You’re probably familiar with appraisals. Most companies use them to evaluate the success of employees through the year, as part of a performance review, highlighting where they have exceeded expectations and where there’s room for growth and improvement. Usually, these are written by the manager of each direct reportee and used to make future staffing decisions.
Alongside an appraisal, in most cases, comes a self-appraisal. In essence, a self-appraisal is a statement detailing your own achievements and contributions. While it’s easy to rush through this part of the process because it can feel uncomfortable reflecting on your own performance, when done right, it can be a fantastic tool for highlighting your strengths to superiors. It’s also excellent for counterbalancing any low performance picked up by your manager’s appraisal and using as evidence for a promotion.
In this article, you’ll learn how to approach each section of the self-appraisal, providing positive examples that show you as an asset to the company without making you feel boastful or embarrassed, and framing your less desirable outcomes as opportunities for growth.
Self-appraisals will vary from company to company, and each will be unique to the individual completing them. The subjects you include will depend on your own skill set and experience, but as a guide, you may want to address some of the following topics.
Over the year, or other period that the appraisal covers, you’re bound to have had some accomplishments that you can highlight. Make sure that you pick those that you have accomplished personally, as your appraisal is about you, not your team as a whole. It’s a good idea to keep track of your accomplishments throughout the year so that you can easily draw on them when it’s appraisal time.
- I developed and led the internal training for the department when we implemented the new software system. This contributed to effective changeover, with an 80% take up of new systems.
- I successfully project-managed the marketing automation platform and onboarded 550 retail stores in a short lead time of four months.
- I managed six global clients, which is an increase on last year, maintaining 100% client retention and exceeding expectations.
- In the span of two months, I have completed two HubSpot certifications which have provided me with very useful copywriting and marketing insights, allowing me to improve my newsletter content.
- Last month, I took the initiative of organizing our database, reducing the amount of time needed by everyone to navigate and analyze information.
- Through brainstorming and research, I was able to develop a marketing strategy that increased our conversion rate by 40%.
Creativity and innovation
Showing that you can be innovative and approach tasks creatively is a quality worthy of recognition in most roles, even if it isn’t explicitly mentioned in your job description.
- I always encourage others to share ideas in a space that they feel safe and supported.
- I re-introduced morning team meetings to increase morale and to provide a focus for the day, which has been well-received.
- I devised a new social media strategy to incorporate our ever-changing demographic, following market research to understand customer needs better. This led to increasing page likes by 15%.
- I came up with a fun marketing campaign idea that proved extremely popular with users across our social channels, increasing sales by 23%.
- I do a lot of independent reading in my free time and enjoy listening to podcasts on all sorts of topics, too. This allows me to draw inspiration from multiple sources when brainstorming at work, sometimes combining elements in unexpected ways.
- I successfully constructed a research model to test a hypothesis.
Communication is key in any organization, whatever your level, and it’s important to show that you have skills in written and oral communication, as well as presenting if applicable.
- I presented our campaign at a business networking event in front of 150 people, which was challenging for me, but I did it without making mistakes and received positive feedback.
- I completed a speed-typing course this year to help me write emails and newsletters faster and more efficiently.
- I have worked hard to contribute more to team meetings by putting myself forward for actions, which is out of my comfort zone, but has been very rewarding.
- We have people on the team who aren’t native English speakers. I’ve taken the initiative of acting as a sort of interpreter to them, ensuring they always know what they’re doing so that the team doesn’t needlessly waste time.
- As a manager, I have recently embraced an open-door policy on my floor, which has led to more positive interactions with my team.
- I have recently started taking public speaking classes, which has boosted my confidence as a communicator in the office and made presenting in front of larger audiences easier.
- I was instrumental in the development of the internal communication strategy for 2023, working with members from multiple departments. This allowed me to make lots of new connections.
- I initiated research partnerships with the school of medicine to progress with our research interests, resulting in three publications.
- I work best with others, and I am always looking for ways to make partnerships so I can learn from colleagues and share my expertise.
- Despite not being fully on board with an approach proposed by a colleague, I helped them execute the project their way and didn’t insist we do it my way after voicing my concerns.
- I recently suggested that my team use Calendly to eliminate needless back and forth, and to work together more efficiently.
- I’ve been reading more about intercultural communication and how to be mindful around colleagues from various backgrounds. I can definitely feel an improvement in how we collaborate!
Motivation is highly valued in an organization. An employee who is self-motivated and wants to do well is the person a manager wants on their team. Think of the times you’ve pushed on and strived to do better.
- I am always very motivated. I don’t need to be given much direction, I know what is expected of me, and I do it without the need for much input from managers.
- During lockdown, I took three online courses related to my weakest areas so I can better myself at work.
- Although I wasn’t successful on this occasion, I applied for a management position within the company. I am always focused on how I can take the next step.
- I set goals for myself, both long-term and short-term, independent of the ones I set with my manager, so that I stay motivated and focused, and can provide more to my team.
- Doing volunteer work outside of the office has helped me gain perspective, appreciate my job even more and work more productively during the day.
- As of late, I’ve stopped multitasking. By preserving some of my energy this way, I’ve been able to take on more tasks and execute them faster, which has been very motivating.
Being adaptable is key to the success of any business, especially in this current climate when things are so uncertain. This is a quality that employers are focusing on.
- Recent events and challenges in the market, including protests and staff sickness due to COVID-19, means that I have had to become flexible in my approach. I have adapted my strategy and still exceeded annual targets by 10%.
- I have successfully brought my team through office working to remote working and back again. We’ve had to get used to lots of changes and had to get to grips with modern technologies, but I have remained positive and focused.
- I am always open to receiving constructive feedback on how I can improve.
- Despite trying our hardest to avoid it, we lost a key member of the team to a competitor. I immediately stepped in and took over their responsibilities while adjusting our teamwide action plan.
- By actively seeking out feedback from my colleagues throughout the year, I have been able to make necessary adjustments and form better habits in the workplace.
- As a copywriter, I’ve become more efficient at switching between different products and brand voices, and am able to write much more versatile copy.
Developing your negotiation skills will serve you well in any work environment.
- I am getting better at saying “no”. I have always found this hard, but I’ve learnt that by not having appropriate boundaries, I get left with the tasks no one else wants at the expense of my more important work.
- I negotiated a contract with a large manufacturer in China to produce 70% of our products, saving the company $30,000 per year.
- I have been ensuring that I am more prepared when it comes to negotiations with clients so that I can be confident by having evidence prepared and counteroffers ready.
- I successfully negotiated with a customer the price and terms of an important sale.
- Through careful thought and planning, I managed to negotiate a legal settlement with the opposing counsel.
- Negotiating with our healthcare insurance vendor allowed me to secure a wider range of options for the people on my team.
Problem-solving skills are essential in any office. If you don’t consider this to be a part of your role, think about office politics, problems between colleagues, hot desking issues, the person who doesn’t contribute. There are always a million problems to solve.
- I am an ideas person. I love to solve problems and always have lots of ideas. Often, it is about working through these ideas to decide which are worth moving forward with.
- I spearheaded the development of a new working group focusing on wellbeing, following concerns about productivity at work, which has already devised initiatives to combat stress in the workplace.
- I successfully increased email open rates by 20% with the introduction of revised opt-in lists.
- I was commended for my ability to solve problems efficiently and independently.
- Prioritizing two competing deadlines was difficult but I managed to make the right call.
- By analyzing different metrics, I was able to identify what was causing the higher-than-average bounce rates on our website.
Making decisions is a top-level skill but, having said that, you don’t need to be in a position of power for this to be part of your job.
- While I can be quite indecisive, this year I have got better at making decisions quickly and with confidence.
- Without the support of a team in the office, I have had to make decisions by myself which has been liberating and has really helped me to use my initiative.
- Decision-making is a strength of mine. I am calm under pressure, able to quickly assess the scene and make judgements on risk factors before coming to an informed decision.
- This year, I have learned how to approach every decision with a growth mindset. It has allowed me to perform healthy risk-taking with much less stress and better clarity of mind.
- Despite having been a very difficult decision, letting go of a consistently underperforming employee proved to be the best choice for me and my team.
- I conducted a survey and quantitative analysis to gain better insights into our customers’ purchasing trends.
Working under pressure
Being able to work under pressure shows that you can keep cool and calm, even when things are hotting up. This is an excellent quality to highlight.
- I am excellent at managing my time and prioritizing my workload. I always meet deadlines, even it means working late to do so.
- I developed the new remote working monitoring system, including bug testing and rolling it out within three months when an expected timeline would have been five months.
- I exceeded targets this year despite having a freeze on recruitment and losing three main stakeholders who went into administration.
- Despite a high workload over the last four months, I was able to achieve a 97% customer satisfaction rate on all my projects.
- Despite the business experiencing a higher than usual turnover rate in the last year, I was able to exceed our targets while sourcing and onboarding new talent.
Having a high level of emotional intelligence means having the ability to understand and use emotions as well as knowing how to connect with others.
- I understand people well. I can read people and know when to help or take a step back. This means colleagues often trust me with their problems at work.
- I know my own strengths and weaknesses and, as a result, I know what to work on and have started taking a course in negotiation.
- I have learned what triggers me personally and when to remove myself from a difficult situation. This year, I’ve been better at accepting that I can’t do everything and to let others help when needed.
- Recently, I’ve been making a conscious effort to listen to my mind when it’s telling me I’m overwhelmed. By making smart use of my PTO, I’ve been able to stay on top of my game and preserve my mental clarity and productivity.
- I’m working on my attention to detail, not just when executing tasks but also when interacting with my team. By paying attention to everyone’s body language and tone, I’ve been able to be more mindful and helpful as a manager.
Showing that you deliver on your promises and will be accountable for your actions is very important.
- When faced with the problem of team members not contributing when working from home, I introduced accountability partners which was very effective and increased productivity.
- Before the working day begins, I write down my goals in order to hold myself accountable.
- I don’t find this easy, but I have developed a network of colleagues who I have tasked with holding me accountable for what I have promised, and vice versa, which is proving very effective.
- I took the call for an important decision that didn’t yield the results I had anticipated. Though I was able to come up with a workaround, I acknowledged my miscalculations and apologized to the team.
- I had committed myself to completing a big report at a time that coincided with a stressful situation at home. By communicating honestly with my manager, requesting two additional working days for the project, and practicing mindfulness, I was able to complete my report successfully and accurately.
- I take my job performance and work ethic very seriously, which is why I was transparent with my manager about an error I made, despite being able to fix it quickly.
Being a strong leader doesn’t just apply to senior positions. You don’t have to be a manager to be a leader; you can take examples from any scenario where you have taken initiative and inspired people to help you create your vision.
- I am very proud to have led my team to achieve an employee pulse survey of 76% this year, despite so many changes and disruptions.
- I have played a big part in supporting teammates through the transition to remote working. As it’s something I’ve done in the past, I’ve offered support and been available for people to talk to.
- I am very good at looking at the skill set of each team member and assigning them tasks that suit them and that they really enjoy. This has made for a happy, productive team.
- Working in a family-owned business, customer experience is everything. I took it upon myself to brush up on my French which I’d learned in middle school, as a large number of residents in the area are French speakers.
- I care deeply about my team’s professional development. By introducing initiatives such as more frequent one-on-ones and the provision of learning stipends, I improved our retention rates.
- I successfully led the adoption of a new CRM tool, redesigning workflows and improving sales.
Attendance and punctuality
Employers want to know that their employees are punctual and reliable.
- I have a 100% attendance rate for the year.
- I am always punctual to meetings and arrive at work in time to set up for the day and prepare before I begin work.
- I have joined some new networking groups which I have attended each week.
- I got into the habit of overestimating how long it will take me to get anywhere, and now I always get to places with at least five minutes to spare. It’s made my professional life less stressful!
- I successfully completed the Oxford Executive Leadership Programme in eight weeks outside of my work hours. Some days it felt almost impossible, yet I showed up and consistently demonstrated strong time management skills.
- I have recently volunteered to work several additional shifts because of last-minute changes to the schedule.
Staff productivity is important to any organization, and your manager will want to see what you do to ensure that you are efficient.
- In the past, I have found focusing on one task hard, so I have adopted the Pomodoro method, which has greatly improved my focus and productivity.
- The internal processes around entering client data were laborious, and we were wasting time repeating tasks, so I volunteered to streamline the process. This has improved efficiency and I have had excellent feedback.
- I always use lists to make sure I prioritize tasks well and am as productive as possible throughout the day.
- Wanting to focus on improving my time management skills, I recently did a bit of research and downloaded the ClickUp app. It’s made juggling my tasks much more doable.
- I introduced a company-wide, real-time collaboration software that increased team productivity by 30%.
- By allocating a specific hour in the day to check emails and turning off instant notifications, I’ve been able to focus on my work better and also pay closer attention to how I respond to emails.
Growth and development
If you aspire to develop yourself within the company, make it clear. Keep this at a level that shows you’re committed though and not ready to leave.
- I am always keen to develop my skills, and I completed my Level 7 qualification in mentoring and coaching, mostly in my own time.
- Seeing people’s strengths and helping them to further develop is something I love to do, and I make this a focus in my team through opportunities for courses and internal training.
- I have an interview coming up for a more senior position in the company. I am always looking for ways to develop and move forward.
- I successfully learned the basics of programming using free resources from the web, enhancing my technical skills and helping out the team in ways I couldn’t before.
- In the last year, I got the promotion I wanted and have successfully taken on additional responsibilities in the meantime. My job satisfaction has definitely gone up!
- I reached the goals that I had set with my manager in my last performance evaluation in a shorter time span than expected.
Being able to relate well to others and build relationships is an excellent skill.
- I have exceeded my sales targets this year because I am excellent at building relationships with others, winning clients and managing stakeholders.
- I’m a quiet member of the team, but I join in with everything and contribute to discussions and meetings. I’m not one to speak for the sake of it, so my team have come to know that when I speak, I have something of value to say.
- I am an excellent listener. People come to me for advice and a friendly ear, even if I am not their direct report.
- By establishing and maintaining great professional relationships, I was able to bring in seven new clients in the last three months.
- As a customer service agent, I have recently enrolled in an online course on boosting communication skills to uncover areas for improvement. I found that the tips on how to actively listen were particularly useful!
- By sharpening my empathy skills, I have been able to envision our clients’ pain points better and provide enhanced customer service, as well as write more effective descriptions of our products.
Tips for writing a self-appraisal
When writing your appraisal, there are some important factors to consider to ensure that it hits the mark and really backs up your contributions. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Use numbers
It’s great to point out what you’re doing well at, but it’s all very subjective, so it’s clever to use metrics to back up your claims. Numbers and percentages bring your contributions to life, because you can instantly show a real value to your achievements.
2. Frame weaknesses as opportunities
We all have weaknesses, so it’s pointless trying to hide them and pretend you don’t. It’s much more effective to be honest to show you’re willing to improve (an important quality in itself). Framing weaknesses as an opportunity for growth is a clever way to show that you can recognize what you’re not so good at, but also showing that you have a plan to work on it.
3. Rationalize results
Don’t assume that your manager will know your results. You need to be explicit in documenting them. Showing your achievements is the whole point of an appraisal, so don’t take it for granted that all your accomplishments will be remembered. Mention them, highlight them, and quantify them where possible.
4. Be specific
Don’t be vague. Comments like “I’m an excellent communicator” won’t get you any points. You need to be demonstrating why and providing evidence. Give context, time scales and specific results.
5. Use action words
Using action words shows that you’re not simply stating that you were present, but that you were also engaged. Were you “thinking up” a new way of managing filing systems or did you “initiate and develop” the system? Great action words show your personal contributions and make you stand out.
This article should provide you with all you need to write a winning self-appraisal.
Self-reflection doesn’t have to be daunting; in fact, it can be an exercise in self-development. Looking deeply into what you’re good at and identifying opportunities for growth can be hugely satisfying and motivating. By putting together a self-appraisal that is well thought-out and backed with evidence will be a reminder to your employer of what a valuable team member you are.
Got a question about preparing for a self-appraisal and want to share a useful tip? Let us know in the comments section below!
Originally published on June 15, 2019. Updated by Electra Michaelidou.