Tips for Getting the Most from Your Self-Assessment

Tips for Employee Self-Assessments
So, you’ve been asked to complete a self-assessment – what next?

Your self-assessment (or self-review, self-evaluation, or whatever you or your organization calls them) isn’t meant as a cryptic form of torture, it is actually an important and necessary tool for your professional development.

Your self-assessment is an opportunity to dedicate time to reflect on your achievements and plan for ways to further develop your skills and career. They are also an important planning device, allowing you to work with your managers and the company to apply any learnings and opportunities to your role moving forward.

Self-assessments can also be a stressful time for employees. Reviews aren’t a particularly popular task, particularly if your relationship with your manager is rocky or if you feel insecure in your job. Also, if you’re facing deadlines or are in the middle of a heavy workload, it may be difficult to even find the time to complete this task. Some employees may not even understand the value of these tools.

But a self-evaluation doesn’t have to be dreaded! It can be a time to provide your employer with needed feedback as well as setting a roadmap for your future career growth. It can also lay the groundwork for you to achieve additional training or obtain other resources that you’ve been hoping for—but never found the right time to ask.

Overall, employees should absolutely take advantage of this time and below are some tips for ensuring you get the most from your self-assessment.

Tips for Preparing for Your Self-Assessment:

Your self-evaluation offers a chance to ask for support from the company, your manager, or team. Taking the time to reflect on your role, goals, and accomplishments is an important part of this process.

To prepare for your self-assessment, jot down your accomplishments during the time period of the evaluation. This is a process that can be ongoing throughout the year. Be specific in your approach and don’t be afraid to show how much you’ve contributed to the organization. Try listing your accomplishments by role, action, and result. For example:

  • List what role you played, whether it was in a team or as an individual.
  • Describe the action you took while in that role.
  • List the positive outcome, being specific with numbers or other metrics when possible.

Here’s an example to get you started:

Led a four-person team to create a new website design over two months. Successfully deployed the site which saw a 25% jump in traffic within the first six months.

Beyond listing what you accomplished, you should also look ahead to your future in the organization. Do you need additional training or resources that you’re not currently getting? If you don’t have a career map in place, this is a good opportunity to show your employer your personal and professional goals and chart a path to achieving them.

Set aside this time and look at it as a positive process, not a detriment to your current workload.

Tips for Writing Your Self-Assessment:

Don’t Be Afraid to Brag…

According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), employees should list their most significant accomplishments or contributions since the last year and be prepared to comment on how these were in alignment with their role, your goals, and company results. Employees should reflect on any new tasks or duties performed outside of their role, or any activities that you initiated that resulted in a positive impact in the organization.

Don’t be afraid to comment on what you are most proud of. Your manager might already be aware of many of the points you outline, but chances are, there are some things that didn’t register at that time, or that maybe they were out of the loop on. If you don’t bring your achievements into the light, who will? Be careful to prioritize and highlight the major points or you’ll risk making a laundry list of everything, which could dilute the significance of the more important items.

…But Also, Be Honest & Ask the Hard Questions

Many are tempted to use their self-assessment as a chance to put a marketing-like spin on their performance and contributions and focus on just the positive outcomes of the last review cycle. As mentioned above, you should highlight your milestones, achievements, and areas of their job and growth that they are proud of, but that has to be balanced with some honest reflection.

According to CIO Today, employees shouldn’t be afraid to ask themselves some hard questions. Taking a good look at your performance might reveal some shortcomings, but it will also allow you to grow and develop.

  • What could I have done better this year?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my weaknesses and how can I improve on them?
  • Where can I take personal initiative and become a stronger employee who contributes more next year?

Many employees are afraid to admit perceived “weaknesses” or “mistakes,” but why? Effective managers will already know where your performance gaps exist and, if anything, will commend you for having enough self-awareness and maturity to own up to them. At the end of the day, no one is perfect. Every employee in your company has a list of mistakes and performance gaps, so don’t be afraid to admit them so you can get the help you need from your manager and company to develop.

Stay Positive

It is all too tempting to use your self-assessment as an outlet to express any and all dissatisfactions with your manager, your co-workers, your clients or the company, but resist the urge. According to Ford Myers, author of the book Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring, you shouldn’t use your self-evaluation to bash your manager, your company, or its strategic direction, because this may come back to bite you later on, and it can also result in your being perceived as disgruntled. According to Myers, employee comments should be 90% positive and 10% critical where you can explain your own plan to grow and develop in specific areas over the next year. Do not add negative comments about your supervisor, peers, clients or the company, and instead focus on you.

Ask for Resources & Assistance

Road-mapping your value to the organization is a logical segue to a request for additional training or other support for you and your team. A self-evaluation gives you the time and space to document what you need and why you need it. This is not the time to complain that you’re not getting the help you need, instead, this is a time to logically lay out a business case for why you need assistance, training, or other resources to better do your job.

Include Feedback You Have Received From Others

 Self-assessments are about gathering examples and accounts of your strengths and opportunities for development. Part of this will most likely include input from other people besides your direct manager. It’s okay to mention and include feedback and examples of accolades you have received from others when writing your self-assessment. This might include feedback or emails from clients, kudos from your peers or other managers, or formal 360° multi-rater scores and/or comments that highlight your strengths and accomplishments.

Always Look Ahead

 Use your self-evaluation as a partial reflection of your good work but also as a way to continue to keep the dialogue open with your employer. Use this time to check in with your manager to ask important questions that will guide your work in the future, such as:

  • What do you anticipate our biggest priorities will be in six months?
  • Is my work on track, or is there anything I should change?
  • Is there a particular area for growth that you’d like me to work on?
  • How can I make your job easier?

Measuring your own performance doesn’t have to feel like you’re bragging. Instead, it can help you and your manager look ahead to your future with the company and chart a course toward upward mobility, improved skills, more responsibility, or whatever you hope to achieve.

Completing your self-assessment doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. Set aside time to plan and complete your self-assessment properly, pull together examples and supporting feedback, focus on the positive and developmental, and always keep an eye on what’s next –  then, you’ll nail it. Not only that, but you’ll benefit from having a formal opportunity to reflect on your accomplishments and plan for further development to improve your role and career path.


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