4 Strategic Questions to Ask Your Boss at Your Next Performance Review

HR Regulations in Malaysia Nov 29, 2021

Annual performance reviews are a valuable opportunity for employees to get constructive feedback and evaluate their career progression, as well as the chance to discuss a raise or promotion. To get the most of it, you as the employee need to take initiative with active participation in the process rather than just being a passive listener.

Asking the right questions isn’t just important for you to assess your career growth opportunities in the job and company, it also shows your manager that you care about your future in the organisation and are committed to your professional development.

Here are 4 strategic questions to ask your boss at your next performance review:

1.‘What specific skills do you feel I need to focus on growing?’

In addition to checking off the boxes on the performance review checklist, take the opportunity to ask your boss for specifics on what skills you should be growing.

It’s important to bear in mind that identifying your growth areas isn’t always an easy task for your superior. They might find it difficult to convey critical feedback, and conversely, if you’ve outperformed and exceeded their expectations over the past year, they might not think it necessary to give you additional feedback.

Phrasing the question as above takes the pressure off your manager and prompts them to consider what areas they would like to see you improve on. There’s always something you can do better or a new skill you can learn that adds value to your job.

If your manager hesitates, try suggesting possibilities. You should ideally identify at least 2 to 3 areas to work on for the coming 6 months.

2. ‘What goals should I be working towards for the next performance review?’

Without clarity of the goals your manager expects you to meet in the coming months and year, you won’t be able to prioritise your efforts and focus your attention accordingly. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day busy work and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Asking this question also opens the door for further discussion about your ability to meet those goals. If there is any doubt in your mind or concern over the KPIs or goals your boss has set for you, take this opportunity to express your views.

You don’t want to just agree to them blindly and burn out trying to meet those expectations, which might affect the department’s performance as well as your own. Your boss will appreciate your honesty and see the value in underpromising and overachieving rather than the reverse.

3. ‘What are the chances of a raise or promotion, and what can I do to earn it?’

Instead of coming right out and asking for a raise or promotion, which can be interpreted as being too bold (depending on the company culture), phrasing your question in a less assuming manner as above allows you to gently broach the subject and ease into a deeper discussion if your manager is receptive to it.

Besides allowing you to gauge the chances of a possible raise or promotion in your near future, the question also tells your manager that you don’t just expect it, that you’re committed to putting in the time and hard work to get it.

4. ‘Can we schedule a next review, be it formal or informal, for 3 months from now?’

Performance reviews are valuable for tracking your career progression, and the more often they’re done, the better. In an ideal world, you would have quarterly reviews with your boss to monitor your performance and identify improvement areas to ensure you’re on track to achieving your goals.

However, time is a precious commodity, especially for busy managers. If your manager isn’t able to make time for a formal review within the next 6 months, ask for an informal review in 3 months instead so there’s less pressure on him or her. Regular reviews also provide a great opportunity to take on new projects or responsibilities, which will add bonus points to your next annual review.

Tell your boss that you would appreciate their feedback on how you’re doing at more frequent intervals rather than just once a year; they’ll value your dedication and initiative.    

Your annual performance review is the time for you to assess your previous year’s performance and plan your career progression for the coming year. Use the opportunity to your advantage—make sure you get the answers you need to advance your career to the next level.

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