Managing Your Boss
Ten Questions to Ask During Your Performance Review
1. “What do you think went well this year?”
“What do you think I should do differently next year?”
Some managers are lousy at expressing appreciation. If your boss is one of those, you may need to ask for her positive views. Practically speaking, it’s also helpful to know exactly what pleases your manager. (If the answer you get is “Nothing”, then you might want to start looking for a better boss!)
This is a much better approach than asking what you did wrong in the past. If your boss is uncomfortable giving critical feedback, this question will often help you learn what he’s really thinking.
# 3. “What could I do to improve my rating in this area next year?”
If you get a low rating on some particular objective or attribute, find out what you need to change. Try to agree on specific things that you can do differently. Understanding the change that’s desired by your boss is usually more productive than arguing about the past. Unless your manager is more flexible than most, you’re not likely to get that rating changed during your review.
# 4. “How could I be more helpful to other people on the team?”
In most work groups, the members are somewhat interdependent. Even if you have a great relationship with your colleagues, your manager may see opportunities for the team to be more collaborative. And just asking the question sends the message that you aren’t only concerned with yourself.
“What are your most important goals for the coming year?”
Surveys have found that most employees really don’t understand what their manager’s goals are. If you know your boss’s priorities, then you can provide useful information or assistance, which certainly won’t hurt your next performance rating!
# 6. “Is there anything I could do to make your job easier?”
If you ask this question, your boss might faint dead away, since very few employees actually think about how to make life easier for their manager. Most of us typically view this the other way around: how can my boss make life easier for me?
# 7. “How do you think our business is going to change in the future? What challenges do we face?”
This question can help you see how your own work fits into the bigger picture and provide a heads up about future issues. It also sends the message that you are thinking about things beyond your own daily work.
“What new knowledge or skills do you think I may need to develop?”
You need the answer to this question to plan for your own professional development. Or, if your job is changing in undesirable ways, you may need to rethink your career plan.
# 9. “What career opportunities do you see for someone with my background?”
If you hope to develop a career path in your current organization, you need to initiate that discussion. Don’t wait for someone else to find an opportunity for you.
# 10. “What’s the most difficult thing about doing performance reviews?”
If your boss has no sense of humor, forget this one! But otherwise, it might lead to an interesting conversation.