4 Questions for a Powerful Performance Review

15th December, 2023


The dreaded performance review! Do you know anybody (leader or team member) that looks forward to doing them?

Well, if some of the research is to be believed, up to 90% of people HATE performance reviews.

I definitely fall into the 90% category – because traditional performance reviews are broken!

Why? Because it involves some or all of the following:

  • A mad dash by the Leaders (sorry, I meant Managers) to get it done before the deadline imposed by HR
  • 10+ pages to complete with almost none of it being relevant (and HR has spent months devising the new and improved forms)
  • HR chasing you down because you either haven’t filled in the 10+ pages correctly, or, you are close to the deadline, you have a team of 10 people, you haven’t submitted anything and HR don’t see how you can do the 10 reviews AND complete the paperwork before the deadline (because completing the form is the most important part, Right!?)
  • The Leader (sorry, another slip of the tongue, I meant Manager) giving feedback to the team member related to a behaviour they witnessed 11 months ago that they would like changed
  • The inconsistency between Leaders (crap, I did it again, Managers) and how they rate each team member – and they then link salary increases to the inconsistent rating system! Are you serious!
  • And the list goes on…

Given these scenarios, why wouldn’t you HATE performance reviews?

The New & Improved Performance Review Process

Well, it’s time to get rid of tradition (because it is broken!), and try something new.

The new and improved performance review involves only 4 questions (Wow! That should be a winner in itself compared to the 10+ pages previously!).

The focus isn’t on completing the form. The focus is on having an open and honest two-way conversation. The Leader (yes, we can call them a Leader if they follow this), is focused on performance (past and future), mutual accountability, and developing vulnerability based trustthe secret ingredient to high performing teams!

It’s time to train Managers into Leaders…and this new and improved performance review will help achieve it.

Just get to the damn questions!, I hear you say.

Ok, here they are…

Q1. What have you achieved this period?

I love starting with this question. After all, business, and teams are about performance.

It’s time to reflect on the past period.

With this in mind, the conversation must focus on how the team member has contributed to the success of the team. There may be some individual achievements, but these should be minimal (if at all), if the Leader and organisation value teamwork.

As you get into the routine of a regular performance review process, this question will ensure the team member is laser focused on achieving what they committed to in their previous performance review to help the team achieve its collective goal.

Q2. What are you going to achieve next period?

Given that you have just spent some time talking about the past. Now is the time to talk about the future.

The conversation must focus on how the team member will help the team achieve its collective goal moving forward. This is the time to focus on the technical (job specific) performance outcomes.

The best measure of a team is the results they achieve. Ensuring each team member has complete clarity about how they contribute to the success of the team, and then take ownership of what they need to do to help the team achieve the collective result, is critical to a team focused on achieving high performance.

Q3. How can I help you?

As a Leader, this is a perfect time to demonstrate vulnerability and encourage feedback about your own performance.

You are in a Leadership role to help and serve. The best way you can do that is by seeking feedback from your team members on how you can be a better Leader for them. Another way of looking at this is to learn what you need to do to set up your team member for success?

Initially, you and your team member may find this the most uncomfortable part of the new performance review process…but, remember, everything is hard before it is easy! If you are fostering a culture of trust then this will get easier quickly – for both of you!

The next part of the conversation must focus on what the team member can do to improve. I always encourage Leaders to allow their team member to speak first. The Leader can then ask questions to clarify, or raise some areas they believe could help. The key point here is for the team member to own the improvement (or improvements).

As a Leader, you can then commit to helping them improve, with a greater chance of success.

I believe, this is the second most powerful question in the new performance review process. After all, ‘feedback’ is the medicine to transform unhealthy, poor performing teams into healthy, high performing teams.

Performance Review
Q4. How are you living our core values?

This is the most powerful question in the new and improved performance review.

This is where we focus on behavioural performance outcomes and alignment with the organisations core values.

Now, if the Senior Leaders of the organisation have not clarified their core values, this question can be problematic. Although, it’s no excuse for not doing it. As a Leader, take ownership and work with your team to agree on 2-3 core values of your team. (This is a whole other conversation for another time on how to effectively identify core values vs aspirational values).

Having a conversation around behaviours that have supported the core values (or not) is critical to ongoing success of the organisation. Leaders must be completely intolerant of behaviours that are not aligned with the core values.

Talking about this and sharing stories to support the alignment of core values will help entrench these values and continue to reinforce the importance of ‘how we behave’.


So, there you have it!

Don’t waste time on the bureaucracy of lengthy forms. Spend the time on open and honest conversation around these 4 questions. You will be amazed what a difference it will make when the focus is on having a ‘real’ conversation.

Oh, before I forget. I’m sure you also want to know how often you should do this and for how long? (That’s a great question!)

It should be done monthly and will take 30-45 minutes per team member. Doing this, will ensure momentum around performance, provide regular opportunity for mutual accountability, and build trust quickly.

What do you want to do?

Stay a Manager, and continue with the old review process that 90% of people HATE.

Or, Become a Leader, and embrace the new and improved way of having open and honest conversations.

Like everything in life – the choice is yours!


If you enjoyed this article, please check out my other articles here.



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