6 More Powerful Questions To Ask At Your Performance Review

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Last week I posed 6 powerful questions to ask at your performance review. I’ve received quite a lot of traffic on this post so I can conclude this is an important and hot topic. Here are six more powerful questions to ask at your review, which delve further into your performance and to inquire about how you can excel in the future:

This time, we’ll look at questions that link your performance to your colleagues within your organization. Managers love this. These questions demonstrate that you understand that you are part of a value-chain, and that your performance can directly impact that of your colleagues.

With these questions, it’s about taking control of your performance, your performance appraisal, and how to improve your impact on the wider organization, customers and co-workers. Because nobody is an island.

So here goes:

1. “What can I do better that will help my team more efficient?

This is a brilliant question as you are directly linking your performance to that of others. It’s a way of prompting for feedback on how you impact specific people and processes in your team and to gain insight or suggestions on how you might improve your game in that regard. This is a real team-player question.

2. This next question requires you to understand your particular strength(s).

I know I am good at [X], so is it OK if I put some internal training together to help my colleagues improve in this area too?” This question requires you to be willing to help others be as good as you too! It smacks of confidence, and team-play. Managers have responsibility for their whole team, so why not help them with that?

3. “What impact has my training had on our department and our customers?

I like this question because it avoids any confusion of selfish intentions on training. It links your training to business performance and value creation, in the wider context. Every employee’s work impacts the customer, at some level. Even if you’re a janitor, window-cleaner or car-park attendant. We all have our part to play, and our training is a component of that.

What’s more, it opens up the discussion for further training opportunities. Employees who demonstrate the value of training receive more training. If skills development is your next big intervention, then you have to ask this appraisal question… and the next one.

4. Ask “What further training should I take to add more value?

You may have learned (by asking the above question, or on a different occasion) that your training has had an impact in a particular business activity. This question asks how you can build on this, or, seek other training objectives. Remember, training is a huge investment by an employer in its staff. Linking value to training is the best way to justify it.

5. Pose the question “Who do you think is a great role model for me in the organization?

to discover who your performance might be compared against. I love this question. It takes courage to ask because you might not receive the answer you expect.

It can be far easier to follow the behaviors of someone who is known to be effective, rather than work it out from scratch. This is the model that apprenticeships use (and has been used for centuries.) Beware, though, not to then feel you’re in competition with your ‘role model’. Role models are an excellent way of learning from people who are doing things well.

6. This is an amazingly powerful yet simple question – “Am I making our customers lives easier?”

Business is about results, and we do business to achieve them! This question is bare, and without fluff, and it demonstrates your awareness that your job is there to deliver results to customers (whether they’re external customers or downstream departments.)

7. Is there a Seventh?

If you have used (or want to use) a ‘killer question’ in your performance review, then leave a comment below to share it.


5 thoughts on “6 More Powerful Questions To Ask At Your Performance Review”

  1. Good questions Simon. I will try these at my next review which is due in just under a months time, and I will let you know how I get on. Mae

  2. #4 Even if training budgets have been slashed I’d recommend doing the legwork to get a couple of external and internal quotes for the training you’d like to have – along with a 1/2 page written technical and business justification for how it’s going to help your manager “sleep better” at night.

    That shows at the very least, initiative, and can count in your favour when all sorts of things involving you are being decided by your boss and others “behind closed doors”.

  3. @Mark – sure why not! The political kudos this could bring makes it worth asking the question. At times like this, bosses will look for this kind of behavior. Mark – what are your thoughts on coaching as well?

  4. @Simon – “thoughts on coaching?”

    If a company has a formal mentoring program then it would be worth at least checking it out and see if you can get on it (as a mentor or mentee or both!)

    My (slightly biased!) opinion is that the most effective career coaching is when a professional coach is working 1-1 with a client – all the issues surrounding your employer, your future goals and plans etc can be discussed freely and without fear of recrimination.

    When it comes to performance and skills coaching then I think that the manager-as-coach (or any effective employee who’s aware of how to apply a basic coaching and mentoring style) can work very well.

    Just be careful not to position yourself as someone who appears to be ‘failing on the job’ and in need of remedial skills coaching (some executive coaching is delivered in this manner).

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