Man using a laptop to write a self-evaluation for 360 feedback provided by his HR leadershipIt can be difficult to know where to start with a self-evaluation, whether you’re creating one for your employees or completing one for yourself. What is the purpose of self-evaluations, and how can you make your self-evaluations effective in accomplishing that purpose? In this post, we’ll look at the role self-evaluations play in the 360 feedback process, then look at some best practices for effective self-evaluations.

The Importance of Self-Evaluations in 360 Feedback

First, let’s consider the why behind self-evaluations. There are three main ways self-evaluations can benefit individuals and companies as a whole.

Get employees involved in their own growth.

By asking employees for their input, self-evaluations encourage employees to take an active role in a more collaborative performance feedback process. Getting employees involved in the process rather than leaving them purely on the receiving end of their performance feedback can promote higher levels of engagement and motivation. 

Development is one of the core drivers of employee engagement, so putting the spotlight on employee development through tools such as self-evaluations and developmental reviews can be majorly beneficial. 

Encouraging employees to think critically about their own performance can also promote a growth mindset across your company, which can be a strong asset to your corporate culture. 

Reveal possible problems or misunderstandings.

Self-evaluations also provide managers with a window into their employees’ thought processes and beliefs about their own performance, which can help bring all parties together on the same page. 

For instance, managers may uncover possible misunderstandings or gaps between an employee’s perception of their performance and others’ perspectives in 360 feedback. Identifying these issues is the first step to addressing them. 

Managers can also learn about any external issues an employee identifies as affecting their performance so they can provide the solutions and support they need to succeed. 

Provide insight for performance reviews.

Self-assessments also add important information that completes the circle in 360 feedback. Self-perception alone can be flawed since people often have blind spots or personal biases. However, when combined with other reviews from peers and managers, an employee’s self-evaluation can create a more detailed picture of their performance. 

Beyond general impressions or ratings, employees may have an easier time recalling examples to share in their self-evaluation. These specific examples of successes or problem areas can help managers more accurately assess the performance of their direct reports. 

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How to Create an Effective Self-Evaluation for Your Employees

If you’re implementing self-evaluations for the first time or you’re looking to refresh your process, consider these tips for creating self-evaluations that will help you maximize the benefits discussed above.

  1. Provide clear instructions. First, make sure the self-evaluation instructions and rating scale are clear. Otherwise, employees may use inconsistent methodology in rating themselves or provide different types of feedback. In your instructions, review the purpose of self-evaluations and how they’re used in your organization.
  2. Ask specific questions. A form that simply asks employees to reflect on their performance overall can be overwhelming and fail to collect meaningful feedback. Be sure to structure self-evaluations with a series of questions that ask employees to reflect on specific aspects of their performance,
  3. Request examples. Ask employees to provide examples along with their thoughts. A general impression of their performance isn’t as helpful as a rating accompanied by examples to support the rating. Ask employees to recall specific projects they worked on or circumstances they dealt with to flesh out their self-assessments.
  4. Focus forward. Encourage employees to think about future growth with questions such as, “What area would you like to grow in the most over the next quarter/year?” or “What steps are you taking to grow in X area?” You can also ask employees to identify specific points of strength and weakness so you can work together on their professional development.
  5. Offer support. A self-evaluation also provides a good opportunity to ask employees how their manager, peers, or company as a whole could better support their success. Ask employees if there are process changes, tools, or resources they could use in order to do their best on the job.

How to Write a Self-Evaluation 

Understanding the value of self-evaluations in 360-degree performance appraisals is a great place for employees to start. But self-assessments can still be intimidating and difficult for many employees to complete. Consider these tips for completing a self-evaluation that is honest, detailed, and helpful.

1. Look over the evaluation.

Before you start writing, familiarize yourself with the entire evaluation. Make sure you understand the rating scale, instructions, and criteria to be evaluated. If you’re unclear on certain aspects of the assessment, reach out to your manager or an HR representative to clarify the issue. The better you understand the process, the better you can provide meaningful feedback and accurate ratings.

2. Review expectations.

It also helps to review your job description and performance goals before writing your assessment. This will help give you a guidepost to measure your performance against. Even if you have personal goals that go beyond your job expectations, for a self-evaluation, focus on how well you’re meeting your company’s standards.

3. Reflect on performance.

Try not to complete your self-evaluation in a rush. Instead, take some time to reflect on the past year and review some samples of your work to get a good sense of how you’ve done. If you’ve accomplished specific goals over the past year, reflect on those successes as well.

4. Reference personal notes. 

If you find yourself at a loss for what examples to include or how to rate yourself when performance review time comes, it’s a great idea to keep performance notes throughout the year. Keep a record of the major achievements and possible struggles you experience at work, and use your online performance appraisal system to note the outcomes of projects you have worked on.   

5. Start in the middle of the rating scale.

Research shows employees tend to default to  “above-average” rankings for themselves. To avoid unnecessarily overinflating (or downplaying) your skills, begin at the midpoint of the scale, and then move up or down as needed. In other words, start from a position of average performance, and then determine whether that’s accurate or whether you can justify a higher- or lower-than-average performance rating with help from your examples and reflection.

6. Include examples.

Reflecting on examples helps as you determine how to assess yourself, and examples help your manager gain insight into your performance over the past year or months. Especially if you want to demonstrate your value to the company, point to specific wins such as highly effective presentations, projects you completed ahead of schedule, clients you wowed, or challenges you overcame.

7. Discount outliers. 

While examples of performance are helpful, the instances that stick out in our minds are often extreme examples that don’t accurately represent our typical, day-to-day performance. While you can mention these unusual instances—either good or bad—don’t let them have too much influence on your overall view of your performance.

8. Match comments and ratings. 

Ensure the comments and examples you include along with ratings coincide with the ratings. For instance, if you rate yourself a “5,” “Excellent,” or “Highly Exceeds Expectations” on something, you should be able to support that rating with positive examples of standout performance. If you give yourself a low rating on something, discuss why you think that’s a weak spot in your performance.

Use the Right People Management Tools for 360 Feedback

Self-evaluations, and the 360 feedback process as a whole, are essential for effectively managing talent in your organization. If you’re struggling with an outmoded process for collecting and managing feedback, it’s time for an upgrade. Use our “People Management Vendor Evaluation Checklist” to find the right solution for your organization.

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