Standard employee performance reviews open up constructive communication between managers and employees, but sometimes this traditional form of evaluation alone isn’t adequate. Employee self-reviews are a new and viable alternative that are becoming more and more prevalent in the workplace.
Performance reviews can be a headache for managers to write. Conventional staff evaluations often pit a manager’s sensibilities against an employee’s performance in unconstructive ways. Today, more and more companies are turning to alternative ways of evaluating a worker’s performance. Self-reviews are one option. In general, though, employee self-reviews are not conducted in order to ensure a raise, promotion, or a coveted bonus. Rather, they are used to help initiate a dialogue, encourage personal growth, and facilitate employee development.
Unlike traditional reviews (which can minimize an employee’s sense of control), self-reviews give people the opportunity to correct problems in a nonjudgmental manner. Plus, instead of simply telling employees what they’re doing right or wrong, a self-review offers an introspective point of view.
Conventional reviews tend to focus on the very high performers and those whose performance is below average. But what happens to the people in between? Self-reviews provide a forum for the entire range of performers.
Another problem that arises during reviews is the inability for managers and their staff members to reach a consensus with regards to the meaning of “good performance.” Self-reviews, however, give people an opportunity to expand and redefine terms like “good performance” and “areas of improvement.” They allow employees to focus on elements of performance that are important to them. As a result, fewer disputes may arise or, at the very least, differences of opinion can be more easily discussed.
Self-reviews take advantage of an employee’s familiarity with his or her work. They also allow the person to participate in the process, resulting in more employee accountability. Self-reviews give employees a chance to examine and clarify their goals. Further, these evaluations offer respondents a means for pinpointing areas of weakness, which can later be addressed in a conversation between an employee and his or her manager. Indeed, follow-up and a professional exchange between a worker and a manager can enhance the professional relationship, add to an employee’s sense of value, and, ultimately, further the company’s strategic mission.
Unlike traditional employee evaluations, a self-review can be easier when it comes to describing negative experiences. That is, an employee can soften the language some and be less incriminating than an unhappy supervisor, whose language might be more critical. That’s not to say that an employee should be less forthcoming or downright dishonest. Still, a little introspection can be less painful and, hence, more instructive. This is especially true for employees willing to admit and learn from their mistakes. In fact, a self-review that contains an analysis of what the worker can do more effectively the “next time” often demonstrates commitment to excellence and continuous improvement.
Self-reviews benefit management by revealing how employees feel about the work they have accomplished. They compel employees to look back on an entire body of work. Offering self-reviews as part of the evaluation process also gives people the chance to study their performance, which give workers an important message: their opinions count.
Self-reviews also help companies document what an employee has done over a given period. Documentation like this can be a useful benchmark for making improvements and setting goals. In addition, it can provide a chronology of a particular project. Self-reviews allow employers to document particular performance items in their permanent records.
Self-reviews give people the opportunity to show their employers that they take their jobs and their careers seriously. They also help minimize some of the inevitable stress that accompanies the evaluation process. Sometimes, facing your own demons, what you could have done differently — while uncomfortable to a certain extent — is more palatable than relying solely on your supervisor’s estimation.
Be sure to also read Learning from Performance Reviews to help yourself establish a clear plan for improvement and professional development.