Are you waiting for one of your superiors to conduct your annual performance review? Many of us choose to bide our time and sweat in anticipation for a manager, supervisor or employer to evaluate our conduct, performance and expertise. But why wait 365 days for someone else to either shower praise on your abilities or criticise your acumen over the last year?
Professionals who want to advance their careers and become a model employee can complete their own self-appraisal. Now, you might be thinking that this would be biased. Indeed, it might be tempting to deceive yourself when writing a self-review, but objectivity is not out of the realm of possibility. Honesty, dedication and the will to improve are all characteristics that are not just for work, but also your professional development.
A self-assessment is encouraged within any organisation, and your written report will be examined by the higher-ups and placed in your file. Since it will be a part of your employee record, you need to put in your best effort.
Unsure of how to do it? Here are nine examples of good self-appraisal at work.
1. Ask Yourself the Hard Questions
Sure, the softball questions will make yourself look great, but they will not dive into the key facts of your overall job performance. They will only mask any inefficiencies, setbacks and difficulties you might be enduring at this time.
So, as you begin to write your self-appraisal, start with the hard questions. Here are some examples:
- What has been the most challenging part of your work?
- What are your real strengths?
- What do you want to achieve and get out of this job?
- What do you think the environment of the office is like?
- How can you do your job differently?
These aren’t exactly the easiest of questions to ask yourself – and that’s the point.
'I come upon my three-year work anniversary next week. It has been an interesting time. There have been various aspects of my work that I have found to be challenging, which, to be honest, make me question my strengths and weaknesses. That said, when you succeed in this environment, you feel quite rewarded. I think it might be time to improve my game and tackle the position a bit differently. Should I take an evening course? Should I try to find some one-on-one time with a more senior employee? This job makes me want to do more than earn a steady paycheque. I want to grow with this firm, but to ensure that career accomplishment, I must heighten my strengths and conceal my weaknesses until I am able to correct those weaknesses.'
2. Just the Facts, Ma’am
Oftentimes, when you are writing this report, whether it is on an annual basis or far more frequent than that, it can feel like an open book test. You’re not really challenging yourself to know if you have a grasp of the simple facts. The same can be applied to this report.
Ultimately, why make your self-evaluation seem easy, cheap and not worth the sale?
It is imperative to list the facts of everything you have done up to this point – good and bad. Even if they shine a negative light on your position, or they seem too generous, write the facts down. Remember, they can be confirmed by your superior at any moment.
So, for instance, in the last quarter you increased your sales 8%, you did not miss a day of work or were you late in the previous six months, and you received a reward for the most outstanding employee in the field of excellence. These are great feats – you excelled at work. On the other hand, your retention rate tumbled, you could not correctly lead a team of four to meet a deadline, and you failed to nab Acme International – despite your determination, there’s room for improvement.
It can be hard to remember what you have done or haven’t done over the last year. That’s why it would be a good idea to maintain a journal throughout the year.
'When I started at Acme International, I had a rough beginning, unable to meet daily quotas and having a tough time to keep up with the work schedule. However, after combing through the numbers, I realise that I have adapted rather well to the corporate culture. In the January-to-March period, I experienced a 17% jump in sales from the same time a year ago. This started on January 23, when I worked one-on-one with a senior manager who coached me well with customer relationship management (CRM).'
3. Home in on Specifics
We like to generalise our self-appraisal reports, primarily because it makes our lives easier, and it leads to less scrutiny. This is not the way to go, especially if you aim for detailed anatomy of your employment. The more specific you are, the better it is for yourself and the company.
So, how can you include specifics when preparing your self-appraisal?
- Jot down times and dates of events, submissions and external evaluations.
- Insert as many facts and figures that you can get your hands on.
- Add plenty of minute details, even if there is an abundance of them.
Consider these two statements. The first is, ‘I prevented three people from leaving the company in the second quarter.’ The second is, ‘In the second quarter, I led the human resources department is reducing the turnover rate by 11%.’
Which one is more noteworthy? Noodle that one for a moment!
'After submitting my quarterly analysis on the employee retention rate at Vandelay Industries, I wondered if I could be more thorough. Instead of employing the typical methods to learn about the state of the workplace, I considered applying more data analysis, something you would see in big data science. Then I learned about human resource analytics at an industry conference I attended a couple of weeks later. This consists of a whole host of techniques - extract existing data, such as demographics and compensation, to analyse data - to get to the bottom line of hiring, firing and promoting. A year later, the company's retention late surged, and the company has saved on training.'
4. Analyse the Results
Once you get your hands on the results of your work, it is time to crunch the numbers, code the data and offer some analysis. This is imperative because what good is data and statistics if they are not explained to the reader what it means. You could write down a chalkboard of mathematical equations to a three-year-old child, but they won’t know what you’re doing.
So, offer an analysis of your results. For example, as part of a research and development (R&D) initiative, you conducted six studies in four months, leaving you with a lot of data. To make heads or tails of this information, you need to look back to the research questions, cross-tabulate, calculate the numbers and establish conclusions.
You may remind the boss that your impeccable work warrants a promotion!
'Big data has become integral to our organisation. Without it, our firm would likely lag in the industry. In the R&D department, I led the team in performing several months of focus groups. I found them to be personally satisfying, leaving us with an enormous amount of data. But we didn't do a good job of properly organising, assessing and following up with our study participants. To better comprehend the data, I looked back at our initial objectives, re-read our research question and manually reinserted the data into our spreadsheets. I then cross-referenced our findings with other revelations in previous years as well as other department's figures. I learned that triple-checking must be done right away because then you could find out what we did: Our customers want a thicker cream in the middle of our cookie.'
5. Spend Time on Self-Evaluation
Should your self-evaluation happen only once a year? Nonsense! In addition to having someone else within your firm assess your worth to the business over the last 52 weeks, it is important to make many comments to yourself throughout the year. Sure, you can make mental notes in May, but what are the odds you will remember them in December? You won’t.
- Keep a personal journal for work and note successes and failures, questions and answers, statistics and figures.
- Work on your self-evaluation all year around.
- Spend several hours compiling your self-appraisal on the day you are requested to submit your findings.
You do a lot, so it wouldn’t seem reasonable if you spent only a few minutes on personal reviews.
'It has been five months since my last performance review. I thought I would begin by evaluating my own performance a few minutes a day. Overall, I found November 23 to be a productive day as my interactions with customers were pleasant, helpful and rewarding. The most important aspect that I want to improve upon is trying to get our shoppers to sign up for our loyalty rewards program. I noticed that my colleagues have been doing an incredible job getting customers to enrol, but I keep falling behind. I think I make up for this, though, by converting a fifth of our shoppers to the upsell.'
6. Have You Achieved Your Goals?
At the end of every year, it would be wise to write down a series of professional goals for the upcoming year. As the next year progresses, you need to look back at them now and then determine if you are meeting them. In the end, you will have either succeeded or miserably failed.
When completing a self-review, find out if you really achieved your goals. If you did, how did you do it? If not, why do you think you didn’t? And how will you help yourself do better the following year?
‘My main aim for the new year was to grow my clientele by 19%, but I only accomplished 12%. While I did convert those prospects into sales and long-term customers – they have already returned two more times – I do not think I concentrated enough on my social media efforts to nab more possible clients. For this year, I will use my time-management skills to dedicate a portion of my day on social media marketing.'
7. Remain Positive
Remember, sometimes there are no easy answers to our problems. Sure, you could say that you failed to meet last year’s target but trying to explain why you could not reach that target is easier said than done. If you knew the answer, you would have already done it, right?
But do not tear yourself down, do not be cynical about the past year and do not make the entire report a tirade against your body of work, the company and the industry.
‘Last year was a down year for digital marketing sales as they tumbled 23%. While my efforts at securing partnerships with bigger brands could have been better, I was generally pleased with the response to our portfolio and the compliments of past campaigns. For the next year, we plan to employ other tactics at completing agreements almost immediately instead of waiting several days or weeks for contact.’
That’s factual, to the point and, most important of all, positive.
8. Use Shortcomings to Grow
What makes a successful professional? Someone who admits their faults and concedes to fix their shortcomings, whether it includes attending workshops or integrating better quality control measures for work. Anyone who is ready, willing and able to address their hiccups is a grade A employee for any enterprise – as long as they curtail and correct those mistakes!
While it is important to address this in your self-evaluation, it is just as crucial to show you are making an effort to improve your work performance and human capital. It’s easy to talk about it, but it’s hard to walk the walk.
But there is a simple remedy to this issue: Write down your plans on official paper. Indeed, telling yourself that you will take night courses is vastly different than making the same promise on paper for your company where many superiors who hold their fate in your hand.
‘My typing speed is not keeping up with my pupils, and I feel that it is hurting my productivity. I have enrolled in night school classes to enhance my typing and, hopefully, boost my productivity levels.
9. Get Others to Review
A self-appraisal is worthless if somebody else isn’t reading it.
Yes, it is true that the final copy will be reviewed by a supervisor, manager, vice president or the kingpin. But it would also be a prudent step to have a colleague take a look, too. They can provide you with some advice, correct a mistake, offer a helpful comment, remind you of an accomplishment or a failure (yes, John can be brutal sometimes, but he is honest) and even proofread your document.
Overall, someone who has known you for seven years can offer some insight that you may not be able to. Anything helps.
Any self-review – in-depth, extensive and brutally honest – shows that you are taking the initiative to be better at your job, at your career and at your desire of being the best [insert job title here], and will prove that you’re accepting of failures and use them to improve in the future.
Have you ever conducted a self-appraisal? Did you follow similar steps to the above? Let us know what approach you took by leaving a comment in the section below!