As in many areas of work and life, it’s often hard to take a step back and see both a full and clear picture—and year-end self-evaluations are no exception.
If you work in corporate America and your Human Resources department is well run, it’s likely you’ve already completed and submitted your self-evaluation for the year. Whether that’s the case, or you’re anxiously awaiting the fast approaching deadline (perhaps you’re procrastinating a bit), there’s always room for (self)-improvement when it comes to self-evaluations.
If you’re a real go-getter, you may have rated yourself highly in all performance categories. But even if you think you’re the cream of the crop, it’s time to take a step back and ask, “What are these high ratings really saying to management?”
Did you mean to say…?
- I am the best at my job.
- I can’t learn anything else.
- I don’t require any further training or development.
If those statements are true and your management agrees with you, then hopefully you’re in discussions about your next career step within the organization. Congratulations!
But what if management doesn’t agree? Your annual performance review discussion with management is going to be difficult. Why? Because now you’ve placed your manager in a difficult position. Now s/he’ll have to sit down and explain exactly why you’re not perfect. Your manager will not only come up with his or her own examples, but they’ll also speak with other managers (not to mention your colleagues) to ensure they have accurate facts to add to your performance review.
In other words, your manager is on the offensive to prove you wrong.
If you lack confidence or you’re new to the job, perhaps you rated yourself below average in all performance categories. Newsflash: You’re setting yourself up for failure!
Did you mean to say…?
- Additional layoffs? Please let me go first.
- I am a negative influence on my entire department.
- I am not worthy of my job.
Odds are that’s not the message you wanted to send. Trust me, management does not find this form of self-deprecation endearing. You’re actually creating more work for management. Now they’ll have to find examples of positive work you’ve contributed so they can add these details to your performance evaluation—all so they can prove that by hiring you, they didn’t make a mistake.
In other words, you’re placing the burden of proof on your manager and creating more work for them in the process.
Honest & Productive Self-Evaluations
The better approach to writing your self-evaluation is as follows:
1. Be realistic and objective when evaluating your performance
Clearly identify both your strengths and areas of opportunity. Then, write a well-balanced self-evaluation that demonstrates your maturity and shows accountability for your actions for the year.
2. Identify key contributions
Be sure to outline your key contributions to the team and the organization. If you’re unable to find the positive in the work you did, ask your co-workers to help you identify how you were able to help them, and what they think you did well. Set yourself and your manager up for success by recognizing any and all contributions to the department and organization.
3. List learning experiences and growth opportunities
Include how you’ve developed yourself via cross-funtional teamwork, training programs or project work outside the scope of your day-to-day responsibilities. Your manager will recognize that you’re taking ownership of your career development and will see you’re motivated to succeed. As a result, they may help you identify new opportunities to further your career development.
Generally speaking, to write the best self-evaluation at the end of every year, be honest with yourself. In the end, you’ll create a well-balanced write-up and generate less work for your manager. Plus, you’ll be prepared and ready to have an open, honest and productive year-end performance review discussion.