How to Set-up an Effective Performance Management System

How should you plan your performance management system for maximum results? How are top organizations doing it? We answer all your doubts in this article


min read

10 second summary

  • An effective performance management system must include goal setting, timely feedback and reviews
  • As a goal setting approach, OKRs work best at senior levels and managers play a major role in cascading them to junior levels
  • Goals may be set for a year, but must be revisited frequently to ensure relevance and pivot as needed
  • Regular feedback is an important component of performance management, however, time must be allocated to synthesize the same
  • The Start Stop Continue framework is effective for feedback 
  • Performance reviews are integral for performance management systems and help close the performance loop
  • A clear distinction must be maintained between performance reviews and increment conversations
  • Performance management must be seen as a means to help people develop their expertise and the process should be as simple as possible

As performance management takes precedence in growing organizations and comes to be seen as a means to engage, retain and develop talent, our second talent talk focused on diverse aspects of performance management systems (PMS) with Saurabh Deshpande. Saurabh is an independent HR partner and advisor to businesses. He works with startups and growth stage organizations as a consulting CHRO, to help them design and implement scalable HR practices. 

He also partners with HR Technology companies as an SME to drive IP creation and product differentiation. Saurabh has 2 decades of experience across HR consulting (with Hewitt Associates - now Aon and Mercer Consulting) and line HR (with InMobi, India's 1st unicorn startup).

Without further ado, let’s begin the discussion.

Question: What are the key aspects that constitute a performance management system? 

Saurabh— I believe there are three fundamental aspects of performance management systems:

  • First,  goal setting to clarify to the workforce  what is expected of them, how they will be assessed, getting them familiarized with different aspects of their performance
  • Second, frequent feedback which can be formal che ck-in or informal on-the-go feedback
  • Third, timely performance reviews to evaluate the performance against set expectations and discuss the areas for development 

Therefore, the three fundamental blocks of a performance management system include goal setting, feedback and reviews. In addition, there are other aspects which can be customized to the context of the organization, the culture, and your business, etc.

Best Practices for Setting Business Goals

Question: What are the different types of goal setting systems available today? 

Saurabh— Let's start with a little history of goal setting. There are 3 major milestones to this.

1. Management by Objectives (MBO)

Management by Objectives or MBOs is a goal setting methodology introduced by Peter Drucker in 1954. Prior to the 1950s, the top management would decide the organizational goals and objectives, which were not cascaded to the lower-level team members as it was considered unnecessary. 

Rather, the team members were informed about the specific tasks they were expected to perform, without an understanding of how their contributions would feed into the overall organizational impact. With the introduction of MBOs in 1954, Peter Drucker brought a huge shift in thinking which included: 

  • Informing everyone in the organization about the goals
  • Drawing a clear picture of how it cascaded down to each function, team and individual
  • Bringing a sense of purpose for everyone by illustrating how their work fed into organizational success. 
From a performance management standpoint, this fundamental thinking of sharing goals with everyone and ensuring a structured cascading process prescribed in MBO has been a constant theme across all performance management systems, including balanced scorecards, OKRs, etc. 

The MBOs approach for goal setting lasted for about four decades However, there were a few drawbacks of setting goals with MBOs:

  • Measuring performance on an annual basis focusing on a list of objectives arranged in priority
  • Lack of regular monitoring and tracking which led managers often report that employees were not able to achieve all the objectives, only at the end of the year
  • Little or no room for employees to improve their performance during the year
  • Myopic focus on other aspects including mission and vision, learning and growth, customer outcomes, business processes and finance

2. Balanced Scorecard 

Thus, the 1990s saw the rise of the Balanced Scorecard approach by Kaplan and Norton to bridge this gap and laid the foundation for a form of goal setting, focusing on:

  • Four dimensions, including learning and growth, business processes, customers, and finance 
  • Translating the organization’s vision and mission into annual objectives and categorizing them into these four dimensions for a cohesive understanding.

While the balanced scorecard approach was fairly comprehensive, it was fairly static throughout the year, once the objectives were set according to the four dimensions. 

3. Goal Setting Today with OKRs

However, as organizations became more aspirational with a focus on hyper-growth, higher risk appetite, etc., the need arose to adjust and refine goals on a regular basis. Furthermore,  both MBOs and balanced scorecards really talk about goals which are directly achievable. For startups or growth phase companies, there is a need to quickly adapt and pivot while setting goals that have a small chance of being realized. This gap was filled by Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) as they are —

  • Typically set on a quarterly basis, as opposed to annual setting in others
  • Almost always stretch goals and if an individual hits about 75% of their OKRs, it's considered the goals have been achieved, unlike MBOs or Balanced Scorecards which require 100% completion for goal achievement
  • Collective where the onus of achievement is not on a particular individual, but on overall outcomes achieved by working together.
Read: Advanced guide to OKRs

Question: Are there any guiding principles for choosing the right goal setting system? 

Saurabh— Most startups and growth phase organizations tend to adopt an ad hoc approach and hastily take decisions in the face of investor pressure or to gain a competitive edge. However, this needs to change in favor of going back to the fundamentals of goal setting as a means to making everyone in the organization understand what is expected of them, how they will be assessed and receive feedback. 

To make an informed choice about the goal setting system, organizations can start by answering the following questions:

  • What are the top three things that you want to achieve?
  • What works for your organization? 
  • Where are you on your journey? 
  • What's the market that you are operating in and how volatile is it? 
  • What level of employees do you want to focus on?
  • Are the roles in your organization more static and well defined or are they dynamic?
  • Is there a clear distinction between middle management and senior management?
For instance, if you are a hyper growth organization, working in a volatile market, OKRs can be an ideal choice

Question: As a goal setting approach, can OKRs be adopted at all levels or should organizations find a different approach? 

Saurabh— This entirely depends on the levels of management. 

At the junior or professional levels, roles are better defined and there is a clarity of expectations, Therefore, OKRs may not be as relevant at the professional level. However, OKRs have worked best at the senior levels as roles get more standardized. 

Even the maturity to be able to understand that a goal is set and it’s ok to achieve 75% of that goal is something that may not work at the junior or the professional levels. In fact there are organizations that have adopted OKRs across all levels, which has led to some negative outcomes where it becomes unacceptable to not be hitting goals. 

Question: How can leaders align the organizational objectives to the individual goals? 

Saurabh— I believe this is where the role of the manager becomes very important as they: 

  • Understand the objectives or the OKRs of the organization as well as OKR for the teams and individuals
  • Can help employees understand their roles and how that contributes to the achievement of the OKRs
  • Leverage KPIs or KRAs for aligning objectives at junior levels
For instance, if the larger objective is customer delight, the KPI for a software engineer can be to reduce the number of errors in the code. Then, it becomes the responsibility of the manager to explain how the reduced number of errors contributes to the larger goal of customer delight. 

Question: What is the recommended frequency for setting goals and then revisiting them? 

Saurabh—  Goal setting is typically something that should be done annually, with a few important elements: 

  • Depending on the kind of roles and the performance management systems or approach as well as the kind of market environment, goal setting might need to be more frequent
  • Goals might be set for a year, but there may be a need to revisit them on a quarterly or on a half yearly basis
  • Relooking at goals also becomes important because career progression at junior levels is obviously faster, and organizations  might have people whose goals need to change with the way they have progressed in their particular role or possibly moving on to the next level. There may not be a change in the overall goal but the KPIs or KRAs might need to be modified.  

Feedback Strategy in the Workplace

Question: Is feedback an important lever in driving performance? How can organizations experiment with it? 

Saurabh: Before jumping onto feedback as a means to drive performance, let’s understand what performance management systems essentially entails — 

  • An effective PMS guides team members and helps them live up to their potential and to further grow their potential
  • It helps them understand what they're doing, what is going well for them and what they should do more of, their areas of development, etc.
  • Performance management processes also help managers develop high-performing teams

In this understanding of performance management systems, feedback plays an important role. 

Even if an organization finds itself stretched for resources and seeks to reduce the administrative load, it can still replace formal annual reviews with more candid conversations

Offering employees feedback and recognition is extremely important. It can play a major role in letting employees know that you value them and are willing to invest in them. This small act of taking out time for feedback by a manager makes an employee feel valued. Thus, to drive performance, even if you are stretched for resources, honest, considerate feedback can take you a long way.  

Question: Do you think feedback needs to be a regular process? 

Saurabh— Undoubtedly, feedback is an ongoing process. However, while feedback should be given as regularly as possible, there should be enough time given to synthesize it too. For instance, as a manager if you are giving honest and sincere feedback to your team members on a daily basis, you need to pause and reflect on the volume of feedback that the employee will receive at the end of a month or so. 

Read: Everything you need to know about continuous feedback

Thus, in addition to giving feedback, managers need to help people synthesize and make sense of the feedback for growth. Furthermore, the regular feedback must melt into the annual reviews. The feedback from different situations must collectively help evaluate employee performance on different goals and create a comprehensive development plan. 

Furthermore, feedback needs to go beyond being just a corrective measure where managers share the areas of improvement and highlight the weaknesses and gaps in performance. Employee feedback needs to also be a reinforcement tool to illustrate to employees certain behaviors that need to continue, focusing on positive psychology. This will help your team members identify their strengths.  

Read: What, when and how of 360 degree feedback (free templates inside)

Question: What are the best practices for incorporating feedback as a part of the performance management system?  Do you recommend any templates?

Saurabh— There are different aspects that feedback needs to look at:

  • First, feedback needs to talk about the goals to create a foundation for telling team members about their strengths and areas of improvement. 
  • Second, feedback must be actionable and there the Start Stop Continue framework comes in. It helps managers align team members on what behaviors and actions are relevant and should continue, which ones might be derailing performance and need to be eliminated and which ones need to be learnt from scratch. 
The moment you add action items to the overall feedback, it becomes very powerful.

Furthermore, I believe that one should not get overly carried away by templates because: 

  • Most HR professionals are expected to manage things at scale with stretched timelines, focus on ensuring compliance and getting carried away by templates makes the job harder.
  • It doesn’t matter if a person does not fill every box in that particular order. What’s important is what the employee is  taking away from that.
  • The Start Stop Continue framework fits in well as it gives you just three boxes. Now in those three boxes write what appeals to you, write what makes sense to you. It doesn’t have to be as per a prescribed note or template. 
  • Getting too carried away with templates, with terminologies, with jargon etc. makes us lose sight of the overall intent and performance management systems. 

Question: Who do you think the onus of feedback should lay with and should it be a part of a mandatory process or a voluntary activity between the manager and the employee? 

Saurabh— I believe that despite the best intentions, managers and employees can lose track of the importance of feedback in the light of other business priorities, unless it’s part of a process. To facilitate the same, people managers should have a dual focus: 

How to illustrate the importance of feedback

  • Managers need to help people understand the importance of feedback and performance management systems
  • Feedback should be seen as something that employees seek and not something that is thrust upon them
  • Create a timeline to ensure that intentions translate into impact and avoid gaps when giving feedback 
  • Focus on creating a culture of feedback

How to follow up and track progress after feedback

  • There needs to be an element of tracking and follow up to make feedback effective
  • Nudge managers to remind them to have conversations with team members from time to time
  • Leveraging technology is a great way to automate nudges and schedule follow-ups 

Employee Performance Reviews 

Question: Are performance reviews important and what is the intent behind them? 

Saurabh— Undoubtedly, reviews are important because they:  

  • Close the loop from where you started out with goal setting
  • Help inform employees at the end of the year to understand how they performed against their goals 
  • Highlight strengths, development areas, focal points for the next performance cycle

Invariably, performance reviews often become the basis for increments and bonus. In fact, in recent times, reviews and increments are seen to go hand in hand where performance management has boiled down to a reflection of the increment for the employee.  

That’s not what performance management systems seek to achieve. To break this cycle, organizations are focusing on having different performance management and increment conversations, to illustrate that performance management is much larger than the salary increments.  

Understanding ratings and increments

Increments should be based on one’s capability and its value in the market. Whereas, proficiency in performance should be seen as growth through the learning phase of a particular role where consistently exceeding expectations should be understood as being in the expert level for that role, and, therefore, a related increment 

Furthermore, with the rise in market correction and other related trends, organizations are moving away from specific increments ranges linked to ratings. Thus, there needs to be a focus on using the performance conversation to assess the proficiency level of a team member and determine their pay range. 

Increment is related to performance but it's not a direct translation. Bonuses, on the other hand, tend to be for previous year’s performance and therefore, there is a direct linkage of your bonus payout to your rating.  

In addition to increments and bonuses, reviews also need to focus on the career movement.   

Thus, performance review at the end of the year should cover goal achievement, strengths, development areas and proficiency for the role. Based on this, increments, bonuses, career movements, etc. can be direct or related outcomes. 

Read: How to strategically align compensation with performance management 

Question: How can organizations position performance reviews as a development activity rather than an assessment for increments? 

Saurabh— There are two steps that need to be taken into consideration.

Break down the conversations

  • Undertake performance review and then internally discuss and align on the increments 
  • Conduct the increment conversation after a few weeks or even a month

Give ratings the right way

  • Give ratings in the right way to prevent losing track
  • Communicate ratings to team members in a way that it doesn’t take away from the impact of the performance conversation 
  • Focus on what employees need to develop and not on the rationale behind the poor rating
  • Focus on talking about performance on each goal rather than justifying how cumulatively the rating was reached
  • Share the key areas of improvement and the key areas of leverage more

While ratings are important for compensation management, performance calibration, etc. at scale, that's an internal administrative process. That doesn’t have to be the primary goal of the performance review which should focus on areas of strength and areas to develop and not on labels. 

When it comes to justifying the increment, organizations should focus on the employee’s proficiency for the role because that is the basis of the new salary

Read: Top 10 performance review tips for managers 

Question: What is the ideal frequency for the employee review cycle to balance effectiveness and administrative overheads? 

Saurabh— There's no one size fits all. What's more important is to ensure that once the frequency is set, it is adhered to. If not, it will lead to a feeling of being undervalued by the employee. 

Here’s where the HR needs to play a little bit of a balancing act. Put simply, if HR professionals are spending all their time on ensuring feedback, synthesizing it and doing performance check-ins, there will be no time left for other work.  

If organizations are able make  performance check ins or the performance discussions quick, regular and not overly taxing in terms of the huge amounts of documentation, etc., then quarterly actually is still a great frequency

Three months is a good amount of time to observe a person's performance and to be able to synthesize feedback and give them the larger picture. However, if that’s not viable, performance reviews need to be done six monthly. It's in the organization’s best interest to make sure that that person does well and the more frequent feedback is delivered, the more they will get a chance for course correction, the better it is. 

Question: How can organizations make the process of performance reviews simple and make them more frequent? 

Saurabh— There are two components at play here, the stakeholders and parameters.

Identifying the stakeholders

  • Focus should be on who are the stakeholders that are giving feedback
  • Adopt a 360 degree feedback strategy as there are a lot of things that the manager may not be aware of, and therefore, it's important to get multi stakeholder feedback 
  • Select stakeholders from across the entire spectrum, but not in large numbers to ensure time and resource efficiency

Parameters for review

  • Relook at the traditional 360 degree feedback questions 
  • Reflect on how easy or difficult it is for a person to objectively give that feedback
  • Make reviews simple to the level where parameters are observable and people can easily comment on, limiting it to 3-4 questions

Question: What best practices would you recommend for organizations that are setting up their performance management systems? 

Saurabh— I would like to share three takeaways:

  • First, understand the spirit of performance management as a means to help people develop and get better at what they're doing and not see it as a tool to distribute the compensation budget. As organizations have invested in hiring people, it is in their best interest to facilitate development for them to foster organizational success. 
  • Second, try to keep things as simple as possible. Ensure that performance management is adopted by employees because they see value in it and not because it has been forced down upon them. It is important to maintain simplicity and ensure value to the team member who is getting feedback or whose performance is being managed. 
  • Third, compensation increments should not be the reason that employees focus on performance management and efforts must be taken to de-link the two. 

Suggested Reading

All you need to know about managing employee performance

11 performance management problems

10 employee performance review tips for managers

Complete guide to 360 degree feedback

Garima Shukla

Marketing, SuperBeings

Hello world! I am Garima and I research and write on everything we are doing to make the world of work a better place at SuperBeings

Latest posts

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How to write 360 feedback questions: 50+ examples and free template

If you are trying to design a continuous and comprehensive performance management system, you would know the importance of conducting a 360 degree feedback. However, to make this exercise most effective, you need to go beyond simply involving everyone in the process to getting the process right — most importantly asking the right feedback questions to each stakeholder. This article will focus on how to write 360 feedback questions that create maximum organizational impact. 

What to include in your 360 feedback questions?

Let us quickly start by understanding what you must include in your 360 feedback questions to make it more effective.

  1. Focus on performance related as well as personality oriented questions 
  2. Ensure they do not send the person answering the question on a wild goose chase, make them relevant
  3. Eliminate any form of bias that might come along the way
  4. Cover different aspects of employee’s contribution and commitment to the organization
  5. Focus on aspects of how the employees see themselves, how their managers, peers as well as others see them

Read: How and when to conduct 360 degree feedback

How to write excellent 360 degree feedback questions? 

Without wasting any time, let’s dive into the 10 tips that can help you in writing excellent and effective 360 feedback questions.

1. Keep the questions simple

Keep the language easy to understand and avoid using technical jargon. Make sure everyone is able to gauge the same meaning of the question and the focus is not lost in translation.

2. Build on them throughout the year

Keep adding the questions list for your next 360 degree feedback to your records throughout the year. 

Since 360 feedback should focus on all aspects of an employee, if you add questions at different times, they will be more relevant

3. Frame the questions in a bias free manner

Ensure that the questions don’t have an inherent bias or don’t push or influence the respondent to answer in a specific manner. Make sure that the questions can have varied options as answers and not a singular focus because that’s what you want as a result. Furthermore, the questions should not create a bias in the mind of the reader of any kind. 

4. Be specific

Focus on one specific attribute or competency for each question. Don’t try to include everything in a single question to keep the number of 360 feedback questions low. You will end up receiving responses for only a part of the question and it will confuse the respondent too. For instance, if you want to talk about collaboration, do not couple it with factors like leadership skills or problem solving. 

5. Identify competencies that matter

Before you start framing the questions, identify the key competencies that are most important for your organization as well as the role. Competencies could include communication, innovation, strategic thinking, etc. 

6. Check the relevance of the questions to the role and organization

Make sure that as a whole, all the questions cover all aspects you want to gauge the employee on from an organizational and functional role perspective. However, don’t overstuff too many competencies, keep them relevant to the employee in question. For instance, a person in sales may not need a question on technology knowledge as a part of 360 feedback questions. 

7. Be clear on the objective of each question

In addition to being specific, be clear on what you wish to gauge or understand with every question you ask. For instance, a question on whether or not the employee pays heed to the opinion of others can help understand the level of active listening and a spirit of inclusion. 

8. Choose the right type of questions

You need to have a fair balance between open ended and close ended questions. 

  • The close-ended 360 feedback questions will help you gauge the pulse of the organization as a whole, analyze trends and have clear data points to focus on. 
  • The open ended questions will enable you to get a context and understanding behind the trends and get deep down insights to taking strategic action. 

9. Make the process easy

A very long or complicated process is likely to reduce participation and defeat the purpose. Therefore, keep the count of 360 feedback questions to a maximum of 30-40 and make it very easy to participate and complete the same. Preferably, disseminate it through your existing communication/ collaboration tools. 

10. Ensure evaluation is simple

Finally, make sure that the questions are framed in a way that is simple to evaluate. Too complex evaluations might take too much time and delay the action and execution, leading to reduced faith and impact on 360 degree feedback. 

Best 360 feedback questions for different contexts: 50+ examples

To ensure that your questions are relevant and specific, you can start with writing 360 feedback questions for different situations and contexts. Put simply, in this section, we will focus on what you should be asking and when. It will also help you in picking the right questions for the right employees, instead of bombarding everyone with the same questions.

8 questions to measure manager effectiveness

These questions will help you understand what your team members think about the overall management at your organization and the effectiveness of specific team leadership.
  1. What are some areas of improvement for your manager?
  2. Do you receive adequate mentorship from your manager?
  3. Does the manager treat all employees fairly and with respect?
  4. Is the manager able to encourage and motivate the team effectively?
  5. Is your manager able to address challenges and problems you come across?
  6. Does the manager provide a clear understanding of what needs to be done and why?
  7. Does your manager provide you with the resources needed to accomplish the tasks delegated?
  8. Does your manager create a safe and inclusive environment to work? Elaborate with some instances.

8 questions to understand how well your employees are communicating

These questions can help you understand the level of communication efficiency in your organization to ensure there is no gap between intention and execution.

  1. How well does the employee listen to the task/work?
  2. Does the employee welcome conversation and discussion?
  3. Does the employee share his/her ideas with a larger group?
  4. Is the employee open to opinions/ suggestions made by others?
  5. How well is the employee able to communicate with the coworkers?
  6. Is the employee comfortable in giving presentations/ demonstrations?
  7. Is the employee able to communicate clearly with customers? Illustrate with a few instances.
  8. Do you think the employee understands your instructions and clarifies in case of confusion?

8 questions to identify potential leaders

Use these questions to identify and nurture employees that show leadership potential to build an effective succession pipeline.

  1. Do you think the employee can make critical decisions?
  2. How well is the employee able to perform under pressure?
  3. Does the employee take ownership and initiative of projects?
  4. Is the employee able to mentor and guide others in the team?
  5. Are you able to rely on the employee in case of an emergency?
  6. Does the employee take leadership in projects? Elaborate with an example.
  7. Is the employee able to address challenges and problems for other team members?
  8. Does the employee invest time and energy into picking up leadership and other skills?

8 questions to measure the level of motivation and commitment

These questions can help you understand how committed your employees are towards the organization, which will impact their level of engagement and quality of work. 

  1. Do you think the employee is giving their 100%?
  2. Does the employee motivate others in the team?
  3. Does the employee voluntarily ask for more work?
  4. Does the employee show motivation towards his/her work?
  5. How do you gauge the level of motivation for the employee?
  6. Has the employee been vocal about what he/she feels most motivated about?
  7. Does the employee go out of the way to finish their work/ help others? Give an example.
  8. Is the employee’s level of motivation consistent or does it vary based on different factors like nature of tasks, time of the year, etc.? Elaborate.

8 questions to understand the level of problem solving capabilities

You can leverage these questions when you wish to understand which employees are quick to think on their feet and will be able to address problems/ challenges that might come their way. 

  1. Is the employee able to recognize and evaluate a problem?
  2. Is the employee open to asking for help when a problem arises?
  3. Is the employee confident about navigating a problem independently?
  4. How open is the employee to different suggestions to problem solving?
  5. Does the employee offer solutions when you face a problem as a group?
  6. Does the employee take ownership of executing solutions to the problems?
  7. Has the employee been able to come up with solutions that have been implemented effectively?
  8. How innovatively or creatively is the employee able to come up with solutions? Share a few examples.

8 questions to know how well your organization and employees are aligned

These questions can help you gauge the level of alignment between what your organization stands for and the core values/ beliefs of your employees. 

  1. Does the employee’s behavior reflect company values?
  2. Does the employee understand the organizational goals?
  3. Is the employee aware about the core values of the company?
  4. Is the employee passionate about what the organization does?
  5. Is the employee open to aligning his/her goals with organizational goals?
  6. Does the employee make an effort to contribute beyond their annual KPIs?
  7. Is there an alignment between the company and employee goals? Elaborate.
  8. Does the employee understand the rationale and purpose behind each value?

Read: Strategic goal alignment: How to align team and organizational goals

8 questions to measure the interpersonal skills

Focus on these questions when you want to understand how well your employees are able to connect with their peers and other stakeholders.

  1. Is the employee easy to collaborate with?
  2. Is the employee a team player? Elaborate.
  3. Does the employee foster a culture of inclusion?
  4. How well is the employee able to connect with others?
  5. Is the employee willing to make extra efforts to help others out?
  6. Does the employee believe in open discussion with the entire team?
  7. Does the employee show empathy and compassion for team members?
  8. How often does the employee have conflict with others? How does he/she resolve the same?

8 questions to gauge the efficiency of your team members   

These final set of questions can help you gauge how efficiently the employees are able to get work done. This points to the presence of the right skills to utilize resources in the best way possible.

  1. How efficient is the employee? Give examples
  2. Does the employee utilize resources efficiently?
  3. Is the employee able to finish his/her work on time?
  4. Is the efficiency of the employee consistent over time?
  5. Does the employee meet the expected quality of work?
  6. Is the employee able to augment efficiency for all tasks?
  7. Has the employee shown any improvement in processes?
  8. Has the employee been able to facilitate efficiency across the team?

Free template for 360 feedback questions

To keep the entire survey with 360 degree feedback questions interesting and engaging, you can experiment with different question formats and templates. While some of your questions can have simple Yes/No answers, some can have multiple choices along with room for providing open ended answers as well. Here is an easy to follow template you can leverage.

  • Pick a key competency
  • Identify attributes for the competency
  • Create a spectrum of responses
  • Supplement it with open ended questions

Example of 360 feedback questions template

Key competency: Strategic decision making

Top line: The employee/ subject name is able to


  1. Make decisions under pressure
  2. Consider all possible outcomes and scenarios
  3. Bring everyone onboard and facilitate collaborative decision making


  1. Strongly agree
  2. Agree
  3. Neither agree or disagree
  4. Disagree
  5. Strongly disagree

Open ended questions

  1. Share a few instances where the employee has been able to make strategic decisions for the organization
  2. What are key areas to improve for the employee as a strategic decision maker?

How to ensure validity and reliability of a 360 degree feedback report?

Once you roll out the survey with your 360 feedback questions and receive the answers, you need to analyze the responses to come up with a final report and plan of action. However, any response analysis is subject to biases and other factors which might put the validity and reliability of the report into question. Fortunately, you can leverage these following practices to eliminate such instances:

  • Create a team of at least 8-10 reviewers from diverse backgrounds, teams and experiences
  • Have a clear and uniform process of analysis based on a fair understanding of different meanings
  • Cross analyze responses among different reviewers to ensure a consistency of understanding
  • Create the report and take it back to a small group of employees to gauge whether or not they align and agree with the results and next steps
  • Encourage greater discussion on open ended questions

360 degree feedback FAQs: Common concerns for managers answered

Before concluding this article, we would like to discuss the top 8 questions that most managers have when it comes to 360 degree feedback, highlighting concerns they may be having.

1. How to encourage team members to rate their peers?

Highlight how the performance and feedback on the performance of others is likely to have an impact on their performance too. Make them believe they can be an integral part of the growth journey for their team members.

2. How to ensure accurate ratings and feedback?

Make the feedback anonymous to prevent sugar coating. At the same time, do not rely upon a single review as the ultimate feedback for any employee. Analyze at least 2-3 feedback responses for each employee to get the real picture. 

3. How to make the process time effective?

Leverage technology platforms to roll out the surveys and collect responses. Furthermore, you can rely on the NLP sentiment analysis to gauge insights from open ended questions in addition to trend generation based on quantitative questions. 

Check out how SuperBeings can help you conduct seamless 360 degree feedback. Book a free demo today

4. How to increase participation?

Highlight the positive impact of participation as a whole. Make it an interesting part of the employee lifecycle. Provide employees designated time within their work schedule to provide feedback. Do not make it an added burden. Additionally, keep the process simple with not a lot of questions at once. 

5. Should the 360 feedback process be anonymous?

Depending on the nature of the organization you can decide on the level of anonymity. Facilitate anonymity will help you fetch greater and more authentic responses. However, sometimes, you might struggle with context in this case. Therefore, you should adopt an approach of flexible/ partial anonymity.

6. How to secure leadership commitment?

Create a business case for 360 degree feedback. Illustrate how it can lead to a better employee experience, strategic learning and development, greater employee retention and other aspects which can lead to better performance and productivity. 

7. How to prevent biased responses?

Ensure that your questions are neutral and don’t lead to a specific sentiment or response. For instance, if you want to gauge punctuality for an employee, don’t use statements like do you think the employee is always late to work, rather focus on how would you rate the punctuality and sense of time for the employee?

8. How to prevent recency bias?

Try to conduct 360 feedback on a regular basis and not wait for the end of the year to ask all the questions. Maintain a cadence to gauge responses. 

Wrapping Up

As we end this discussion, it is clear that if you want to write 360 feedback questions in an effective way — you need to adopt an all encompassing approach, taking into account the different aspects of employee attributes, performance, personality and behavior. 

It is, therefore, ideal to leverage platforms like SuperBeings to help you roll out, gather and analyze the responses using NLP and automation for best results. You can leverage our best practices to not only get the questions right but to also enable your managers to facilitate employee development at the end of the process. 

If interested, feel free to book a demo today. No initial commitment required.

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100+ Most Useful Self Appraisal Comments for Your Next Performance Review

In the recent years, there has been a lot of attention that is being given to employee feedback, performance reviews and evaluation as a part of the whole performance management system

While a major focus has been to prepare managers to give feedback in a constructive and effective manner, paying attention to employee self evaluation is equally important. Knowing what self appraisal comments to use can play a major role in helping employees to effectively reflect and evaluate their performance and convey it effectively to the rest of the team. 

Purpose of self appraisal

The purposes of employee evaluation and performance review in general have been talked about time and again. However, self appraisal takes the process of evaluation at a very personal and individual level, leading to a more pronounced understanding of an employee’s performance. Some of the top benefits of employee self assessment include:

  • Getting a true reflection of the contribution an employee perceives he/she has made to the organization
  • Ensuring that the employee formally makes an effort to evaluate their developmental areas
  • Facilitating self awareness for employees to ensure they are able to see the true picture
  • Helping the employees navigate their next steps in the professional journey

Read: Employee self assessment: How to write a great one 

Benefits of self appraisal for the team and manager

In the section above, we have talked about the purpose or the need of self evaluation mostly from the perspective of the employee. However, self appraisal, when done correctly, has equally compelling benefits for the team as well as managers. A quick snapshot is captured below:

1. Higher engagement

With self appraisal, employees become active participants in their review and appraisal process, rather than simply being passive recipients. Consequently, they feel valued, motivated and the level of engagement increases. Furthermore, with greater engagement, levels of commitment, retention and productivity go up. 

2. Greater alignment

When employees take a step back to reflect on their performance with self appraisal, they become more receptive to diverse ideas. Put simply, in the absence of self reflection, they will have a hard time gauging where they need to improve. Consequently, they will be defensive when a manager or the team gives them feedback on the same. However, self evaluation will help them accept the gaps and be open to learning and growing. 

3. Development of a problem solving mindset

When employees reflect on their performance and identify the development areas, they will don a problem solving hat on to accelerate their professional journey. Through the course of time, this problem solving attribute will become a part of their skill set which will benefit the team and the manager greatly. 

4. Higher accountability

As a result of greater alignment due to self reflection on the strengths and areas of development, teams will see a greater sense of accountability to bridge the gaps identified. Under conventional circumstances, performance improvement might be seen as just a tick in the box by employees. However, after self appraisal, employees truly acknowledge and accept the need to bridge those gaps and take greater ownership and accountability. 

100+ self appraisal comments 

Now that you have an understanding of why self appraisal matters, let’s quickly look at how to make it most effective. If you are experimenting with self evaluation for the first time, it can be an overwhelming activity for your employees. It is human nature to feel uneasy when you’re expected to evaluate your own performance. However, if you provide your employees with some comments they can use for self evaluation as a starting point, you can make the journey easier for them. 

Put simply, self appraisal comments are common statements that can be customized by your employees during the self evaluation process, especially, if they find themselves at a loss of words to describe their performance

These phrases are available for both strengths and areas of development to help employees paint a realistic picture of their performance. Here are the top 100 self appraisal phrases that you can use for different performance parameters.

1. Communication phrases

Use these self phrases to reflect on your clarity of communication, willingness to listen to others, etc. 

Positive self appraisal comments

  1. I am able to clearly share my ideas and opinions with the team 
  2. I keep my team members duly informed about my work and progress
  3. I ensure that I respond to all emails in a timely and professional manner
  4. I actively listen to and comprehend what others have to say
  5. I excel at storytelling and presenting my ideas in front of a large audience

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. I find it difficult to get the right words to express my views
  2. I am able to write down my thoughts well, but struggle to communicate them verbally
  3. I hesitate in communicating my ideas to the top leadership
  4. I get overwhelmed when I have to present to a large group
  5. I need to work more on my email writing skills

2. Reliability phrases

These self evaluation phrases reflect how reliable or dependable you are for your team members, especially under special circumstances.

Positive self appraisal comments

  1. I diligently follow up on the work allotted to me
  2. I have been able to meet 80% of the deadlines and have proactively informed about delays with the reason for all other times
  3. I promptly respond to emails 
  4. I have an organized to-do list to ensure no work falls through the cracks
  5. I ensure high quality of work consistently

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. I struggle to meet the deadlines more than 60% of the times
  2. I find it hard to deal with multiple tasks at once
  3. I get overwhelmed when the entire project depends upon me
  4. My goal is to deliver at least 70% of the projects on time
  5. I seek to be more proactive in communicating any delays to the leadership team

3. Ownership and initiative phrases

Using these self appraisal phrases can help indicate how invested or engaged you are in taking ownership of work without being asked to at times. 

Positive self appraisal comments

  1. I like to participate in activities beyond my KRAs
  2. I have taken ownership of at least 40% new projects allocated to our team
  3. I am the first person in the team to raise my hand for something new
  4. I enjoy spending 15-20% of my time on projects that I manage end to end
  5. I took the ownership of the biggest client last quarter and the sales went up by 10%

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. I often shy away from taking responsibility and ownership of any project
  2. I restrain myself to being a contributor than taking ownership and managing projects
  3. I intend to take ownership of at least 1 new project in the next quarter
  4. I find it difficult to take part in activities beyond my defined work
  5. I intend to seek support from my manager to help me in getting over the phobia of underperforming when given the ownership 

Similar Read: 150+ performance review phrases for managers 

4. Attendance phrases

The following self appraisal comments are important to help review your performance on the basis of how punctual and attentive you are.

Positive self appraisal comments

  1. I always arrive office on time
  2. I attend all meetings and inform in advance in case I am not able to attend any
  3. I respect other people’s time and ensure that all my meetings start and end on time
  4. I plan my time off in advance and inform my team members about the same
  5. I do not take unnecessary breaks during office hours

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. I seek to be on work every time, and bridge the occasional gap that exists right now
  2. I intend to plan all my vacation days in advance
  3. I will ensure that I plan my meetings in advance with a clear agenda to ensure they don’t last longer than intended
  4. I sometimes get carried away during breaks, I will ensure that I adhere to the break schedules
  5. I will account for different factors and leave house early to reach office on time

5. Teamwork phrases

Use these self evaluation phrases when you want to highlight your strengths/ areas of improvement of working with the team, your collaboration skills, etc.

Positive self appraisal comments

  1. I go out of the way to ensure that my team members are able to deliver their best
  2. I actively seek inputs from all team members on every project
  3. I actively participate in brainstorming sessions and team discussions
  4. I encourage other team members to share their perspectives
  5. I get along with almost everyone in the team

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. I find it a little difficult to mix up with all the team members
  2. I will work on my confidence to share my ideas with the team
  3. Occasionally, I tend to overlook the ideas shared by others, which I will work towards
  4. I will focus on delegating work correctly to ensure maximum impact
  5. I will attend most of the team meetings and participate actively

6. Creativity phrases

Creativity self appraisal comments can help you in reflecting on how effectively you are able to come up with novel and innovative solutions to challenges and new ideas to augment the impact and value created.

Positive self appraisal comments

  1. I am able to pivot my priorities and come up with new ideas based on changes in a project requirement
  2. I like to experiment with new ways of addressing a problem 
  3. In the last quarter, I came up with a new marketing solution that increased our organic traffic by 15%
  4. I am able to think out of the box even in pressure situations
  5. While I rely on standard processes, I am not afraid of taking the risk to try something unique that can lead to better results

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Occasionally, I find it difficult to break free from the established process for any task
  2. I feel that at times, I restrain my creativity in the face of practicality
  3. In the next quarter, I will focus on accepting new ideas and ways of work
  4. Sometimes I make the situation more complex by adding too much creativity, when only a simple solution is needed
  5. I tend to shy away from sharing my innovative solutions, preventing higher impact

7. Attention to detail phrases

The following phrase can create a picture of your quality of work and how much attention you pay while undertaking a particular task during your self reflection process. 

Positive self appraisal comments

  1. I check all my work at least 3 times before submitting
  2. I have a detailed to do list to ensure nothing falls through the cracks
  3. Most of the work I deliver has negligible errors
  4. I am extremely patient with each project I work on to deliver the best
  5. I ensure delivering consistent quality of work in at least 90% of the projects

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. When I am working on multiple projects, I tend to miss out on attention to detail
  2. Occasionally, when I am in a hurry, I tend to overlook minor errors
  3. I miss proofreading my work at times
  4. I find it hard to prioritize work, leading to some inaccuracies at times
  5. I aspire to become more organized in the near future to ensure all requirements are taken care of

8. Job knowledge phrases

You can use these self appraisal comments to illustrate how well you understand what is expected out of you and how well you are able to deliver on the same. 

Positive self appraisal comments

  1. I have a clear understanding of what I am expected to do as a part of my role
  2. I understand the value my work is able to contribute to the overall organizational success
  3. I was able to meet 80% of my OKRs in the last quarter
  4. I stay updated on the latest trends and insights in my field
  5. I take up training and upskilling every quarter to stay relevant for my role

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. Due to a multifunctional role, I find it difficult at times to understand the expectations
  2. I sometimes struggle to explain to others what I do
  3. I am not sure how I am able to create an impact for the organization
  4. I seek to increase meeting my job expectations by meeting at least 70% OKRs in the next quarter
  5. Occasionally, I find myself unprepared for the role, and plan to take up courses to address the same

9. Customer satisfaction phrases

Customer satisfaction self evaluation performance phrases help gauge how effectively you are able to address customer requests or complaints that leads to a higher Net Promoter Score, brand credibility, etc. 

Positive self appraisal comments

  1. I respond to all customer queries within 24 hours
  2. I have been constantly receiving high remarks on customer satisfaction surveys 
  3. I am always calm and patient when dealing with customer complaints
  4. I have been able to increase the customer lifetime value for my customers by 15% in the last year
  5. I am able to answer difficult questions for customers in a professional manner

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. At times, I find it difficult to respond to customers in a timely manner
  2. I intend to ensure that I become more patient while dealing with customer complaints
  3. I sometimes get overwhelmed when a customer raises an objection, which I seek to overcome
  4. While I am able to handle customer service over phone/email, I intend to achieve the same for in-person customers
  5. I intend to improve my score on customer satisfaction surveys by at least 10% in this quarter

10. Growth and development phrases

Finally, these self-appraisal comments can help you highlight your growth plans towards your professional development and impact on the organization.

Positive self appraisal comments

  1. I set personal growth plans every month to ensure a healthy balance
  2. I have taken 2 trainings in the past quarter
  3. I have a clear 5 year vision for my career and am taking ‘abc’ steps towards it
  4. By the end of the year, I plan to complete 5 trainings in my domain
  5. I believe learning and development is integral to success

Phrases that indicate need for improvement

  1. I sometimes find it difficult to make time to upskill myself
  2. In this quarter, I will try to take up at least two courses on technical skills
  3. I struggle to identify the right courses for my skill set
  4. I tend to leave trainings in between occasionally
  5. In this quarter, I will focus on creating a professional development plan for myself

Self appraisal template 

With a broad understanding of the more than 100+ self appraisal comments that you can use as a part of your self evaluation process, let’s move to this concluding section. Here, we will focus on sharing a few templates that employees can use to articulate their performance in an effective manner. 

The self evaluation phrases mentioned above can be added at the right places in these templates to give a holistic picture of one’s performance. A few things to focus on include:

  • What you did
  • What was the result
  • What was the overall impact
  • What were your learnings
  • What are some areas of improvement

Template 1: Positive impact

In the last <performance period>, I have successfully <activity/ initiative undertaken> which led to <tangible impact (metrics)> for the organization. 

My focus was on <a detailed view of everything that was done> which resulted in <accomplishments>. 

Overall, I believe that I have been able to create an impact by achieving <top 3 achievements> and seek to amplify the same in the future. 

Template 2: Areas of improvement

I believe that the last <performance period> has been full of learning and development for me. 

While I was able to <quick snapshot of achievements>, I acknowledge that I need to pay attention to <areas of improvement>. 

I believe that this focus will help me <intended outcome for improvement>. 

Towards this, I will ensure that I consistently work towards <improvement plan (courses, behavioral changes)> to achieve <SMART goal>. 

Wrapping Up

That said, self appraisal is an extremely crucial step of performance review. As a manager you must encourage your team members to provide honest reflection on their performance without being afraid of any negative consequences. Apart from providing the self appraisal comments mentioned above, you can also use assessment tools to make self appraisal a common practice within the organization. 

Custom Pulse Surveys by SuperBeings can help you with understanding their needs and help you support them better. If interested, book a free demo today.

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Employee Self Assessment: How to Write a Great One

Holistic performance reviews are integral for any organization that seeks to create a high performance culture. However, the nature of performance appraisals has undergone significant transformation with a focus on 360 feedback and review. 

One of the key pillars for the same is employee self assessment and self appraisal. Through the course of this article, we will share with you why self assessment is important and how you, as a manager, can help your employees get it right to facilitate maximum impact. 

Decoding the meaning and importance of self assessment

As the name suggests, employee self assessment or self reflection is the practice or process where employees reflect on and assess their performance over a period of time to identify accomplishments, development areas and other performance aspects

The aim of self assessment is to get the employees’ view of their performance and add the information and data to manager and peer feedback. This can enable organizations to get a holistic understanding of the employee performance and gauge the overall contribution, some of which might be invisible from a macro view. Here are a few reasons why employee self assessment as a tool for performance review makes sense for growing organization:

  • Understand employee’s side of the performance story on what has been their greatest contribution, blockers, development areas, etc. 
  • Gauge aspirations of the employees to align OKRs and engagement plans to facilitate high levels of performance
  • Enable employees to reflect on their contribution as well as challenges faced by them to get an understanding of where they stand in the overall organizational vision
  • Help managers gauge employee strengths and identify accomplishments that may not be overtly visible
  • Empower managers to bridge the gap between their perception of the employee performance and the self reflection of the employee 

When is the ideal time for employee self assessment?

With the rise of continuous performance management and regular review and appraisal, your self assessment process should follow a similar approach. 

Instead of pushing employees to assess and reflect on their performance at the end of the year, you should encourage them to conduct regular self assessment

On one hand, regular and continuous performance linked self appraisal by employees will ensure that no part of their performance goes unnoticed. On the other hand, it will constantly give them a chance to reflect on their performance and improve on the development areas on the go, instead of waiting for the year end. Invariably, they will embark on the path of development and improvement at an accelerated pace. 

Here, if you leverage employee pulse surveys which are short and frequent in nature, you can ensure consistent and continuous self reflection from employees. With as frequent as one question a day, you can encourage your employees to build a culture of performance-oriented self assessment. 

How can employees get self assessment right

With self assessment and reflection being a fairly new practice to performance management, many organizations and employees struggle with getting it right. 

While some believe that employees might see it as a chance to explain their bad performance, others believe that it might end up biasing the manager’s perspective. 

However, when done right, employee self assessment can be an extremely powerful tool to facilitate a high performance culture. Here are a few tips to get your employees conduct performance self assessment the right way:

1. Be open and honest

Encourage your employees to be open and honest. Employees must not see self assessment as a place for self aggrandizing in the hope of a better rating, rather an honest assessment of one’s performance. 

For self evaluation to be effective, your employees need to reflect on their performance without the worry of being penalized for identifying areas of development and improvement 

It is important to not see self assessment as the sole foundation for promotions and appraisals, but rather as a journey towards growth. 

2. Reflect on the OKRs

Next, persuade your employees to reflect on their OKR performance. The idea is not only to assess what has been achieved with OKR grading. It should also include reflections from OKRs about the possible enablers and blockers to further refine them for the next performance period. The employee must be guided to reflect on what helped achieve the OKRs and what other support is required as well as what he or she would personally like to work towards. 

Download: Free OKR grading template

3. Incorporate feedback from managers and peers

Third, when self assessing for performance review, employees must incorporate feedback from their conversations with managers and peers. If your organization has a culture of regular 1:1s, this will be very easy for your workforce. The idea here is to motivate your employees to reflect on what feedback they have been able to gauge and whether or not according to them their performance is a reflection of the same. 360 degree feedback can also be a helpful tool for employees to understand all aspects of their performance.

Factors like what did the manager praise about their performance or what did a coworker thank them for are very important for self assessment. 

Read: Top 50 1:1 meeting questions for great managers

4. Identify challenges and opportunities

Finally, as a part of performance review self assessment, employees need to reflect on the challenges and opportunities, both internal and external. Internally, they need to assess their attributes, skill sets and aspirations and align them with the expectations to gauge their level of performance. Similarly, external factors like resources, team support and their impact on performance needs to be documented. 

Best practices to write employee self assessment

When you share these above mentioned tips with your team members, they are bound to ask questions about the best practices for writing or filling up self assessment surveys in the most effective way. We have you covered for that as well. Here are a few quick tips to help your employees write effective self assessment:

  • Be focused and get to the point of reflecting on your performance quickly
  • Do not shy away from appreciating or praising yourself, be an advocate for yourself
  • Illustrate your USP as a part of your team i.e. be specific about what sets you apart
  • Clearly highlight your contribution — towards a project, to overall team work, etc.
  • Use figures and data wherever possible
  • Highlight the impact of your work, it could be in the form of more sales, stronger pipeline, etc. depending on your role
  • Reflect on your OKRs to see what you were able to achieve and what you couldn’t, document the reasons
  • Clearly mention your development areas, it will help your managers see that you are open to suggestions

Read: How to go from performance management to employee development 

Employee self assessment questions and templates

If you look at these best practices closely, you will realize that the key to writing effective self assessment also lies in the questions that you ask. 

Simply asking an open ended question like reflecting on your performance will seldom yield any substantial responses, mainly because your team members will struggle with starting their answers

Therefore, we have compiled a list of questions and potential answer prompts/ templates to help you make self assessment a part of your performance review process effectively.

Top 10 self appraisal questions

  1. What are the key responsibilities you have taken up in the past <performance period>?
  2. How would you describe your performance in the said period?
  3. What have been your greatest accomplishments?
  4. What are the top 3 skills that have helped you excel professionally?
  5. What are a few skills that you would like to work on in the next 3-6 months?
  6. Have your goals changed over the past <performance period>? If yes, how?
  7. Have you been able to achieve your set goals?
  8. How do you plan to achieve your goals for the next <performance period>?
  9. What are some development areas that you have identified for yourself in the past <performance period>?
  10. How would achieving your goals impact your professional journey as well as the organization?
Also read: 150+ useful performance review phrases to start using today

Top 10 employee self assessment answer prompts

  1. I have been able to increase sales by x%
  2. I have maintained a response time of 24 hours for all stakeholders
  3. I helped and supported the efforts of an external team to help them reach their targets 
  4. I appraise my team members of my targets and updates on a weekly basis
  5. I exceeded my target by y%
  6. I believe I would benefit from <improvement area>
  7. In the coming months, I would like to focus more on <skills> to ensure <impact>
  8. I would like to do more of <development area>
  9. I believe refining my <development area> will help me leverage my <strength> better
  10. I wish to achieve <goal> and would work towards <development area> for the same

Role of managers in facilitating effective employee self assessment

Ensuring impact with self assessment is not only dependent on your team members. There are several ways in which managers of an organization can help build a culture of effective self evaluation. 

Create an open culture where employee self reflection does not become the sole tool to penalize or promote employees, see it as an extended glimpse of performance
  • Encourage your team members to reflect on their performance without the fear of it being used against them
  • Provide constant and regular feedback to enable employees to reflect on their performance in real time
  • Use the right tools to make employee self assessment a common practice across the organization
  • Do not comment on the self assessment for any employee as it being correct or incorrect
  • Create a dialogue around the self evaluation to understand the employee better and deliberate on each point, don’t assume

Wrapping up

As we come to an end, it is clear that employee self assessments are an integral part of performance reviews and if conducted in the right manner have the potential to drive a high performing culture. However, we understand that administering and facilitating participation for self assessment can be daunting, especially for a growing organization. 

Fortunately, custom pulse surveys by SuperBeings with automated sending and reminders, along with NLP based sentiment analysis can take care of the same for you. If interested, book a free demo today to learn more. 

Suggested Reading

How to use custom pulse surveys to enhance employee experience

How 360 degree feedback can help managers

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