Doing performance self-appraisal well

As I was completing the performance reviews for my team, I was reminded of the fact that so few people actually do a good job of appraising themselves. I have noticed this over the past 5-6 years that I am doing performance reviews and have gotten similar feedback from several other folks, and it hasn’t changed much even though now many organizations are moving to performance management software from paper/MS-Word based systems.

It is also surprising to see that most of the mistakes are common:

  • Rating themselves too high
  • Not providing enough concrete examples of why they feel they deserve such a high rating.
  • Not identifying areas of improvement or lessons learnt (which is the most important goal of self-assessment)
  • Not distinguishing between competency assessment and task assessment

Do you agree, or you have seen otherwise? If you do, why do you think this is the case? I am sure there are enough literature out there which talk about how to measure performance, of self or others, or do you think that is not the case?

3 Replies to “Doing performance self-appraisal well”

  1. I think performance appraisal is directly linked to annual salary increments, something material which heavily impacts everyone. In this scenario even if people realize themselves they do not want to say “I Know I am doing a bad job”, also one of the reasons people will not like to be most honest in their appraisal because that would hinder giving themselves a higher rating.
    Do I loose bargaining power on my salary if I myself say I know I am not doing the best job, or may be not as best as I can?
    I guess it’s like when you are marketing your product you try to highlight the best parts and knowingly not un-cover the weaknesses of the product because you want to sell them.
    Ofcourse I believe if encouraged and probed enough during the feedback session people are honest and will comeout on what exactly they think, so may be the art is to be able to first Comprehend yourself enough to make a statement that you also know objectively how people performed and be able to ask the right questions to get to the good self-appraisal done right on the spot 🙂

  2. Thanks for your comments. I agree completely, one of the biggest reason is the fact that critical self-evaluation is considered detrimental to growth along salary/promotion/bonus axis (and some managers prove this right too). So maybe there is a case to be made for seperating performance review process into two parts: one to evaluate financial merit, and the other to evaluate areas for growth and improvement, the development aspect.
    However, even so, I have seen cases where even in 1-1s after the review, individuals have failed to evaluate themselves, their own strengths and weaknesses and areas for improvement and growth. And I haven’t seen many HR focus on this aspect of training and development.

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