Self-Evaluation: The Key to all Improvement
By TRISOFT team
It’s the end of the year, which means it is performance review season. Either if you are a manager or an employee, reviews are a must, but at the same time they aren’t quite popular. We’ve all had them — the somehow embarrassing one-on-one discussions with our boss, where we had to repeatedly nod our head in agreement. But how often did we have the chance to take the time and think about our own review on the performance we’ve made? And self-evaluations are particularly despised. However stressful your annual review can be, it can also be a time for positive career development.
Our intake is that whether or not you have a boss to discuss it with, you should definitely allow yourself at least an hour of honest self-evaluation as you head into the new year. It will help you establish your goals for the next year and make adjustments where you need to.
Tip: Take some exclusive time to contemplate your career. Don’t just do it quickly, in your lunch break or during work with the phone ringing every 2 minutes or emails drawing your attention. Instead, try sitting with a cup of coffee (everything’s easier with coffee) outside of work, such as on a weekend morning when you’re fresh and energetic.
So the goal of this article is not only to make the self-evaluation process delightful, but also to help you identify your professional strong and weak points and come up with solutions that you can apply for yourself. And of course, if that applies, in front of your boss, too.
Here you have it.
1. Start with thinking about career development
A good, useful evaluation should always have a goal. As an entrepreneur struggling to reach success (before 30, if possible :P) yours should be thought long-term. Thinking about the year that passed and projecting the one that follows in terms of career development will fill you with responsibility and will inspire you to keep building solidly.
If the review is meant to reach one of your business collaborators or your manager, you will find that such an outlook on performance from your side will be much appreciated and rewarded.
2. Identify your successes
But as a good friend of mine says when we go to parties, let’s not forget what we came for :) Any successful evaluation should start with pointing out your successes. So take a sheet of paper or open a Word document and write down every little and major career accomplishment. Some of them you’ll immediately remember and some will come to mind as small surprises along the way. At the end of the review you will might be happy to discover that you have registered more successes than you thought. And this will definitely boost your morale for the year to come.
If the evaluation is made in front of your boss, the benefits of doing a thorough review on your successes are just as great. A manager, as dedicated as he is, will have tons of paperwork to fill and so much information to sort through, so you being concise and straightforward will surely be of great help. And of course, you will increase the chances that those details will end up in your performance evaluation.
3. Acknowledge your mistakes
So after registering all your successes, you’re probably feeling pretty good about yourself. Now take a few deep breaths, let go of your ego and emotions, and take an honest look at areas where you could improve. Do it constructively and as organized as you can — don’t look at your shortcomings tragically, but try to see them as learning and opportunities.
Needless to say that your direct manager will remain with a clearer, more optimistic impression on your performance, if you present your mistakes as merely steps in a well-designed, but human developing process.
4. Give yourself an objective rating
Let’s face it, some people aren’t comfortable with pointing out their qualities and strong points, while others don’t excel at seeing their weaknesses. However you put it, the truth is that giving yourself an objective rating might be harder than you think.
But either if you are doing it for your own agenda or to fulfil your manager’s, try to face your good and bad parts as objectively as you can. And you can always ask for the help of business partners and colleagues if you find that some areas are tougher to ”rate”.
5. Ask for guidance, mentoring, career training
Nobody is perfect, but we all dream to be. In our business careers, there are some who had the chance to receive strong, solid feedback from their managers, peers and partners. Feedback is essential to a healthy growth, even though to some it might not seem as important (believe it or not, there are indeed managers who never offer feedback or performance reviews).
Think about the areas that you want to improve, find the people who can guide you best towards your goals and ask them for help. Transform your challenges into good training and mentoring opportunities. Remember: if you don’t ask for it, you won’t receive it.
6. Make a better plan for next year
In the end, use everything that you’ve gathered to become a better version of yourself in the year to come. It doesn’t matter if you do it out of obligation at your workplace or for personal reasons in the privacy of your office. All that matters is for you to interiorize the review process, celebrate your victories, acknowledge your flaws, then embrace them in order to change them in the future.
Improvement areas might include time management skills, speaking in front of groups, leading projects or even improving processes. Consider feedback you’ve received from others during the year and think about any areas where you’ve struggled or felt you could have done better. Think about where you’d like to be in five years. Define your career aspirations. What’s the next step for you? Research what it will take to be successful. Once you know where you’d like to be in five years, go find out what it will take to be successful in that position. What knowledge, skills, education and experience are necessary? Analyze and determine any gaps between where you are now and where you want to be. Write these down, as these will become the actions within your career development plan.
It’s a known deal: being aware of your goals, your performance and your attitude can greatly improve your chances at getting where you want to be in your career. And one of the most useful tools to do this is the daunting self-evaluation. But you may discover that as dreaded as it is, it becomes easier after going through it the first time.
At TRISOFT, we encourage you to give self-evaluation a chance, to take control over your professional life and give it a new direction. Sometimes, knowing where you’re going and what you’re doing is the difference between having a “job” and a “career.”