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by Jen Leigh on September 12, 2022

How to Write a Self-Assessment Performance Review

As an HR professional, one of your main responsibilities is to help employees write effective self-assessment performance reviews. This can be an overwhelming task, but with the right guidance, it can be a smooth and positive experience for everyone involved.  

For many people, the thought of writing a self-assessment is enough to send them into a panic. After all, how are you supposed to be objective about your own performance management? And what if you're not happy with the rating you receive? 

Don't worry; we're here to help. This blog post will discuss tips for assisting employees in writing their self-assessment reviews and common mistakes to avoid. We'll also provide a few resources that you can use to help guide your employees through the process of writing an effective self-assessment performance review. Let's get started!  

What is a Self-Assessment Performance Review?  

A self-assessment performance review is an annual review, typically conducted annually or bi-annually, for which employees are required to complete to provide feedback on their job performance over the course of the year. The purpose of a self-assessment is to help employees reflect on their accomplishments and identify areas for improvement. Along with feedback from their managers, self-assessments are used to determine an employee's final performance rating. 

How Long Should a Self-Assessment Be? 

There is no set length for a self-assessment, but it's generally recommended to provide a minimum of several sentences for each accomplishment and focus-area. Anything longer than a paragraph or two may indicate indecision or over-explanation. Each answer should strive to be concise, quantitative and self-reflective. A self-assessment includes a summary of an employee's accomplishments over the course of the year, and is often conducted as two parts. The first part is usually a series of standardized questions, providing a space for a quantified rating along with an open-ended description. The second part is an assessment of performance towards specifically outlined goals, usually developed at the beginning of the year.

Why Employees Need to Write Self-Assessments   

Self-assessments are important for several reasons. First, they give employees the opportunity to contribute their perspectives on their job performance. Managers often rely heavily on input from team members when assessing their job performance, so it's important for employees to provide their own perspective, to contribute to the overall picture.  

Additionally, self-assessments help employees identify areas for improvement and set goals for the upcoming year. By taking the time to reflect on their accomplishments and identify areas for growth, employees can enter the new year feeling motivated and prepared to meet their goals. 

According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, employees who complete self-assessments are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and more engaged in their work. The study also found that employees who do not complete self-assessments are more likely to leave their jobs.

How Can HR Professionals Assist Employees in Writing a Self-Assessment?

Self-assessments allow employees to reflect on their progress and accomplishments and give managers insight into how their team members perform. However, they can also be intimidating, especially for those who have never written one before, or those coming from a more informal environment. That's why it's important for HR professionals to provide guidance on what goes in a self-assessment and how to make it as useful as possible. 

When writing a self-assessment, your employees can begin by  reflecting on or compiling their accomplishments from the past year. This can be anything from big projects they spearheaded or major goals they achieved to smaller day-to-day tasks contributing to your team's success.  

This reflection provides the opportunity to be quantitative and provide a depth of through on their accomplishments, challenges and failures. They should use this reflection to find patterns or areas for improvement. For example, they may have discovered that they procrastinate when working on long-term projects, are finding certain things challenging or other things more engaging than they initially believed to be. This information can be brought forward in their following year's goals.

How to Get the Most Out of Self-Assessment Performance Reviews

There are a few things your employees can do to make sure their self-assessment is as impactful as possible:  

  • Be honest: This is not the time for modesty. Employees should take an honest inventory of their accomplishments and areas for improvement. This will help them identify areas for improvement and set realistic goals for the future. If they sugarcoat their performance, it will be difficult for managers to get an accurate sense of where they stand and how to best provide feedback.
  • Be specific: Along with being honest, employees should be as specific as possible when describing their performance. This will help managers get a clear picture of what they're doing well and where they need to focus their development.
  • Avoid clichés: Phrases like "I'm a team player" or "I'm a go-getter" don't actually tell managers anything about an employee's performance. Instead, they should focus on giving concrete examples of their successes and how they contributed to the team.
  • Think long-term: Self-assessments are not just about what an employee has done in the past year—they're also an opportunity to set goals for the future. Employees should think about where they want to be in the next year, the next three or even five years, and articulate how their current position will help them get there.

The Role of the Manager in the Self-assessment Process  

Improve Employee Retention Undoubtedly, managers play an essential part in helping employees write effective self-assessments: 

  1. Managers can provide guidance on what should be included in the assessment, offer feedback on drafts, and help employees set realistic goals for the upcoming year.  
  2. Managers should provide feedback to their team members throughout the year, so employees clearly understand their strengths and weaknesses. This feedback can be used as a basis for writing a self-assessment.  
  3. Managers should also provide support and guidance to their team members while also being honest about their performance. This balanced approach will help employees learn and grow from their self-assessment reviews. 

Common Mistakes Made When Writing Self-assessments  

One common mistake people make when writing their self-assessments is downplaying their accomplishments. It can be tempting to downplay your successes in an effort not to seem boastful or arrogant, but it's important not to sell yourself short! As an HR professional, encourage your employees to be proud of their accomplishments and ensure they are front and center in their self-assessment. 

What Can Employees Do if They are Dissatisfied with the Final Rating?

If, after completing a self-assessment, an employee feels like they were given an unfair rating, there are a few things they can do:   

  1. Talk to their manager: If they feel like some information is missing from their assessment or that certain aspects of their job were unfairly evaluated, they can schedule a meeting with their manager to discuss these concerns directly
  2. Appeal the decision: If they still believe they were treated unfairly after consulting with the manager, they can submit an appeal to HR. This process differs from company to company, so employees should consult their employee handbook or contact HR directly for further information. 

A study found that employees who completed self-assessments were more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and more engaged in their work. By following these guidelines, you'll be well on successfully guiding your employees through the self-assessment process!

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Jen Leigh

Jen Leigh is a Senior Product Specialist with Inflection HR's Cloud Based HR and Workforce Management Solutions. Connect with Jenni and the rest of the Inflection HR Team on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.