6 Questions to Ask Yourself before You Write Your Performance Review

One of the most challenging aspects of a performance review is the often stress-inducing self-evaluation. The ability to accurately assess your personal strengths and weaknesses is not as simple as it seems, but it is an essential skill to develop. Beyond personal growth, this exercise is an excellent way to demonstrate your leadership skills to your boss.

Maybe you’re lucky and only have to complete a performance review once a year, or perhaps you’re in the position of having to self-evaluate on a quarterly basis—regardless of your situation, before you write a single word, you should ask yourself these six questions which will help give you—and your employer—a greater level of clarity on how you contribute to the success of the company and the direction your career is headed.

1. What were my main achievements for the review period?

This question is a great place to start as you begin the appraisal of your performance at work. Not only will it help you identify and articulate your most significant achievements, but it will also allow you to evaluate if you accomplished the goals you and/or your boss set during the given period. Being able to clearly define your contributions to the company, while at the same time recognizing areas where you came up short is essential if you wish to advance in your career.

2. What goals should I set for the next review period?

Coming up with a new set of goals for the next review period is a great way to demonstrate your initiative and leadership skills to your boss. Give some serious thought to what you would like to accomplish, and make sure your goals are in line with the priorities of your company. It’s important to challenge yourself while making sure the goals you set are realistic and achievable even if they’re difficult. After all, the goal itself isn’t going to impress your employer—achieving the goal will.

3. What do I enjoy most about my job?

Have you ever taken the time to consider what you enjoy most about your job? Focusing on a specific aspect of your job you particularly enjoy could lead you toward a more specialized and satisfying role within your company, whereas realizing you don’t particularly like anything about your job could lead to giving up your current position for a whole new career. Remember, the self-evaluation for your performance review shouldn’t just be about saying whatever it takes to get a cost-of-living raise—it should serve to guide your career path.

4. What are my strengths and weaknesses?

It’s a good idea to make a list Identifying your strengths and weaknesses before you set out to write your performance review. Be as honest as possible in your self-evaluation. If you’re an excellent communicator, but have difficulty giving up control of a project when working with a team—it’s ok to acknowledge both. Take this time to think of specific instances where you’ve demonstrated your strengths and come up with some ideas for addressing areas of weakness.

5. How would I like to see my career develop?

Being able to accurately assess where you currently are in your career development is important, but so is knowing where you’d like to end up. Before you begin writing your performance review, take the time to consider how you want your career to develop. Would you be happy staying in the same position for the next couple of years, or would you prefer to rise through the ranks more rapidly? If climbing the corporate ladder quickly is important to you, can you think of ways to achieve your goal through your performance?

6. Are there any aspects of your job you’re dissatisfied with?

For some, this question can lead to a very long list of complaints, but If you’re lucky and you genuinely like your job, you might only be dissatisfied with a few aspects of your work—or maybe none. Whether it be having to work long hours, an uncomfortable office setting, or annoying coworkers, giving careful consideration to any aspects of your job you’re not happy with will not only help you complete your performance review, but can also  greatly influence the career choices you make for the future.

Ask yourself these questions while you’re writing your self-evaluation to get the most benefit out of the exercise—after all, it’s an opportunity to take a step back, look at where you are, celebrate your triumphs, and plan where you’re going!

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