Appraisal Questions For Effective Performance Reviews

Philip Cleave
December 11, 2020

Given that employees are one of the most valuable assets that an organization has, with those experiencing the greatest success tending to have the most positive engaged and productive workforces, you’ll want the tools to achieve the same for your organization.

When it comes to gathering crucial feedback about how well individuals are performing and contributing to your organization, the use of best-in-class survey software tools is a great place to start. Not only do they offer great performance, but they are highly flexible too, making them a great choice for performance management and professional development. When run regularly with the support of employee survey software, your appraisals and performance reviews can give you the insight you need to help improve the contribution of employees and managers, and further enhance the health and performance of your business.

However, it’s also important to note that if you’re to gain the most value from this activity you need to be armed with some good job appraisal questions, which we will look at in more detail in this blog. But first, we will explore the types of performance appraisals you’ll be most likely to carry out.

Types of appraisal

There is a wide range of performance appraisals which you can run, with each taking a slightly different approach to providing the insight you need. We’ve outlined some of the more popular ones below.

  • General appraisal: probably the most common and familiar is the general employee appraisal, which is also known as the annual employee review.

This top-down appraisal usually carried out by a manager to those who directly reports to them, measure’s the performance and contribution of each employee, by evaluating their skills, achievements and growth.

Organizations can then use these performance appraisals to determine which employees have contributed the most to their growth and reward the highest achievers.

  • 360 feedback: the 360-degree appraisal, also known as multi-rater feedback, uses a different approach. An individual will invite feedback on their performance, behaviors, skills and competencies from a cross-section of their work colleagues, not just their manager.

By getting feedback from a wider pool of people who work alongside you, the thinking is that it should help you to identify ‘blind spots’ in your capabilities, so you know exactly what areas you need to improve in order to progress.

It’s an area that we are knowledgeable about at SmartSurvey, and have been helping our clients with through our managed 360 feedback survey service.

  • Self-assessment: this approach differs again with the employee invited to evaluate their own performance in meeting the objectives and goals of their job, before submitting this feedback to be reviewed by their manager or supervisor.

This approach can provide a number of benefits for employers. It can help illuminate how the employee sees themselves in the context of their team and the wider organization. It can also highlight any disagreements or misunderstandings between the manager and the employee. And lastly it can give managers a greater insight into what motivates and incentivises an individual to do their best work. Use our self-assessment template to get started quickly with this approach.

Self-assessment can also be run in conjunction with the more traditional performance appraisal review.

  • Sales performance: appraisals can also be used to evaluate performance in specific job disciplines, with sales being a good example.

Sales performance reviews are meetings between sales managers and sales reps, that are usually held annually to discuss an individual’s skills, achievements and performance in meeting previously set sales targets. They also provide the opportunity to discuss salary increases, promotion and progress towards career goals.

The importance of good question choice

Whether you’re working on staff appraisal questions, appraisal questions for managers or looking beyond the traditional performance review with the completion of 360 appraisal questions, it’s important to ensure you have some good questions to work with if you’re to gain the most from your appraisal sessions.

The best place to start when thinking about some suitable work appraisal questions is to consider what your overall objectives are and what you need to measure in order to meet these. Think about some of the key aspects to an employee’s work life that you can easily collect data on such as the following:

  • Leadership: How well does an employee in a leadership or supervisory position manage and motivate other individuals and groups?
  • Project Management: How effectively does an employee go about completing their work and how strong are their time management skills?
  • Culture: Does the employee effectively reflect your organization’s values?
  • Career Development: What more can an employee do to improve the quality of their work and working relationships with others within your organization?
  • Impact: How much of a contribution does this person make to your organization?
  • Problem Solving: How well does the employee approach challenges? Do they employ creative ideas to solving problems?
  • Communication Skills: How well does this person interact with co-workers? Do they have a positive attitude, or are they always making negative comments?

Once you’ve reviewed these areas and decided which are most relevant for a particular employee and his or her role, you’ll be a much better position to devise questions that will provide you with the insight you need.

Example evaluation questions

Whether you’ve run staff appraisals before, or are relatively new to the process, it can still be challenging coming up with some suitable appraisal questions for your staff, even after you’ve identified the key areas of an employee’s work life that you want to focus on. So, to help you we’ve outlined some outlined some example appraisal questions for employers.

Example opening questions

To help employees that are being reviewed to feel more comfortable and establish a positive tone for the appraisal right from the outset, you may want to consider questions such as:

What has been your greatest achievement at work?

What is the one thing you have accomplished since the last review cycle that you are most proud of?

Although these questions are fairly similar, they both look to engage the employee and make him or her feel valued. By asking the employee to provide an example of a past accomplishment you are also getting them in the right frame of mind to think about what they’ve been working on since their last review, so their mind is more focused to answer more probing questions that follow.

Example questions for the main body of your appraisal

When you’re supporting your appraisal with a survey it’s good to consider using a mix of closed and open performance appraisal questions. This will not only help to keep the recipient more focused, but it will also give you a mix of data, with answers that are quick and easy to analyze and feedback that provides more in-depth insight into the individual being reviewed.

You may want to consider some of the following questions:

How long do you spend productively working on the tasks assigned to you?

  • All of the Time
  • Most of the Time
  • Some of the Time

I always or nearly always meet all my target goals and objectives

  • Strongly Disagree
  • Disagree
  • Neutral
  • Agree
  • Strongly Agree

I always work effectively with other team members and colleagues

  • Strongly Disagree
  • Disagree
  • Neutral
  • Agree
  • Strongly Agree

Is there anything about your role you would change?

This is an important employee review question, which can enable a manager to learn more about the pain points of an employee and see how they can be fixed.

What has been your most challenging part of the job so far?

This is a less negative way of asking and trying to identify where an employee might be struggling in their job.

How have you been able to overcome that challenge?

With this question you’ll get a better idea about how an individual approaches challenges and their ability to solve problems.

What are the main drivers of success in our organization?

By asking this question you’re able to identify how well an individual understands and reflects your organization’s values.

What position in the company would you like to move to next?

By understanding which career path an employee would like to take, it’s easier to help motivate and mentor them towards their goal.

What would you do differently if you were in my position?

This is also a nice question to throw into the mix, offering employees the chance to give feedback to their manager about what they might also be able to improve on.

Example closing questions

As with the other stages in the employee appraisal process, you’ll want to ensure that you end it on a positive note too. This is important, even for those that haven’t met all their objectives this time around, to ensure they go away from their appraisal feeling good about themselves, involved in their own development and motivated to make the necessary improvements for their next performance review.

It’s also important to ensure you’ve given any employees under review ample opportunities to have their say. Staff appraisal questions you could ask during this final stage include:

Do you feel you have everything you need to perform your job and meet your objectives going forward?

This can be a useful closing question to ask, enabling employees to think about their existing resources and whether any additional tools could help them to further improve their productivity.

Do you have any questions for me related to your work and your future goals at our organization?

Similar to the last question, this also provides an opportunity for the employee to state whether they require any further support to assist them moving forward.

Using surveys to standardize appraisals and ensure consistency

The ultimate goal of running annual employee appraisals is to help employers identify their top performers, up and coming super stars, strong and not quite so effective managers and underachievers who could improve with more support. However, you’re unlikely to get everything you need unless you take a consistent and standardized approach to your employee appraisal process.

Such consistency can be best achieved through an employee survey and the use of standardized performance appraisal survey questions, which can highlight each employee’s strengths and weaknesses. In fact, there is a much wider range of employee surveys you can create, which can enable you to provide support throughout the employee lifecycle. From Pulse Surveys, Performance Management and eNPS, to Employee Engagement, Culture and Value and Staff Motivation, the list is extensive with each one providing feedback that can help boost employee productivity, happiness and retention.

Get started and create your first survey

If you would like more information then please get in touch.