Importance of Self Evaluations
Self-assessment is a crucial part of career growth, not only for an employee but also for the company as a whole. It is a chance for both the employer and employee to gauge their efforts, determine their respective goals, and make the necessary changes for the future. Both employer and employee should think of self-evaluations as a tool to align the values and goals of a company with its day-to-day work and improve as a whole.
Self-evaluation is often framed as a way to determine shortcomings. But great self-evaluations should also include and highlight achievements and successes. By acknowledging both, an individual is able to create and build confidence in what they are doing. For an employee working with a company, or an entrepreneur building a business, or a freelancer making a name for himself, acknowledging that you’ve met your goals and enjoying the rewards of your hard work is a good way to tell yourself that you’re on the right path in your professional career.
The importance of self-evaluations ultimately comes down to how it can benefit the individual by acknowledging both success and failure and setting new goals to move forward.
What to Include in a Self Evaluation
Evaluations differ from company to company, but there is one concept that may help you produce more consistent self-evaluations. The most important thing to keep in mind is to determine and set goals for each individual and for the company as a whole. These goals should follow the SMART acronym – which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
Specific goals must be set in order to avoid confusion and to keep things on track. These goals can be things like “Build a marketing plan to increase sales by 50% from the last year” or “Create a 7 day training curriculum to onboard new hires”. A goal is specific if there is a clear result of what must be done or be produced.
Goals should have a set of intended results or outcomes. The criteria for measurement can be different depending on the type of goal. An easy example would be for sales, how many products are we able to sell in 6 months. It may also involve less obvious metrics, like the number of inquiries in a given period. You can provide a scorecard and assign values to determine if the result was below or beyond expectations.
Goals must be achievable. You can’t set and expect difficult goals and punish an individual for not achieving something that historical data would suggest as impossible. This would create animosity between employees and companies, as employees would feel that management would love to see them fail (and possibly be ineligible for monetary bonuses, a common cost-saving tactic). As such, creating challenges and achievable goals is a good way to motivate individuals and give them a clear metric to surpass and go beyond expectations. Impossible and unfair goals only create problems down the line.
Keep goals relevant to the current situation. This goes hand in hand with the previous point in that goals should be achievable at the time whilst remaining relevant. Relevancy could also point towards just how the company or business will benefit from meeting these goals. To check if a goal is relevant is to ask yourself “How does this fit with the direction of the business” and “How will this goal evolve in the future”. Make sure to keep them relevant so as to not lose focus, and in order keep yourself on track.
The final aspect of SMART goals is timely. This means that your goals have a clear start and end. This final point is essentially a checklist of the 4 previous aspects. Timely goals are specific and relevant while being achievable for the individual with a way to measure progress and success.
Here’s a relevant video on self-evaluations from CIO:
Do’s and Don’ts of a Self Evaluation
Be proud of yourself. This is the time to acknowledge the great things you have done and achieved. Don’t be afraid to say that you were able to deliver when it comes to the challenges you’ve faced.
To help with the first point of being proud of yourself, it’s important to be specific. This helps in staying humble by sticking to the results and avoiding unnecessary anecdotes that will make you sound like you’re bragging. If goals should be specific, then results should be as well.
Another point to compliment the previous one is to be professional. If you did a good job, your work will speak for itself. You might be the top performer at your firm but nobody likes someone who undermines others. Keep personal problems out of the workplace (unless it involves issues with another coworker and negatively impacts your work performance).
An important thing to remember is to remain critical. Remember that there is always room to improve. You might have met expectations but it’s always good to acknowledge that you can go beyond them. Ask yourself some basic questions, like:
– What is it I am trying to achieve?
– Are my methods effective enough for achieving that result?
– What went well last month? What could have been better?
Some of the best questions are tough to answer. But a self-evaluation is all about facing the side of yourself that you’re not always proud of.
Don’t be shy. Think of it as a job interview and in a way, it kind of is. For some people, it’s definitely difficult to talk about good things about yourself and the things that you’ve done. While it is important to be humble, try not to undervalue yourself. This is definitely something that you’ll regret later on.
Don’t be vague. Again, be as specific as possible when outlining your achievements. You’ll know you’re being vague when your evaluator is asking a lot of follow up questions. Try to stick to a script and don’t leave out the important parts. You should know what metrics the evaluator would need to hear.
Don’t be negative. To complement the previous points, there is a fine line with being humble and unfairly criticizing yourself. You’ll say you’ve met a certain goal but finish it up with a negative thought. Instead, you should state the problem and end it with a solution. Coming up with ways to improve is not negative because you should also present and suggest solutions to overcome them. This shows you are determined to improve.
Tip: Obviously most self-evaluation interviews are not spontaneous. Usually, you’ll receive a form and after filling it out, you’ll be interviewed by your manager. It’s always good to self-evaluate yourself from time to time, so you’ll know what to say.
Next Steps After a Self Evaluation
Once you’ve completed your self-evaluation, it’s always best to gather feedback. In corporate settings, you’ll usually receive a follow-up interview a week or two after the evaluation. For most, this is when you’ll get your results and feedback from management. It’s always best to keep an open mind about whatever feedback you receive and to not beat yourself up over a less than satisfactory result.
The next thing you can do for yourself is to ask for training or find a mentor. You can approach your supervisor regarding this. Undergoing training allows you to refresh yourself with the basics or learn new skills. However, it’s always best to find a mentor and learn from them. The greatest thing in the world is experience. With a mentor, you’ll be able to learn from their experience while going through your own challenges. You’ll learn from a veteran who has been there and done that, whose methods you know actually work.
Finally, take this time to commit to being a life-long learner. By continuing to educate yourself, you’ll have a productive mindset not only with work but with your personal life as well. Someone who always strives to learn will always be ready to deal with any challenges they are faced with.
Self-evaluations are just one step in overall employee engagement. Learn about how to improve work-life balance as well.