7 Questions to Answer When Evaluating Employee Performance

Only 38% of organizations pay significant attention to employees’ competency and skill development throughout an annual performance evaluation cycle, according to Brandon Hall Group’s performance-management research. Far more organizations (71%) pay heavy attention to employees’ performance on particular initiatives or business goals. 

The traditional approach to employee performance evaluations leads to a perception of bias that reduces their value. Almost half of organizations (47%) responding to our research said bias impacts a manager’s evaluation of performance often or always. 

Perception of Managers’ Actions in Performance Evaluation 

Less than one-third of organizations believe there is a high correlation between the highest-performance evaluation scores and the highest-performing individuals in the organization. There are many reasons for this. The traditional process was designed in a different era when business did not move as fast. Now, an employee’s potential is more important than their past performance. 

It is up to organizations to change their performance evaluation process. Performance evaluation can be improved in many ways, according to our research. 

Top 5* Performance Management Factors Employers Plan to Address Over The Next Six Months 

Through these improved processes — and others based on the needs of individual organizations — managers must obtain a more complete picture of their team members’ performance, value and potential. That knowledge then must be leveraged to improve talent and learning processes to build a more agile and capable workforce to meet future business needs. 

Based on our quantitative research, interviews with scores of organizations and performance management leading practices from Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Excellence Awards program, here are seven questions managers should ask themselves when evaluating and having performance conversations with employees 

Would I Promote This Individual Right Now if I Could? 

Answering this question requires a lot of knowledge about employees — their performance, of course, but also their level of engagement, their future aspirations, their ability to collaborate with teammates, hidden skills and competencies they might have that are not necessarily reflected in their job performance, and their feeling about the organization and its mission, goals and values. Even if there is not a promotion opportunity available, understanding who on the manager’s team is ready for promotion — and why — is extremely valuable.  38% of organizations ask this question during the evaluation process, our research shows 

What Are the Future Opportunities for This Individual? 

Once you understand whether someone is ready for promotion, you must understand what opportunities exist for the person. If there are none — or none of interest to the employee — the organization needs to solve this before the person becomes a flight risk. 19% of organizations ask this question, according to our surveys. 

What Development Opportunities Can I Offer in the Employee’s Current Role? 

Whether the employee is ready for advancement now or needs more development, an IDP or other type of plan should be created so the employee can continue to build capabilities in their job. If there are no learning opportunities in the current role, that is a problem not just for the employee’s development but for the organization’s ability to develop talent. 24% of organizations ask this question according to our data. 

How Important Is This Person to the Team? 

 This question helps to answer the promotability and opportunities questions, and provides perspective on the health and needs of the manager’s team. Every manager should understand the value each team member brings. 74% of organizations say managers consider this question during the evaluation process, our research shows. 

Would I Give the Highest Salary Increase to This Individual? 

This question is a natural extension of the previous one and makes you really think about the employee’s value from a financial standpoint. The follow-up questions about giving the highest salary increase (or bonus) are why or why not? 36% of organizations say their managers consider this question, according to our research. 

How Difficult Is This Employee to Replace?

Considering this question forces you to again think about the employee’s true value, but also about the depth of your talent pipeline. If the person is hard to replace and there is little talent on the bench, that presents issues that need to be addressed. 49% of organizations ask this question, our research shows. 

What Is This Person’s Flight Risk? 

This is the natural extension of the previous question. If the flight risk is high, the next question is, what do we do about it? 21% ask this question, according to our research. 

All these questions are pertinent in the performance evaluation. In addition, think of insights the organization would have if each manager considered these factors for all employees? If acted upon appropriately, the talent-management process would be greatly improved. 

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Mike Cooke



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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.