The key to annual performance reviews that produce real results are employee self-evaluation forms. Self-evaluations increase the likelihood that employees will internalize and act on suggestions for growth from their supervisors.
This article briefly covers the method for choosing self-evaluation questions and how to interpret the responses so that employees are more likely to grow from their performance review. We’ll also supply you with some sample questions and templates to get you started.
A self-evaluation is a professional reflection tool focused on an employee’s personal and professional progress at a company. Whether you’re an entry-level intern or high-level manager, an individual assessment of your contributions is an invaluable practice.
Employee self-evaluations are often formatted as a series of questions designed to help staff analyze their own performance during a specific review period (such as the past year or the past quarter).
This is used to identify perceived strengths, weaknesses and to showcase specific examples of successes or areas of improvement. After completing a self-assessment questionnaire, employees submit their answers back to their managers. The manager will then read over the evaluation, using the contents as talking points throughout a 1:1 performance review.
Employee self-evaluations enhance transparency in the workplace by giving employers and managers an indication of how well the employee thinks he or she is doing. By understanding where an employee sees themselves, a manager can more easily build a bridge between perception and reality for their employees during the review meeting.
For transparency to be fully realized, managers will need to communicate that the point of a self-evaluation is to provide meaningful feedback and should be approached as a positive review process.
Recommended Reading: Best Practices for Transparent Communication in the Workplace
Giving staff members time to reflect on their own job performance creates a feeling of ownership which can lead to increased employee engagement. Owning the decision-making process that contributes to growing and harnessing one’s own skills is an easy way to keep employees around longer.
For managers, knowledge gleaned from self-assessments can make it a lot easier to manage employees. A manager who is truly listening to understand where an employee believes they’re accomplishing worthwhile goals will give further insights into personal goals, beliefs, aspirations, and their teammates’ personalities.
And this will help to position them where they’re likely to be happiest in the coming year and further down the line within your organization’s succession plans.
When writing self-evaluations, it’s helpful to understand some of the best practices. If you’re an employee at a company, feel free to pass these on to team members. If you’re a manager, hand these out to your staff.
You want your manager to see how much you have improved, especially if you and your manager had prior goals set from a previous review meeting.
During the self-evaluation, think about the specific actions you have done through this performance period. This will show that you were focused on previously discussed goals and that you take your professional development seriously.
It also illustrates that you understand how to set goals for yourself, especially if you’ve set measurable goals not previously identified by your company leaders.
You’ll want to prove that you’ve been accomplishing your goals to your manager. If you can, provide concrete evidence by diving into specific projects that you completed since your last self-evaluation.
It can be helpful to document accomplishments throughout the year in a Google Doc or written down somewhere safe so that you can quickly draw up specific examples when filling out the self-evaluation form. Having screenshots of shoutouts and peer recognition will also give you additional evidence.
In a self-evaluation, avoid talking about how you’re performing better than others or how you could be doing way better if the people around you were better at their jobs. Instead, remember that this is a valuable time to focus on you and only you.
If you have messed up, own it and show that you have learned from the constructive feedback you received.
If your team failed and it was not specifically your fault, explore how you could have better supported them or exhibited better teamwork. This will show maturity on your part by having the willingness to admit that you were a part of a larger goal and are moving forward with a growth mindset.
While you are important to the company, don’t forget about the goals of the business. Reflect on how your efforts and accomplishments bring the company closer to its goals.
If you realize that your accomplishments might not be helping the company as much as you’d like, then make sure you set alignment goals for the next performance period. Your manager will appreciate the awareness.
Show your manager what it is that you believe in. For example, you might want to mention how you value working as a team to overcome problems. Or, discuss how much you focus on contributing to a friendly and safe work environment for all of the people in the company. Not everything about your self-assessment has to be related to your job.
This type of expression will give your manager a chance to see where your priorities are as a human being and give leaders at your company more context on what motivates you.
Whether you believe your performance has been strong or could be stronger, take this opportunity to ask for what you want from the company.
If you believe that you had a very strong performance, you might be in a good position to ask for additional responsibilities along with a promotion and a raise.
On the other hand, if you felt like your performance was lacking for any particular reason, ask for additional support and training to facilitate your growth. If you think that you’d be better suited in another department or role, lay out your case.
It’s important that you know what kind of answers employers are looking for, and how best to answer their questions. These next couple of points are meant to give you an idea of what specific phrases signify to managers.
I messed up here but…
I excel in this area because…
I am excellent at doing…
I did extremely well when it came to…
This turned out well because I…
I worked hard to achieve X and I succeeded because…
I think I could improve…
My next goal is…
In this area I…
I am able to communicate effectively with a team…
I often find myself taking charge of…
People look to me when…
It’s time to look at the manager’s role in conducting employee self-evaluations. Let’s go over a couple of types of self-evaluation questionnaires as well as useful sample questions. Employee Self-Evaluation Template for Download
Open-ended self-evaluations give employees a chance to tell “their side of the story.” These are usually ten or more open-ended questions that function as a prompt.
Your employees will have as much space to respond as you give them. These tend to allow people to both interpret questions themselves and to include any related topics that they wish to discuss.
More engaging for employees
Responses give managers and employees more jumping-off points for discussion
Time-consuming for managers to review
Meeting facilitation will need to be well structured to avoid unproductive tangents
Sliding-scale self-evaluations present employees with a series of statements instead of questions. Employees then choose from a set of responses, such as “strongly agree” or “strongly disagree.”
Managers can also complete the evaluation based on their perception of an employee, then both parties can compare responses during a review meeting
Ideal for managers with large teams
Less time-consuming for employees to complete
Less engaging for employees
Can be constraining for employees
Recommended Reading: Tips for Managing Employees More Efficiently
Interested in learning how to write a self-appraisal for an annual performance review?
Below are ten specific questions that fall within those categories, as well as some insights about why you should include them and how to make the most of employee responses:
A surefire way to get employees engaged with self-evaluation is to start the process on a positive note. Unless they have no desire to stay in their current role, everyone will love discussing aspects that make them happiest.
Any aspects you do that aren’t part of your description? Jobs evolve. New needs arise while old expectations get phased out. A performance review is a chance for a manager to discuss with an employee if those changes are appropriate and align with company objectives.
While it’s rarely possible for employees to get to do everything they love and nothing they don’t, as a manager you might consider dividing work among team members in ways that are conscious of their preferences.
What do you think made that so successful? Employees who feel valued for their contributions tend to be happier and more productive. This question gives them an opportunity to receive recognition while drawing connections to the skills or habits that made those successes possible.
This question gives employees a chance to acknowledge the day-to-day tasks and skills that contribute to their overall success. Managers can discuss how strongly they agree with the employee’s self-evaluation, or if there are other ways that they excel that they haven’t considered.
What support would’ve helped you? Some failures, mistakes, or shortcomings are a natural part of professional development. Reflection on those instances is the first step toward preventing them from happening again.
Building on the last question gives employees an opportunity to consider how they’d like to grow so that they can better contribute to the company.
Employees who have some say in setting their own goals, such as a number of deals won, are more likely to buy in and follow through. As a manager, you can work with them to make sure those goals align with company objectives.
Recommended Reading: How to Set Professional Development Goals [+Downloadable Template]
If support and educational resources are available, employees should have access to them. Better-trained employees usually mean better results for the company.
What support would help you prepare for those goals? While it’s not necessarily a manager’s responsibility to prepare employees for their long-term career goals, investing in their development can increase their engagement and productivity while still on the company’s payroll.
Self-evaluations are essential for employees and managers as companies develop and mature. Make sure you’re ready for your next evaluation by downloading our handy employee self-evaluation template.
Try them out during your next performance reviews and enjoy having more engaged, growth-minded employees.