Evaluations and Appraisals
Improving Self-Written Performance Evaluations and Appraisals
Performance appraisals and evaluations are a common part of any company. A performance appraisal, or a performance evaluation, is an evaluation of an employee’s performance in the workplace. These evaluations are typically conducted by someone in a higher position than the employee being evaluated and they are usually conducted on a consistent, regular basis—such as every month, every business quarter, or yearly. The goal of a performance appraisal is to allow employers to evaluate the performance of their employees and react accordingly. When an employee is performing well, they may be complimented, given bonuses, or even promoted. When an employee is not performing well, they may be given criticism or work related goals to improve their performance or—in some cases—they may even be fired or let go from the company. Generally, employees do not receive such drastic action as firing unless their evaluation is extremely negative or their performance has been consistently negative and without improvement for a significant period of time.
Employers will sometimes conduct several types of performance evaluations. One type of performance evaluation or appraisal is called a free performance appraisal. This type of evaluation is done “free-form” to the will of the employer, meaning that they will look at any aspects of an employee’s performance that they feel is appropriate. Another type of evaluation is called a scripted performance appraisal. This type of evaluation is done to a “script,” which means that they have to look at specific factors in an employee’s performance—such as how many hours they worked and whether they met quotas—usually due to instructions laid down by people higher up in the company. Quarterly performance evaluations are evaluations conducted during every business quarter; monthly evaluations are conducted every month—and so on. Some companies choose to separate the concept of monthly or quarterly evaluations and yearly evaluations—for example, they may have quarterly evaluations which cover only an employee’s performance during the quarter, while the yearly evaluation will look back on an entire year. The goal of exercising both of these types of evaluations is to allow employer’s a bigger picture of an employee’s performance. This can actually benefit employees, depending on the circumstances. For example, an employee may appear to be doing poorly from month to month, but their yearly evaluation may actually show that they have consistently gotten better and better throughout the year, which would indicate to their employer that—although they are not yet performing great—they are capable of improvement.
One of the most overlooked forms of performance evaluation in the workplace is the self-evaluation. The self-evaluation is an evaluation which is meant to be done by the employee and then handed to—or discussed with—their employer. Unlike a regular evaluation, the self-evaluation relies entirely on information given by the employee to the employer about their own performance. The reasons for conducting self evaluations are usually multi-faceted. Some employers prefer to hear about performances from an employee’s own words; while other companies may be “testing” employees by seeing how well they are able to evaluate their own performance and whether or not they will be honest with their employers about how they felt they did.
However, performing a self-evaluation is notoriously difficult. Some people may be tempted to lie, downplay their negative performance in the past month or quarter--or they may just find it difficult to really critically examine how well they are doing in work. However, there are some simple tips and tricks which can make conducting a self-evaluation of your own work performance easier and, in the end, more accurate.
Tip #1: Focus on early positive achievements or performances
The downside to non-self performance evaluations is that employers tend to focus more on achievements or positive performances which occurred during the latter half of the month, quarter or year. During a self-evaluation, you should put special focus on your earliest achievements to avoid having them get lost during the evaluation process.
Tip #2: Take a step back
It is very difficult for many people to write objectively about themselves. One of the biggest pitfalls in writing your own evaluation is that they are often tempted to become subjective--that is, you will view your job performance and your resulting evaluation through your own personal lens, rather than solely concerning yourself with how the performance is viewed from an objective standpoint. For example: If you submitted a required report 2 days late because you were busy studying for a university exam, you might be tempted to record this negative performance with a subjective excuse, such as "I was really busy with exams this semester so I unfortunately turned in my report late but my exams were very important to me." This is a subjective report and should not be submitted in a self-evaluation. The objective version would read something like: "Turned in X report 2 days late." It would likely be followed up with a plan on how to avoid turning in reports late, rather than an excuse as in the subjective example.
Tip #3: Never lie!
It should be common sense that employees should never lie on their self-evaluations. All lies will eventually be uncovered, and it is very unflattering for employees to be caught lying--especially on a report where they are meant to objectively describe their performances. If you have performed poorly during the last quarter or evaluation period, be honest about it. Employers will generally look more favorably on employees who can be honest about their negative performance, and create a plan of action on how to improve it, rather than on employees who lie and pretend to be perfect--especially if they are found out.
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