What Not to Write on Your Own Performance Appraisal Form

performance appraisalHaving read my blog  ”Writing Performance Appraisal Forms” Learning and Development Manager contacted me recently to ask if I would review her self – appraisal form. She had been asked by her manager to fill in the performance appraisal form in preparation for the meeting and wanted my opinion on what she had written. No problem!

To set the performance appraisal in context, she had had a very difficult year. She had found her previous manager almost impossible to work with and had struggled to meet some of her objectives. Unfortunately what this resulted in was a number of comments that, in my view, were less than helpful. Here’s the advice I gave her

Performance Appraisal Form Tip 1: Cut out the complaints

The performance appraisal form is not the place to lay the blame for all that has not gone well over the past year. Of course things may have happened that have prevented you meeting your objectives and these may have been beyond your control (in other words, someone else’s fault!). You may well be asked to outline any challenges you faced in meeting (or not meeting) your objectives. My point is the appraisal form is not the place to be recording these challenges with statements like ‘my previous manager failed to support me in meeting this objective’ or ‘due to poor decisions made by management I was unable to meet this target’. By all means be prepared to write (objectively) about these issues on the form but please leave out the ‘naming and blaming’

Performance Appraisal Form Tip 2: Forget the flattery

It’s great that your new manager is a huge improvement on the previous manager. It’s super that she’s supportive, encouraging and a good coach. This is all excellent feedback to give in the appraisal meeting. But your appraisal form is not the place to be waxing lyrical about your current manager’s skills. This is your appraisal form, not hers

Performance Appraisal Tip Form 3: Forgo the feelings

OK, this might be me being a little ‘British’ but I’m not convinced that sharing, in some depth, how you feel on the appraisal form is what we might consider professional or appropriate. Your manager may well be interested in knowing how happy / unhappy / disappointed / elated / relieved you feel but recording these feelings on the form just makes you look a little, err, odd

So what should you write on the performance appraisal form?

Well the clue is usually in the form itself. Typically you will be asked to:

• Review your performance against last year’s objectives

• Identify achievements

• Summarise any challenges in meeting objectives (and what you did to overcome those challenges)

• Outline any learning and development activities undertaken and the impact of these activities

What you are, usually, not asked to do is:

• Identify, by name, who stopped you meeting your objectives and why

• Record how wonderful / awful your manager is

• Describe how you are currently feeling

The key skill in writing your own self evaluation is keeping your comments evidenced-based and objective. How you do this is simply by keeping to the facts (you can see examples of evidence-based, objective and factual performance appraisal comments in the blog I mentioned earlier HERE)

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