self assessmentIn another article, we discussed three examples that show why you shouldn’t be too humble at work.  One of the places that many people are too humble or too general is in the self-assessment portion of a formal performance review.  This is your chance to put the best representation of your work so far on permanent record.  It’s important to take full advantage of this opportunity, and invest time in writing a good self-assessment.

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

  • Be the best marketer of your work brand.
  • 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 writing a good self-assessment in a formal performance review:

  1. Write a balanced review: You must include both strengths and development areas.  The best rule of thumb is to write about 3 strengths and 3 development areas, or 4 strengths and 2 development areas. Make sure you have at least as many strengths listed as you do development areas.
  2. Be specific with examples:  Especially when writing about your strengths, especially, add examples and facts that support your claims.  Sometimes your manager doesn’t always know about all of your good work.  This is another chance for you to tell him about it, and base your assessment of your work 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.
  3. 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 experience, but he may not know that you are already working hard to improve. This is a good place to talk about it.
  4. 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-assessment, don’t avoid this step.  I can guarantee you 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 score you points on good self-awareness and initiative in making improvements.
  5. Round up your self-rating:   Lastly but most importantly, 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 (in this case a 2). It can’t hurt, as your manager may also be undecided between those two ratings. If you wrote a strong self-assessment, 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 than that.

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 will work against you. It only shows that you have very little self-awareness. This can discredit your entire self-assessment.

At the end of the day, a self-assessment is a great way to promote yourself. If you write more details, you’ll be able to find out how your manager feels about your performance. If it’s very different, it should serve as a warning that he is not as aware of your good work as he should be. If it is close to his assessment, then you know that your self-review will only reinforce the good impression he already has of you. Best wishes to your career success. 

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

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I am always in your corner.

– Lei

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