Performance reviews are a vital part of any local government's sustained productivity. Here are some sample questions to help structure your reviews.

How do you think you’ve done? It is important to give the reviewee an opportunity to show that he/she has paid enough attention to his/her performance to be able to provide an appropriate evaluation of that performance. It is equally (if not more) important for him/her to detail shortcomings as it is to detail successes; this will show that he/she is dedicated to improvement.

How do you feel you relate to other employees? A happy and satisfied team relies heavily on people getting along with one another. While it’s unlikely for everyone to get along with everyone 100%, it is very important for each employee to feel he/she is on good terms with the majority of his/her peers.

Who do you believe is your most productive coworker? Recognizing the achievements of others means the employee is not only focused on his/her own success, but of the success of the local government as a whole. Plus, these recommendations can help guide your reviews of other employees.

Do you feel you’ve had difficulty with one or more employee(s) in particular? How have each of you worked to resolve this difficulty? Unless the identity of the person or people in question is critical to the understanding of the situation, do not let the reviewee tell you who it is; you do not want him/her feel like he/she is selling out his/her coworkers. The purpose of this question is to see how your reviewee deals with conflict.

Do you have the tools you need? What tools and resources have been most and least helpful to you? Show your employee that your focus is as much on helping him/her to accomplish his/her goals as it is to evaluate his/her past performance. If an obvious lack or overabundance of resources has contributed to this employee’s performance, either way, his/her answer to this question will help to clear that up. However, if he/she asks for too much, you’ll be able to determine that perhaps he/she is not right for the job, or that the responsibilities of the position need to be realigned. 

What are your goals for the coming year/quarter? If your employee feels he/she has a future in your local government, or at least in the career track he/she is currently in, his/her answer(s) to this question will show you that.

How would you improve overall productivity and success for our local government? Now, you can receive feedback from your reviewee.

Specific to a manager:

Did you provide well-defined goals for your employees that were modified as needed? When you ask this manager’s employees the same question, the comparison will tell you how well the manager relates to his/her employees.

In situations of conflict between employees, did you moderate appropriately? Fostering a good working relationship between your employees is critical to being a good manager.

Do you create an open dialogue of mutual feedback between yourself and your employees? It’s as important for a manager to be receptive to feedback as it is for him/her to give it.

If a position [x employee] desired opened up today, would you recommend him/her for it? Compare with employee’s response.

Specific to entry-level employees:

Have you done your job in a way that has helped you build the skills you came here to build? You want to make sure they know you want them to succeed; plus, if they’re building skills they want, it’s more likely they’ll be motivated to work hard.

If the job you’re aiming for opened up today, would your manager recommend you for it? Why/why not? Gives you a sense both of whether the employee thinks he/she is doing a good job and how they perceive their relationship with their manager.

If you had to choose your successor, what qualities and skills would you look for in your interviewees? This will give you an idea of what he/she thinks the job entails; if he/she appears to be not paying attention to an area you feel is part of the job, the inclusion or exclusion of that area in this answer can help to clear that up.

Did your manager provide well-defined goals for you that were modified as needed? Compare with manager’s answer.

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