Performance Reviews

Performance Review Questions for Peers, Managers, and Direct Reports

March 10, 2023
November 7, 2023
  —  
By 
Manasi Patel
Lattice Team

Across the world, performance reviews help HR teams gain holistic insights into employee performance at their organizations. Companies that implement comprehensive employee evaluations can learn valuable information about their workforce, as performance appraisals can help HR teams highlight top performers or identify employees who need performance improvement plans

But to get the most comprehensive view of an employee’s performance, some companies employ 360-degree performance reviews, in which questions are aimed at an employee’s teammates, managers, and direct reports, in addition to the employee’s self-evaluation. But getting the best feedback from these individuals depends on the questions they’re asked. Here are examples of performance review questions for each.

Key Takeaways:

  • Feedback quality hinges on the questions asked.
  • Consider quantitative and qualitative feedback.
  • Include questions on skills, behaviors and outcomes.
  • Effective performance management bolsters engagement.

Sample Performance Appraisal Questions

Employee (Self)

Self-evaluation questions should help employees reflect on their own performance. Often, these questions ask employees to consider their professional development and career goals in addition to their overall performance.

Sample self-evaluation questions include:

  • To what extent did you meet your goals?
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • What are three areas in which you can improve in your current role to continue growing at this company? 
  • What should you do differently next year (or quarter) and why?
  • What is the company value you best exemplified?

Peer

Peer performance review questions should ask colleagues to highlight the strengths and possible areas of improvement in an employee’s performance over a certain period of time. Because team members often see more than leadership does, coworkers are in a great position to offer feedback that can help their peers start performing at the next level. Feedback from peers is most helpful when they contextualize their responses with examples, so be sure to consider that when drafting your review questions.

Sample peer evaluation questions include:

  • How has this person’s work impacted your ability to deliver on your goals?
  • To what extent does this person follow through on team expectations?
  • How would you rate this person’s communication and teamwork skills, and why?
  • To what extent does this person involve the right stakeholders in their work?
  • What is one piece of constructive advice you would share with this person, and how would this change impact your work?

Direct Report (Downward)

Employee evaluation questions for managers should provide the opportunity to discuss a direct report's strengths and growth opportunities, including praising stellar performance and course-correcting when an employee is headed down the wrong path.

Sample evaluation questions for managers include:

  • What is an area where you’ve seen this person excel?
  • How well did this person manage their workload?
  • How effectively did this person communicate with others?
  • How well did this person adapt to changing priorities?
  • What’s an area in which this person can improve?

Manager (Upward)

Feedback from direct reports can be invaluable to managers, so you should make sure your performance reviews ask the right questions. When asked appropriately, direct reports have the opportunity to communicate their needs, validate things their manager does well, and make suggestions for how the team can approach challenges or roadblocks in the future.

Sample evaluation questions for direct reports include:

  • How did your manager hold you and your peers accountable for producing your best work?
  • How well did your manager accept employee feedback?
  • How well did your manager support your personal and professional growth?
  • Which company value did your manager best exemplify?
  • How does your manager support your well-being at this company?

For more specificity, consider preceding any of these questions with “In the past X months, […]” or ending with “Please provide examples.” 

Creating Effective Employee Performance Review Questions

Writing solid performance review questions takes careful planning and coordination across an organization. Because data collected from employee evaluations can help leaders, managers, and employees work together on key decisions regarding advancement and allocation of responsibilities, you need to ask the right questions to get the best results. Here’s what you need to know to build out a successful performance review process to support performance management at your company.

To create effective performance appraisal questions, HR teams should think critically about the objective, structure, and overall theme of every review cycle. Before rolling out your next performance review, take a moment to consider the following:

1. The Objective of the Review

There are two common objectives for performance reviews: evaluation and development. Most companies alternate between these objectives with each review cycle, but for companies that haven’t scaled beyond the single annual performance review, both objectives will have to share the stage.

Evaluation: If the objective of your review cycle is to evaluate employees, the main focus of your company’s performance reviews should be to check in on goals and assess performance over a certain period of time. These assessments should typically take place once or twice per year and can help inform key decisions around promotions and compensation.

Development: If the objective of your review cycle is to facilitate employee development, your company’s performance reviews should be focused on driving the flow of constructive feedback across the organization. Development-based reviews usually take place 2-4 times per year and should provide employees with insight into where they are delivering outstanding results and where they have room to improve their performance. At the end of the review cycle, employees should know what steps they need to take to be successful and should have an action plan for progressing both in their role and their career.

While it may sound counterintuitive, it’s okay for your performance review cycles to have two objectives. For some review periods (i.e., annual reviews), you may want to gather information that will help both the employee (development) and the company (evaluation). As long as you’re thinking critically about the structure of the review and know what information you want to gather ahead of time, you’re on the right track.

2. The Best Questions to Ask

Employees benefit from performance reviews that yield a variety of feedback on different aspects of their work. To ensure employee performance evaluations provide a well-rounded perspective, HR teams should incorporate two types of performance review questions: quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative: When performance review questions rely on quantitative data, they eliminate room for misinterpretation and provide a more precise understanding of performance patterns. This takes significant planning from business leaders, HR teams, and managers, who need to set clearly defined benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress. Quantitative performance evaluations also need to be supported with the right technology for tracking team- and employee-level goals transparently across the organization.

Sample quantitative questions include:

  • How did this person’s output compare to the company average?
  • How much direct impact did this person’s work have on revenue?

Qualitative: While certain aspects of performance can be measured numerically, others add intangible value to the company and should be considered when evaluating an employee’s overall impact. If someone exhibits qualities that help make the organization a great place to work, it’s important that their contributions are recognized as part of their performance.

Sample qualitative questions include:

  • How well was this person able to work independently with little to no supervision?
  • To what extent did this person help improve the skills of the people around them?

Rating questions should be accompanied by open-ended, qualitative questions. But no matter the type of question, it’s always important to ask for evidence and examples.

3. What You Should Measure

When drafting review questions or creating a performance review template, you should also consider the broader categories of employee performance that you want to measure. The exact mix of employee qualities that are featured in a review is dependent on what your organization identifies as important for its decision-making processes. But most companies are interested in measuring skills, strengths, behaviors, and outcomes. 

Skills can include project management, problem-solving, and effective communication. Here are some questions that measure skills:

  • How well has this person set and met deadlines?
  • To what extent did this person employ creative ideas in solving problems?
  • How effectively did this person share knowledge with others? 

Strengths can include leadership, community-building, and proactiveness. Here are some questions that measure strengths:

  • How well did this person handle conflict?
  • To what extent did they help organize any team or company events?
  • How effectively did this person anticipate problems?

Behaviors can exemplify company culture, collaboration, and professionalism. Here are some questions that measure these behaviors:

  • How did this person reflect the company’s mission or values?
  • To what extent did they demonstrate helpfulness toward coworkers?
  • How did this person demonstrate respect for the opinions of others?

Outcomes can include accomplishments, impact, and development. Here are some questions that measure outcomes:

  • How effectively did this person achieve their set KPIs?
  • To what extent did they raise the standard of quality through work?
  • How did this person demonstrate a desire to learn new skills and/or grow as a professional?

While skills and behaviors are most often tied to competencies, strengths and outcomes are commonly tied to goals. The best performance reviews aim to measure all four in ways that are observable and objective. Just remember to be specific about your timeframe and to ask for evidence in each open-ended question.

Effective review cycles enable businesses to be informed and in touch with their people. They also allow employees to verify and adjust their career paths and empower managers to build stronger relationships with their direct reports. Plus, effective performance management can bolster employee engagement. The performance review questions posed throughout this article can be used to drive comprehensive employee evaluations and performance conversations.

As you leverage these examples, be sure to tailor them to fit the unique needs and priorities of your business and its employees. For more guidance on how to run successful performance reviews that work for your organization, schedule a demo with Lattice today.