Five questions for a better self-appraisal

Think differently about self-appraisal

Performance management. Self-appraisal. Assessments.

No one enjoys performance management

These words strike fear and dread into the hearts of corporate warriors everywhere. I have yet to find anyone, even my friends in HR, who enjoy going through the annual process of evaluating performance.

A few reasons why this is such an unpleasant associate experience:  

  • Infrequent – once or twice a year leaves a lot of time for buildup and worry
  • Our self-worth is involved– and it grades one part of our life without context on the rest of our person. For example, the year I was healing from my sister’s death I had less to give at work and that wasn’t accounted for in my ‘performance’
  • One person’s opinion – or in the case of 360 reviews, a few people who are all biased in some way. Some great reminders on feedback from Alissa
  • Usually tied to money – which leads back to self-worth
  • Doesn’t always focus on actual development – going through the process doesn’t necessarily help with growth

With all these factors at play, it comes as no surprise that expectations, emotions, and anxieties show up during performance management.

It doesn’t have to be like that

In the midst of this environment, you can push pause. And do your own, holistic review of how your year went. Without all the value, worth, and emotions of the corporate performance cycle.

 A few years ago, I declared that I would make my self-assessments a useful reflection tool for me. It would no longer be a rote recitation of what I ‘accomplished’ during the year and my view on how I stacked up against the corporate value structure.

Instead, I would really reflect, and look at how my year went.

My list of questions includes:

  • What were my goals for the year (personal and professional) and how much progress did I make against them? Note – last year I had 4 big goals, the year before I had far more and it split focus. A wise advisor taught me about the ‘avoid at all costs’ list
  • What am I proud of from the past year – again, personal and professional
  • What didn’t go as expected and what did I learn from it
  • How did I grow this year
  • Where will I focus my growth next year

I don’t leverage a specific format, just do some writing against each of these buckets. I usually come back to it a few times over the course of a week or two as I remember and process the year’s events.

Try a new self-appraisal today

Take a crack at your own reflection, throwing out the corporate format and expectations. This way you can evaluate how your whole year went, how you did in driving your life towards the things you want. How you grew and changed as an individual. What you learned about yourself and how you will apply it in the year ahead.

Now, this may not replace your corporate mandated self-appraisal, but it can be a tool to use with a manager, coach or mentor who is invested in you as a whole person.

Growth and development are about way more than getting the next promotion. The more you can shape the direction and truly evaluate how you are doing, the better!