How to Make Self-Evaluations Part of Your Performance Review Process

We’re all aware of the stigma that surrounds performance reviews. Even if you have never gone through the process yourself, you’ve probably read one of the many articles outlining all their pitfalls.

One issue that always makes the list is the anxiety employees experience when it is time to discuss their performance with their manager. They go into the meeting completely unaware of what to expect. And that is a scary proposition when the discussion can change the course of their career and livelihood.  

Forward-thinking organizations have resolved many of the challenges with employee reviews by taking a modern approach to performance management. They set clear goals for each team member, provide frequent feedback, and ask employees to evaluate themselves during the formal review process.  

Self-evaluations give employees a voice in their performance evaluation. Their manager still leads the process but the employee gets to be an active participant rather than a bystander. Let’s explore the specific advantages employee self-evaluations offer and how your organization can make them part of its employee performance evaluations.

Self-evaluations create a dialogue around performance

Employees are the subjects of their performance review, so shouldn’t they be part of the conversation? In a traditional evaluation, they’re expected to sit and listen as they’re told how they’re doing at their job. They can only hope their successes haven’t gone unnoticed and their shortcomings won’t be overemphasized. 

A self-evaluation not only makes performance reviews a two-way conversation. It also brings a first-person perspective to the process, helping the manager provide an accurate assessment. They can learn if the employee is already aware of where they’re excelling or falling short so they know what to focus on during the conversation. For example, some employees may be overly-critical of themselves and the discussion will be better served reassuring them that they are doing a good job. In other cases, they may think they’re doing well in a certain area and the manager will have to point out their need for improvement.

Self-evaluations provide the whole story

Annual, or even quarterly, performance appraisals require a manager to recall a lot of details about an employee’s performance. And assuming they have multiple direct reports to review, they’re likely going to misremember or overlook key details.

An individual employee, however, is intimately familiar with every milestone they accomplished during the review period. They’ll outline all their achievements so their final evaluation accounts for every win they had a hand in. 

The employee’s self-evaluation will also reveal the challenges they experienced that their manager and human resources may be unaware of. For example, they can share if they feel they didn’t have the necessary tools, resources, or support to take on a certain project or set of tasks. They can also point out if priorities shifted during the review period, pulling them away from their main job responsibilities and objectives. 

The little details revealed by the employee’s self-appraisal—combined with the manager’s evaluation—provide a complete picture of their ups and downs during the review period. The employee gets to share their side of the story and will come away feeling like all the facts were considered. 

Self-evaluations make employees receptive to reviews

The mere act of completing a self-evaluation will influence the employee’s performance and behavior going forward. Even before they hear their manager’s thoughts, completing a review form encourages them to consider if they’re meeting all their employer’s expectations—especially secondary competencies like teamwork and communication. They might conclude they’re effectively accomplishing their individual tasks but can do a better job supporting their co-workers.

These self-realizations also make the conversation with their manager more productive. The employee will come prepared to discuss what they want to do better in the next review period. Instead of recapping past goals and projects, the conversation will focus on what the employee can do to grow into a well-rounded team member. 

Self-evaluations help with professional development planning

A self-assessment isn’t just for reviewing past performance. It is also an opportunity for the employee to share what they hope to achieve in the future.

In addition to asking them to rate themselves on performance and behavioral competencies, you can also request they outline their goals for the coming review period and beyond. They can then create a professional development plan with their manager during the post-review catchup that lists new tasks they’ll take on and skills they’ll learn.

The manager and employee should revisit the plan in each future evaluation meeting. If the employee consistently makes strides, it is worth considering them for higher-level positions within the organization.

Customize your organization’s self-evaluations

Using the Reviewsnap performance management solution, your organization can not only include self-evaluations in its reviews. You can also customize the appraisal forms employees complete to align with your organization’s performance review process. Here is an overview of what is included in the feature:

  • Choose the competencies you include – Plug in the different review criteria you want each employee to rate themselves on. 
  • Add descriptions to support competencies – Include a couple sentences with each competency that help employees understand exactly what to consider in their ratings. 
  • Allow for comments – Give employees the opportunity to provide context and examples to support their ratings. They can also write a final summary comment where they sum up their performance as a whole.  
  • Include open-ended questions – In addition to ratings themselves, employees can also answer questions that provide deeper insight into how they view their performance. 
  • Pull in notes employees took on themselves Reviewsnap includes a notes feature that allows managers and employees to document performance throughout the review period. The employee can include relevant notes in their self-evaluation.
  • Calculate a final self-review score – All the employee’s self-ratings are combined into a final score that can be compared against their manager’s evaluation score. 

These features make implementing self-evaluations seamless and boost the employee engagement of your workforce.

Bonus: Tips for employees completing their self-reviews

Hopefully, we’ve convinced you to make self-evaluations part of your employee reviews. Now let’s run through some tips you can provide to your employees to help them share their authentic thoughts and feelings. 

Take time to remember everything you can

Don’t try to complete your self-review in one sitting. Instead, open the form and get familiar with the different competencies you’ll rate yourself on and questions you’ll answer. Fill in the easy-to-complete sections but take a day or two to think about the ones you’re not sure about. You’ll likely have an ah-ha moment and remember a detail that demonstrates your success in a certain area.

Back up your claims with examples and data

As you recall specific examples, use them to support the ratings you give yourself in your evaluation. Highlight any major accomplishments you had in the comments section of competencies or the open-ended questions you answer.

You should also review any KPIs that apply to your position. Compare relevant metrics from the review period to previous periods to demonstrate the progress you’re making in your role. Don’t just try to make anecdotal claims about your performance, include indisputable facts in your self-evaluation. 

Be confident in yourself

A lot of professionals try to be humble when reviewing their own job performance. They don’t want to come across as arrogant so they downplay their successes.

Don’t sell yourself short. Your self-evaluation is your one chance to talk about every success you had during the review period. Don’t be afraid to clearly state all your wins and the professional strides you made. This is your career after all, so do everything you can to show your employer that you’re a great member of the team.

But do identify where you want to improve

While you should be confident in your self-evaluation, also identify where you stand to improve at your job. Come to the meeting with your manager prepared to discuss the professional growth you want to make and your plan for achieving it. You both can then work together to form a professional development plan.

Taking a balanced approach to your self-evaluation makes your successes stand out. You won’t come across as someone who thinks they’re perfect at their job. Instead, you’ll present as a level-headed professional who is good at what they do but always trying to get better.

Have an open mind in your meeting with your manager

Keep in mind that you and your manager won’t see eye-to-eye on every aspect of your performance. They have a different perspective and will come to the meeting with their own ideas of where you can improve.

They’ll be open to the thoughts you included in your self-review and you too should be open to their feedback. Be prepared to have a cordial conversation where you both come to an agreement on what you’re doing well and what you can do better.

Round out performance reviews with self-evaluations

Self-evaluations are a hallmark of a modern performance management process. If you want to learn more about how Reviewsnap can help your organization carry out effective performance reviews that your employees are receptive to, request a live demo today!