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Self Appraisals: Keep or Abolish?


Self appraisals are a common performance management practice. However, the usefulness of a self appraisal is often called into question – are they actually valuable?

Similar to manager reviews, if self appraisals are poorly written and merely act as a check-in-the-box task during review season, employees will not extract value from them. However, when self appraisals are written well with meaningful questions, there are many benefits that employee and their manager can extract from the self evaluation.

The benefits of self evaluations

1) Self appraisals increases an employee’s self awareness

Self appraisals can help increase an employee’s self awareness – it is a chance for the employee to reflect on their performance – what they did well and what they think they can improve on. Research has shown that increasing one’s self awareness has many advantages including:

From a manager’s prospective, the self evaluation can help fill in some gaps on potential developmental opportunities. It also can reveal important gaps in an employee’s self awareness.

2) Self appraisals can provide some relevant insights to the manager

Managers are not privy to an employee’s day-to-day. This is particularly true in modern workforces with matrix/agile team structures and flexible work arrangements. Self appraisals can help shed light on work arrangements, team dynamics, and developmental opportunities may not be aware off. The self appraisals are a great opportunity for an employee to highlight what they think is important and topics they would like to have covered during their performance review.

How to implement a successful self evaluation

1) Provide the right education

If your organization wants to implement self reviews, ensure that your employees first understand the benefits. If the employees do not understand why are they are doing the reviews or how self appraisals contribute to their overall performance review, there is a high probability that any data you collect may be inaccurate. If self appraisals have some sort of rating system, make sure that these ratings are clearly communicated. While 55% of organizations do include self ratings, we want to highlight that standalone ratings are completely useless and provide little context about an employee’s performance. Sufficient feedback should always accompany ratings.

For more information on performance ratings, check out our past blog.

2) Invest in the right tools

One important note is to consider how you will document self evaluations – does your current performance management solution allow for self reviews? Are the tools intuitive? Can data be easily retrieved? How will you use the data? The more intuitive the tool, the more likely it will be adopted. It can also be helpful that employees and their managers have access to their past data to help follow-up on past conversations.

3) Keep it simple

If self evaluations are too long, employees will be less likely to fill it out. Managers may be less inclined to read them. A simple solution is to keep things simple! Keep the review to 5 questions or less. We list some of our favorite self-review questions below:

  • What were your main objectives this cycle? Did you successfully achieve your objectives? Why or why not?
  • What are your biggest strengths? Provide specific examples when possible.
  • What are your biggest development areas? How do you plan on working on them? Provide specific examples.
  • How can your manager and team better support your development?
  • What were your biggest learnings since the last cycle?

If you are investing in a performance review software, make sure that the tool is customizable so you can ask the most relevant questions to your employees.


Self-appraisals are a powerful tool in performance management. What do you think? Does your organization run self evaluations?

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