How To Write Performance Accomplishments For A Self Evaluation
Maybe this past year you took the effort to beef up your resume, ditched your old job like a bad relationship and now landed a new career. Hard work is over right? Wrong. It’s performance review time buddy! For some people this may roll around once a year. For others, employee evaluations might be twice a year or even quarterly (yikes!).
Do not make the mistake of assuming your boss knows you are doing a great job. The curtains are up. Spotlight is on you. It’s time to put on an infomercial selling how awesome you are through your performance accomplishments or self assessment. Here are my tips in how to prepare for your next evaluation.
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1. Develop A Performance Accomplishments Tracker At Work
Email can be wonderful at times. It’s an electronic record that you can look back on, organize in folders, remind yourself of future tasks, as well as the jobs you have accomplished! For me, I create a new folder each performance year. Every time I accomplish a task that was related to my job, handled a difficult situation or backed anyone else up (saved the day!) I place a copy of that email in the “Performance (Year)” folder.
If there are no emails related to the task or situation, I write an email and send it to myself. Taking two minutes to write-up what you did for who, or a decision you made on something, can really highlight what all you have done throughout the year. Plus, it doubly serves as documentation for when others have no memory, “I don’t remember deciding we should do that?” Your email is searchable, and you should be able to look for the key words when the decision was made earlier in the year.
Google docs is another great place you can store your accomplishments. Or if you are a fan of excel, you can create great lists, categories and sort them to match with each subject you will be evaluated under.
2. Use Numerical Data In Your Achievements: Make Them Quantitative and Measurable
Perhaps you have been supervised by people who used to be in the job you currently are in, or by others who have no clue how to do your job. Under both circumstances, it’s very important to treat each situation the same. Make your achievements quantitative and measurable. Numerical data and estimated number of time spent on activities is very helpful. It can highlight areas you are efficient in, as well as areas that may be starting to take up more than a desirable amount of time.
Switch to a new financial system? It’s good to know if activities that used to take you only a half an hour before, now require an hour of your time. Adapting to new systems all come with transition periods and extra time is usually normal. But, if it’s now an extra workload burden full-time, bosses can step in and divide up workload among other staff members. Or it serves as a great justification to bring an additional intern or part-time help to get the job done.
Use The CAR Method To Write Up Your Performance Accomplishments
A bulleted list of accomplishments is great, but it does not demonstrate how you accomplished the task. Often times, our work is not able to be quantitative and measurable. But instead, we are faced with problems, or challenges we must recognize and resolve.
For these situations, it is best to write up your accomplishments in the CAR format: Challenge, Action and Result. The challenge is essentially the problem. Such as a new software system you had to transition staff to, or maybe you worked short handed for a half of year and took on additional duties while doing your job full-time. Budget cuts are another huge challenge and the list goes on of things that we do everyday that we may not even think they are challenges and are just going with the flow of changes.
Next is the action which tells what you did, the choices you had to make, the personal skills involved in taking on the challenge and deadlines you set to accomplish the task or were up against. Be sure to mention if you worked with others or accomplished independently with little or no supervision.
For the results, this is the solution and the impact after your actions. Describe efficiencies in new processes as well as any lessons learned. It’s important to highlight if the choices you made positioned your workplace in a better situation. And had it not been for your actions, the business would not be where they are right now. Such as saved the company $50,000. Reduced work time on X activities by 2 hours. Brought in new partnerships, etc. Also adding feedback from a coworker is another way to highlight your successes.
By making your accomplishments measurable in a digestible format, using the CAR method helps bosses immensely understand: where you spend your time, how you do your job, how you handle challenges and how you are a valuable asset to the company.
3. Align Your Performance Accomplishments Under Performances Measures or Elements
Most of the time when you are hired, you have a position description. Often times, the position description is broken a part by areas you are responsible for and there also may be a separate performance plan for your description. I’ve seen these called performance measures or elements. During your performance review, you may be rated a 1-5, or a color code system of red to green on these measures.
If you are rated a 3 or coded yellow simply means you are successful in your job. However a 2 or an orange color may indicate you have some areas you need to improve in. 1 or red is pretty much you’ve failed and are out the door. When reflecting on your accomplishments during the year, try and place them under the areas you are responsible for.
Such as if there an interacting with the public/customer service element, a human resources performance measure, etc. Review the standards for each elements, and understand “what does it take for me to be successful, a 3, in this element?” Then review your accomplishments and try and align them under that 3. If there’s anything in your accomplishments that makes you above/beyond that 3 level, see what it takes to be a 4 or a 5.
Rate Yourself Before Your Performance Evaluation
Often times, I rate in my head what I should be for each performance measure. People are often harder on themselves and I for one, am harder on myself too! If you give yourself an honest rating, from your Supervisor’s perspective, it will help in preparing you for what your rating might be as well.
If there is a vast discrepancy between what you thought you should be rated vs. what your Supervisor rated you, go back through your list of accomplishments under that element. And it’s OK to ask how they concluded their rating for that measure. And “what can I do to be rated higher in this element? Is there an opportunity available for me to earn a higher rating within the next year?”
Sometimes employees can appeal a rating. If you can’t work it out and come to a sensible conclusion with your Supervisor, check with your human resources representative. But, be prepared to have your list of accomplishments available and be ready to justify the appeal of your rating.
4. Use Interview Strategies To Prepare For Your Performance Review
Just as when you are preparing for a job interview, prepare yourself for questions your boss may ask you. Write these down. And practice your responses. Think of the hypothetical questions that can really throw you for a loop. One of the most dreaded questions a boss always asks, “How can I, as your Supervisor, better support you and your performance?”
Most (good) Supervisors appreciate the honest, 360 degree feedback. They of course want to ensure they are supporting you, and want you to know you can count on them. It can also serve as an unintentional test when put in an awkward situation, “how well can you give constructive feedback on the spot?”
Personally, I struggle when it comes to making an intelligent, impactful suggestion in 1 minute or less. I also factor in how the person will react to my suggestion. Such as, of course most of us talk differently with our friends and family vs. our superiors and coworkers.
If you struggle formulating feedback on the spot, consider joining Toastmasters. Table Topics has really helped me get comfortable in being uncomfortable when put on the spot. As well as organizing and formulating my thoughts in structured ways to help say them quicker.
Use Your Self Evaluation Comments To Offer Suggestions That Will Benefit The Whole Office
As mentioned above, your Supervisor may ask for feedback how they can better support you. Naturally, employees may have a laundry list ready to go on how to improve their work situation!
Think of a kid sitting on Santa’s lap for Christmas, “I’d like a pony, a new bike, my sister to quit being mean to me…” Now fast forward 30 years, “I’d like a better parking spot, my own office, not have to work with Suzy.”
You get the picture. Be realistic here.
One can assume how bluntly saying those things in an interview would go over. To a boss in a performance review, it would be about the same: “No, No and No.” Choose your words carefully and plant seeds in their head and over time, maybe one or two of your desires may come to fruition.
A unique angle is to ask for changes that benefit everyone. Your boss may ask how you like your work environment. In reality, getting a private office is not going to happen while you are on the lower end of the totem pole in seniority.
Instead, keep reminding them of what’s important to you and maybe it is privacy. Ask if cube walls can be set up to reduce noise levels since phone calls echo across the open room as well as a sound masking system. And an office air purifier system since everyone catches each other’s colds so easily.
The point here is asking for things that are obtainable that may improve not only yours, but the entire office’s situation. If you have other career goals and personal desires, an Individual Development Plan is a great way to outline developmental experiences and objectives that will mutually benefit the individual’s career goals and organization.
5. Make Your Appraisal Effective And Provide Examples For Areas of Improvement
Boasting how great you are for an hour is not advisable during a performance review.
Be human. Be humble.
Reflect back on the year and bring up a time where you wished you would have handled a situation or a person differently. Say what you learned from that experience. You are taking the lead to acknowledge something that could have been done better. This may have already been on the Supervisor’s radar to bring up with you. But now, you seem pretty aware of your surroundings and you are capable of realizing your own mistakes and how you can fix them.
Use the CAR method again to explain the situation. Because of x challenge, you chose these actions which resulted in X. Hindsight is 20/20. This is what you have learned and where you will be better at when placed in this situation again.
Final Thoughts On How To Prepare Yourself For A Performance Appraisal
Please put some effort into your self evaluation for your performance review. This may be the only time you get their undivided attention to demonstrate who you are and what you do. And also, get you to the next level of where you want to be in your career.
Develop a performance review tracker using excel, google docs, email or whatever works for you!
Write your accomplishments in a quantitative and measurable format. Numerical data is good! Use the CARS format to organize the challenge, action and results achieved.
Align your achievements under the measures or elements in your performance description to organize the flow of your accomplishments. Also, try and put yourself in your Supervisor’s shoes and rate yourself in each area.
Prepare for oddball interview type of questions, offer constructive feedback and make suggestions that will benefit the entire organization. Use an IDP for discussing personal career goals and desires.
Be human. Be humble. Own up to your mistakes. Describe the situation and solution using the CAR method.
What has helped you most to prepare for a performance evaluation? Thanks in advance for your thoughts!