Who is that Looking Back at You? Why Write a Self Review.

A self review (or self-evaluation) is generally an employee’s opportunity to review or assess their own performance against the performance goals that make up their performance review. While not all organizations have a formal “self – review” process, I think its a very valuable exercise.

Being in HR for a while, I’ve heard all kinds excuses about why some people do not write self-reviews. My favorite, “I’m not going to do my manager’s job for them and write my review.” I always get a giggle out of that one because if you were going to write your own review, wouldn’t it be awesome and worth that “work?” 😉  But seriously, if that is your attitude towards your review and you’re missing a big opportunity for self reflection and your own development.

Why Write a Self Review

Self reviews are an opportunity to do some self reflection. Be honest with yourself – don’t inflate your progress or accomplishments, but don’t undersell yourself either. I like to recommend a technique that involves using both hard numbers and figures as well as some supporting examples as to how you think you’re doing. I also like to recommend that you have some detailed notes (try to use bullet points, try to stay away from paragraphs).  Write your self review FOR YOU. “Duh!” you may say. However I bring it up because I see so many people write a self review for someone else or write what they think they should write. If you are writing your review for you, you have very little incentive to misrepresent yourself or the details. Its YOUR review of you — what do you want to say to yourself?

Your self review can also be used to generate a dialogue between you and your manager (or a mentor). For most people, reviews are a one-way conversation. You sit in a room and your manager tells you what they think about you regarding your performance, your next steps, and strengths/opportunities. Maybe you’re excited because its a glowing review, maybe you’re upset because you don’t think your manager is looking at the whole picture, maybe you don’t care because you don’t think your manager cares. You sign off on it and then go about your work. I don’t think that is what a review is about. It should be a conversation. Don’t get defensive. Don’t shut down. Don’t blow it off. Review yourself against your performance goals and ENGAGE in that conversation. Be present in discussions about your development. Talk about why you agree or disagree with your manager’s feedback and work on a development plan together.

Together, a self review and a review from a manager can be powerful — in a relationship with trust, it will also ensure that you and your manager are on the same page and looking at your strengths, opportunities, and accomplishments through the same lens.

December is right around the corner – this is the perfect time of year for some self reflection – either as part of an end of year (or review cycle) or goal setting for the new year. Give it a try, even if your firm or organization doesn’t do self reviews. It doesn’t have to be a long process, take 20 or 30 minutes to complete this. Grab your goals and review yourself, write down a few bullet points as you do. Need some help to get started, try the SMART RESULTS format.

What do you think about self reviews? Helpful or a waste of time?

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Andrea Devers

Andrea is an HR technologist and change management expert. She’s has built her career in global HR Compliance, HR process improvement, and shared services across all functions of HR. Connect with Andrea.

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