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End of the Year Employee Review Questions to Address

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Stephanie Davis

When you are a small business owner with employees, year-end performance reviews can seem like a necessary evil.

Two people sitting across from each other at a table talking about performance reviews.

Often, these reviews can be awkward, even if they are positive conversations. A lot of projects, events, and wins and losses, happen throughout the year and it’s important that you’re preparing yourself ahead of time to deliver the best feedback to your employee. While your reviews should have a structure so both you and your employees will know what to expect, understand that the process can vary slightly due to job functions and responsibilities. While many questions can arise in a year-end performance review, below are five questions you should be prepared to ask.

What were your top accomplishments this year?

This is a great time to let your employees shine and showcase what they feel were their largest accomplishments. You will learn what inspires them and what gives them pride. Understanding this can not only help you understand your employee’s motivations and goals but can guide you into incorporating more projects like this into their workload. Additionally, this gives you a great avenue to chime in and tell your employees what you think they have done well and let them know that you appreciate all of the work they do.

What are your goals for next year?

This question can lead to a variety of responses, depending on your business. This could be the time to talk about what your employee wants to achieve in the next year, and give suggestions on how they can move towards those achievements. Perhaps they want to learn more about social media and help your business thrive that way, or they want to transition from a hostess to a server at your restaurant. This question can easily lead to a discussion about areas where your employee has room to grow and improve, such as better time management or customer service interactions.

What skills do you have that you think we can use more effectively?

Your employees are your assets, and they may have skills that could be extremely useful to your small business that you are entirely unaware of. Building on the previous question, see what additional skills your employee possesses that they would like to contribute to your business, and develop a plan to use them more effectively. In doing so, you’ll encourage them to take greater ownership of the work they do and maybe even improve processes you didn’t know needed improvement.  

What can I do to make your job more enjoyable?

Employee engagement is key to business success. When you have happy employees who are engaged with their work, it’s going to lead to positive results for your small business. What motivates your employees and leads to them being engaged is going to vary between each person, so this is a great time to ask what they think will bring out the best in themselves. Some options to consider depending on your business are flexible hours, work from home or a casual dress code. 

How do you prefer to receive feedback?

While annual performance reviews have been the standard for years, there are arguments that it’s not necessarily the best method for giving feedback. Because so much happens over the course of a year, it’s easy for both you and your employees to forget some of the things that happened or focus on the most recent events, rather than the whole picture. Additionally, everyone has different communication styles and needs for feedback. One employee may prefer feedback to happen verbally, while another would be fine with an email. With regards to timing, you may have employees who want to meet weekly for check-ins while another would be fine with once a month or once every couple of months. Communication is the key to success for any relationship, which is why checking in with your employees during their performance review is a good time to address this.

Bottom Line

While annual performance reviews can be a little daunting for you, and your employees, a little planning goes a long way in ensuring a smooth process. While you have questions you plan to ask, you should also prepare for the questions your employee might ask, such as questions related to a raise, promotion, or role change. Overall, while this is a time for you to review your employees, make sure they have the opportunity to share their feelings and give any input.

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