How to turn performance appraisals into
a celebration with the right questions

Stefan Op de Woerd

Stefan Op de Woerd

It’s nearly time for this year’s round of performance reviews. Are the employees and managers in your organisation looking forward to their review with bated breath? Or, are they approaching it with something akin to dread?

Sad to say, the latter is more often the case. In many organisations, performance reviews are perceived as a ‘form-filling exercise’ that takes up a lot of time while achieving very little. The best you can say for it is there’s a big sigh of relief once the whole thing’s over. But, it is possible to make these conversations much more effective and, above all, enjoyable!

After all, what is the performance review there for? The answer would probably be: to help your employees to perform better. It’s there in the name 🙂

And when do employees perform at their best? When they feel their contribution to the organisation is valued and when they have the opportunity to develop further. So, this is precisely what performance appraisals should be about.

Good 1-to-1s and good conversations happen when you ask the right questions. Employees should ideally have the opportunity to think about their answers ahead of the meeting.

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Some questions you could put to your employees

  1. What are you most proud of?
  2. What have you learnt the most from?
  3. Where do you want to contribute in the coming period?
  4. What do you want to learn in the coming period?
  5. How can I support you?

Questions for managers ahead of the appraisal

Before defining precisely how you want your review process to look, it is important to have a clear understanding of the purpose of performance reviews. The aim is not to further growth and engagement among your employees (misconception 1), nor is it to push them to perform better (misconception 2).

The purpose of the review is to settle the formal aspects of the process. Not sexy, it’s true, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Setting a possible salary increase or giving a promotion are typically matters you would want to decide as part of a properly underpinned, formal process.

With this in mind, two questions are important when defining your performance review process:

  1. How do you structure the review process?
  2. Who does the review?
 
Jochem Aubel and Stefan Op de Woerd are the founders of Dialog, online software for a surprisingly simple and effective performance management cycle. Want to find out more about how Dialog can help you improve your performance reviews? See our solution for yourself.
 

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Do you want to drive great 1:1s in your organization?

Toolbox 'Transform your performance management'

Get the best articles, e-books, tools and videos available on transforming your performance management.