Serious hints for your employee self-evaluation

Since posting my tongue-in-cheek hints for completing your employee self-evaluation, it’s received a ton of hits, presumably from people who want serious advice on filling out employee self evaluations. Just to clarify, I do not recommend calling yourself “awesome sauce” on your evaluation.

The main thing is to be understated if anything, fair to yourself, and back up what you say.

Being understated

The first time I ever got evaluated, it was like a kick to the shorts. I thought more highly of my work than my then-employer did, and the evaluation showed it, clearly. This year, my supervisor disagreed with some of my self-evaluation and said I graded myself too low. Well, guess what’s nicer to hear? I’d much rather have my supervisor tell me I graded myself too low.

I also got a bigger raise the year my supervisor told me I graded myself too low than in the year my then-supervisor told me I graded myself too high.

You should have something to back up your evaluation, but when in doubt whether that accolade qualifies as an A- or B+, err on the side of the B+ and attach the accolade. If it really deserves an A-, a good supervisor will bump your rating appropriately. And if your supervisor never bumps up any of your ratings, you may conclude it’s time to find another job with a better supervisor.

Back yourself up

It’s not a bad idea to have a folder (either in your desk drawer or your computer) where you can stash achievements as they happen. Jot down notes, or when you get notes from the field, drop them into the folder. That way you have all of it in one place when evaluation time comes–and also for resume fodder, if you need that. And yes, you need resume fodder even if you’re happy where you are. I applied for a promotion earlier this year, and as part of the process, I had to submit an up-to-date resume.

So any time you do a big project, save documentation from it. If your project has an impact on your office, keep some kind of documentation of your impact. If you get a thank-you for your help on something, put that in the folder. If your workload is increasing, or your efficiency is improving, document the change and drop that into your folder. It’s one thing for you to say you’re working harder this year than last year. But that’s subjective. Saying you’ve completed 35% more tickets this year than last year isn’t subjective. If you have the numbers to prove it, it’s fact.

One of my best friends says it’s not ego if you can back it up. And if it’s someone else backing you up, so much the better.

And if you have it all in one place, the task takes a few minutes rather than taking half a day.

Look for opportunities

I was in a meeting this week where we identified a major inefficiency in what we do. The person leading the meeting said we need to submit a proposal through the proper channel to make the change. Nobody there was eager to do it. I turned to my coworker and said, “We could write that.” He nodded.

We wrote it up at the airport while we were waiting for the plane. It’ll be sitting in a Powerpoint presentation in the appropriate person’s inbox by the end of the week. And you  better believe this will be on my next self-evaluation. The question is whether the line item will read, “Submitted a proposal to reduce the time required to field our solutions by 50%” or “Reduced the time required to field our solutions by 50%.” The latter would be better, of course, but even if it doesn’t get past the proposal stage, the chain of command is going to know next September that I tried. If it’s successful, I’ll give myself 10 out of 10 in the relevant category. If it just sits on the other person’s desk, maybe I’ll give myself a little less. A person who gets things done is more valuable than a person who tries really hard, after all. But I’ll give myself an 8 for trying really hard, because people who try really hard eventually become people who get things done.

Some years, all it takes is one of those to make yourself indispensable. The more you have, the more likely you are to find yourself on the list of people to promote rather than the list of people to lay off.

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