Mastering the self-review




The primary purpose of a performance evaluation or a self-review is to encourage communication about job performance between you and your manager. Additionally, the performance evaluation meeting is an ideal time to discuss:


  • the quality and quantity of work accomplished by the employee
  • your business goals for the quarter or evaluation time period
  • your goals for performance enhancement and improvement
  • the next steps for your personal and business development in your job and career

Six steps to completing a great self-review

  1. State your accomplishments. Look at previous feedback received, projects you’ve completed and initiatives you’ve launched — all excellent fodder. If you haven’t done so in the past, start keeping an accomplishments file. It will make your next self-appraisal that much easier to complete.
  2. Show what you’ve learned. What have you learned in the past year? Look to identify the ways in which you’ve been able to enhance your skills. Describe the new skills you’ve mastered and how they’ve helped you in your career development. Describe how you’ve applied these new skills to your job and how they support the goals of your department and organization.
  3. List your hurdles.This isn’t an annual opportunity for shameless self-promotion. It’s an opportunity for some humility. Be candid about your challenges in the year. Describe how you overcame them or the steps you will take in the year ahead to address them.
  4. Be honest. Don’t embellish your accomplishments. Think hard about how you choose your ratings for yourself. Your manager will likely want you to support your ratings, so be prepared to provide examples of why you deserve that high rating and examples of your not-so-great performance (why you may deserve a weaker rating).

A good exercise to get a more honest reaction to a given situation is to write whatever immediately comes to mind, then go back and edit what you’ve written. This form of uncensored writing is called “bulldozing.”

Mental distortions occur after you’ve spent some time thinking about an issue. You have a gut reaction that doesn’t fit your self-image, so you distort that gut reaction to fit the self-image. If you get in the habit of writing things without censorship, you can avoid distortion.

  1. Take your time and do it well. Your manager can tell if you rushed your self-appraisal. So take the time needed to do it justice. After all, your self-appraisal is all about you, and you’re worth it!

Use all the space and features provided in the form to tell your story. Have a trusted coworker read your review to gauge how well the review is written and supported.

  1. Be thoughtful. Treat your self-review like a work of art that builds over time. You’ll be much happier with the end result if you give yourself time to reflect and carefully support your self-assessment.

As I mentioned above, use examples to support your accomplishments and make sure that you spell-check and grammar-check your review. These are all signs of how seriously you take the process and its importance to you.

Get ready for a great exchange!

Your self-review is a crucial component to providing a “complete picture” of your performance. It’s also a key part of development. So take the time to reflect on your successes, challenges and lessons learned.

Don’t forget to bring a copy with you to your performance review meeting with your manager to use as a reference!


Tammy McIntyre, M.Ed. is a workforce development consultant providing individuals and small businesses with career development services. She welcomes reader responses to