Your Year In Review: Self-Evaluations Can Improve Your Career in the New Year

By Chelsea Babin

Year-end reviews are common. You’ve probably spent one or two nodding your head in agreement with your boss’ evaluation of your performance, but did you take the time to think about your performance before they started giving you a review? Whether or not you have a year end review with your boss, you should give yourself the courtesy of a self-evaluation of your job performance as you head into the new year. It will help you establish your goals for the next year and make adjustments where you need to.

– Value of self-evaluating instead of just relying on others to evaluate your performance

> Some bosses give incredibly detailed, thorough job performance reviews. Those of you who have those bosses should be grateful, but relying solely on their opinion of your performance may be stunting your career growth. Even if they hover over you every day, there’s no way your boss is seeing every detail of your performance every day you’re in the office. You especially won’t have the luxury of this if you work somewhere with no micromanagement or with benefits like flextime or telecommuting. Wouldn’t it be smart, then, to get the opinion of the person who sees what you put into your job every day of the week? That’s right, I’m talking about you. It’s time to self evaluate because, let’s face it, no one knows how you’re performing better than you do.

– How to self evaluate

> Attitude: No one likes a negative Nancy, which is why you should evaluate your attitude first. This category includes the approach you take with your coworkers on collaborative projects, whether or not you leave early or frequently call in sick, and the overall impression you leave with clients, customers and your bosses. Have you been making smart moves this year or frequently getting distracted from your work by talking to your coworkers? Have you come in early every day or have you been calling in sick every few weeks? Assess your overall attitude and identify what areas, if any, need improvement.

> Reflect on your daily experiences: Do you complete your work in a timely manner? Do you have an organized desk system that you rely on? Do you feel less engaged than your coworkers? Reflecting on daily experiences helps you see the big picture more clearly by laying out a variety of experiences rather than your overall impression of the year. If you’re having a hard time remembering, it’s a good idea to jot down notes and track your reflections the day or the week after for a clearer picture. This is a change you can implement in the New Year to make next year’s self-evaluation top notch

> Performance as related to specific responsibilities in the job description: Do you remember what your official job description is? Chances are you don’t remember the specifics, but you have a vague idea of the tasks you’re officially responsible for. How have to been handling that workload? How much of your time is it taking up? Could you handle more? Could you work on some of it more efficiently? Are you in over your head? Ask yourself these questions and try to answer honestly. Self-evaluations are useless if you skim over the truth. This is your time to delve deep and face facts. Maybe you don’t really have enough to keep you busy through the day so you elongate certain tasks just so you have something to do. Maybe you’re not being as collaborative as you should be. Maybe you’re falling behind on a few skills you need in your day-to-day work as technology evolves. These responsibilities are what you got hired for, so it’s important to make sure you’re doing the best you can!

> Performance as related to additional efforts, tasks and contributions: A lot of professionals today find themselves taking on a few extra tasks, contributing to projects that are technically not within their jurisdiction, and putting forth the additional effort to make a project go from good to great. These are the kinds of tasks that get you noticed, build coworker reliance and help diversify your skillset. How have you been handling these extra responsibilities? Is there room for improvement?

> Time distribution: Did you spend too much time on a project because you were unsure what the guidelines were? Did you spend too little time on something that then came back to you with numerous mistakes? Everyone aims to be more efficient and productive in the New Year, but this is harder to achieve when you don’t sit down and evaluate where your time is being wasted and where you need to be spending more time.

> Expectations of supervisor and others: After you’ve thoroughly evaluated yourself, it’s time to hear from your boss, your coworkers, or sometimes even your clients. Their opinions on your work can help reaffirm certain areas of improvement or areas of strength that you’ve already identified. Similarly, they may point out things you did not take the time to consider. Other people’s assessment of your performance is infinitely more valuable once you’ve spent time self-evaluating.

– Where do you want to make changes in the next year?

> After you’ve evaluated, it’s time to make improvements! You’ll probably have identified a few areas of weakness. Whether it’s your attitude that needs adjusting, your productivity needs to be tweaked, or you’re ready for larger responsibilities, make a list of where you want to make changes in your job performance in the next year. Then, brainstorm ways to achieve these changes.

– What do you want to learn in the next year?

            > If you stop learning, you stop growing. Even if you’re happy with last year’s performance, do you really want to continue at the same level every year? Of course not, it’s always fun to make improvements and an easy way to do that is by learning something new. Maybe you want to dabble in a new programming language or you want to learn about good leadership tactics because you’re gearing up for a lead role or maybe you just want to learn how to give 100% of yourself at work when you’re there so that you spend less time worrying about your job in your free time. Make a list of all the things you want to learn in the next year and start buying books, signing up for courses, or reading articles, whatever works best for you. Also, ask your bosses if there are any training opportunities available to you if what you want to learn is directly related to your work. You never know what kind of help they may provide!

– What do you see yourself achieving in the next year and how will you get there?

            > Finally, self-evaluations can help shed light on what you’ve achieved in the last year. You may be incredibly proud of your accomplishments or you may be kicking yourself for not getting more done. Either way, it’s important to remember that this is a new year, so why not lay out a plan for the next year? Brainstorm what you see yourself achieving in the new year so that, in your self-evaluation next December, you’ll be able to see where you diverged from your list and which goals you fulfilled.


Self-evaluations may seem daunting, but after your first one they get much easier. After all, if you take all of the aforementioned steps you’ll have a larger depth of knowledge next year for your end of year evaluation. Being conscious of your goals, your performance and your attitude can greatly improve your chances at getting where you want to be in your career. Give self-evaluation a chance!