10 tips for making your self-evaluation more meaningful

CIO | Mar 20, 2018

Whether you think your company uses the information or not, self-evaluations are a necessary device for professional development. Here’s how to make the most of the dreaded self-evaluation process.

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Nobody likes self-evaluations or performance reviews – not even your manager. But these yearly events don’t have to cause stress or anxiety – instead, it’s a great time to check in with yourself and your manager to improve your own performance and even offer valuable feedback to your organization.
Here are 10 tips for making self-evaluations more meaningful.
A self-evaluation isn’t only about your current job, it’s also a time to reflect on your career map and where you see yourself heading. If you don’t have a career plan in place, your evaluation is the perfect time to create one. Or, if you feel you aren’t making progress on your career map, you can check in with your manager to establish long-term goals.
This is the time to make sure your goals and performance align with the company goals. You can ask if you’re on track, what the company’s biggest priorities are, if there’s anything you should focus on or how you can help make your manager’s job easier. These questions can help give you more direction until your next evaluation.
Make sure you know how self-evaluations are used in the company. Who are they shared with? Are they tied to your raise, bonus or promotion? Asking these questions will help give you more direction when writing your own evaluation.
It’s difficult to stay unbiased in a self-evaluation, but you can try asking yourself hard questions to see if you can answer them impartially. Ask yourself what are your strengths? What could you have done better this year? What are your weaknesses and how can you improve on them?
Avoid using a self-evaluations as an outlet to bash your manager or company. Keep the evaluation 90 percent positive – the other 10 percent is where you can reference constructive criticisms or areas for development.
Nobody is perfect, so if you hand in a self-evaluation with high scores in every area, it’s a red flag to your manager that you didn’t take it seriously. You want to have confidence in your strengths, but make sure you balance it out with areas where you could improve and how you’ll achieve that in the next year.
Demonstrate your commitment to your professional growth by asking about training opportunities, conferences or outside courses. Find ways you can expand and improve your skills to grow in your career.
Your self-evaluation isn’t just about your strengths and weaknesses – it’s also a great opportunity to document your achievements. Include specific achievements and accomplishments from the past year or accolades from coworkers and clients. Try keeping a document or folder where you save notes on successful projects, so you can pull it up when it’s time to write your self-evaluation.
If you find that your self-evaluation doesn’t align with your manager’s evaluation of your performance, take it in stride. It might just be an indication that you aren’t communicating enough and need to check in more often. Take time to understand where your opinions differ and define expectations moving forward.
To avoid any surprises or stress over your self-evaluation, try checking in with your manager throughout the year. Take time to ask for feedback, guidance or mentoring as you need it. And if your manager hesitates to offer you a reasonable amount of feedback, it might be time to look for another job.