Questions for Employee Evaluations

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Employee evaluations typically cover the employee's challenges, accomplishments and goals. According to an article on performance management by Indiana University, the employee evaluation is one of the most important supervisor activities, because it is an opportunity to coach, motivate and manage expectations on both sides of the desk. Rather than simply telling the employee how he is doing, a supervisor can benefit by turning the evaluation into a discussion by asking prepared, thoughtful questions.

Open-Ended Questions

Supervisors should always avoid asking questions that can be answered in a simple “yes” or “no,” as these questions typically do not prompt further discussion or interpretation. For example, rather than, “Do you think you met your productivity goals this year?” the question should be, “Tell me how you were able to meet your productivity goals this year or why you were not able to meet them.”

Questions About Challenges

Asking about challenges the employee faced, such as, “What was your biggest mistake this year?” gives the employee and supervisor an opportunity to turn an obstacle into a learning experience. It also allows the supervisor to identify future potential problems, such as interpersonal relationships or time management issues. Rather than avoiding difficult subjects, they should be brought to light and addressed in a positive way.

Questions About the Future

Many employees are motivated to do a better job in their current roles and positions if they believe it will lead to promotions and raises. The supervisor should ask questions about what other positions the employee is interested in within the company as well as long-term dreams and goals. These questions give the supervisor the necessary information to put a solid career path plan in place for the employee. They also give the supervisor insight into what specifically motivates the employee (money, work-life balance etc.)

Questions About the Supervisor

These types of questions are difficult for many supervisors or managers. They include, “How am I doing as your manager?” and “Am I managing you the best way possible?” Everyone has different personalities and work styles, and what works for one supervisor-employee combo may fail for others. The effective supervisor needs to put aside her ego and realize that her job may require her to change her management style to fit her employees—not the other way around. For example, some employees need constant reminders or praise, while others want to be left alone.

Employee Self-Evaluation Questions

Many supervisors can gain valuable insight by instructing their employees to rate themselves on the same items (and scale) used in the formal managerial review. This will allow the supervisor to clearly see the differences between the employee’s self perception and reality. For example, if an employee rates herself as a 10 (on a scale from 1 to 10) in communication, but the supervisor only gives her a 6, there will need to be a discussion on the disconnect.


About the Author

Denise Brandenberg has more than 15 years professional experience as a marketing copywriter, with a focus in public relations. She also worked as a recruiter for many years and is a certified resume writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.

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