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How to Master Your Performance Review Self-Assessment

Performance review self-assessment activities are one of my least favourite things to do. But they’re required for almost any adult job and they absolutely matter when it comes to deciding your future in your company. So, it’s about time that we talk about how to master them.

Performance review time is around the corner. In my experience, it tends to take place in the last few months of the year (October to December) or the first few (January to March), so it seems like now is the perfect time to tackle this topic.

Now, if you’re anything like me, performance reviews are nerve-wracking as-is. You’re forced to sit down and listen to someone talk about you for an hour and there’s not much you can do about it. Whether they’re saying good or bad things, it’s still awkward.

But what’s worse than a typical review is when a company adds in a performance review self-assessment activity—nightmare achieved! How can you come off as amazing and killer at your job (we both know you are), while still staying humble?

Lucky for you, I’ve got a few performance review self-assessments under my belt, and here’s how I handle them: 

What is a performance review self-assessment?

First and foremost, what is a performance review self-assessment? It’s simply a review of your work throughout the year conducted by you. 

Almost all companies use performance review self-assessments nowadays as they believe it’s a more fair and honest way to conduct a performance review. Having people evaluate their own performance and set achievable goals tends to equate to higher job satisfaction (or, at least, that’s what they say).

In my experience, performance review self-assessment activities are done in consortium with a review by your boss or supervisor. And once both are done, you usually meet to talk about them.  

Make your performance review self-assessment shine

Alright, so you’ve received your official orders, it’s time to conduct a performance review self-assessment and you’re on deadline. 

But how can you do it in a way that makes you shine (and convinces them that a raise is definiately the right course of action) while still being humble? Here’s how you can do it:

Be honest

Your performance review self-assessment is first and foremost a tool for you to learn and grow in your career. That means when it comes to conducting one, you need to be honest with both yourself and your supervisor. Don’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, you won’t fool anyone. 

Be specific

When it comes to talking about what you do and how you do it, be specific! Share the facts and figures of what you’ve accomplishes over the past year. And make sure to demonstrate how you’ve contributed to your team.

Focus on your strengths

Your strengths are an asset and they absolutely deserve to be pointed out. While we’ll talk about mistakes and growth in a moment, I want to point out that the majority of your performance review self-assessment should focus on your strengths. 

What are you stellar at? Where do you shine? And what do you do that no one else can hold a handle to? You work hard and you produce great work, so make sure that you’re pointing that out.

Own up to your mistakes

But you can’t brush over your mistakes. We ALL make mistakes. Every single one of us. And it’s OK to admit that. 

When it comes to talking about your mistakes, you want to be honest and own them but don’t dwell on them. Pick one or two that happened that you truly learned from. And, no, talking about your mistakes doesn’t mean you have to list every single one of them!

Be honest about areas of growth

In addition to talking about your mistakes, you’ll want to look at areas that you can grow—and tying these two things together can be very impactful. When you talk about a mistake, make sure you point out how you have (or are going to) change things and grow. 

Set goals you can achieve

Finally, most performance review self-assessment activities require you to set some goals for the next year. This is a great activity because it shows that you not only want to grow and advance, but you have some idea of how you want to do it.

But make sure your goals are realistic. Your performance review is not the place to work towards stretch goals. You and your supervisor will most definitely take a look at the goals you set during your next performance review, so make sure you’re setting goals you can achieve!  

A few final notes about your performance review

Your performance review is not the end of the world. Whether it’s good, bad or mediocre, it’ll be over in a short period of time (usually no longer than an hour) and you can recover from anything! So, my best advice is to use it as a learning opportunity.

Don’t take things too personally. Don’t freak out, fight or cause a scene if it goes badly—it’s best to take a step back first, even if the other person is being unreasonable. Ask questions if you have them. And do better next year, even if you did AMAZING this year!

Do you have any great tips or tricks for writing a killer performance review self-assessment? Throw them in the comments!

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Tae H.

Tae H.

Tae loves all things Disney, pugs and entrepreneurship. She is a finance and travel writer and the founder of The Single Girl's Guide to Real Adulting. Naturally, she is single for life. She loves to write about anything that she thinks might help people live their best life on a reasonable budget. You can also catch her weekly on The Lady Dicks Podcast.

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