How to write a self-evaluation that will impress your boss.7 min read

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

How to write a self-evaluation that will impress your boss.

Ever feel like your performance reviews are just a summary of the last 2 weeks of your job or a laundry list of the things you messed up since the last review? I’ll show you how to pre-empt those responses, wow your boss, and prep for the meeting like you’ve never done before.

I’ve been fortunate to work for companies that value consistent, well executed, performance reviews. So in the past 5 years, I’ve learned a lot about what separates a shoddy self-evaluation from one that hits home and starts a healthy conversation.

Let’s talk about why you need to do this.

Most performance reviews suck but poor performance is rarely to blame for it. It’s the oppositional format, the vague feedback, the “What have you done to earn your keep?”

If you’re like most people, you leave your review asking questions like:

  • Where did that come from?
  • Do they even now what I do every day?
  • Why did I even put any effort into that?

If your manager isn’t holding up their end of the deal in watching for ways to give you actionable, constructive feedback you should help them by gathering and presenting what you’ve done, where you struggled, and what you’re planning next.

Serve it up to them a silver platter! If you can do that, and I’ll show you how, you’ll set yourself up for success.

First, here’s the self evaluation structure:

I. Company/Personal Core Values
II. Key Projects Since Last Review
III. Goals (Personal or Assigned)
IV. Fulfilling Moments
V. Challenging Moments
VI. Areas To Improve
VII. What’s Next

I. Company and/or Personal Core Values

Core Values are a condensed description of how you conduct yourself. By starting here, your boss will understand how you view yourself aligning with the company’s values or how you define them for yourself if they aren’t any stated by the company.

If your company has clearly stated values then you’ve got it easy.

Title this section <Your Company Name>’s Core Values and write out each of your company’s core values and how you’ve embodied them since your last review.

Here’s an example:

Flywheel’s Core Values

Customers Come First — When timelines compress on a customer project due to a delay on their end we are still obligated to hit the schedule, even if it takes extra time on our end. This happened with <customer name redacted > and I put in the extra time to push the implementation forward so they could hit the review cycle start date.

If your company doesn’t have a clear set of values, that’s okay too!

Title this section “My Core Values”. If you need help choosing some personal core values, check out these resources. Keep it to 5 or fewer — after all, if everything is core then nothing is.

Once you’ve identified your personal core values, give at least one example of how you exemplified this trait since your last review.

II. Key Projects Since Last Review

If your manager assigns you to specific projects or you have longer running tasks assigned to you, make sure you highlight the project’s status and your contribution. Any project that is taking up a significant amount of your time will be important to your manager for a couple reasons.

  1. They care about the project you’re working on.
  2. They care about what is occupying your time as opposed to other work you could be contributing to.

Since one, or both, of those scenarios will ring true for your boss, providing concrete information for your involvement, the status, and the impact of the project will show them that you know why the time you are spending on these projects is worthwhile.

III. Goals (Personal or Assigned)

This is similar to point II in some ways but also important to mention on it’s own. While you likely have specific projects or tasks fall on your plate, your boss may have suggested other goals for you to work toward or (hopefully) you have some personal goals of your own to highlight.

Bringing feedback from your last review into the next one will show that you paid attention, and even cared a bit about the feedback you received.

Here’s an example:

Goal: Help our marketing team increase conversion rates from 3–5% on landing pages.

Action: Our marketing team has been focusing on beefing up our inbound campaigns so I decided to go though the Hubspot Inbound Marketing Certification Course so I could speak our team’s language and help create better lead magnets. We only ended up increasing the converstion rate to 4.5% but we made visible progress.

IV. Fulfilling Moments

Great managers want to know when you felt that you were at the top of your game. If they know about it, they can help make the circumstances occur more often.

Even if your job was very difficult and you felt that you weren’t able to let your true colors show, talk about a time where you felt you had a breakthrough, as small as it may be. It could be a small collaboration with a coworker or something big like delivering a major milestone.

Positivity is a rising tide that lifts all boats.

Example:

1. Jason told me that being able to discuss project status with me on a weekly basis helped him feel more in the loop despite working remote and 2 time zones behind us.

2. Last week we finished all of the design work for our new interface and were able to push it to QA for validation before phasing it into production.

V. Challenging Moments

It’s hard for your manager or supervisor to help without specific examples off challenging times and how you feel they can help you. It’s almost always best to describe the reason you believe the challenge exists, why it was a challenge for you, and how you tried to overcome it.

You very well may have overcome this challenge but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make note of it.

Example:

The people who sit near me are often quite loud during the lunch hour and that’s when I get the highest call volume from our customers. I’ve talked to them about it, but the issue hasn’t gotten much better.

I’m not sure what else to do about it because I need to be at my desk to take the calls but it makes it hard to focus on the customer. Can we talk about a way to fix this?

VI. Areas I Can Improve

Self-awareness is an ever elusive trait. Take time before your review to think about, write out, and come up with action steps for areas that you feel you can and should improve. This will help your manager find tangible ways to help you grow.

They probably have their own ideas of ways that you can grow and improve, but taking the initiative to point them out and asking for help shows you aren’t too proud to point out areas you’d like to improve.

Some managers are passive and you might need to pointedly ask them if they have any areas that they think you should improve. Don’t be to shy or proud to ask for this feedback directly.

Example:

When I’m in the middle writing a post and someone interrupts me, I tend to be short with them to end the conversation quickly so I can get back to writing.

I can get better at this by telling my coworks that when I have my headphones in I need to stay focused unless there is an emergency. I should help them the first couple times though until they get a feel for this routine.

VII. What’s Next

Nothing says forward thinking like suggesting next steps for yourself. Your manager will likely have their own suggestions and ideas for how you can improve and what your next developmental steps are, but you shouldn’t just wait for them to lay out the plan for you.

Read through everything you’ve written in your self reflection so far and consider what you should next to keep growing.


There you have it.

If you follow these steps you’ll be setting yourself up for success in your next performance review. Most employees don’t put this much thought (or much at all) into their performance reviews, so do yourself a favor and get ready to stand out!

Help your team performing better than they ever have