10 Questions For Effective Performance Review Conversations

By Heather Campbell

QuestionIf you are a regular reader of the CommsMasters blog, you’ll already know that I have a strong negative reaction to overly-structured, form-focussed performance review processes. Instead, the critical focus should be on the conversation that takes place between the leader and the direct report.

The most effective performance reviews get the direct report talking a lot, with the leader encouraging useful reflection through the questions asked and adding their own feedback and views where these can add value.

The fundamental structure for any performance review – whether that is being held on a monthly, quarterly, six-monthly or annual basis (and regular readers will know that monthly is by far the most effective) – is to review the period just gone and to plan for the period to come. This can be carried out with just ten core questions, with additional ones added to probe into answers where required.

Here are my ten recommended questions to ask in any performance review. They focus on helping the direct report reflect, learn and plan – which is, after all, the primary purpose of  the whole process.

Looking back at the last month/quarter/six months/year:

1. What has gone well?
2. What has not gone well?
3. What have you learnt that will help you in the next month/quarter/six months/year

Looking ahead to the next month/quarter/six months/year:

4. What do you need to achieve?
5. What are you most looking forward to in this (and why)?
6. What are you least looking forward to (and why)?
7. What challenges do you anticipate will arise?
8. How will you overcome these?
9. What support do you need from me?
10. What feedback do you have for me that will help me help you?

And there you have it. A simple recipe for a great performance review conversation. Use these regularly and consistently and you will find that performance reviews become extremely valuable – and valued – conversations for both parties involved.

CommsMasters is the UK’s leading training consultancy specialising in building advanced leadership communication capability. We partner with our clients to improve organisational performance through developing their people. We do this by designing and delivering bespoke programmes using our unique combination of knowledge, experience and practice-based learning. If you’d like to find out more, give us a call on +44 (0)141 419 0183 or drop us a line.

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