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Your complete guide to writing a self-assessment (with examples)
Bettering yourself — and your organization — starts with a look inward.
Especially with today’s tight labor market, employers are looking for ways to optimize employee performance. Some companies have pressed pause on hiring while others have forfeited to layoffs.
No matter where your organization falls on the hiring spectrum, employers everywhere can agree. It’s time to make sure your employees are tapping into their full potential. The success of your organization is depending on it.
At some point in everyone’s career, it’s likely you’ll have to take part in a performance evaluation. Every working person will have to take part in a performance evaluation at some point in their career.
Typically, a performance evaluation, otherwise known as a performance review, begins with a series of notes from your employer or employers on how you have conducted yourself at work. They typically end with a self-assessment, where you share how much progress you believe you have made during a certain amount of time on the job.
So, in order to better ourselves and our businesses, it’s critical to self-assess. On its face, self-assessments can seem like a performance management tool to keep employees on track. But it isn’t just a tool to keep employees on track to meet your goals. It helps employees grow, develop, and ultimately reach their full potential.
At BetterUp, we’ve studied human transformation and growth. In fact, we’ve designed a Whole Person Assessment to help you and your employees to better understand your specific areas of strength and opportunities for growth. The result? A self-assessment helps inform a roadmap to success through coaching and personalized support.
Outside of coaching, employers will conduct performance reviews with self-assessment components at regular intervals. Some perform self-assessments as often as every three months while others will wait for longer periods of time, like six months to a year, between performance reviews.
In this post, we’ll talk about the benefits of self-assessments for both employers and employees. We’ll also give you some self-assessment examples to start using today. Plus, you’ll learn some best practices to help conduct effective and impact self-assessments at your organization.
8 benefits of self-evaluations for managers and employees
There are a number of reasons why self-assessments are a useful tool for both managers and employees.
For managers or employers, self-assessments can be a useful tool that comes with a range of benefits. Here are four benefits of self-evaluations for managers.
- Improved performance. But research tells us that self-assessments have a positive impact on personal and professional growth. In fact, one study found that implementing self-assessments drastically improved performance and self-directed learning skills.
- Increased employee engagement. Managers have an incredible influence over the employee experience. A Gallup study found that managers can account for up to 70% of the variance in employee engagement.
A self-assessment can be the entry point to open, clear, and transparent communication between manager and employee. When employees know what’s expected of them and what they need to work on, it can increase employee engagement.
- Improved decision-making skills. Managers, you have to deeply know your employees’ strengths and areas of opportunity. When you’re managing a team, it’s critical to know when (and where) certain employees need to jump into a priority.
Especially in a fast-changing world of work, the decisions that managers are making are increasing. But with help from a self-assessment by your employees, you have a window into where your employees can flex their skills.
For example, let’s say a new data analysis project pops up. You need someone on your team to step up and lead the project. You also need another person to help crunch the numbers — and put together a narrative that the data tells.
Because of your employees’ self-assessments, you can quickly identify and make decisions on who should lead what.
- Better goal-setting. Self-assessments also help managers get a better understanding of what an employee's goals are at work. Having a good grasp on what employees want from their work and what they feel are their strengths and weaknesses can help managers lead better.
A self-assessment is a handy tool for managers to use in order to highlight workers’ achievements, set future goals, check in on employee weaknesses, and assess how they can help employees improve those skills.
Just as managers benefit from self-assessments, so do employees. We’ve outlined four ways self-assessments help benefit the employee.
- Increased self-awareness. A self-assessment can act as a mirror or reflection point. At BetterUp, we use a Whole Person Model to help our Members accurately gain self-awareness and self-reflect.
According to our Whole Person Model, we see a 172% increase in self-awareness for those who start out low as a result of coaching. But what does coaching have to do with self-assessments? It can help bring awareness to an employee's strengths — and areas of opportunity.
- Better learning and development goals. A self-assessment can help pinpoint different target growth areas. Designed to help prompt your employees to examine their skills, a self-assessment can be the tool you need to help identify a learning goal.
- Improved self-confidence. A self-assessment, though it can sound intimidating, isn’t just for identifying what’s not working. For many employees, it’s also a reassurance of what’s working well, especially when your manager agrees.
A self-assessment can help your employees realize strengths they might not have identified before. It can also show growth areas where they might’ve struggled before.
At BetterUp, we measure human transformation with our Whole Person Assessment. Throughout your coaching journey, you’ll reach reflection points. Over time, our Members see first-hand the skills they’ve improved.
For example, when I first took my Whole Person Assessment, I scored lowest in self-compassion. My coach worked with me to identify ways I could build my self-compassion through habits and thoughts. By the time I took my next self-assessment, my self-compassion had rocketed. And because I had data points to see where I started, I could see how much I had grown.
- Opens up opportunities for further professional development. To go hand-in-hand with learning and development, self-assessments can help determine where employees should invest in professional development.
For example, let’s say your employee takes a self-assessment and realizes they’re falling short on project management skills. Because of the assessment, you can offer project management workshops to help their professional development.
38 self-assessment examples for you to use
Here are 38 examples of questions that managers can ask their employees during a self-assessment.
Questions on achievements
- What areas do you think you could improve in?
- What could you have done better at work over the past year?
- What would you say your strengths are?
- How do you think you have contributed the most to the company?
- What has been your favorite project in the last year?
- Do you think you did a good job fulfilling your responsibilities over the last year?
Questions on goals
- What goals did you set for yourself this year? Month? Quarter?
- How many of those goals did you achieve?
- Were you happy with the results of meeting those goals you set for yourself?
- What are your future goals for next year? Quarter? Month? What can I do to help you better meet those goals?
Questions on advancement and professional growth
- Have you taken part in any professional development programs the company offers?
- Are there any leadership positions you would like to have in the future?
- Is there any specific training that you feel you could use to help be more prepared to pursue a leadership role?
- Are there any skills that you could develop outside of work that would help with your work performance?
- Do you feel that there are any particular skills or talents of yours that you are not using?
Questions on creativity
- Do you feel that you think “outside the box” when it comes to finding solutions to work-related problems?
- What are some examples of when you thought “outside of the box” in order to solve a work problem? What could your manager do to make it easier for you to use creative problem-solving skills?
- Do you feel that your position allows you to use your creative problem-solving skills to the fullest?
Questions on communication skills
- Do you think that you communicate effectively with your manager and colleagues?
- What do you think makes a good communicator?
- How do you start difficult conversations with co-workers or managers?
- How often do you ask for help on an assignment? Or ask questions to help clarify something about a project?
Questions on time management
- Do you think that you use your time wisely while at work?
- When was a time when you thought you managed your time well?
- How could you improve your time management skills in the future?
- Can you describe an example of when you could have used your time better?
Questions on values and behaviors
- Do you think that you have worked in a way that aligns with our core values?
- What could you do to improve how you embody some of the company’s core values?
- What do you value most about your work?
- When do you feel the most valued by the company?
- What are the qualities you have that make a valuable employee?
- List five things you do that positively impact your productivity.
Questions on weaknesses
- Can you identify any weaknesses that you might have that could be hampering your productivity?
- Do you feel comfortable asking for help if you run into a problem with work?
- How could you work toward improving your work-related opportunities?
- Is there anything that leadership could do in order to help you address these opportunities?
Looking at a few examples of self-assessment questions and responses can be helpful when preparing for your own review. If you are particularly nervous about your self-assessment, practice by writing out some responses to the listed example questions. Use the example response as a jumping-off point for your own practice responses.
Here are some example responses to the self-evaluation questions listed above.
Responses on achievements
- “I try to lead by example and feel that I put in my best effort every day. I am always the first person to arrive at work and always the last to leave.”
- “I have extremely high standards for my work and have gone above and beyond my job description. I routinely set goals for myself and work late nights and over the weekend to complete assignments.”
- “Earlier this year, I decided I wanted to improve my public speaking skills and volunteered to give a company-wide presentation on a recently completed project. I’m proud of myself for taking that fear head-on, and the presentation was well received.”
Responses on goals
- “I would like to be able to keep working on my leadership skills. In order to do this, I plan to double down on my commitment to keep pitching project ideas at meetings and taking the lead on group work. I am proud to say that I have grown as a leader over the past year and would love to continue to do so.”
- “One of the goals I set for myself this year was to become more organized. I have struggled a bit to learn how to better manage my time or delegate tasks but I am actively trying to learn from my mistakes.”
Responses on advancement and growth
- “When I applied for my current position, I did so with the long-term goal of eventually obtaining a managerial role. I can see myself overseeing a team at the company given my interests, ability to delegate tasks, organization, and expert time management skills. I also really enjoy pushing my colleagues to do their best and explore new ways of tackling a project.”
- “ Now that I have worked at the company for a year, I have learned enough that I feel confident taking the creative lead on a project in the near future.”
Responses about creativity
- “Since starting with the company, I have often used creative problem-solving skills on assignments or used lateral thinking to find solutions to work-related problems.”
- “I have been commended several times over the past quarter for my original ideas during pitch sessions, ability to think outside of the box, and come up with creative solutions to problems.”
- “During my team’s weekly meeting, I am typically the first person to jump in with an idea for our next project.”
- “I often try to help my colleagues figure out solutions to problems when they are stuck.”
Responses about communication skills
- “I routinely ask questions to clarify expectations for assignments.”
- “I am often the first one to speak up with a question or concern in a meeting.”
- “I always speak respectfully when having hard conversations with managers and co-workers.”
- “I know how to respectfully receive feedback on my performance from managers and co-workers.”
- “I frequently talk to fellow team members about things that are going well or not so well on a project.”
- “If I can not meet a deadline, I always give notice to my manager as early as possible with an explanation as to why I am behind.”
Responses about time management skills
- “In the past year, I have made all of my deadlines and frequently submit my work ahead of time.”
- “My ability to be organized has saved co-workers hours of time on collaborations.”
- “My co-workers will sometimes come to me for advice on how to improve their time management skills. I am always happy to give recommendations to co-workers in the hopes of making our company run more efficiently.”
Responses about values and behaviors
- “I believe that the best relationships between employees and employers are built on transparency.”
- “ I value kindness in the workplace and make sure to be as welcoming and helpful to everyone I interact with.”
- “I believe that every obstacle can be overcome with open and respectful communication.”
- “I value my co-workers and strive to be as thoughtful about their well-being as I am my own.”
- “I believe that a positive attitude is the best tool in the workplace and always look at setbacks as opportunities.”
Responses on weaknesses
- “I am a high achiever and often struggle with telling a manager no to an extra work assignment even if I have a lot on my plate already. Unfortunately, this can impact my productivity as completing multiple tasks in a timely fashion can be a tough balancing act.
As a result, I will sometimes miss a deadline or ask for a deadline to be changed. I have been learning how to let my manager know if I have too many tasks to take on a new assignment. I’m happy to say I have made some progress and will continue to work on improving.”
- “I sometimes find it hard to ask for help completing a task when doing so could help me finish an assignment more efficiently.
Because of this, I can inadvertently waste time on an assignment that could have been completed quickly with the help of a manager or co-worker. I am trying to be better at anticipating when I will need help for a project and asking for it early.”
Best practices when writing your self-assessment
1. Be honest
When writing a review of your work performance, be honest with yourself. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and a self-assessment is meant to highlight those on-the-job strengths.
They also allow employees to come up with solutions on how to improve in their weaker areas. Make sure to be honest in mentioning times that you fell short at work from something small like turning up a few minutes late to a meeting to something more consequential like missing an important deadline.
2. Be confident
You should be proud of the work you do and there is nothing wrong with expressing that pride in a self-assessment.
While being honest about work mistakes is crucial in a self-assessment, you should also mention the times that you went the extra mile or really shined.
3. Be committed to improving
A self-assessment is all about figuring out what you need to do to become better at your work, and there is always room for self-improvement. Make sure to express in your self-assessment how you want to keep growing.
Expressing an interest in discovering new ways to improve on good work habits and strengths, as well as shortcomings, will make you appear to be an employee that will grow with the company.
4. Be professional
You should never make things personal in a self-assessment. That means no insulting your manager or boss for poor leadership skills or blaming a colleague for a less than stellar result on a collaborative project.
It also means taking responsibility for your own shortcomings in the workplace. Being professional also means taking the performance review and the self-assessment seriously. Make sure to take the time to write a worthwhile review that isn’t rushed or forced and is instead filled with insights and solutions.
5. Take your time
A self-assessment that is rushed won’t help anyone. Make time for self-reflection beforehand, and take your time when sitting down to write your self-assessment and put some thought into it.
This is one of the few chances that you will have in the workplace to advocate for yourself and remind your employer why you are great at your job. This is also a great opportunity to let management know that you are struggling with something and to see if there are any professional development programs that your company offers to help you address these weaknesses.
6. Be specific
During your self-assessment, use specific examples as much as possible. For example, if you are taking the time to write about how you consistently do the bulk of the work needed to complete group projects, make sure to list three or four examples.
Don’t be afraid to say that you were the one that stayed up all night to make sure that a deadline was met. Or that you were the one that pushed your colleagues to make the project better.
Something that can help you do this more easily is to track your accomplishments throughout the year. Keep a journal or a small notebook at your desk or on your person where you can jot down notes about the things you think you have done well every day or every week.
Having a weekly or monthly list of your accomplishments will make it much easier to remind a manager or employer how valuable you are to the company.
7. Use numbers
Data can help convince an employer that your work has been beneficial to the company. When writing a self-assessment, back up claims about your achievements with numbers.
If you write in your self-assessment that you are great at figuring out ways to shorten the amount of time your team spends on projects, make sure to reference how much time you have been able to cut. Including concrete numbers in your self-assessment will allow your manager or employer to develop a metric to measure your achievements.
How to ready an employee self-assessment
Preparing ahead of time for giving or writing a self-assessment is central to having a constructive performance review. Managers should know what goals they would like employees to have completed and review themselves with some areas of weakness that employees can improve before talking about a self-assessment.
If you are having trouble figuring out how to craft a self-assessment to give to employees there are a number of free self-evaluation templates online, like this one.
By using a template, you can streamline the self-assessment process and make less work for yourself in the future if you need to modify any questions on the evaluation. When sitting down to have a person-to-person discussion about employee performance, remember to give constructive feedback.
Tap into the potential of your workforce
As a result, it’s important to make sure you’re maximizing the potential of your workforce. Self-assessments are the starting point to figuring out what potential lies within your employees (and your organization).
Whether you’re looking at your own performance or your employees’ performance, BetterUp can help. An employee self-evaluation can be the ticket to building better teamwork, job performance, and work ethic.
Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.