Yesterday, I posted “View and Review: Questions for Performance Reviews,” a compilation of various recommended questions for performance reviewers to ask from the combined knowledge of the internet. Today, I’ll look at it from the other side: What to ask your boss when you are being reviewed. These questions come from Marie McIntyre, author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”
What do you think went well this year? In addition to the ego boost the answer to this question can provide, it can also help to show you what your supervisor and your local government as a whole values in your work, so that you can focus on those areas more in the future. If you feel you’ve done well in an area that is not mentioned, it can mean one of three things:
1) Your boss feels that he/she has spent enough time on praises and that you know you’ve done well in this area and thus need not be told;
2) While you may have good or even exceptional skills in a certain area, that area may not be as critical to the success of your local government as some of your other skills, and you therefore need to redistribute your focus to other areas; or
3) You didn’t actually do such a good job in that area. If that’s the case, it should, and likely will, be brought up at another point during the review.
What do you think I should do differently this year? There are two benefits to phrasing the question like this, as opposed to asking what you’ve done wrong:
1) As McIntyre says, “If your boss is uncomfortable giving critical feedback, this question will often help you learn what he/she's really thinking.”
2) Receiving suggestions for improvement can be helpful and show your boss wants you to succeed; receiving plain criticism can be discouraging.
What can I do to improve my rating in this area next year? If there’s one area in particular in which you got a low rating, show your manager that you’ve acknowledged the ratings and are committed to improving them. Plus, you’ll get more focused advice than you received with the previous question.
How could I be more helpful to other people on the team? Showing that you’re a team player can certainly improve your stock with your supervisor and the rest of the office.
What are your most important goals for the coming year? Setting your own goals is important, but an understanding of your boss’ goals can be critical to:
1) Modifying your own goals to reflect those of your team
2) Showing your commitment to the team as a whole
3) Knowing why your goals are what they are
Is there anything I could do to make your job easier? This question can do nothing but help your stock.
How do you think our government is going to change in the future? What challenges do we face? This will help you to adapt what you do and how you do it to be consistent with the direction your government is going, and it will also show you have your focus on the big picture.
What new knowledge or skills do you think I may need to develop? In addition to providing you with insight into how to do your current job better, your manager’s answer to this could show you what you need to do in order to advance in your career path.
What career opportunities do you see for someone with my background? Whenever you can, get advice from people who know what they’re talking about in relation to what your next step should be, even if you’re not planning to take that step for a while.
What’s the most difficult thing about doing performance reviews? This question can help to lighten the mood a little bit.
As always, the Knowledge Network can serve as a fantastic resource for all your research needs. Explore these options for more information on the subject of performance reviews, in addition to the previous post on this topic and McIntyre’s website:
In 2010, another Knowledge Network user asked a similar question about the evaluation process of city and county managers.
The University Tennessee’s Institute for Public Service wrote a sample city manager performance evaluation.
The League of California Cities, a non-profit organization in California, put a sample evaluation for a City Attorney.
Here is a sample evaluation form for a Municipal Court Judge, from Cottage Grove, OR.
The Newport News, VA Fire Department put together a guidebook for performance evaluation and career development of firefighters.