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How to write a great employee self evaluation

10 min read
Employee self evaluations are a great opportunity for people to self-reflect on their work and their aspirations to grow and develop professionally. They don’t need to be hard to write. We’ll show you how.


What is an employee self evaluation?

Also known as an employee self assessment, this is a written document by an employee that sets out what they think and feel about their work, their abilities, their challenges and their goals. It often goes hand in hand with a company performance review.

Why is self evaluation important?

Both employees and managers will find self evaluation and assessments  valuable:

  • Managers will gain crucial feedback about ‘how the employee ticks’ – what gives them motivation and incentive; insight into any differences of opinion or disagreement; how they feel they fit into their team and the business; their ambitions
  • Employees have the opportunity to self-reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, triumphs, and disasters, and identify areas where they can take opportunities to grow and improve, both professionally and personally

Inline CTA: See our article The power of feedback: why 360 matters

What should employees include in a self evaluation?

Each self evaluation is as unique as the employee and the organization, and they will need to tailor it to their industry and specific job. But generally, assessing honestly the following areas will cover most bases in most jobs:

  • What have I achieved?
  • What have I struggled with?
  • What is my work ethic?
  • How well do I communicate?
  • How well do I solve problems?
  • How innovative am I?
  • How good am I at delegating?
  • How productive am I?
  • Is my time management good ?
  • How can I develop and improve?

Share the following guidelines with your employees so that they can write succinct, effective self-assessments:

How to write a performance self evaluation

Start with a structure so that the task doesn’t get too long, convoluted or unfocused. Work within the following six parameters:

1. Ascertain the scope: It helps if you know in advance what your self evaluation will be used for: a performance review, a salary/bonuses review, promotion? How far back do you need to go – just the last year, your time with the company, your whole career? Managers need to make clear to employees the scope of the self assessment before they start writing it.

2. List your positive qualities: this doesn’t have to be an exhaustive list (no ‘I’m the one who looks after the plants’) because you need to prioritize what’s important right now. You might emphasize your job responsibilities and performance, your conscientious work ethic, your great communication abilities, your problem solving skills , your great way with customers – and give examples.

3. Big up your accomplishments: Be proud of what you’ve achieved and detail them by including hard facts and figures (e.g. ‘I improved my sales figures by 20% more than my target). Tell the story of each specific accomplishment: the background, the challenge, the other team members involved, the responsibilities, the outcome, the impact on the team, and ultimately, the business.

4. Acknowledge your mistakes and weaknesses: As Albert Einstein said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Everybody makes mistakes, and they offer the opportunity to reflect on and identify areas for improvement. Take ownership of your mistakes and weaknesses, explain what happened, what you’ve learned from them, and how you’ll use them to improve and develop in the future. Then set yourself SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) goals to improve weak areas.

5. Feedback for management: self evaluations do not need to be one-sided; there may be issues or situations that prevent an employee from doing their best work, or they may have suggestions from the ‘shop floor’ to make processes more efficient. We would advocate including feedback to the company in your employee self assessment.

6. Voice your ambitions: It’s important to end the self evaluation on a positive, aspirational note. Employers love employees who take career progression seriously and are excited about their job. Mention the opportunities for professional development and growth you’d like to take – further training, another qualification, a promotion, a bigger project.

Inline CTA: Sign up for a free account and start creating your own self assessment surveys

Our tips for writing the best self evaluation

You can augment our 6-point framework above when writing your self evaluation by following these tips that will really make it (and you) stand out:

Keep notes throughout the year

Writing a self evaluation takes some preparation, but you can cut down on your prep time by making notes in real-time about your achievements and challenges, successes, and disappointments over the past year. Keep a folder marked ‘self assessment’, fill it in regularly, and the task will take half the time.

Revisit your job description

Use your job description as a framework to assess where you exceeded expectations, which parts of your job you found challenging, and which areas you could develop more.

Use the STAR method

This is a simple way to sum up succinctly how you approached a task, your contribution, and what the outcome was:

  • Situation/Task: describe what it was, and the goal it set out to achieve
  • Action: what did you do/organize/delegate/order/supervise to achieve the goal?
  • Results: what did you achieve?

Use numbers and statistics

Metrics and key performance indicators are your friends when it comes to self evaluation. Include the numbers to back up your statements – you increased customer footfall by 30%? Put that number in.

Reiterate results

Don’t assume the leadership team will remember everybody’s contribution to the business results. As obvious as it may seem, mention the specific role you played in delivering results throughout the year.

Bring everything back to the company

Align your achievements to the company’s aims and objectives, and point out how much you personally contributed. Again, back this up with some numbers.

Include others’ feedback

The CFO praised you for getting your figures in well ahead of the deadline? The intern learned a new skill because you took the time to teach her? People are often more than willing to provide a testimonial. Add their constructive feedback to your self-assessment.

Run it past a trusted friend

We’re often too modest when it comes to highlighting our achievements, or facing realities. Ask a trusted colleague or friend to read through your self evaluation to see if it’s a fair representation of all you have achieved and experienced. They may suggest things you have forgotten or disregarded.

Check for typos, grammar, and spelling

You want to make the best impression on management in your self-assessment. Proofreading your self evaluation and correcting any errors gives a good impression of thoroughness and care.

An example of a good self assessment

Sofia works as the leader of a website marketing team. She has been asked to prepare a self assessment as one of her performance reviews that may lead to a promotion to a more senior role. She has kept notes of all her achievements and challenges throughout the past year and found writing the self assessment fairly straightforward to write. She ran it through a spell checker and asked her trusted friend and colleague Femi to look through it.

Sofia wrote:

My positive qualities

  • I am a person with a naturally positive attitude, and I always try to find the best outcome for the whole of my team
  • I am a good communicator and I keep everyone informed of what is happening with each project every day
  • I enjoy solving problems, and this year I found a way to use our software that meant we could do things 50% faster

My accomplishments:

  • I led the highest-performing team this year, which saw the customer attrition rate fall by 30% – a strategic aim of the company
  • I helped design the social media campaign that increased traffic to our site by 40%. The CMO said, “Congratulations to Sofia’s team for achieving the highest increase in site traffic this year”.
  • Our charity fun run, which I organized, raised $1000 for our local community hospice

My mistakes and challenges:

  • We dropped down the search rankings to 9th place because I didn’t check our analytics frequently enough, but I’m going to set an alert each week from now on to make sure I check them
  • Our customer conversion rates are lower than the forecast
  • I haven’t been able to spend enough time with our interns showing them all the software capabilities

Feedback for management:

  • I feel the customer conversion rate forecast for this year may have been too ambitious
  • Could the IT department take more responsibility for software training?
  • Could we look at investing in new software for checking SEO content?

My professional development goals and priorities:

  • To extend our successful social media campaign to other platforms
  • To put the whole team on an advanced SEO writing course
  • To attend an upcoming marketing conference and focus on working towards brand equity

How we can help

A recent study found that 94% of employees would stay longer if their company invested in their professional development and growth to enable future-readiness.

With this level of self-awareness among employees, particularly younger ones, it has become even more important than ever to listen to employees and their assessments of their job performance.

With our 360 Development solution, you’ll be able to listen to every employee and address their development needs with scalable, personalized programs. You’ll not only invest in the future professional growth and development of the workforce but the business as a whole.

Read the power of feedback: why 360 matters

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