Your reasons (ahem, excuses) for not doing a great job at documenting your self-appraisal may include everything from:
lack of time and many deadlines
the information is redundant for my manager (“He is supposed to know my performance and results anyways”)
feeling inadequately equipped with data or memory of the important events in the past year
laziness (the worst of all)
Many of us fall into this trap of thinking – “I am here to deliver great results. I am also competent enough and better than many other people in the team. It’s my manager’s responsibility to remember all the great accomplishments and successes I have had throughout the year. And, I am entitled to the salary hike.”
There are three issues/ fallacies with that thought:
Managers have few team members to manage, and they aren’t expected to be superheroes who can see and remember every little thing that every team member accomplished (or messed up) during the year.
Many organizations, both large and small, have moved to a method of “Group-based decision making” or “Team-based decision making” for appraisal ratings. This process essentially means that your manager AND his peer group members, who are from other cross-functional teams, get to discuss and evaluate a person’s performance in a neutral and unbiased way and decide on the rating, increment %s, and even promotions.
Unfortunately, the sad reality is that you aren’t automatically entitled to salary hikes and promotions – or anything.
Unless you take ownership of documenting your performance highlights (and few failures) for the past year, you fall short in pitching for your benefits of salary increases and promotions – both with your manager and his peer groups (who sometimes may not know you as a person or a professional).
Enough said, to convince you to put together an awesome self-appraisal document.
Let’s get started.
Now here are 10 useful tips to write a good self-appraisal document:
1. It is NOT Copywriting:
You are not expected to write the self-appraisal document as a creative exercise, with excellent prose or with a striking copy. Nope. Take the KRA (Key Result Areas) sheet that you agreed with your Manager, at the beginning of the year, and start collecting data and results achieved & put them down as bullet points against each and every KRA.
2. Numbers and Numbers:
Quantify as much as possible. Rather than penning down the lazy phrase of “over-achieved on this KRA”, clearly spell out with numbers. How much was the overachievement vs the target?. Data makes it easy for both you and your manager & others to process the results very objectively.
3. Don’t Exaggerate:
As professionals, we don’t lie about our achievements, but I have noticed that few of the members “amplify” their contributions to a group project and try to score additional “brownie points”. This spoils the credibility of your appraisal documentation since managers are usually aware of the quantum of contributions from various team members.
4. Focus on “How”:
Refer to point 1. That list of bullet points gives you an inventory of all the achievements highlights. Take those points and start expanding on the crucial element of “How” the results were achieved.
For e.g., “Revenues from Channel partners were increased by 50% YoY, by adding five new partners from the Tier2 cities”. Keep it limited and simple, on the “how” part.
5. Embed your Strengths:
The appraisal meeting is a perfect time and opportunity to showcase your strengths & unique skills. “Using the skills that I recently gained by attending ……………..workshop, I was able to resolve the critical customer escalation from ABC within 2 hours. The quick resolution resulted in getting an appreciation letter from ABC customer. I am happy to enclose the same”. I am sure you understand the merit of such an approach rather than saying “I attended ………..workshop and I am certified in such and such a skill.”
6. Bring Balance:
No one is perfect. And a Self-appraisal document that doesn’t capture the challenges and the areas of improvement for you, isn’t a well-balanced one. Worst of all, you give your manager the perception that you aren’t aware of your weaknesses. So make it a point to bring out the challenges you had last year and how you are going to handle the same going forward.
7. Seek formal Feedback:
If you’re in a matrix organization where you have a functional manager and a separate people manager, ask for inputs from your functional manager that can go into your appraisal discussions. You can do the same from some of your loyal customers or partners that you have been successfully serving. The feedback doesn’t have to be printed on letterheads but a simple email would do.
8. Beyond documented KRAs:
During the year, you could have had an opportunity to contribute in areas that have not been part of the original set of KRAs. Information about what they were and how it positively impacted your customer, your group or your company is highly valuable to showcase. Makes you stand apart from the rest of the team.
9. Don’t Over-cook :
While a cryptic self-appraisal document makes you look underprepared, a very elaborate and lengthy self-appraisal document, on the other hand, will make it lose it’s potency. The manager doesn’t have the time to go through pages and pages of so-called “highlights” and in the worst situation, few of the important points might be glossed over, due to the volume of information provided.
10. Use of Active Verbs:
Last but not the least, use of active verbs will increase the impact of your self-appraisal document. Ten samples produced below that you can use and adapt to the context of your job and role:
* Achieved: “achieved a specific goal or accomplishment in six months.”
* Coached: “coached a new employee or a new teammate that resulted in a specific outcome.”
* Collaborated: “collaborated with another business unit to meet a common goal in less time.”
* Designed: “designed a template for tracking certain data that resulted in some improvement of a metric”
* Eliminated: “reduced redundancies in a particular process that led to so much of time-saving.”
* Implemented: ” Designed and implemented a new measure that saved the company $75,000 per annum.”
* Improved: improved employee engagement by 25%
* Increased: increased sales by 22, YoY%
* Reduced: “reduced unnecessary, variable expenses by 21%.”
* Streamlined: “streamlined a process to eliminate six unnecessary steps.”
You can use similar active verbs and convey your achievements highlights and create a higher impact.
One final word on this topic: what I call as the litmus test.
Let’s say your salary per annum is $30000 (~INR.20 Lakhs) and you wish for a 10% hike, post the appraisal discussion. That translates to $3000 (~INR 2Lakhs).
One simple question to ask is “Is my Self-appraisal document worth $3000 (INR 2Lakhs) or more?” That is a litmus test to pass.
All the best for your year-end appraisal discussions! Good luck!