Well, for many of us it’s that time of year again… and I’m not talking about the holiday season. I’m talking about the annual performance review season!
As you’re thinking about all the holiday parties you plan to attend, all the shopping and cooking you need to prepare for, and all those lovely relatives you’ll soon be seeing again, here’s something else you need to be thinking about — how to complete a great self-appraisal.
The self-appraisal (also known as a self-evaluation or a self-assessment) is your opportunity to reflect on the things you did well, and the things you didn’t do so well — but learned from this past year. That said, your reasons (a.k.a. excuses) for not doing a great job at completing your self-appraisal may include everything from:
- lack of time
- thinking the information won’t be useful or used
- feeling inadequately equipped with information, or memory, to do the process justice
However, taking the time to reflect on your past 12 months of performance is a critical component of the annual performance review process — so make time for it!
Why self-appraisals are so important
You may be under the impression that it’s your manager who needs to remember all the great accomplishments and successes you had throughout the year (and the times you may have messed up, too). However, you're also accountable for reporting on your successes (and failures).
Here’s why: Managers aren’t superheroes who can see and remember every little thing you did in the year. For this reason the self-appraisal is important because it can help accomplish two things:
- Remind your manager of your accomplishments, development and challenges
- Identify where there may be discrepancies between your and your manager’s view of your performance
Not only does it allow your manager to view performance from your perspective, it also helps your manager understand what you see as your strengths and weaknesses.
All of the above help set the stage for a detailed and thorough appraisal meeting.
Six steps to completing a great self-appraisal
1. Share your brilliant successes. Look at previous feedback received, projects you’ve completed and initiatives you’ve launched — all excellent fodder. If you haven’t done so in the past, start keeping a performance journal. It will make your next self-appraisal that much easier to complete.
2. Share what you’ve learned. What have you learned in the past year? Look to identify the ways in which you’ve been able to enhance your skills; describe the new skills you’ve mastered and how they've helped you in your career development. Describe how you've applied these new skills to your job and how they support the goals of your department and organization.
3. Share your challenges. This isn’t an annual opportunity for shameless self- promotion. It’s an opportunity for some humility. Be candid about your challenges in the year. Describe how you overcame them or the steps you will take in the year ahead to address them.
4. Be honest. Don’t embellish your accomplishments. Think hard about how you choose your ratings for yourself. Your manager will likely want you to support your ratings so be prepared to provide examples of your successes (why you deserve that high rating) and examples of your not-so-great performance (why you may deserve a weaker rating).
5. Take time to do it well. Your manager can tell if you rushed your self-appraisal. So take the time needed to do it justice (schedule time for it in your calendar!). After all, your self-appraisal is all about you, and you’re worth it! Use all the space/features provided in the form to tell your story.
6. Don’t attempt to complete it in one go. Treat your self-appraisal like a work of art that builds over time. You’ll be much happier with the end result if you give yourself time to reflect and carefully support your self-assessment. As I mention above, use examples to support your assertions, and please, please make sure that you spell- and grammar-check your documents. These are all signs of how seriously you take the process and its importance to you.
Be ready for a rich performance review discussion
Your self-appraisal is a crucial component to providing a “complete picture” of your performance. It’s also a key part of self-development. So take the time to reflect on your successes and challenges and your lessons learned.
Don’t forget to bring a copy with you to your performance review meeting with your manager to use as a reference!