Dreading your Self Evaluation? How to Prep for Success


It is that time of the year again. Performance reviews are looming over us as the year begins to close. Most people dread the annual review season, but you can actually use this crucial time with your boss to your advantage. With the proper preparation and reflection, your end-of-year review will ensure your manager has the best picture of your performance and accomplishments, knows where you need help to be successful, and understands exactly how you’d like your career to progress. You are accountable for your career growth, and this annual meeting is the perfect tool to help you take charge of your future. Here are some tips to help you prepare.

1. Gather your information

To properly prepare for your evaluation, first, gather all of the relevant info from the year. You can use your job description, the previous year’s appraisal and goals and any mid-year review notes. These documents will give you something to compare yourself against and help you recall performance highlights and challenges over the past year.

2. Review your notes

It can be tough to remember everything you have accomplished over an entire year. If you kept a journal of your performance, you would be able to recall all of the milestone activities. Don’t have one? No problem —  start one today. It can be a notebook, an email folder, or a file on your computer. Get creative. As the year goes on, make note or drop in emails about your project accomplishments and successes as well as any challenges you experience. Having all of this detail will make the preparation for your next review more thorough…and a lot faster!

3. List your accomplishments

Think about the things you’re the most proud to have accomplished over the year. Your manager may not remember or even be aware of all that you did. If you had a great year, take credit for it. Relate your accomplishments to the goals you set for yourself the previous year where you can. Make sure you capture details on “how” you achieved these accomplishments. It is okay to brag a little. Try these tips.

  • Include specific and quantifiable results. For example, were you responsible for doubling your company’s Facebook followers? Was your Tweet on the company’s Twitter account retweeted hundreds of times? Did you recruit 25% more interns at the career fair than anyone else? Make sure you note it.
  • Incorporate feedback and recognition you’ve received throughout the year. Were you commended for an outstanding presentation during the year? Did your safety slogan make the company brochure? Were you recognized by an executive for an innovative idea? Make sure your boss knows.
  • Showcase your strengths. It is important to document how you stand out from other employees and what makes you different. If you can, connect your strength with a specific result to really stand out.

4. List areas for development

No one is perfect. Your boss doesn’t expect you to be. During a self-evaluation, it is important to show that you own up to your weaknesses and look to continually learn and improve. Be honest about your struggles by asking yourself these tough questions:

  • What could I have done better this year?
  • What are my weaknesses, and how can I work to improve them?
  • How can I become a stronger employee next year?

5. Lobby for Yourself

Smart employees use their performance review to lobby for their career or ask for a promotion. What better opportunity to ask for more money and a promotion than a discussion revolving around how awesome you’ve performed this year? This is also the perfect chance to make sure that your boss knows what you want to do with your career. If you want to be a bigtime executive someday, create goals to learn the skills you would need in that position. If you want to go in a different direction, list the steps you will need to make the transition. Don’t be nervous to let your boss know what you want. Who else is going to tell them if not you? Go for it! Even if the answer is no, your boss will be impressed that you tried.

6. Bring an open mind

Instead of approaching the self-evaluation meeting with a defensive mindset, try to bring an open mind. It can be tough to hear constructive criticism, but try to remember the benefits of receiving feedback. It will allow you to improve your skills and meet your manager’s expectations in the future. Plus, your boss will be super impressed at how you want to continually improve yourself. Here are a few tips to help you cope with getting negative feedback from your boss.

  • Think before you react. At the first sign of criticism (right when the hairs on the back of your neck start to stand up), try to halt your initial reaction. Try not to immediately scowl or interrupt your boss. Sit still.
  • Listen to understand what your boss is trying to say. It can be difficult to stay calm and focused, but try to really listen. Chances are your boss isn’t trying to be mean.
  • Thank your boss. Let your boss know that you appreciate the feedback. Saying thank you doesn’t mean you agree with the assessment, but it does show that you appreciate your boss’s effort.
  • Ask questions. If you were surprised or do not understand, ask. Ask your boss for specific examples of the undesirable behavior and advice on how the situation should have been handled.

This is your career, and it’s your responsibility to manage how much and when you skyrocket into success. Make the most of the opportunity your performance review offers. You have the chance to make your contributions, goals, and aspirations known….and maybe get more money out of the deal! Take advantage of it.

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