Performance Appraisals: Why Employee Self-Evaluations Are Important

One of the most powerful ways to open the employee-appraisal process is to have your employees do a self-evaluation. There's nothing complicated about this step. All you need to do is give the employee a blank copy of the exact form that you’re using and ask her to complete it for herself.

Encourage her to truly think about her performance during the year and to be totally honest and forthright. In addition, let her know that you’ll be carefully looking over her self-evaluation and you’ll be considering her ratings and comments when determining her performance appraisal.

Be sure to tell your employees that this isn’t a bargaining game: If someone has a self-score of 5 and you score 3 for the same factor, then it doesn't average out to a 4. They should be as honest as possible and not overrate themselves to try to balance out a low score they expect to receive from you.

The advantages of self-evaluations cover a broad spectrum:

  • They demystify the process. When employees sit down and complete the same evaluation form that you’ll be using, any mystery in the process is immediately wiped out.

  • They help employees focus their behavior. The better employees truly understand the criteria on which they’re being judged, the better they’re able to target their efforts on the job.

  • They send a motivational message. Employees view the opportunity to evaluate themselves as an indicator of respect and trust and as a sign that their ideas and inputs are important and valued — all of which motivates them to work harder and care more.

  • They improve communications. Your understanding of your employees’ appraisals leads to a more open, focused, and effective discussion when you meet with them.

If you’ve given an employee a low rating on a factor that he sees as an area of significant accomplishment and success, the discussion can become tense, argumentative, and sidetracked. By reviewing an employee’s self-evaluation in advance, you’ll be able to either prepare for this difference of opinion or make an adjustment in this particular rating.

The way in which employees approach self-evaluations is quite revealing. Whether they realize it or not, self-evaluations are actually work assignments. Employees who simply plug in all the same scores and make no effort to elaborate on their ratings are giving you additional insight into their work ethic, attitude, and motivation.

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