Get the Most Out of Employee Self-Evaluations

Gone are the "typical" annual performance reviews, in which an employee and their boss or supervisor meet just once a year to go over their performance and evaluate them in one conversation. It's much more effective to have ongoing, regular dialogue and even more beneficial to conduct a employee self-evaluation and provide constructive feedback between a leader and team member. This can help an employee on their professional development journey address weaknesses and go over their job responsibilities and career goals. Managers can work with their team members to help them do an employee self-evaluation as an important addition to their performance review. This can provide honest insights for both the manager and employee while allowing employees to have more of a say in their performance evaluation.

What is an Employee Self-Assessment?

So, what is an employee self-evaluation? It's a type of self-assessment, typically part of a performance review, that an employee conducts to reflect on their progress or performance. It's a way to take control and provides a form of self-reflection for employees instead of the more traditional annual review, where an employee doesn't get much of a say. Employees can evaluate their performance and identify areas for improvement while their managers help them focus on improving their skill set. You may be wondering when this sort of self-review is conducted and when it's appropriate for employees to complete self-assessments. This type of evaluation helps both human resources and employees to look for areas for improvement while simultaneously celebrating performance wins, professional growth, and development and seeing how much progress employees have made during the review period.

What is the Purpose of a Self-Evaluation?

The self-evaluation portion of performance reviews allows employees to self-reflect and share how they feel they contribute to the bigger picture of the organization. The self-assessment demonstrates how well the team member fulfills their job description and overall job performance. A self-review helps both employees and their leadership team. It improves the overall employee experience by focusing on areas of personal growth, where an employee may see themselves going with a company, and helping them learn new skills or achieve a greater sense of purpose. It helps the organization with continuous improvement from all staff members, which can improve employee engagement, increase sales, and lead to becoming an employer of choice. Employees can have more ownership over their role within the company, which can especially impact small businesses with smaller teams.

How often should a self-evaluation be conducted?

Most organizations agree that self-evaluations should be conducted more often than only once annually. Every 3-6 months, with quarterly opportunities for a performance review, is recognized as being one of the best ways to accurately judge performance and allow for regular feedback. Ultimately, it depends; on your company size, what your business is hoping to achieve, and the areas for improvement among employees and managers, among other things. Performance reviews should provide opportunities for regular feedback, ongoing dialogue, and especially difficult conversations. Not every leader is a good communicator. Completing a self-evaluation with their staff members allows them to improve their ability to communicate with employees at all levels to work together, solve problems, and build trust.

employee self-evaluation

It may also vary from person to person. Let's consider this example. In the last review, an employee addressed their lack of time management skills. If they have been improving this area or have even fully developed this new skill, it should not need to be a focus for improvement during the next review period. Their self-evaluation may list this as an example of improved performance, especially if it was improved in a timely manner.

This process is helpful to not only reflect on the past year but allows for self-reflection on smaller, more manageable goals. When they can take ownership of their performance evaluations, employees feel empowered to find solutions they otherwise may not have felt confident seeking.

Performance Review Examples for an Effective self-assessment

You or your managers may already feel confident writing a traditional performance review but aren't familiar with best practices when it comes to self-assessments. We've shared a performance review template you can review here. Still, these are some ways managers and leadership can help employees increase self-awareness and have a written document for self-assessments. They can start writing a self-review, or you can provide a template where an employee rates themselves in certain areas and adds comments.

  • Ask your employees about their job future within the organization. Some examples of questions to ask the employee to think regarding their career goals are

    1. What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
    2. What position do you see yourself obtaining within our organization?
    3. Do you have the skills and resources you need to fulfill your daily responsibilities?
    4. What are your professional development goals?
  • Ask for (and provide) feedback from performance reviews from the past year. You want to ensure that your employees feel their position is valuable and feel confident that they are receiving the proper guidance to fulfill their role. Some questions surrounding feedback include:
  1. Is there anything I (or the company) could do better to support you in your role?
  2. What feedback do you have from the last performance review we completed together? 
employee self-assessments

Ideas to Expand on Employee Self-Evaluation

Share the importance of a self-assessment. The more thorough and introspective a self-review is, the better. You could assist your employee with the following statements to complete or share an example for them.

  1. I believe my biggest strengths are...
  2. I am the proudest of/my most significant contribution is... 
  3. The goals I completed since my last self-assessment are...
  4. Some of the responsibilities I have taken on since taking my position include...
  5. I could use more assistance or support from my managers with...
  6. The thing(s) I enjoy the most about my current position are...
  7. I believe I have made significant progress in...
  8. Some of the ways I am helping the company achieve organizational goals are...
  9. My biggest accomplishments this year/this quarter have been... 
  10. I work best when I am able to work with...

There are an immeasurable amount of questions to ask your employees in their self-evaluation. This is not an exhaustive list of ideas but should hopefully help you get the ball rolling in the direction that works best for your employees and managers. 

The Importance of Self-Evaluation and Quarterly/Annual Reviews

The purpose of having your teams complete self-assessments includes improving employee engagement and morale, which in turn, improves the customer experience and your organization's bottom line. As managers, supervisors, or leaders at any level, including executives, we must remember that each team member is a unique individual. Employees are humans, not robots, and they have thoughts, personal beliefs, and goals and are on different personal and professional development journeys. When you empower them to do their jobs well, you can create new leadersfoster trust, and build a positive workplace

A self-assessment is only a part of completing an effective performance review, but it can have lasting impacts on everyone involved when done properly. If your organization needs help conducting this type of assessment or simply needs guidance with the process, we're here to help. You can click here to get more information on reviews, and you can click here to talk to our team of experts. Don't wait to take the steps that move your organization and your employees forward.

About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is IRI's Director of Digital Solutions and founder of UnionProof & A Better Leader. As the creator of Union Proof Certification, Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.