The 7 Questions Effective Managers Are Asking During End-of-Year Performance Reviews

The 7 Questions Effective Managers Are Asking During End-of-Year Performance Reviews was originally published on Ivy Exec.

The 7 Questions Effective Managers Are Asking During End-of-Year Performance Reviews

Performance review season is upon us. And, amid a climate of pandemic-fueled work challenges and historic employee turnover, this year’s performance reviews present an opportunity for company leaders that shouldn’t go ignored.

In many ways, and for a good number of organizations, performance reviews in 2020 were barely cobbled together. How, after all, do you score performance during a pandemic that’s ground life to a halt? Now, with nearly two years of navigating work and life under COVID’s shadow under our belts, effective managers have a sense of how 2021’s performance reviews should be handled — and how they can be used to help stymie further turnover. Below, several of those managers shared with us the strategic questions they plan to ask. 

1. “How do you think we can make the hybrid work model more efficient?”

Bob Scott, founder of Sell Land, believes that looking to workers for guidance in this area is critical. 

“Because they’ve been subjected to hybrid work for almost two years now, your employees have a clearer view on the areas that need improvement,” he said. “This is a vast query to know what possible solutions there are for challenges that are unique to the experience of the employees, and it gives them an opportunity to voice out strategies.” 

2. “What is your work-from-home setup like, and is there anything you feel is missing?”

Rather than just assume employees have perfected their remote work setup by now, ask them about it, Shawn Plummer, CEO of The Annuity Expert, advised.

“This question relates to whether employees have all the tools they need for work, whether they’re working in the office, on a hybrid work arrangement or remotely,” he said. “It’s also about whether their needs are met — for example, if they feel that some processes are unnecessarily inefficient or there aren’t enough opportunities for interaction with other members of the team.”

3. “What’s been your biggest challenge within the past year? What do you think the solution could be?”

The challenges that employees are experiencing now may be different from the ones they were up against earlier in the pandemic. You can use this question to ensure you have a good sense of what employees’ perceived challenges are now, Alex Wan, co-founder of Vinpit, said.

“Getting to know what an employee thinks the possible solution could be may also give the manager new ideas that could be of great value to the company in the long haul,” he added.

4. “What did collaboration with colleagues look like for you this year?”

A siloed workforce isn’t a maximally effective one. But beyond that, feelings of isolation can also help fuel attrition — something this question will hopefully help prevent, Arthur Iinuma, President of ISBX, said. 

“A collaborative work environment was challenging to execute this year,” he said. “Despite the availability of productivity and communication tools, teams may or may not have fallen short on participating in group and teamwork activities. Asking this question helps managers determine the ongoing dynamics within teams, as well as the measures needed to maintain or improve trust and connections in the workplace.”

5. “What are you proud of that I might not have noticed?”

Especially in this remote environment where so much work goes physically unseen, this is a crucial question to ask, Melanie Hanson, CEO, EducationData Loan Finance, said. 

“One of the issues with remote work is that I’m much less likely to ‘catch’ my employees doing something exceptional,” she said. “If it’s not directly related to a deliverable metric or happening in a meeting we’re both part of, I probably won’t be clearly aware of it.”

6. “What changes would you like to make to your current job?”

Employees who feel their input is both genuinely sought and acted upon, especially as it relates to their day-to-day work, are less likely to go elsewhere, Andriy Bogdanov, CEO of Online Divorce, said. 

“This question is especially important during the pandemic, as organizations are working in different ways to accommodate the needs of their remote teams,” he said. “Knowing what they want from their environment can help you think of ways to make the most effective use of everybody’s time. Even the most satisfied employees may still have a thing or two they would like to change, from workloads to company culture.”

7. “How can I make your job easier?”

Now more than ever, this question should be included among the questions that managers ask in performance reviews, David Walter, CEO of Electrician Mentor, said.

“This is a good question to ask in any performance review, but especially in times of historic turnover,” he said. “Ask the question directly, and encourage a direct response. Just be sure to act upon said response, because it’s very likely valuable advice.”

Asking this question from a place of empathy, Ravi Parikh, CEO of RoverPass, added, will help ensure your 2021 performance review questions recognize the challenges that workers have been up against. 

“After almost two years of a pandemic and all the trauma our employees have experienced, I think there is only one question to ask: ‘Is there anything I can do to support you?’” Parikh said. “If they have managed to do their job well enough to keep it during this exceptionally difficult time when they’ve likely been sick, known someone who got seriously sick or lost a loved one, then the standard performance review just does not apply. This is a time for empathy. By showing empathy instead of judgment at this time, you can gain a new level of loyalty from your employees.”


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By Ivy Exec
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