A reader asks:
I would really love some input on what a manager is looking for in self-evaluations. Not just the written portions but the self-scoring portion as well. I always want to give myself a grade below what I might feel I deserve because I don’t want to look like an egotist in front of my boss.
1. First, understand the purpose of a self-evaluation. Self-evaluations are really useful in reminding your manager about key highlights of your work that she might not have in the forefront of her mind the way you do. They’re an opportunity for you to point out where you excelled and where you think there’s room for improvement. Additionally, self-evaluations can be hugely useful in spotting areas where you and your manager might have different assessments, so that you can figure out why. After all, if you think you’re doing a great job with customer relations and she thinks you’ve been mediocre, you need to know that – and figure out why you’ve each reached different conclusions.
2. Do not rate yourself lower than you deserve. Absolutely not! Your manager isn’t looking for false modesty here; she’s looking for your honest assessment of how things are going. If you rate yourself lower than you really think you deserve, you undo much of the point of the exercise and deny both yourself and your manager the benefits above.
3. Don’t lose sight of what your goals were for the year and how well you achieved them. All too often in evaluations, people focus on soft skills (how you get along with others, how well you communicate, etc.) to the exclusion of results. So always begin by looking at what you were supposed to accomplish during the evaluation period, and to what extent you did that. Hopefully the evaluation form you’ve been given makes it easy to do that, but if it doesn’t, find a way to add that yourself.
4. Keep reminders of your successes throughout the year. It’s really hard to sit down with a form in December and remember what you did well back in March. Instead, keep a file throughout the year of things that go especially well, kudos that you receive from coworkers and people outside the organization, and notes about things you might want to do differently next time. When it’s time to write your evaluation, you’ll have a whole file of material to work from.
5. Treat the evaluation process as a discussion, not a bureaucratic exercise. This is a good opportunity to talk with your manager about where you see things going from here. Are there new skills you want to learn or new responsibilities you want to take on? What does she think the path there might look like? Or, are there changes you’d like to make to next year’s goals or things you’d like to happen differently in your relationship with your manager? Don’t pass up the chance to take a step back and take about these bigger-picture issues that often get overlooked in the rush of day-to-day work.
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