Starting your performance review process with a self-evaluation is a great way to alleviate stress on both your team’s side and your end. While your teammates get a chance to reflect on their past year and prepare themselves for the review meeting with their direct report, you can gain valuable insight into their perceived strengths, areas for improvement, goals, and needs.
Self-evaluations, or self-assessments, are powerful tools that can help your teammates reflect on their performance, reset their goals, and communicate their expectations.
Whether you have a quarterly, bi-annual, or annual performance review coming up—getting your team started with a self-evaluation is a great way to kickstart the process. It allows them to go into a reflective dialogue with you during your official review meeting rather than feeling overwhelmed and insecure about what may happen.
In this article, we’ll explore the value that self-evaluation can add to your performance review process, give examples of how to answer some of the most common questions, and provide a free self-assessment template you can use during your next performance review cycle.
When you start the performance review process with a self-evaluation, you’re actually doing yourself and your team a favor. Besides making it easier for you to understand how your teammates view their accomplishments, you’re also giving them a chance to reflect on their performance rather than just being told how they did.
But that’s not all. Take a look at the six most powerful benefits of self-evaluations:
Imagine two scenarios: in the first scenario, you tell your teammate that their problem-solving skills have been less than satisfactory and they need to improve them. In scenario two, your team member realizes that their problem-solving skills have room for improvement and—as a bonus—come to you on their own with ideas on how they can grow that skill.
In which scenario do you think your teammate would feel more motivated? Probably the latter. That’s because the second scenario gives your team member time to reflect on their performance and come to their own conclusions. Case in point, a Harvard Business School study found that reflection can build your confidence in the ability to achieve a goal and can influence your overall performance.
Self-evaluations are the perfect chance for your team to reflect on their impact on the organization and how they want to continue to grow in their role.Read: What is a professional development plan (PDP)? 6 steps to create one
Lack of clarity on roles, ownership, and purpose of deliverables can negatively affect team performance. Unclear roles and responsibilities cause missed work, miscommunication, and—in the worst case—duplicated work. In fact, the Anatomy of Work report 2021 found that workers lose over 236 hours per year working on already-completed tasks.
Self-evaluations challenge your team members to reflect on their roles and responsibilities. They can use this tool to find clarity on what is expected of them, especially if there are instances when they don’t live up to their role’s responsibilities or when they tend to go overboard.
One surefire way of improving employee satisfaction is to increase engagement. Teammates who feel like they’re in charge of their career growth, know what they’re contributing to the organization, and feel heard by their managers are more likely to enjoy doing their work.
By allowing your team to evaluate themselves rather than just springing your observations on them, you give them the opportunity to engage and actively contribute to their overall workplace happiness.
Let’s be real: Managers aren’t generally involved in every task and every project. Although they know, at a high level, what their teammates accomplish, they usually don’t have insight into all of the details. Maybe you didn’t realize how much of a challenge a task was or missed how proud a team member was of hitting a certain goal.
Your teammates know best what they’ve accomplished over the past period, and they can use their self-evaluation form to showcase all of their work. This gives them a higher sense of achievement and allows you to see what they’re most proud of. It’s a win-win for everyone.
It can be hard to talk about your own accomplishments! Not just that but many self-evaluations require your team to write down their accomplishments and reflect on their work in full sentences. Learning to do so is critical for career development conversations, resume building, and networking.
The self-evaluation process will challenge your team members to improve their communication skills by teaching them how to clearly and precisely convey their achievements and goals in writing. Plus, giving your team members an opportunity to talk about these accomplishments boosts their confidence.
A manager who lets their team members evaluate themselves—instead of springing observations on them—puts the ball in their court. The 1:1 that follows the self-evaluation is an ideal opportunity to build trust. Give your teammate the chance to lead the conversation. Ask them to elaborate on the strengths, areas of opportunity, and goals they’ve included in their self-evaluation.
Team members who develop a trusting relationship with their direct reports are more likely to feel supported, reflect on their work, and in turn, perform better at their job.Read: Don’t like giving feedback? These 20 tips are for you
The most difficult part about a self-evaluation is that your team has to write about their performance rather than just checking boxes. While this gives teammates the opportunity to showcase their work in more detail and depth than other assessments, it can also be a challenge to find the right words.
Whether you’re a manager writing your own self-evaluation or an individual contributor tackling this type of performance evaluation for the first time, here are our top 6 tips for writing a great self-evaluation:
This should go without saying, but don’t over- or undersell your job performance. Be honest with yourself and try your best to find a healthy balance between staying humble and highlighting the achievements you’re proud of.
Don’t: I’ve led 13 webinars this past year which were a huge success.
Do: I’ve led 13 webinars this past year, most of which had a lot of positive engagement and conversation. However, I noticed one area of opportunity for me is to work on facilitating questions when the participants are shy. I strongly feel that I can use my leadership and emotional intelligence skills to better connect with a shy crowd and encourage them to be honest about their questions.
There’s a reason that most self-evaluation templates come with pre-sized text boxes. You’re not supposed to write a whole novel but you also don’t want to leave your manager guessing what you really mean. Before you start writing, think about what you want to tell your manager. Then, focus on getting to the point as quickly and precisely as possible.
Don’t: My teammates like working with me.
Do: I know how to make my team members feel comfortable and welcomed. I excel at collaborative and cross-functional work because I know when to delegate, how to give constructive feedback, and what tasks to take charge of to drive both the team’s and the project’s success.
Whether you’ve had an unsatisfying period at work or are just very critical of your work, always phrase your self-evaluation in a positive and goal-oriented way. Rather than beating yourself up over a missed goal, frame it as a new goal or opportunity for the upcoming period.
Staying positive in your self-evaluation shows your manager that you’re aware of your growth opportunities and are already figuring out how to hit your goals next period.
Don’t: I wasn’t able to complete my project.
Do: My project hit some roadblocks last year due to shortages in our supply chain. While I wasn’t able to complete the project, my team and I were able to partially overcome the shortages by outsourcing 30% of our manufacturing needs. I’m confident that we can stick to the adjusted timeline and launch our product in April of this year.
A self-evaluation is your chance to give specific examples—both about your accomplishments and the things you fell short on. Quantify your contributions whenever possible. This will also help your manager ask better questions during your review meeting.
Don’t: I added a lot of new clients to our profile last quarter.
Do: I reached out to 86 prospects last quarter, out of which 21 converted to new clients. The previous quarter I only converted 13 out of 75 prospects—this shows that I’ve improved the volume and quality of my pitches over the last period.
A performance review doesn’t only reflect on your past performance—it’s also a chance to set new goals for the upcoming period. Create specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goals for yourself so you can reference these metrics when you’re writing your self-evaluation for the next review period.
Don’t: I want to make more sales.
Do: By June, I will increase my sales by 30% by participating in our weekly sales meetings where we share new strategies, wins, and lessons learned .
Finally, your self-evaluation will come much easier to you when you keep track of your accomplishments throughout the review period. Rather than scrambling to write down all of your achievements the day you’re writing a self-evaluation, keep a running list throughout the review period.
If you don’t already, use a to do list tool to keep track of everything you’re working on. Then, when the self-evaluation rolls around, simply click through any completed assignments or reference important milestones so you will know exactly what to include in your report.Organize work with Asana
Below is a filled-out example of what a self-evaluation could look like for a communications specialist. If you’re a manager, you can use our review template in your evaluation process. If you have a self-evaluation coming up for yourself, practice your reflection and writing skills with our template so you will feel prepared for the real deal.
You can download a blank version of this self-evaluation template below.Free self-evaluation template
Experiencing writer’s block? Use this sentence template and fill in the blanks:
“Last [period of time], I [describe the achievement] by [describe how you did it]. [Explain further if applicable].”
Example: Last quarter, I delivered all of my projects on time by improving my time management skills using the Pomodoro technique. I also blocked two hours every morning in my calendar to focus on working through my emails and setting goals for each day.”
Here’s another sentence template that you can use to set a goal for the next review period:
“Reflecting on my performance has shown me that I want to work on [describe area of opportunity]. I believe that improving [area of opportunity] will help me to [reason why you want to improve here]. My goal is to [describe SMART goal].”
Example: Reflecting on my performance has shown me that I want to work on my creativity and take my designs outside of my comfort zone. I believe that improving my people-drawing skills will help me broaden my portfolio and work on a wider variety of clients. My goal is to spend thirty minutes every workday drawing people and reviewing my progress with my manager during our weekly 1:1s so I can become more confident in this skill by the next review period.
After their self-evaluations, your teammates should have a better understanding of their opportunities for growth—now’s the perfect moment for them to set new goals for themselves.
Use Asana’s goal-setting software to help your team set and track their goals. Besides seeing their progress in real-time, they’ll also be able to look back on their achievements in Asana and complete their self-evaluation with absolute certainty on what they’ve accomplished.Set and achieve goals with Asana