Writing your performance review matters

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Aug 04

We are soon coming to the time when either we will get a mid-year performance review, or need to start working on the end of the year performance review. It is not a pleasant task for managers. In fact, many managers dislike it so much that they won’t even write the review — they let you write it for them.

As a management practice, a manager not writing the performance review drives employees nuts. And while most companies want you to write your own performance review as part of the overall process, it can go too far. In How to Do Performance Reviews Right, it leads to this:

That’s where self-assessments cease to be just a data point and instead practically become the review itself. It works like this: A manager takes the employee’s self-assessment, adds some superficial comments or check marks and assigns a final performance rating. Presto! A performance review that satisfies human resources, with a bare minimum of the manager’s effort.

And people wonder why employees think evaluations are ridiculous.

The author goes on to provide four ways a manager can get performance reviews right — and they are good advice for you writing your own self-review of your performance. But here’s the conclusion I disagree with:

When it comes to composing one’s own performance review, that’s a task that shouldn’t be in any employee’s job description.

I think it is important to write your own self-assessment for your performance review. A great reason is right here in the article: your manager is too busy, lazy, scared, intimidated or something to write your review — so you better help justify any salary, bonus and performance perks. If you and your manager won’t do it, no one will, hurting you.

The other reason to write your own self-assessment is that your rating, ranking, pay and bonus are all determined in most large companies before the manager ever writes the performance review. Yet, your self-assessment is usually due months before your actual review is delivered to you.

Consequently, your self-assessment is usually the only performance-based information your manager has to recommend a rating or justify a pay raise or protect your bonus in calibration sessions with your manager’s peers. If you don’t write your self-assessment, your manager makes all of these recommendations and decisions with whatever is floating around about your performance in his or her head.

Would you rather have a well-documented self-assessment that shows how you have knocked the socks off your goals (because you did — you still need to do the work) giving your manager ammunition to justify your work? Or would you hope that your management team knows enough about your work to justify that higher rating?

I know which one I’d pick.

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.