most interested in during the review process. After analyzing over 1 000 performance reviews conducted using the enhanced Effy.ai interface, they managed to come up with a set of performance review questions you should keep in your mind for the next performance conversation with your team members.

They have also used a lot of written sources to determine the most critical goals in the HR fields and which are the best questions to ask within the company to aim for improvement and success. Yet, our experts excluded the personal perspective (subjective points of view) identified in the bibliographic sources. Some of the most relevant articles they have used during the research are:

How are performance reviews structured?

Depending on your management approach and other specific things you take into account, there are several different structures you can take advantage of when coming up with a relevant review for one of your company's employees. Your organization may develop a particular format for performance feedback. Yet, the bigger picture is more important than specific skills in the review.

The structure that most managers have been using during the past year relies on the following sections:

  • Essential competencies (core responsibilities);
  • Interpersonal skills (communication between peers);
  • Additional effort (going the extra mile);
  • Improvement suggestions. 

Performance Review Questions: Basic competencies

The list of essential competencies for this particular position usually includes very technical skills for software engineers. For example, their current role may include Python knowledge, Java coding skills, and FrontEnd development responsibilities. These employee strengths should be the primary focus during the performance review meeting.

Getting valuable and actionable feedback will significantly help your employee to enjoy a smoother career path, as well as align them to your company's mission. Performance management is crucial for career growth and organizations working with juniors have a lot of stress on their shoulders. Offering quality improvement plans for their employees is usually its most significant challenge.

Finding out the best performance review questions you can use during the performance review process requires an in-depth understanding of your employee's core responsibilities. Suppose your software engineer is expected to Create and optimize information systems by creating, framing, and installing software solutions, but they make complex software that is not optimized. In that case, you can mark their core responsibility as Partially completed.

Some of the most effective employee review questions to ask during the next performance review session to help your company succeed and make your job easier are:

  • Does the employee completely fulfill their core responsibilities?
  • Does the employee follow deadlines?
  • Does the employee deliver effective and optimized code blocks?
  • Does the employee stick to the customer's main intention?
  • Does the employee forget about the Tweaking phase and deliver bugged content? 

Performance Review Questions: Interpersonal skills

Communicating with other people involved in your work life effectively helps employees get to the optimal results faster and pave their way towards the next position. As responsibilities change from time to time, employees must communicate with their managers about the important goals of their job. Having them get a detailed explanation of how they should improve their performance and personal strengths.

Communication skills are also crucial for getting valuable insights from a manager or conducting informal conversations with other team members to get more insight. All professionals operating in the HR field know the importance of interpersonal competencies that help any employee achieve their ideal working conditions inside a team.

Depending on the current role your employee performs in, the most effective performance review questions you should ask when aiming at efficient professional development are:

  • Does the employee proactively reply to the business-related announcements?
  • Does the employee make sure people in charge understand when they run into a bottleneck?
  • Does the employee suggest workarounds when coming into a problem?
  • Does the employee effectively communicate identified issues?
  • Does the employee have trouble discussing business-related aspects with stakeholders? 

Performance Review Questions: Additional effort

Any performance review should include a section called Additional effort. Many employees seek professional growth opportunities by going the extra mile and enhancing their performance on the job. Regardless of their current role, these employees do additional work to make your job easier as a manager.

This is something you want to discuss during the performance reviews in the next quarter. When it comes to performance management, extra effort should always be rewarded, as long as it is efficient instead of time-consuming. Managers rewarding effective employees might generate a mass movement among other team members.

For example, people seeing that others are rewarded based on their extra effort will usually develop an unconscious desire to get socially recognized during the performance reviews in the next quarter. Therefore, some of the most effective performance review questions to include in any future feedback  are:

  • Does the employee volunteer for additional tasks?
  • Does the employee get involved in company-wide activities (such as recruiting)?
  • Does the employee help new hires get comfortable with their job and focus on what matters?
  • Does the employee react to feedback offered by their direct manager?
  • Does the employee discuss their professional perspective (hope, desires, objectives)? 

Performance Review Questions: Improvement suggestions

Any manager offering feedback to their employees should focus on future actions to improve their performance. Coming up with only a list of negative things your subordinates do and forgetting about the most crucial part of performance management will only result in lower engagement among your employees.

After analyzing all the performance review questions, you must identify ways your subordinates can improve their effectiveness and efficiency at work. Maybe there is a course they can attend during the next quarter or perhaps they should come up with a relevant follow-up question after receiving feedback.

Any manager should focus on the future aspect of their company instead of remaining anchored in the previous mistakes their subordinates made. However, identifying improvement methods may take you a lot of time and thorough research and understanding of your engineers' situations.

Some of the suggestions you can include in the subsequent performance evaluation of your team include:

  • Technical competencies courses (Java, Python, C#, etc.);
  • Interpersonal and communication courses;
  • Career courses;
  • Management training.

Tips for the performance review meeting

When it comes to conducting a performance review 1-on-1 meeting, several factors will increase the overall quality of the feedback. First things first, you should always address aspects gradually. Do not just skip to numbers. Try to create an organizational background and integrate your employee's work into it.

Addressing salary-related issues is also quite important. Having a happy employee paid according to their performance is a crucial aspect you should be aware of. What is more, an underpaid employee will spend more time looking for a well-paid job rather than focusing on their tasks for your company.

Take advantage of different Performance Review Software tools

Also, some Performance Review Software tools are a helpful hand when it comes to getting to the end of the evaluation period. Effy.ai, for example, is one of the most popular software tools that are widely used for performance purposes. It includes many functions that help business owners and team leaders effectively address the evaluation issues.

What is more, it allows you as a software team leader to avoid falling behind the schedule by sending automated reminders to all the decisional factors in the performance evaluation process. For example, if you use the 360-degree feedback approach (optimized by Effy), you will be able to automatically send timely reminders to each employee in order to make sure they do not forget about the self-evaluation.

The best part is that you will not have to pay a fortune just to get the basic functions of this particular performance review software. Effy.ai is a highly-affordable software application that offers subscription packages tailored to your needs. Therefore, you can choose what works best for you and your company.

Suppose you are not sure whether Effy.ai is the right Performance Review Software to integrate into your workflow, make sure to ask for a free demonstration. This way you can find out how exactly the tool works and why you should care about using such a powerful and secured software application during the performance evaluation process in your company. Also, Effy.ai offers you free resources for an effective HR approach, so make sure to check out the Blog section too. 

Five steps you need to take for a successful evaluation

To keep things as high-quality as possible, here are some of the best tips you should take into account when it comes to evaluating one of your software engineers working in your team.

  • Create an outline - always have a sketch of the meeting so that you can address issues gradually;
  • Use the one-sleep rule - write the review, wait at least 24 hours and then re-read it so that you can make the necessary changes;
  • Look back - discuss 2 or 3 accomplishments from the past year;
  • Look forward - discuss 1 or 2 goals for the following year;
  • Decide the frequency - decide how often you will follow up with another performance review (monthly, quarterly, yearly).

FAQ: Questions to ask in a performance review

What questions should I ask in a performance review?

When conducting a performance review, there is no set of specific questions you should ask. However, depending on the field your company is operating in (such as Software Development), you might want to opt for some subject-specific questions. For example, you should include questions similar to Does the employee deliver optimized code?.

What questions should I ask during my annual review?

The annual review is part of the 360-degree review. Many companies take advantage of the 360-degree review approach. Such an approach offers the most effective type of evaluation, offering the opportunity to improve your employee's competencies and determine the most critical improvement areas. If you are the reviewed peer during a specific feedback process, some questions you might want to ask are:

  • What expectations am I meeting and what expectations am I not meeting?
  • How are you measuring my personal progress?
  • What competencies should I develop to help the team grow?
  • What can I do to make your job easier?
    What should I discuss during the performance review?

During your performance meeting, you should discuss work and individual goals. It is best to address the business things first and then switch to individual ones. Try to integrate your employee's accomplishments into the organizational workflow. What is more, discuss factual aspects, such as percentages and the reasons behind the numbers.

What should I ask my manager during the performance review?

When asking your questions during the performance 1-on-1 meeting, make sure you address all the individual issues. For example, if you want to discuss a potential rise in your salary, this is the perfect time to do just that. Also, make sure to address the numbers that summarize your performance - how many projects you delivered during the review period, how many of them were marked as Great by your customers, how you increased your performance from the last evaluation period, and so on and so forth.


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