10 key questions to ask for constructive and modern performance appraisals

by Danique Geskus | Sep 27, 2023

Traditionally, the performance review only discusses the employee’s performance over the past (half) year. This method of assessment provides insight from one aspect and therefore does not give a complete picture. In fact, an employee’s performance depends on many more things. We therefore recommend that the HR cycle be expanded to include modern performance appraisals to provide a full representation of (the performance of) the employee. Getting started right away with the performance review? Download our free template right away!


What is a modern performance appraisal?

The premise of the modern performance appraisal is that multiple topics are discussed. The employee is given space not only to evaluate their own performance but also to provide feedback on the performance of the supervisor and the team. This feedback method is called 360 ⁰ feedback.

By applying this 360-degree feedback method, all important aspects for a constructive and constructive development interview are covered. During such a modern evaluation conversation, it can be about job satisfaction, bottlenecks for achieving set goals, the possible solutions for this, working conditions and, for example, future and career plans.


The content of the modern performance appraisal

So this modern performance appraisal is mostly about giving and receiving feedback. While giving feedback, a number of things are important:

    • Be prepared
    • Provide concrete examples
    • A good balance between positive and negative feedback is key
    • Stay businesslike and keep emotion out of the conversation

For example, use “the 4G feedback method” to create a constructive feedback culture. With this feedback method you ensure an open conversation in which the employee also dares to give feedback back and more importantly gains insight into the feedback being given. By asking concrete questions, the employee is challenged to look at his or her performance in the right perspective.


Learned facilitates objective evaluations. By creating multiple moments of measurement per year based on different themes – for example: the fit with your culture and goal achievement, you will gain objective insight into your low- and high performers.

Clarification: Each evaluation will show how the employee scores on the various themes.


10 concrete questions to ask during a modern development conversation

Now what questions will ensure that you create a smooth and transparent conversation? Learned uses 5 themes that guide the platform for improving the HR cycle. By theme, these are the best questions to ask during the 1:1 conversation:

Job satisfaction

1. How have you experienced the workload in the recent period?

2. For you, what were the most inspiring projects/work that most energized you?


3. What are 3 examples of accomplishments you are proud of?

4. What were the biggest barriers to your learning goals and how did you overcome them?


5. What talent would you like to develop further in the coming period?

6. What new skills would you like to learn in the coming period?

Learning Objectives

7. What are your three biggest learning goals of the past period and did you achieve them?

8. Do your learning goals for the upcoming term remain the same?

Continuous improvement

9. What would you like to see improved within [naam bedrijf] and how?

10. Describe your cooperation with your supervisor/team/direct colleague in 3 words and indicate areas where cooperation could be improved.

You’ll find these sample questions and even more practical tips in the template performance review developed by Learned for improving the HR cycle.


Give a score or just a comment?

So how is such a modern development conversation constructively assessed? Simply adding a comment does not assign a value to the specific item. Especially when there is room for interpretation within a comment. Adding a score, in the form of a rating (unsatisfactory/moderate/satisfactory/good/very good) or grade (e.g., 0-5), provides direction for feedback.

The advantage of a concrete score is that you can give an overall rating at the end of the conversation. This indicates the way in which the employee functions according to the stated goals or job profile. That way you can measure results over time. So after one year and several developmental interviews, you can see the progression of results. That way, you have a year-end summary that consists of both qualitative and quantitative data that you can use in a possible salary increase.


Performance appraisal at PostNL

In a recent survey conducted by PostNL on the added value of modern performance appraisals for postal workers, a whopping 77% of those surveyed indicated that work motivation increased as a result of conducting performance appraisals. Moreover, by doing so, working with software that offers convenient tools for conducting the modern performance appraisal interview, the workload of conducting these interviews for team leaders was greatly reduced.

Martin Hendriks, HR information consultant: “We started analyzing what caused that and came up with three pivots: the modern performance appraisal interview had to be perceived as meaningful, the postal workers had to receive useful tips from their team leaders, and the interview had to match the expectations the postal workers had beforehand. The key variable was with whom they had had the conversation. The role of the team leader was crucial.”


The result of an ongoing dialogue

Does this actually work? From Learned’s customer user survey (Q3 2021), 78% of respondents indicated that conversations have become more valuable by using Learned’s platform. 82% of users reported that they gained more insight into competencies and skills that could be further developed. Thus, in all areas, this creates more job happiness and better performance.

Are you curious about how to increase employee happiness and performance in your organization? Check out the Learned platform demo or create a free trial account below.

Gratis downloads

Chart low and high performers with objective evaluations

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