4 Questions for Self-Assessments


One of the least-favorable parts of work is the performance evaluation. You write up your accomplishments. You figure out some training goals. You have a chat with your boss. Then it’s done. See you next quarter. It can be tedious. It can also be painful if being self-congratulatory isn’t your thing.

My challenge, in particular, is identifying the accomplishments. I get stuck on the it’s my job part. How can you take credit for something that you’re supposed to be doing in the first place? What makes an accomplishment really an accomplishment? How is an accomplishment any different from a duty or a responsibility? What if something that’s an accomplishment to you isn’t an accomplishment to your rating official? Or worse – what if they consider something to be an accomplishment that you don’t?

I’ve done a bit of research over the years, poking around career advice books, checking out blogs, and asking peers, to untangle accomplishments-writing. Using all these resources, I was able to come up with four questions to help identify accomplishments.

  1. What did you struggle with? Maybe it was sticking to deadlines or paying closer attention to your capacity and commitments. Think about how you improved upon those challenges. Did you develop a calendar or an alert system to notify you about those deadlines? Did you stop volunteering for everything? There’s an accomplishment buried in there somewhere, even if it’s just that you overcame a problem.
  1. Did you give any presentations or briefings? Did you contribute to any presentations or briefings? Think about the content and the context of the briefing. Figure out why you were chosen to give that presentation or why your data was used in the briefing. The accomplishment is in that ‘why’ that led to the recognition.
  1. What didn’t go well? What could you have done better? Acknowledging flaws or shortcomings can be an accomplishment in itself. If you were able to course-correct on a shortcoming, then the strategies or the approach used to minimize or mitigate the damage can inform the accomplishment. (Hopefully it goes without saying that if you go this route, put a positive spin on the accomplishment).
  1. How did you meet the performance standards or the expectations in your PD? Use these expectations to define the baseline set of goals for your accomplishments. Asking how and what questions can lead to finding accomplishments, big and small. For example, if you have an education or a training component to maintain a specific certification, then what did you do to meet it? How did you meet it?

Asking myself these four questions allowed me to develop an approach more akin to a fact-finding mission. It makes writing self-assessments a little less painful.

What tips or strategies do you use to help prepare for your performance evaluations or to write your self-assessment of accomplishments?

Meganne Lemon is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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