WRITING YOUR SELF-REVIEW
No element of a performance review is as intimidating for employees as the self-evaluation section they need to put together themselves. A self-evaluation can change the trajectory of your career; hopefully for the better, but frequently for the worse—especially as a manager begins to question your ability to self-assess.
Most people struggle with accurately representing their job performance. It’s hard to be objective about yourself, it’s difficult to make time to do a thorough evaluation, and it’s even more complicated to know what answers will move your career in the right direction. Measuring your own job performance requires a clear plan.Here are a few ways to help you out…
Tips for Writing Your Performance Self-Review
1 Narrow your accomplishments list down
Sure, you’ve done a lot over the course of the year, but your review should be about the highlights. Include any achievements that you have data to support. Also include the things you’re most proud of. Show off your best work.
2 Don’t forget to align your review with your manager’s or team’s goals
What goals was your manager or team striving to reach over the past year? How did your efforts contribute to reaching those goals? It’s important to include this information in your self-review so your manager can clearly see how you’ve contributed.
3 Stay positive when describing your challenges
It’s important that you use positive language to describe the things you’ve struggled with on the job. Your goal is not to call attention to your failures but to show your willingness to grow. Whenever possible, offer up your own solution to the problem.
4 Keep the focus on you
If you didn’t quite reach your objectives, don’t point fingers—this is your review, not your team’s. Your self-evaluation is no place to play the blame game. If you have a problem with a coworker and you believe that problem has affected your performance, that’s something you need to bring to your manager’s attention separately, and ideally long before your review.
5 Don’t forget to ask for growth opportunities
Your self-review is a great place to make your case for professional development opportunities. Remember, in order to get what you want you’ve got to be willing to ask for it. So, even if your boss didn’t specifically request it, go ahead and make your pitch to get that certification, attend that training session, or register for that conference. Your boss will likely appreciate your enthusiasm and desire to amp up your skill set.
6 Remember self-evaluation do’s and don’ts
Do incorporate feedback you’ve received from others. It’s okay to include testimonials or meaningful quotes if you’ve got them. Show that others appreciate your contributions.
Don’t just make a list. A bullet-pointed list of your accomplishments doesn’t show much effort on your part. Write your review out. Thoughtfully.
Do prioritize. Remember to focus on the highlights when it comes to achievements, and the major concerns when it comes to challenges. Don’t be tempted to include a laundry list.
Don’t make typos. Even if writing isn’t a big part of your job, your self-review is no place for typos and grammatical errors. Proofread!
Do get a second opinion. It’s not a bad idea to have a friend, family member, or trusted colleague read over your self-evaluation before you turn it in. They can help you not only check for errors but also make sure your tone is positive and constructive.
Writing a self-review doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. Organize yourself before you begin, pull together statistics whenever possible, focus on the positive and developmental, and you’re sure to impress. Not only that, but you’ll benefit from reflecting on the year in a way that recognizes your accomplishments and sets you on the right path for self-improvement.
7 Use numbers to your advantage.
When in doubt fall back to numbers. First of all, any good self-appraisal has metrics, but it’s also a great way to let the results speak for themselves.Rather than writing “Had great team success in 2017!” try something like “Outperformed 2017 sales goals by over 135 percent.”
8 Speak for your results.
People sometimes say, “The results speak for themselves!” Nope, this isn’t how it works. You must give your results voice.Rather than assuming your manager remembers the great marketing campaign idea you had in July, try giving it a voice!
9 Allow yourself plenty of time to write.
A well-written review for yourself or anyone else should take time. This is not something that you should slap together in 20 minutes and call it a day. Dedicate work time to your review.Instead of slapping something together in a matter of minutes on a Friday afternoon, try to mark off time on your calendar multiple times over a week or two to work on your written review.
10 Write results in real-time or find a way to bring yourself back.
It’s helpful to take notes for an annual review throughout the year but if you haven’t done this don’t panic. Get yourself into the headspace you were in to recall what was going on and what results you were driving.Rather than forcing yourself to remember all the details once a year, try taking notes for your self-evaluation as the year goes on!
11 Ladder up to broader goals.
If you’re unsure what to include in a review or where to start, look to your manager’s, team’s, department’s, or company’s broader goals. Everything you include should ladder up to these.Instead of guessing about what matters, try using the goals that have been cascaded down to you. Tip: If you haven’t gotten goals then ask for them next year!
12 Share what you “don’t think” matters.
What you think “doesn’t matter” actually does. — what you think “doesn’t matter” often does. This happens in performance reviews all the time — the seemingly small task or result that you brush aside likely means way more to your manager or an outsider. Let that person decide.
Rather than omitting things that you don’t think matter or aren’t meaty enough, try including any quantifiable accomplishment that ladders up to a broader company imperative. Tip: If your company values employee engagement and you spearhead the company picnic each year, then include that!
13 Use a self-appraisal to intentionally grow.
Maybe you’re an executive assistant with dreams of moving into an operations role. Then focus on the operational side of your work to date. Tip: Your self-appraisal should highlight what you want to be doing more of.Rather than simply recapping your year, try highlighting what you want to be doing more of.
14 Get inspiration from job descriptions!
Unsure of what you should be focusing on or highlighting in your review? You can use similar job postings as guides.Instead of laundry-listing everything you’ve done without filter or thought, try finding inspiration and guidance from similar roles — or better yet, look to the job posting to which you applied (if you’ve been in the role for a short period of time and still have it).