6 Ways to Take the Dread Out of Writing Self-Appraisals

If your company conducts its performance appraisals on an annual calendar basis then the past month has likely had you knee-deep in the process. There’s an equally likely chance you are supposed to do a self-appraisal for your performance view as well. As a leader, do you dread this task because you’re so consumed with the process of getting your team’s reviews/IDP’s* done?

Here are six reasons people put off writing their self-appraisal and ideas for how to get “get the dread out” and get it done.


I don’t have time.

You’ve got the same 24 hours in a day that everybody else does. Rather than focusing on your lack of time, focus on why you’re putting off the task. Likely, the true explanation lies in one of the factors below. Check them out then form a game plan for getting some writing time on the calendar. It won’t get done until you make time to do it.

Our performance appraisal process is a joke.

There are those who say the current performance appraisal process is broken. There’s merit to that argument. As an organizational leader you have two choices: 1) Become a change agent and take up the gauntlet to help affect a positive, real improvement in the appraisal process in your company  2) Put on your big-kid pants and deal with it. Complaining about it is wasted breath.

My boss never gives me a performance review.

Yes, it’s frustrating when your boss isn’t setting a good example. Do you really want to follow suit? This is especially important if you are a leader of leaders. Decide you’ll be there for your team, even if you’re not getting the same courtesy from your boss.

Why bother? There’s a wage freeze.

C’mon, now, really? Look past the fact that there will be no money forthcoming during the appraisal process. Consider the reflection that you do during the self-appraisal as an investment in you— it’s your chance to get better at some aspect of your role. You can’t put a price tag on that.

I’ve been doing the same job for many years. It’s the same stuff, year after year.

This is a legitimate concern—to a point. Long-term, high-performing contributors do have to search harder to find something new to put on their IDP. But it can be done.  Eleanor Roosevelt said “Do one thing every day that scares you.” This is a great place to start on your quest for more interesting development plans. What one thing has been conveniently dropping off your professional-do list because it’s uncomfortable? Make this the year that it gets declared as a goal. Think of your sense of accomplishment when you complete that goal!

It’s been a rough year. I don’t really want to rehash it on paper.

Even top contributors have an off year. If you view it as a way to get it onto paper and into the history books, it may take some of the sting out of it. Even big project fiascos can teach us something, if we can just get past the downward pull of disappointment.

What other reasons are out there for a lack of interest in writing one’s self-appraisal? I’d love to hear them!


*Individual Development Plan. See Dan McCarthy’s fantastic primer on how to write an IDP at his blog Great Leadership.


photo courtesy istockphoto.com

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