How to Inspire and Encourage Employees to Self-Evaluate

Evaluations are a common practice in the workplace. They help to measure performance against set objectives, expose road blocks and figure out ways in which employees can be supported.

Self-evaluations require an employee to give an assessment of their own work and output. Unlike manager-employee reviews, they provide information as seen from the employees’ perspective. Because the employee doesn’t feel on the spot, these types of evaluations can promote honest dialogue.

They can also can increase employee accountability because solutions to challenges are suggested by the employee. They are therefore a good addition to your performance evaluation process. Here are some ways to encourage employees to embrace them.

Offer guidance on self-evaluation

Take the time to tell your employees about how they should self-evaluate and the benefits of the process. While employees are accustomed to being evaluated by their managers, doing a personal evaluation might be a new and intimidating concept.

Urge them to try and be objective, not be overly critical of themselves or take it to the other extreme and overly exaggerate their positive sides.

Beyond just being a way to determine ‘wins’ and ‘fails’, a self-evaluation should include a future plan for the employee and this too should be communicated.

Help your employees prepare by advising them to;

  • make a list of their accomplishments over the period in question;
  • make a list of their struggles;
  • connect the above with the organisation’s goals, and;
  • reflect on where they see themselves in the next years and how the company can best help them to get there.

Allow time for reflection

Managers should let employees know beforehand that they will be required to do a self-evaluation. This will give the latter a chance to think through time at work, ask themselves hard questions and arrive at unbiased answers.

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In some job roles, employees should be able to track their accomplishments. This information can enrich a self-evaluation.

Here are some examples of questions that can help employees during reflection

  • What could I have done better this year?
  • What parts of my job do I enjoy most?
  • What parts do I struggle with?
  • What is preventing me from contributing more in this area?

After that is done, time should be set aside for employees to complete the evaluations, particularly if it is lengthy. They should feel like the company treats the exercise as a priority. In the absence of that, employees might end up looking at it as something that is competing with time they could be spending on their crucial tasks. They will not bother to prioritise it if management doesn’t do so.

Lead by example

One of the characteristics of a good leader is that they set an example for their teams. Are you doing a self-evaluation? If not, employees will wonder why should do one either.

Explain how the evaluations will be used. Are the self-evaluations going to be used for promotion reviews? For salary reviews or are they going to be used to put work place dynamics under the microscope?

Not knowing the specific reasons can give rise to some anxiety with employees feeling like their answers might work against them. It can also lead them to overlook information that might be crucial to the process. If you are honest with employees about your objectives, they are more likely to be honest with their evaluations.

Confirm that you will offer trainings

It will be very hard for someone to mention they are struggling with something if they are not sure they will get help. It would seem like a safer option to only mention the things they are excelling at with flying colours.

To encourage honest and accurate self-evaluations, managers should confirm that employees will be able to get trained and be able to improve in the areas where they are struggling. It should be clear that challenges will be approached with solutions and not be ignored or worse, viewed as a demerit.

Better yet, ask employees to suggest what trainings they might benefit from in the self-evaluation questionnaire. Which brings us to the next point.

employees to self-evaluate

Image: Pexels

Design an engaging self-evaluation questionnaire

A balanced, open ended and brief questionnaire will encourage employees to self-evaluate. It shouldn’t feel like an exam and the questions shouldn’t be judgmental.

The form should be broken down in segments with areas focused on performance wins and challenges. Questions should also be designed to prompt more responses and there should be an allowance for the employee to explain more should they feel a need to.

Work on your culture

It’s all well and good to prepare for and encourage employees to self-evaluate, but if your culture punishes mistakes and doesn’t honour honest feedback, you will not get much out of the process.

If self-evaluation is a tool that you plan to make routine in the workplace, then you should guide the work culture to be one where employees feel free to mention their weaknesses without fear of being penalised.

Follow through

What happens after the evaluation is done will have an effect on how employees respond towards the next evaluation. Self-evaluation should be followed by a discussion in which employee and manager agree on the way forward and what steps should be taken.

If the company is unable to act on some of the suggestions made by the employee, a clear reason why should be offered.

In Summary

Employees will have insights into their own work that even the most attentive managers might not be privy to. The success of self-evaluation depends on ample preparation time. Sometimes well enough in advance that employees can take records.

In collecting a full performance review, self-evaluations should be paired with other evaluations. This will balance out the human biases that can arise when we talk about ourselves, and help employees to self-evaluate.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.