Key points about performance questions in the workplace:
- Staff meetings give managers and employees the chance to connect with each other.
- Unfortunately, most staff meetings tend to focus on tasks instead of performance and engagement.
- Asking new questions during meetings can help you better assess performance and engage employees in the process.
Meetings are crucial to the development of any team. With everyone in the same room, managers can open up a direct line of communication with their employees. This can help the team build trust, work more efficiently, and overcome roadblocks to success.
Unfortunately, many companies miss the mark when it comes to creating the meeting environment necessary to coach their teams through challenges. Asking the right performance questions can help. The five performance questions below can help you strengthen and support your team.
What Most Staff Meetings Look Like
Default meetings tend to be:
- Weekly team meetings where each person describes what they’re working on
- One-on-ones where an employee and manager discuss projects together
- Annual performance reviews where managers discuss overall work performance
It’s easy to understand why managers approach their teams this way. Weekly appointments ensure that the team meets on a regular basis, while one-on-ones let individuals share grievances or insights they aren’t comfortable offering in front of their peers. Similarly, performance reviews give managers the opportunity to provide candid feedback without an audience. Most of all, though, this approach is practical: it lets managers deal with workload in real-time and prioritize the most urgent projects.
However, these types of meetings rarely give managers a chance to focus on what’s really important. For instance, they rarely provide:
- Better engagement with the entire team
- Job growth with dedicated time to ask questions
- Improved work productivity
In fact, these meetings often actively work against these goals. The structure of these meetings places the burden of engagement squarely on the shoulders of the manager. By implying that employees should focus on the tasks at hand, these meetings also force growth and productivity to take the backseat.
How these meetings can damage culture
After a while, repetitive and low-energy meetings can lower the bar for everyone. There’s often no real accountability between teammates, employees, and managers. Without accountability, many people approach meetings with thoughts like:
- That person has been reporting on the same project for months, so it’s not a big deal if I don’t address X.
- If they’re not asking about X, I’m not sharing.
- What does that person do all day anyway?
Each time someone isn’t held accountable, other employees notice. This lack of accountability can lead to decreased productivity and motivation. On the flip side, micromanaging employees and scolding them for incomplete tasks can lead to the same results. Striking the right balance is key to improving engagement and working towards organizational goals.
How to help your people
Breaking the cycle of talent management meeting mediocrity doesn’t have to overhaul your schedule or management style. The answer is simple: specificity. Ask better questions, and you’ll get better answers and results.
You can ask the following five performance questions during staff meetings to help your company grow. This post focuses specifically on questions to ask during team meetings, but we also included some questions to ask during one-on-ones.
Weekly Performance Questions to Ask at Staff Meetings
Most teams set specific goals for efficiency and productivity, have processes or projects that demand time and attention, and play some role in the customer experience.
The weekly performance questions below get to the heart of these issues. If your team is small, consider focusing on just one or two questions per week. If you already speak to your team on a daily basis, consider having meetings less often.
1. Tell me about a positive and negative interaction with a customer or client this week.
Though not technically a question, this request helps you identify good case studies and examples that your team can learn from. Each week, ask a different employee to share their experience at the team meeting. Create a conversation about what they learned, which best practices they used, and how they could have improved their interaction (if relevant).
This dialogue creates an opportunity for team members to learn from each other while keeping the customer front and center. Too often, businesses default to whatever’s easiest and most efficient for the team, overlooking how it may impact the customer experience.
Opening each meeting with these specific and pre-prepared stories can also foster meeting ownership and empathy among teammates. If employees know that they’ll be front and center one day, they’ll be more engaged and supportive when their peers present. If your team doesn’t interact with customers, rework the question to ask, “How did something you do this week impact the customer experience?”
2. How did we do this week compared to last week?
This question is more for you than your employees. If you want a team to grow and improve, show them that what they do matters. Compare each month, quarter, and year to the one before it. As the manager, bring forward key data points, feedback from other departments, or customer insights that show your team’s progress. Your employees will be able to see how their meeting discussions drive tangible results.
If possible, discuss at least one Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that’s financial in nature. This is especially important if you manage employees who don’t naturally connect their day-to-day work to the bottom line.
3. What can you do differently next week to make life better for you, your team, or your customer?
This question helps you and your employees identify issues and set manageable goals in a less intimidating manner. Ask your employees this question each week, swapping out the “you, your team, or your customer” part at the end to keep answers varied.
Ask for introspection, and feel free to share your own inefficiencies and roadblocks with your team. A little vulnerability can go a long way. Reassure employees that everyone has room to grow and celebrate the small wins that lay a path for long-term growth.
4. How did what you changed last week impact your work this week?
Asking more specific questions and prompting your employees to reflect on past performance is a great starting step. However, this introspective thinking needs to translate into behavior change.
For example, you may tell your sales team that faster response times and calling during certain hours can increase the likelihood of a prospect’s response. But if your marketing team finds leads and then passes them along to your sales team, your sales team may not be able to respond to leads as quickly as they’d like.
Instead of general suggestions, try to give your team more specific directions. For instance, you could ask them to call leads at different hours and note their response rates. An employee might call leads at 4:00 pm on a Friday and see a surprisingly high response rate. When they share their results with the rest of the team, they can help everyone generate leads while feeling more involved in the success of your organization.
5. Who wants to share next week? What’s on the agenda for next week?
To take engagement one step farther, ask your employees to take turns running a team meeting. Give them a week to prepare and then let them drive the meeting regardless of how old they are or how long they’ve been a part of the team.
This dispersed ownership makes sure everyone is engaged. It also ensures that your team can have a productive meeting if you’re unable to attend.
Bonus: Icebreaker Questions
Get your meeting off to a good start before you delve into the in-depth questions above. Use these icebreaker questions to check in and help everyone relax:
- What has been the highlight of your day so far?
- What’s top of mind for you at work right now? What’s top of mind for you in your personal life?
- What’s one important lesson you’ve learned at work this month?
- What are you reading right now?
- What’s your favorite meal of the day?
- What has been the best team experience for you, and why?
Drive Employee Performance with an HRIS
If you don’t have time for weekly meetings or prefer to track performance in more detail, an HRIS like SentricHR can help. With SentricHR, you can track performance, growth, and engagement alongside everything else HR. Use our pre-configured performance questions and review templates or create your own to help your employees succeed.
For more information about how SentricHR can help you manage employee performance, speak with one of our product experts!