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10 tips for making self-evaluations meaningful

Rich Hein | April 11, 2013
Whether you're a manager or employee, reviews aren't a particularly popular subject and with them comes the often-despised self-evaluation. You may ask yourself: "How can I shine the best spotlight on my performance without coming off like a braggart?" And you also may justifiably wonder, "What is it used for." Never fear: We've talked with experts and done the research to take the mystery out of this oft-misused piece of HR paperwork.

Myers advice is to frame any shortcomings not as problems or things you did wrong but instead as areas for development. "They should always be approached as how you can make a stronger contribution to the company," says Myers. It should appear more like an area where you want to learn more, do better and contribute at a higher level than a negative mark on your report card.

Ask for Training

Once you've outlined the areas where you'd like to grow, it's always a good idea to have a plan on how to get there. Use this as an opportunity to ask for whatever type of training could help you contribute more, whether it's attending an SEO conference or taking a course on the newest version of SQL server. Now is a good time to put in the request.

Document Your Achievements

Be specific. Cover the achievements you completed and be sure to include how and who it helped. Whether it's adding numbers to the bottom-line or streamlining processes to create a better tech support workflow, using specifics makes sure everyone is on the same page and that you concisely tell the full story including the problem, the fix and the end results, instead of simply describing a deployment. "As long as you can tie it to tangible data points and facts, you can use it to your advantage," says Reed.

"This is really your chance to let your boss know all the good things that you've achieved. You can do that without being braggadocios or tooting your own horn too loudly about the things you've done. As long as its fact-based there is nothing wrong with it," says Reed.

Myers agrees: "Be very, very, specific." He recommends throughout the year keeping what he calls a "success file" where you write down all your contributions as bullet points throughout the month. At the end of the year, you'll have 12 documents to reference for their self-evaluation.

He goes on to note that you may also consider sending that to your boss at the end of each month as a round-up of all your contributions and achievements.

"I personally like the idea of sending this to your boss at the end of each month," says Myers. He says he has seen people get raises and promotions based on this type of documentation. This way, says Myers, "they are ready to give you a raise or promotion, instead of wondering whether to give you a raise and/or promotion."

Differing Points of View

If the performance review and the self-assessment are wildly different, according to Reed, this likely indicates that you and manager aren't meeting enough and that a discussion needs to be had in order to sort out expectations from the employee and management positions.


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