Evaluating your own work can be difficult at first, as it can be hard to remain objective and judge your own shortcomings (or perhaps you judge yourself too much). But studies have shown that self-reflection can be a useful tool to improve your performance at work.
So regardless of whether you are the CEO or just starting out: Embracing self-feedback can benefit your career. Below, we’ll explain in 10 easy steps how to effectively evaluate yourself and write a self-assessment.
What is self-evaluation?
Self-evaluation is the process of reflecting on your own career and performance, assessing how you have been doing over a certain period of time. It’s also known as self-assessment, self-appraisal, self-review, self-feedback, or self-reflection.
Although self-evaluations are generally done by employees as required by employers, employers and managers can perform self-evaluations themselves as well. The main goal is to identify a person’s professional strengths and weaknesses, so they can determine how they might continue improving themselves.
Self-feedback tends to be done in writing first, after which the written assessment is discussed by the employee and employer. This makes it different from other types of feedback, which tend to be delivered verbally rather than in writing.
Self-evaluation example questions include:
- What have I achieved?
- What am I most proud of?
- What areas/skills would I like to develop?
- What are my main goals for the next months/years?
- What am I struggling with the most?
Introducing self-assessments as part of your organisation’s wider feedback culture in the workplace can help identify people’s strengths and weaknesses and ensure the continuous growth of you and your team.
The main self-evaluation benefits for both managers and employees include:
- Employees feel more involved in the appraisal process
- Addressing strengths and weaknesses makes them more aware of their own performance
- Reflecting on their achievements gives a confidence boost
- It helps provide a clear path for career development and growth
- Increases motivation to learn and grow professionally
How to write a self-evaluation in 10 easy steps
Writing your self-assessment doesn’t have to be difficult. But, we do recommend you take the time to truly reflect on your performance.
The more detailed your self-evaluation, the more valuable it will be for your personal development and professional progression.
1. Why are you writing a self-evaluation?
Start with the why. What is the reason behind the self-appraisal? Does your employer want you to write one for the yearly performance review, or is it perhaps to consider whether you should get a promotion or raise?
Or are you an employer or manager yourself, and do you want to reflect on how you are doing and where you might improve?
2. Is there a format you should follow?
From the why, to the how. You might have the freedom to decide for yourself how you want to structure and organise your self-evaluation, but this isn’t always the case.
Often, companies want all their employees to follow the same format and answer the same questions. This can also apply to managers and employers, as it can be beneficial to have the exact same format across your organisation.
Therefore, you should first check if there is a format you should follow. Although the main gist will be the same, you might have to stick to a predetermined set of questions.
3. Focus on your strengths and achievements first
Especially if you are after a promotion or salary increase, it’s important that your strengths and achievements are the main focus of your self-assessment.
Think of what you have accomplished in the past months or years (depending on the frequency of your self-evaluation). Have you completed any courses, added to your list of hard skills, or perhaps you managed to lead and deliver a large-scale project?
Also, don’t forget to think of your soft skills and include those as well. Have you managed to better structure internal processes to improve team efficiency? Did you speak at industry events, improving your presentation skills?
Try to think of all your strengths and achievements and organise them from most to least significant.
4. Find data to measure (and back up) your claims
Backing up your claims with clear data not only clearly proves your impact, but also helps when you go into any raise or promotion negotiations afterwards. Instead of “I helped grow our online following” say “I grew our social media following by 27% while helping grow organic traffic to our site by 14%”.
Not only does it make your claims irrefutable, but it also shows you are data and performance-driven. Another strength to add to the list you made for the previous point!
5. Be realistic, honest, and critical about your own shortcomings
Although you want to focus on strengths and achievements, you also have to include weaknesses and failures. We might not always like it, but at the end of the day, nobody is perfect.
What’s important is that you are:
- Realistic in what you label as shortcomings. For example, labelling not being able to double the revenue of your team in six months as a failure is probably being unrealistic and too hard on yourself. Equally, don’t state false weaknesses, like calling yourself “too nice and helpful”.
- Honest about what didn’t go so well. You might be tempted to sugar coat a failure or simply leave it out in the hope that nobody notices. Often, managers will be aware already, so being honest, transparent, and open about it is often a better policy.
- Critical about what went wrong and how it could have been avoided. Show that you learned from the failure (and perhaps already adapted your processes accordingly) or explain how you are working on improving a certain skill. Learning from your mistakes is part of professional development.
6. Actively push for development and growth
In most cases, employees and managers alike want to improve existing skills, learn new ones, and in general develop and grow professionally.
Actively asking for new opportunities and ways to upskill yourself shows that you take your career seriously, that you’re driven, and that you want to grow. From a company’s perspective, better-skilled team members will lead to better-performing teams, so they will be more than happy to support you.
7. Consider the goals and roadmap of your team and business
Don’t forget to ensure your aspirations, as well as the skills and values you highlight in your self-evaluation, are aligned with the goals and values of your team and business.
For example, if you work in a tech startup, it probably doesn’t make much sense to ask if you can attend a barista training. And if your role only involves communicating with your direct team members, highlighting that you’re good at giving presentations probably isn’t useful either.
8. Stay positive and optimistic
Although when providing self-feedback you should highlight both the highs and the lows, it’s important to try to stay positive and optimistic. Even if the year was tough, it’s best to try to identify the silver lining and provide an optimistic outlook for what lies ahead.
If you are only negative and pessimistic, you not only harm your chances of getting a raise or promotion. Your manager might also question your overall morale and how this might negatively impact the company culture.
If you are prone to creating a toxic atmosphere in the workplace, your manager might have second thoughts about whether you are a good fit for the team.
9. Provide feedback about the organisation
Companies not only want their employees to care about the organisation, but they also want to get their input on how to improve. Especially in times of the Great Resignation, employers want to build a great place to work to keep employee retention rates as high as possible.
That’s why your self-evaluation should also include a part where you provide feedback to the organisation. Say what they’re doing well, but also give suggestions on how to improve. Just bear in mind that when you criticise, you do it by providing constructive criticism.
10. Don’t forget to proofread!
A self-assessment is your time to shine, showcasing how valuable you are to the organisation. A sloppy typo or repeating the same point twice can harm this image.
That’s why the final step of any self-evaluation should always be to properly proofread your assessment. For extra peace of mind, try asking a friend or family member to proofread it for you.
The importance of a structured self-evaluation
The better and more detailed your self-assessment, the more beneficial it will be for your development. As such, self-appraisals are an essential part of many organisations’ wider feedback cultures.
Do you want to learn more about the topic of feedback? Then also check out our article on 10 powerful feedback models to use at work.