9 Performance Management Survey Questions You Must Ask

Ask these questions to improve the performance management efforts at scale.

Management wants you to overhaul the entire performance management process.

Everything from goal setting to quarterly check-ins to professional development discussions is due for a makeover based on their analysis.

Despite the work ahead, you’re excited. The world of work has been changing quickly and you’ve been pushing for a refreshed approach to how your company manages its talent.

But before you get started, you want to know where to focus your efforts. Your years of people management experience have shown you how often leadership teams invest resources into initiatives and programs that they later learn mean little to employees.

You want to avoid this mistake by establishing a benchmark of employee performance, getting a glimpse of whether you’re trending upwards or downwards, and identifying the major problem areas.

How Employee Surveys Help With Performance Management ?

Performance management is more than just rewarding and penalizing employees.

It’s a continual process whereby employers and employees speak to each other to set strategic goals aligned with the business’ goals, create a plan of action to achieve those goals, and discuss their progress.

Not all organizations approach performance management in this way. Some have annual reviews that are more a formality than the culmination of a year of dialogue. Some skip the practice altogether either because they don’t understand the importance, they view it as an awkward formality that gets in the way of real work, or they don’t see the point.

In reality, performance management is a critical part of retaining employees and boosting productivity. It ensures that your employees:

  • have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them
  • know what their goals are and why they matter to the business
  • have a forum to ask their manager questions, seek help overcoming obstacles, and receive guidance
  • feel appreciated and valued by their manager

Performance management is not exclusively reserved for permanent employees. It can also be useful for getting the most out of your temporary employees.

If your agreement or local legislation requires you to loop in your hiring agency, you can modify your performance management conversations.

Including temporary employees in your performance management plan lays the groundwork for a positive working relationship and may encourage them to apply for permanent roles down the road.

Of course, performance management is a lot of hands-on work. It requires several one-on-one conversations with employees. While facetime is important, the more employees you have the harder it becomes to give everyone the same amount of one-on-one time.

Employee survey can help you scale your performance management efforts. This survey does not replace your in-person, one-on-one conversations. Instead, they offer a way to understand where your entire organization stands, pinpoint trouble areas, and focus your attention on the issues that matter to your employees.

So how can you get started gauging your company’s performance management through employee surveys? Here are 9 survey questions to get you started.

9 performance management survey questions you need to ask:

I understand how my work supports the goals of my team.

Goals are the object of an individual’s ambitions. In other words, they make work meaningful.

It sounds straightforward enough, but many employees are stuck doing repetitive, monotonous tasks that offer little meaning.

The result?

Disengagement, boredom, and even burnout.

While there are many ways to work through repetitive, monotonous tasks, one of the fastest ways is to create a sense of purpose for your team.

Why are they working on what they’re working on?

How does it serve a larger goal?

What role does it play in the functioning of the team?

Encourage your managers to clearly articulate their team’s goals and then map individual employees’ subgoals over to it.

Ask them to use the S.M.A.R.T. goals methodology to craft their objectives.

For instance, a manager might say that their team’s goal is to “Decrease the number of calls to the customer call centre by 20% by the end of Q4.”

They might set a sub-goal to one of their team members to revamp the online help centre so that customers have a self-serve knowledge hub to find answers to commonly asked questions.

Instead of working through hundreds of existing documents and looking for typos, your team member can articulate a clear goal such as, “Create a content library with a detailed guide for all 5 of our products and accompanying infographics by the end of Q3.”

I know what is needed to meet my goals and objectives

Imagine asking someone to make a cake, and then providing neither the ingredients nor the money to buy them.

Even if that person had outstanding cooking skills, it would be ridiculous to expect any dessert at the end of the day.

Inexperienced managers do something similar with their employees.

They ask them to meet a goal without providing the resources or direction needed to succeed.

Once you’ve established your goals, make sure your employees have what they need to be successful.

Let’s continue using our earlier goal and sub-goal as an example.

The goal was to ““Decrease the number of calls to the customer call centre by 20% by the end of Q4” and the sub-goal was to, “Create a content library with a detailed guide for all 5 of our products and accompanying infographics by the end of Q3.”

Consider whether:

  • The technical team’s manager is aware of this project and will allocate time for their team members to answer the marketer’s questions.
  • The marketing employee knows the process for requesting graphic design assets, especially if they’re new.
  • The marketing employee understands what milestones they’re expected to reach and when. Should they have subject matter expert interviews lined up within a month? Should they have rough copies ready for approval within two months? Make this clear upfront.

The work I do is meaningful to me.

Is the work your team does meaningful?

Believe it or not, feeling a sense of meaning from one’s work plays a significant role in engagement.

What would you rather delay your lunch break for? Finishing a report that feels bureaucratic and meaningless or helping a customer going through a difficult time with their insurance claim?

We make micro-decisions about how much effort to put into our work every day. Whether it’s spending a few extra minutes on a task, digging a little deeper to find the answer, or using creative problem solving skills to find an alternative solution.

When we feel like there’s a reason for our work, we’re more likely to put in more effort and feel a sense of commitment to our jobs.

In fact, 9 out of 10 people say they are willing to earn less money if it means they can do more meaningful work.

Does this mean all of your employees need to transform into ER doctors to find meaning in their work? Not at all. There are several things your team can do to imbue meaning into your employees’ work.

  • Demonstrate how you’re helping people: Whether your employees build an app or provide financial data, you can find a connection to a person that’s being helped. An effective way to do this is to quantify how your product helps. How much money have you helped your customers save? How many policyholders have you helped on the worst day of their lives?
  • Highlight exceptional employees: Some employees find value in their work without prompting from their employer. Identify these employees and highlight them in your internal communications. Ask them why they enjoy what they do and consider sharing a video or an article of your interview with them, so they can give their colleagues a different perspective.

My manager gives me constructive feedback on my job performance.

When you empower your employees, you empower yourself as well.

By teaching employees how to confidently complete tasks, you can free up time to work on other items yourself. This kind of coaching and development calls for constructive feedback.

What is constructive feedback?

Constructive feedback is the guidance about an employee’s performance that helps them build productive and helpful skills and behaviors.

Feedback that isn’t constructive can demoralize and discourage employees, reducing their level of engagement.

On the other hand, when employees feel belittled or disproportionately punished for mistakes, this can impact their level of engagement with the company and their willingness to take risks.

Your employee survey can show you whether your employees receive constructive or deconstructive feedback. If it’s the latter, you can take the following steps to improve:

  • Explain why you’re giving the feedback: For example, “Our customers pay a premium for excellent customer service, and effective communication plays an important part in that, so it’s essential that we keep them up to date every step of the way, especially when there are delays. On this last project, I noticed that you…”
  • Observe, don’t assume: When you’re giving constructive feedback, don’t make assumptions about an employee’s motivations. For example, “You didn’t communicate the delay to the customer because you didn’t care.” Instead, focus on things you’ve seen or heard. You could say, “That customer’s email went unanswered for three days, and it caused a lot of frustration and confusion for them.”
  • Make the feedback about the behaviour, not the employee: Avoid language that frames the issue as a character flaw by saying things like, “You’re not a great communicator.” Instead focus on the behaviour. “You didn’t communicate well in this situation, but you can take steps to change that.”
  • Provide recommendations: Give your employees guidance on how they can address the situation in the future. In this case, you can explain that even though they are completing the customer’s work, the customer may be anxious and want some kind of confirmation. A polite, two-line message letting them know there’s a slight delay but that someone’s on it can go a long way.

My manager holds all employees accountable for their performance.

Good employees take responsibility for what they’ve been asked to do by completing tasks well and on time. So it can be frustrating to see co-workers who aren’t equally accountable skate by, especially when this lack of accountability impacts their ability to do their own job.

Nearly half of employees say that their number one pet peeve at work is lazy coworkers.

Watching a supervisor overlook this kind of behaviour only adds insult to injury. Managers may choose to overlook these situations, because everything’s chugging along fine.

But this continuity is only possible because other employees are left to pick up the slack, breeding resentment, dissatisfaction, and disengagement.

You can avoid this by assessing all employees on tangible metrics based on their specific role. This way, it’s harder for favoritism or unconscious bias to impact which employees you reward and which employees you hold accountable.

I have the training I need to do my job well.

Believe it or not, employees just don’t receive the kind of training they used to.

In 1979, the average new worker received 2.5 weeks of training each year.

That number dropped to 11 hours per year by 1995.

Today, workers are lucky if they receive access to a learning management system with a few intro videos.

Instead, people are thrown into a position with little to no introduction to the organization, its processes, or the job’s expectations.

Doing a job without proper training can lead to avoidable errors and frustration.

If your company doesn’t have a formal training program, you can take steps as a manager to prepare employees for their job. A few options include:

  • Documenting all of the common, repeatable processes within the organization
  • Recording meetings so that new employees can easily watch them and get up to speed on ongoing projects
  • Creating team subject matter experts who specialize in a specific area of the team’s needs and train all new employees on that specific area to avoid overwhelming one employee with all the training duties

My manager encourages me to share ideas for improvements.

Your employees spend all day doing the work. So they’re in the perfect position to notice opportunities for improvement in efficiency and innovation.

Encouraging your employees to share and act on their ideas is also an effective way to encourage your smart, enterprising employees to stay with your company instead of venturing out and starting their own company.

This approach is known as intrapreneurship, which is when organizations empower employees to act like entrepreneurs within the company.

If your employee survey shows that employees are not encouraged to share their ideas, here are a few ways you can change that:

  • Train your managers to be more effective listeners: Effective and empathetic listening demonstrates to people that their ideas are actually being heard as opposed to just tolerated. Encourage managers to engage with employees’ ideas and ask questions, so they can align these ideas to the team’s overall goals.
  • Lead by example: Practice vulnerability by sharing stories of your failures or your personal anxieties with your team, so that they feel comfortable taking what’s known as “interpersonal risks.” An interpersonal risk is when you do something against the norm that may help the team in the long term but lead to social tension in the short term, discouraging people from speaking up with constructive criticism or new ideas.
  • Develop an open door policy: Make it clear that you will always provide time in the day for employees to come to you with their ideas. Keep in mind that your open door policy can be both literal and figurative. You can also encourage people to send you their ideas via email.

At work, I have the opportunity to use my strengths every day.

Did you know that focusing on your employees’ strengths, rather than trying to improve their weaknesses, is a more effective way to improve employee performance?

Effective managers know how to delegate work in a way that’s fair while also highlighting each contributor’s strengths.

If respondents don’t answer this question positively, here are a few ways you can start focusing on employees’ strengths:

  • Work with your employees to develop goals that align to their strengths
  • Encourage your employees to share their strengths with the rest of the team so that they become common knowledge
  • Have meaningful one-to-one discussions with your team members about their individual strengths and how those strengths can help the team meet its goals

My workload is manageable.

Often, employers ask how they can make their employees more productive. But it’s also worth asking whether your employees are working too hard.

Burnout rates are on the rise, and employees are responding by quitting. It’s important for employers to assess whether their employees are burnt out. This is especially true for employees in in-demand positions. With high salaries and in some cases, ample savings, these employees may wager that a few months off while they look for a less demanding position isn’t so bad after all.

Companies that face this problem have implemented all kinds of solutions such as blocked emails on weekends, company-wide weeks off, and of course, simply hiring more people. If your employees are in this boat, it’s up to your managers to either find more people or radically prioritize the work so employees don’t feel obligated to overwork themselves to get it all done.

Using the right survey software

By leveraging the right survey software, you can quickly understand where your employees stand when it comes to performance management. Sparkbay’s employee survey tool makes it easy for organizations to distribute surveys and track data while keeping all employees’ responses anonymous.

Interested in learning how to distribute performance management surveys at scale? Get in touch with a member of the Sparkbay team to learn more about our survey platform.