What are some strategic approaches for completing the self-evaluation component of a performance review? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by John L. Miller, Ph.D, veteran of Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, on Quora:

At several of the places I've worked, self-evaluations are filled out after your review rewards are decided. There just isn't enough time to do it any other way, thanks to the the number of employees involved. Review ratings, promotions, and compensation are decided based upon your manager's current impression of your performance, and how well they advocate for you in a larger forum. In other words, your self-evaluation seldom affects your performance review. At most it dictates the language your manager has to use to write their part of your review, as it has to justify the rating you received, given what you wrote.

The best strategy is to make sure your manager -- who ultimately decides your rewards and ratings -- is always up to date on how you're doing and what you want. The best way to do this is:

  1. Be transparent about your goals. Set objectives like an 'outstanding' rating on a review, getting the maximum bonus, a promotion, what have you. Discuss with your manager and make sure they understand this is your goal for this review period. Knowing your goal doesn't guarantee they'll make it happen, but it does ensure your manager will fight for it if it's warranted, and be armed with information to do so.
  2. Understand the requirements for your goals. Many times there are guidelines for promotion, exceptional ratings, etc. These are not checklists, even though they look like it. They give a rough idea of typical requirements. Look at these requirements for your goal, and make sure you and your manager agree on where you do and don't meet them.
  3. Give easy-to-read, relevant, frequent updates. Every week or two you should either have a 1-1 with your manager, update them on your progress, or both. Don't give a laundry list of how you spend your time. Talk about what you've delivered, what you're preparing to deliver, and any road blocks and how you're clearing them. Always include a suggested solution when you raise a blocking issue. "I'm not getting the help I need. Can we get a formal commitment from team Y to kick in resources?"

When it comes time to write your self-evaluation, it'll be straightforward with the information you gathered throughout the year, and the updates you wrote and sent to your manager. And your manager will already have the information they need to fight for you, when they actually need it.

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