Karen Darrin

Many companies ask employees to complete self-appraisals. These self-appraisals are then reviewed by the employee’s manager and, often times, included in the employee’s performance review. While many people scoff at this process and don’t take it seriously, it can actually be a great opportunity to increase communication between you and your boss and improve your career development. Just like with most things in life, the more effort you put into your self-appraisals, the more you’ll get out of the entire performance appraisal process.

Try taking a new approach to this task:

Carve out “me” time to contemplate your career.

Sure, you could write your self-evaluation sitting at your desk. But if you’re like me, you’ll likely distract yourself many times (the “SOS – shiny object syndrome”), making it almost impossible to focus.

Instead, try sitting down with a cup of coffee/tea outside of work, such as on a weekend morning when you’re energetic and clear-minded. Your career and personal development is well worth the effort, so don’t skimp on the amount of time you allow yourself to write your self-evaluation.

Honestly consider your strengths and weaknesses.

Brainstorm a list of your strengths and the tasks or skills you enjoy the most. Then, take an honest look at areas where you could improve.

Improvement areas might include time management skills, speaking in front of groups, leading projects or even improving processes. Consider the feedback you’ve received from others during the year and think about any areas where you’ve struggled or felt you could have done better.

Think about where you’d like to be in two or three years.

Define your career aspirations. What’s the next project, skill, responsibility, or job you’d like? Think outside of your current company and current skill set. If you are not excited about what you are doing, what would you want to do? Head in THAT direction!

Research what it will take to be successful.

Once you know where you’d like to be in five years, go find out what it will take to be successful in that position. What knowledge, skills, education, and experience are necessary?

Determine your gaps and create a career development plan.

Analyze and determine any gaps between where you are now and where you want to be. Do you need any additional training or education? Are there any other skills you’ll need to acquire? Write these down, as these will become the actions within your career development plan.

Identify the support you’d like from your manager.

During the next year, how would you like your boss to help you with your career development efforts? Do you want him or her to provide you with opportunities to lead challenging projects, to improve broken processes, to hone your public speaking skills or to pay for a class on time management?

Within your self-evaluation, include your strengths, weaknesses, career aspirations, gap analysis, career development actions for the next review cycle and the type of support you’d prefer from your manager. Then use all of this information to have a meaningful discussion with your manager during the performance review process. After it’s over, you’ll be glad you spent the time and put in the effort, I promise.

CALL TO ACTION:  Do you want to improve your leadership skills? Let’s brainstorm some strategies. Slot a complimentary 30-min consult here:  Schedule Free Consult.

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