It’s performance review time: Tips for the dreaded self-evaluation

"Our success starts with self-reflection and continues with a commitment to better ourselves." -Lotus Yon

“Our success starts with self-reflection and continues with a commitment to better ourselves.” -Lotus Yon

It’s performance review time – my favorite time of year…just kidding! It’s not really a fun time for anyone. Employees usually dread it. Managers hate the paperwork. Human Resources goes crazy because they have to sort through all of the reviews and their phones are constantly ringing with questions and concerns.

Plus, there’s been quite a lot of controversy about performance reviews this past year. Thought leaders have been debating the value of performance reviews and whether or not we should even have them. While this debate continues, most organizations are still doing performance reviews this year.

As a Human Resources professional, I’ve coached a lot of managers on how to best deal with performance management and reviews. However, the people who usually don’t get much direction from Human Resources are the employees who are actually being evaluated.

There’s this thing called the self-evaluation that people often dread completing for their managers as part of the performance review process. Usually, they get submitted with nothing on them except a signature. Sometimes, there’s a joke written on it to see if anyone’s actually looking at it. Other times, people basically write what their job is rather than how they added value to a project or how they went above and beyond.

One method I’ve seen used to mitigate the problem with low quality self-evaluations is requiring a complete and meaningful self-evaluation in order to receive the highest merit/level. I actually don’t hate this idea because if you’re going to receive the highest performance rating and potentially the highest merit increase, you should be able to justify it as well as your manager can justify it.

So, how do you justify it? Here are some great tips that I’ve learned from being evaluated and from evaluating others (and reviewing their self-evaluations):

  • Make it a year-long task to save time in the end. Starting on the first day of your performance year, commit to completing your self-evaluation. As you accomplish things, receive positive feedback or meet goals, make a note of it on your self-evaluation (or your own document if you don’t have the actual form yet). You’ll save a lot of time in the end if you don’t wait until the year is over to try and remember or find things to put on your evaluation form.
  • Stop putting things on your self-evaluation that are simply your job duties. It always amazes me when I see this on self-evaluations: “I’m always on time to work.” Well, it is part of your job to arrive on time! Your manager and Human Resources both know what your job is already. You don’t have to tell them again. They want to know “what else?”
  • Go ahead and brag. It’s okay to talk yourself up if you’ve accomplished a lot. Structure your thoughts though. What did you accomplish? What was the impact of what you accomplished on your team or the organization? In other words, what value did it provide to the overall goal or mission?
  • After you brag about yourself, talk about some of the areas you would like to improve in. If you don’t tell your manager this, they won’t help you get better.
  • Document the status of your goals. Did you have goals for the year? Did you meet them? Perhaps, you even exceeded them. Either way, document this. If you did not meet a goal, explain the reason, the obstacles and the plan to complete it within a specific timeframe.
  • Be real. Be honest about what you put on your self-evaluation and write it with a genuine tone/voice. Don’t try to make bad things sound good or good things sound better. Also, don’t diminish the value of something great because you’re modest.
  • During your review, talk to your manager about what you put in your self-evaluation. Have a conversation about what you’re proud of and what you would like the two of you to work on next year.

These tips will help you complete your self-evaluation and hopefully, find value in it so that it’s not just paperwork that you have to complete every year. These tips should help the performance review process become more meaningful and less dreaded for both you and your manager. As I always tell people I mentor, “The first step to improving ourselves is to engage in constant self-reflection. Make it a habit, part of your everyday.”


2 thoughts on “It’s performance review time: Tips for the dreaded self-evaluation

  1. Pingback: Thankful leaders show thanks all year long | OD Advocate

  2. Pingback: How a punitive culture will punish you | OD Advocate

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