The Best Questions to Ask During a Performance Evaluation

If you don't use this time to bring up a few specific points, you're doing yourself a disservice.

The Best Questions to Ask During a Performance Evaluation
The Best Questions to Ask During a Performance Evaluation

A performance review's primary purpose is exactly what it sounds like: it's an opportunity for your boss to tell you how you're doing. While a quarterly or annual meeting is a great time to get feedback, you're not doing yourself any favors if that's all you expect to get out of it. It's also an opportunity for you, the employee, to look ahead and get some pointers on how you can advance both in your specific role and in your career as a whole.


"Think about it in three buckets," advises executive coach Meg Myers Morgan, assistant professor of public administration at the University of Oklahoma and author of Everything is Negotiable. "It's about the work you're doing now, the work you want to do later, and your relationship with your manager." A good manager will give you the freedom to inquire about all of these topics.


  • As a result, you'll leave your review not only informed about your past performance, but also with tools to improve it in the future, which can help keep you more engaged and happier at work.
  • You must, however, come prepared in order to accomplish this. Don't just stare at your manager when he or she asks if you have any questions. 
  • For starters, you want to demonstrate that you take your job and career seriously. 
  • For another, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ask for what you want. As an added bonus, the more you prepare, the less nervous you will be during the actual review.


"Everyone is nervous before a performance evaluation. "It's like being summoned to the principal's office," Morgan explains. "I recommend that you plan out what you want to say before you go in there so you don't get nervous and forget your side of the story."

  • Jaime Klein, founder of Inspire Human Resources, suggests conducting some self-evaluation prior to your review (if you're not sure what that entails, there are many sample employee evaluations online).


"I encourage employees to take a pulse check on how they believe they are doing," Klein says. "What exactly does the company value, and how does my role fit into what the company does?" What are the people who work there's core values? "How does the work I'm doing contribute to the achievement of the company's objectives?"

  • Once you've determined where you stand, it's time to formulate your questions.
  • To get you started, here are some of the best questions to ask, regardless of your position in the company.↚


"How does my performance stack up against your expectations?"

You don't just want to know where you rank on a scale of one to five; you want to know how your employer defines one, five, and everything in between. "It's critical to hear not only how you're doing, but also how close you are to the bar and how high the bar is," Klein says.


  • For example, you may believe you're doing well because you write four blog posts per day, but the company wants you to write five. Or perhaps you've met X number of sales targets, but your manager defines success as Y. 
  • "As a Home Depot customer service representative, what is your rating after a call with a customer?" "As a dental hygienist, how healthy are your patients who receive your care?" According to Klein. "It's about figuring out what the metric is."


"What other metrics do you use to evaluate how I'm doing?"

  • Performance reviews can be frustratingly formal and ambiguous at times, with rating systems for broad categories such as time management and productivity.
  • However, as Morgan points out, your manager may be evaluating more specific aspects of your performance without your knowledge.
  • "I had a client whose emails were extremely curt, and she had no idea," Morgan says.


 Though something that minor may not come up in your review without prompting, it will be beneficial for you to inquire, especially since each manager pays attention to different things. If you know what bothers you, you can address minor issues before they become major ones.↚

"How do you see my strengths?" "What do you think my flaws are?"

Jennifer Kraszewski, vice president of human resources at Paycom, says you shouldn't be afraid to ask your manager for specific feedback, even on minor issues like past projects.

  • "It's critical for employees to feel comfortable asking their leaders, 'What things can I improve on?'" What am I particularly good at? 'How does my growth trajectory look within my department?' she asks in an email. "And leaders should be able to address all of those issues."
  • And, if you're comfortable doing so, you should feel free to press your manager for more information on how to improve your weak points. "If your leader does not provide specific feedback on how you can improve, continue to ask for examples," Kraszewski advises.

"Because some leaders aren't as good at giving constructive feedback as others, it's more difficult for you as an employee to know where you need to improve if you don't get those specifics."


"What skills and characteristics do I need to advance to the next level?"

  • Even if you aren't on track for a promotion, you should always strive to advance.
  • This demonstrates to your employer that you care about your job, your company, and your career, as well as making you feel more engaged in all three.

"So much energy is expended on low performers in order to bring them up to expectations," Klein says. "If you get a fantastic review, you should say, 'Fantastic, what can I do to prepare myself to grow my role even more?'" Is there a mentor you can recommend, either externally or internally? Is there a course I could take? 'What fundamental experiences do I require?'"

This is also a good time to inquire about how you can help strengthen your team, especially if you received a positive review.


"Deep down," Klein says, "what every leader wants to do is surround themselves with really strong people so they can grow their own career." "Every leader loves it when an employee asks, 'How can I help you be successful, or help the department be more successful, or can I be a part of an initiative?'

"How much money is set aside for professional development?"


It may appear arrogant to ask your manager for company funds, but it can be a great way to demonstrate your initiative. If your manager believes you need to improve in certain areas, it's reasonable to ask if there are any resources available to assist you. For example, if public speaking isn't your strong suit, you could inquire about working with a coach. Perhaps there is money in the budget for a class to help you improve your design skills.

  • It's especially helpful to offer your manager concrete suggestions for ways they could invest in you, rather than simply asking what they think. "At any given time, leaders have 25 things in their inbox that need to be answered and dealt with," Klein says.
  • "It saves time if an employee comes to the performance review and says, 'I've given this thought, I have this request.'"

"Can we discuss my remuneration?"

A performance review is typically an appropriate time to request a raise. "Ask if there is any possibility of increasing your salary." "It's a reasonable question to ask during a performance review," says David Rock, CEO of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work. But, if you're going to ask for more money, make sure you're prepared to justify your request.

  • "Make sure you have solid market research or a value you've brought to the organization," Morgan advises. "You can say, 'I believe I've contributed in these ways, and I'd like to seek a raise this year; is that possible?'"
  • "Then," she continues, "the goal is to be very quiet."

SOURCE : Yasoquiz



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