How to Write a Good Self Evaluation – Follow 5 Tips

how to write a self evaluationIt’s self-evaluation time.  Are you ready to put your best foot forward? This is your chance to put the best representation of your work on permanent record and build your brand.

Many people are too humble or too general in their self evaluation.  Don’t fall in that trap.  Being too humble will work against you.  It’s important to take full advantage of  the annual performance review and invest time in writing a good self-evaluation.

This does not mean you should lie about your performance.  What it means instead is you should:

  • Invest significant time to write a good self-evaluation.  Consider doing 3 drafts over a 2 week period, so you can really push yourself to be succinct and powerful in your final draft.
  • Be the best marketer of your work brand in this self appraisal.
  • Address any hiccups in performance and share your perspective on what happened.
  • Show that you are self-aware, and are striving to improve every day.

Here are 5 tips on how to write a self-evaluation in a formal performance review at work:

Tip 1: Summarize your key accomplishments: this is your chance to document all the great results you achieved in the past year.  Use bullets and provide 4-5 key results you achieved.  This should include your core work and its impact (e.g., successfully launched 3 projects and reduced operating cost by x$ or y%). Also include extra activities you have done outside your job description (e.g., initiated and led the Winter Festival event to promote team member engagement).  This shows initiative and leadership.  This summary is meant to do all the work for your manager and remind him or her how much you have contributed in the past year.

Tip 2: Write a balanced review: You must include both strengths and development areas in your self evaluation.   The best rule of thumb is to write about 4-5 strengths and 2-3 development areas.  In the strengths area, you can legitimately brag about what skills you have demonstrated in the past year.  Be proud of these skills as writing them here is the most direct way to build your work brand. In the development area, acknowledge areas you are still developing.  This shows professional maturity and also builds your brand as someone who is always working on self improvement.

Tip 3: Be specific with examples and avoid empty words: When writing about your strengths, add examples and facts that support your claims.  Sometimes your manager doesn’t always know about all of your strengths.  This is another chance for you to tell him or her about it, and base your self-evaluation on facts.  The best rule of thumb is to document at least one example for each strength.  If you think a strength you claim could be contested by your manager, then add more examples and facts.  General words like ‘great’, ‘impressive’ may sound good but are too generic to be meaningful.  For example, it’s better to say ‘strong problem solving skills’ and add an example of why you demonstrated that than to say ‘great problem solving skills’ which can suggest bias in your self evaluation.

Tip 4: Include what you are doing to improve: For each development area, add an example to show that you know you need to improve. But don’t stop there — also talk about steps you have already taken to improve in this area. Your manager may very well know about this development area, but he or she may not know that you are already working hard to improve. This is a good place to talk about it.  Don’t leave out an obvious development area: As much as you wish to skip talking about a hiccup you had in your work performance in the self-evaluation, don’t avoid this step.  I can guarantee that your manager didn’t forget it, even if it only happened once.  It’s better to include it as a development area, and show how you have improved since then.  This will also score you points on good self-awareness and initiative in making improvements.

Tip 5: Round up your self-rating:   Lastly if you are asked to rate yourself, round up your rating.  For example, in my consulting days, we had to rate ourselves between 1 to 5, 1 being outstanding and 5 being poor, with 3 being the average. There have been many times when I was undecided between two ratings like a 2 or a 3. In that case, I always chose the better of the two (e.,g 2 which is above average). It can’t hurt, as your manager may also be undecided between those two ratings. If you wrote a strong self-evaluation, you may very well get that same rating from your manager, as he wants to keep you motivated. On the other hand, if you are too humble and rate yourself a 3, it gives your manager little incentive to rate you better.

One word of warning though: you need to be close to your manager’s assessment in order for this last tip to work. If he thinks you are only average (3) and you rated yourself as outstanding (1), it can work against you. It can show that you have very little self-awareness. This can discredit your entire self-evaluation.

At the end of the day, a well-written self-evaluation is an effective way to promote yourself. If you write relevant details, you’ll be able to find out how your manager feels about your performance when you read their final performance review of you. If they are very different, it should serve as a warning that he or she is not as aware of your good work. If your self-evaluation is close to theirs, then you know that your self-appraisal will only reinforce the good impression your manager already has of you.

Good luck with writing your self evaluation this year.   I look forward to your questions.

Want more help on this?   Sign up free to the Soft Skills Gym membership and join our next Group Coaching Call on this topic on Jan 24.

Your comments:  Will you be writing your self-evaluation differently now?  Add your comments and questions below and let’s have a discussion.

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– Lei

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