How to complete a strong self-evaluation for your performance review

When it comes to a performance review, completing a self-evaluation is one of the most important and dreaded parts of the process. It can feel overwhelming to know where to begin and what information to include in your self-evaluation. To help you get started, we’ve put together our tips for how to write an honest, detailed self-evaluation that will foster a productive conversation with your manager during your performance review.  

Why is the self-evaluation part of the performance review process? 

You might wonder why you must complete a self-evaluation. Shouldn’t it be enough for your boss to evaluate your work? They’re the manager, right? Yes, but they don’t always have full visibility into the intricacies of your role and the work you do every day. Your manager also doesn’t always know or remember your significant accomplishments to your organization. Writing a self-evaluation is one way to shine a light on your contributions.   

Self-evaluations are a great opportunity to take stock and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and where you want to go in your career. When you are in the day-to-day slog of your work, it’s easy to lose track of the bigger picture. Completing a self-evaluation forces you to take time for honest self-reflection, which is an important part of setting attainable goals. Think of your self-evaluation as an investment in your career growth.

Finally, self-evaluations can help you and your manager compare impressions of your performance and identify where misunderstandings might occur. This way, you can address any discrepancies and foster more open communication and collaboration in the future.   

How to complete a self-evaluation  

Your company might have a template for self-evaluations they expect you to follow. While we don’t know what template that is, we can offer universally applicable advice for what to include as part of your self-evaluation.  

If you are not required to follow a template for your self-evaluation, organize it into three pieces. We like this method

  • What have you done well? This is where your accomplishments and all supporting metrics go.  
  • What could you do better? This is where your honest self-critique goes. Talk about what didn’t go according to plan and what you learned. Talk about patterns you’ve noticed and your plan to break those patterns.  
  • What do you want to do next? This is where you focus on growth. Put your goals and objectives here, including what you need to accomplish them.  

Organizing your self-evaluation into these categories shows your manager you are taking a proactive approach to your performance and improvement. The question-and-answer format helps you focus on the most important pieces. Let’s get into the specifics of each part.  

Part One: What have you done well? 

To answer this question, gather data about your job performance. Pull together all the quantifiable data that backs up your accomplishments. If you’ve done work that has directly led to increased revenue, add it to your list. Did you catch a mistake that saved the company time or money? Add it to the list. Metrics are key when it comes to proving your impact. Of course, not every job can be directly tied to revenue. In that case, you can look for other metrics, including

  • Customer/Client Retention: Some people have a knack for customer service. Are you the person clients go to for reassurance? Have you developed strong relationships with your company’s customer base? These are important points to include in your self-evaluation. Be as specific as possible.  
  • Skills/Knowledge: Are you the go-to person for training new employees? If so, how many employees have you trained in the past year? What about your coworkers? Are you the person they come to for help? This information can help illustrate your value at your organization.  
  • Innovation: Have you streamlined processes for your team or the organization? Have you had ideas that have changed the way your company works? This metric is another way to demonstrate your value. 

Now that you’ve compiled a list of your contributions, it’s a good idea to back up that list with accolades and positive feedback you’ve received from the people you work with. Maybe a client sent you a thank you note for your work on a project, or a coworker emailed you about how your ideas and work helped them. This type of information can help add weight to your self-assessment of your performance.  

Next, look at the goals and objectives you set during your last performance review. If you haven’t had a review yet in this role, think back to the objectives you were given when you started your job. Have you met those goals? Framing your accomplishments in terms of met objectives is a great way to organize your self-evaluation.

Part Two: What could you do better? 

Not all feedback is positive, but most feedback is helpful. Think back to the mistakes you’ve made or criticism you’ve heard about your work. Can you identify habits you’d like to change or patterns you’d like to end? This is a great way to determine what your next performance goals should be.  

The next step is to look again at your previous objectives. If there were any you didn’t meet, why not? If there are external obstacles, be sure to note those in your self-evaluation. But also, be honest about the ways you may have fallen short and own it. Perhaps you need more training in a specific area or there is an overarching miscommunication about the scope of your role. These answers will help inform your next set of objectives and will answer the question about what you can do better and, more importantly, what you need in the future.   

Part Three: What do you want to do next?

You can use the information from the previous parts to guide you as you set specific, measurable goals for the next quarter(s)/year. The data you gathered will help you be realistic, and you should have a better idea of how to achieve those goals.  

Also, be sure to break each goal into specific milestones and make sure you have all the tools you need to reach those milestones. Maybe you’ve determined you need continuing education or that it would benefit you to get new certifications. Include those tools as part of your self-evaluation

What not to do when completing a self-evaluation

1) Don’t lie. If you’ve been struggling with performance issues and you rate yourself a five-star employee anyway, your manager is going to question your ability to honestly evaluate yourself and your work. That might lead them to question if you are right for the role or self-aware enough to commit to improvement.  

Instead, be honest about your shortcomings and come prepared with ways to address those issues and a plan for your own improvement. This will show your manager that you’re self-aware and proactive when it comes to improving yourself.

2) Don’t use your self-evaluation as a forum to air your grievances. We all probably have parts of our job we dislike. Your self-evaluation is not the time to bash your coworkers or complain about your job.

Instead, take note of the parts of your job you dread and ask yourself if there is a way to move away from those things. For example, if you want to complain about a particular task you’ve been assigned that isn’t part of your job description, set a goal to spend your time doing X, which has Y impact on the organization and include that you would be able to do X more efficiently if you were not doing the task you dislike.  

We hope you feel more prepared to work on your self-evaluation. Be sure to start with the Payscale salary survey to see where your salary compares to the market.   

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