Knowing how to evaluate yourself and provide constructive feedback is crucial to professional growth. Too much positivity might raise red flags for management, since stakeholders are always looking for self-aware employees who can grow in their roles. Being overly negative lowers self-esteem, creates anxiety, and diminishes your worth in front of management.

Self-evaluations are an integral part of the performance review process; they help people gain a better perspective on how they’re doing in the workplace, as well as how they can improve. When done right, they can be highly effective.

Unfortunately, most employees dread this part of the annual review process, unsure how to summarize their achievements and balance them with their perceived weaknesses.

Fear not; there is no anecdote written in stone, but these four self-evaluation tips will help you learn how to write a self-assessment that is honest, effective and beneficial to both you and your employer.

1. Set Goals

Use self-evaluations as a way to measure how your current progress aligns with your professional goals. A self-evaluation is not meant to only reflect what you’re doing now — it’s about where you want to go. 

You can use your self-evaluation to express your ambition, then ask your boss how you can move forward. Career advancement requires honesty and humbleness. Receiving feedback does not mean you have done anything wrong — being able to establish goals and accept suggestions on how to reach them is the best way to stimulate professional growth.

This combination of honesty and feedback will help you craft and create goals that can lead you further in your career. For example, a few years ago I knew that progressing on the career path I wanted would take a lot more knowledge than I had at the time. I knew I had areas I could improve on, so I made the goal to complete my MBA. With time, patience, and support from those around me, I was able to return to school to further my education. 

These same goals can be set by each one of us, although they won’t take the same shape for everyone. Your goals could include self-mastery, reading more books, learning a new skill, or ditching a bad habit. All that matters is that they’re career-focused and can move you forward in life.

If you’re stuck and can’t think of goals to set, read further as we discuss how to analyze your performance and find areas or categories for improvement. These can offer some inspiration when setting actionable and relevant goals.

2. Use Data When You Can

One of the main purposes of self-evaluation is to demonstrate your value to the company. By using data, you can illustrate your contribution concretely. Instead of writing, “Exceeded quarterly sales objectives,” provide the exact percentage. Did you exceed by 20 percent? 50 percent? 

This is an effective way to let your success speak for you. Often, supporting data can speak more fluently than your own words. Rather than explaining why an accomplishment is important, your numbers will act as supporting evidence and can help you set more accurate goals. 

I would suggest reviewing the goals you set during your last self-evaluation, primarily about data. This is the easiest way to measure whether or not you reached your quotas or goals in the last period.

For those of us working in sales, using data and creating data-driven goals is easy. Take a look at your quota, the sales you’ve made as your contribution to the company, and compare. This comparison will lead you to better understand what areas you should be working on and what goals should be set for the next quarter and year. For others who aren’t used to setting data-driven goals, try looking at the most important data points you can use to benchmark success and create a baseline from the previous year. You can then measure your success year-over-year.

3. Incorporate Your Company’s Core Values

One of the best ways to write stellar corporate self-evaluations is to make sure your results align with your company’s overarching values. For example, if you work for a business that heavily emphasizes customer satisfaction, find a way to demonstrate how you support customer satisfaction and how you would like to improve in your performance review.

If your company strongly stresses teamwork as their most important value, be sure to emphasize your team experiences in your self-evaluation. Whether the results are positive or negative, demonstrating your understanding of the values alone can be beneficial and help to make you feel like more than an employee, but an integrated part of the company. Have scenarios prepared to describe the team situations your were in, the actions you took, and the results that came from your actions.

Another common value among companies is the principle of diversity and inclusion. Make it a point to show how you have integrated people from different walks of life into your team. Discuss issues you’ve had and how you overcame them in order to maintain balance and success in your work. 

Self-assessments should demonstrate how your goals align with your company’s. These company values are developed and agreed upon to help employees like you be more successful and engage in work that the entire company can be proud of. Ultimately, you need to display your strengths and how they enable you to perform your role well. Use your success as the building blocks for your goals and the company’s goals.

4. Highlight New Skillsets and Education

Have you taken a certification program or furthered your degree? Maybe you picked up on new skills that are applicable in the workplace. By expressing how these educational advancements have made you better at your job, you’ll show your employer that you’re invested in growing not only as an individual, but also within the company. Odds are they’ll greatly appreciate what you’ve learned.

Use hard data whenever possible to illustrate how the things you’ve learned have translated into professional success. What came from the certification you received? You may also want to list notable skills or achievements you’ve conquered outside of work. Did you organize a charity event or participate in any organization? Demonstrate your dynamics in a way that is relevant to your industry.

As we talked about previously, an important part of your self-evaluation is looking forward to the future and setting goals. These goals should also include new skills and education that you hope to achieve in the future. Highlight the areas you want to develop, and then outline what new skills you need to reach those goals. These should be specific and attainable.

But what if you did poorly?

Writing a self-appraisal may come naturally if you’ve been having a great year, but what about those whose performance hasn’t been top-notch? You might feel like you have nothing to offer your company or are bracing yourself for a performance assessment riddled with harsh criticisms and shortcomings. 

Remember: this is not the end of the world. Often, we are harsher on ourselves than those around us since we see firsthand how our work progresses over time.

Do not submit an entirely negative self-evaluation. Always be honest about areas of improvement, but don’t feel the need to chronicle every minor error. Instead, spin your failures in a positive way that demonstrates how you’ve learned from your mistakes and what the future will hold for you. 

How are you actively implementing your improvements today? What key takeaways did you learn from major setbacks? Turn your shortcomings into strengths by describing what you learned and how you will implement the new knowledge you have obtained.

What Employers Want from a Self-Evaluation

What employers really want to see on your self-evaluation is that you are capable of recognizing your own growth and demonstrating self-awareness. People with a running list of achievements but no skill growth are still at a disadvantage, so be sure to evaluate yourself in a balanced way. 

Remember: there are definitely wrong ways to do a self-evaluation. Focusing only on achievements or solely on the negative aspects can be detrimental to the overall productivity of your evaluation. Balancing the pros and cons of your past performance is key to developing productive goals and improving for your future, and the future of your company.

Your self-evaluation should articulate how you feel about the work that you’ve done. Using strong data will give legitimacy to how you feel and will allow you to set clear, focused goals to move into a new quarter or year. Take your time writing your self-appraisal, and do not be afraid to be honest. After all, this is your opportunity to really let your boss know how you feel about your job, the company, and what you’re doing to make the most out of the opportunity you’ve been given. 

With these four tips, center your perspective on creating a positive future for yourself within the company.

Kevin Gardner graduated with a BS in Computer Science and an MBA from UCLA. He works as a business consultant for InnovateBTS where he helps companies integrate technology to improve performance. He shares his knowledge and expertise not only with his clients but with his fellow bloggers and readers.

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