Is It Time for a Self Evaluation at Work?

For some employees, there’s nothing more dreaded than review time, especially if your performance dictates whether you’ll be getting a raise for the upcoming year. But while getting reviewed by a manager is nerve-wracking in its own right, perhaps the most stressful piece of the puzzle comes in the form of the self-evaluation.

In recent years, more and more companies have taken to asking employees to evaluate their own performances instead of just hearing things from the manager perspective. The idea behind it is to give employees a voice so they feel as though they’re more active participants in the process. Unfortunately, what should be a good thing for most employees is typically a source of stress.

Most self-evaluations ask you to summarize your strengths and successes on the job. Sing your own praises too loudly, and you’ll come off as conceited. Fail to hoot your own horn, and your boss might start to wonder why you were hired in the first place.

Similarly, most of these forms ask you to indicate what challenges or weaknesses you face. Say nothing, and your boss will ding you for failing to take ownership of your shortcomings. Say too much, and you just might cause a lightbulb to go off inside your boss’s head along the lines of “Oh yeah, Sue does back down a lot when conflict arises.”

Whether this is your first time tackling a self-evaluation or your fifth, here are a few tips to help you strike that ideal balance and come out ahead:

Be Honest
Companies ask their employees for self-evaluations because they want to know what people like you are really thinking. Use this as an opportunity to share your thoughts on your performance, career and working environment. If asked, for example, what you’d like to change about your role, don’t be afraid to go into diplomatic detail about your boss’s tendency to load up your plate with administrative work when you should really be focusing more on actual marketing.

Be Specific
You shouldn’t shy away from pointing out the qualities that make you a star employee, but here’s where you’ll really want to stay away from exaggeration and fluff. Rather than use buzz words like “determined” and “thorough” to describe yourself, point to actual successes you’ve achieved while on the job. Let’s say you’re tasked with managing your company’s invoices and spotted multiple discrepancies over the course of the year that would’ve cost the business thousands if left unnoticed. Rather than just tout your attention to detail, put down some hard numbers so your boss can see how valuable your contributions have been.

Be Humble
Nobody’s perfect. Your boss is going to want to see you own up to your weaknesses, as doing so is a sign of professional maturity and growth. Instead of pretending that they don’t exist, find a way to spin them in a positive fashion. If you have a tendency to make mistakes on presentations when you feel rushed, don’t just say that point blank, and don’t try to assign blame. Instead, acknowledge your errors and show your boss that you’ve put some thought into improving. You could say: “I need to work on putting together cleaner presentations even when faced with time constraints. Going forward, I’ll try to gather data in advance to give myself more time to produce quality work.”

Yes, self-evaluations can be stressful, but they can also present a real opportunity to have your voice heard. As long as you’re up-front, respectful and realistic, you can get through the process with both your sanity and your reputation neatly intact.

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