Performance reviews are an oft-dreaded component of corporate life. After all, it can be nerve-wracking to sit there and have your boss rattle off a list of ways you ought to improve (though with any luck, your review will also call out some of the things you've been doing right). But as terrifying as your manager's review might be, an even more daunting prospect is having to write your own review.
Many companies these days have employees craft their own self-evaluations, either on an ongoing basis or in conjunction with year-end reviews. That, in turn, puts a lot of pressure on workers to summarize their performance without coming off as either arrogant or overly critical. If you've been tasked with writing a self-evaluation, here are a few tips for tackling it.
1. Don't be afraid to highlight the things you're good at
Many workers err on the side of downplaying their accomplishments for fear of coming off too boastful in their self-evaluations. But if the instructions state that you're to list some of the things you do best, do yourself a favor and comply. Obviously, there have to be at least a few things you're doing right on a regular basis, or your company wouldn't keep you around. Therefore, you might as well highlight your strongest skills and achievements to ensure that they stay on your manager's radar.
2. But don't pretend to be perfect, either
Just as self-evaluations often ask you to list your greatest strengths, they also ask you to review your most notable flaws. Many people, however, fear that in listing a weakness, they'll divulge something their managers may not have picked up on, and therefore answer this section insincerely. And that's not the route you want to take. In reality, if you have a flaw or are lacking in a particular skill, your boss most likely already knows about it. By acknowledging it, you're showing that you have the ability to be humble, you're in tune with your limitations, and you're invested in overcoming the challenges that may have previously been holding you back.
3. Include data points that work in your favor
It's one thing to state that you're good at a particular task or bring a certain skill to the table, but it's another thing to back up that claim with hard numbers. In writing your evaluation, aim to incorporate data points whenever possible to validate that assessment. For example, if you're going to list "attention to detail" as a notable strength, you might include the fact that in reviewing invoices, you noticed 27 distinct errors last month that, once corrected, saved your company $15,000. That said, there's no need to call out data if it works against you. If you lack attention to detail, summarizing the amount of money you've lost your company isn't something you want to do.
4. Be succinct
Your self-evaluation isn't the time to write a novel, so in drafting that assessment, take care to be as concise as possible. This is important for a number of reasons. First, the more succinct you are, the more professional you'll come off. Additionally, the more you ramble, the more likely you are to reveal information that could work against you (especially when you're talking about personal challenges and weaknesses). Before submitting your evaluation, take the time to read it thoroughly and edit it for excess content. A good way to go about this is to read each sentence individually and ask yourself whether it adds relevant information or value to that assessment. If it doesn't, then go ahead and delete it.
Writing a self-evaluation can be a worrisome process, but it doesn't have to be. Just be sure to follow directions and aim to be as truthful as possible without going overboard.
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