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5 Tips for Tackling Your Self Evaluation

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Once a year, annual performance evaluations roll around and employees are asked to complete self evaluations. Do you actually reflect on your job performance over the past year? If not, you are missing a great opportunity to highlight your achievements, show how you are unique and ask for any needed training/professional development.

5 Tips for Tackling Your Self Evaluation

For most of my nursing career, I dreaded annual performance evaluations. It is not the feedback from management I dread- I actually enjoy the opportunity to sit down 1:1 to review my overall performance. It is the required self-assessment/evaluation of my work performance that weighs on me like a bag of heavy rock. A few years ago, I decided to research the purpose and goal of a self-evaluation and put a few tips into action to start benefiting from this process. In this article, I will share what I did to go from dread to making the most my annual evaluation.

Prep work is Important:

In the past, I waited and turned my self-evaluation at the very last minute (and usually after being reminded several times). I placed little, if any, thought on my performance over the past 12 months. After many years of nursing, I decided to use my self-evaluation as an opportunity to work for me and began preparing for my annual self-assessment. Here are a few "prep" suggestions:

  • Ask your supervisor how self-evaluations are used by the company. Are they tied to pay, promotions etc?
  • Brush the dust off your job description and review your role's core competencies and responsibilities. How does your job contribute to the organization's mission?
  • Review your last evaluation and reflect on how you addressed any areas identified for improvement.

Understanding your job description will help you recognize your accomplishments and any needed resources or job challenges.

Document Your Achievements

Your annual self-evaluation is a great opportunity to remind the boss of your achievements throughout the year. In the past, I perceived highlighting the good things I did during the year as "tooting my own horn" and bragging. Now, I focus on my duties and how I positively impacted our department using real facts, data and outcomes. Here are a few tips to help you summarize your successes:

Be specific. Cover your achievements and include how (and who) it helped. Be sure to use action words to describe your work.

  • "I successfully trained 3 new nurses during a period of census growth. The nurses are fully integrated into the department.
  • "I participated on the Clinical Policy Review Committee and contributed in the revision and roll-out of eight clinical policies".
  • "I maintained a >98% medication scanning percentage over the past 10 months consecutively".
  • "I developed an admission audit tool to assist nurses in consistently document medication reconciliations. Compliance with this task increased from 65% to 88% four months after implementation".

Try using the formula: briefly describe a situation, the action you took to accomplish, improve or resolve the situation and the specific results achieved.

Include any new skills learned or completed professional development. How did the training assist you and your team throughout the year?

Incorporate positive feedback you received during the year (i.e. patient surveys, letters of appreciation, acknowledgments of exceeding expectations).

Describe what makes you unique.

Performing your duties consistently does not necessarily result in a raise. What makes you uniquely valuable to the team? If you are an "excellent communicator" follow up with a specific example you used this skill.

There is always room for improvement.

Your self-assessment should be balanced and also include self-identified shortcomings. Think of your shortcomings as areas for development and opportunities to make a stronger contribution in the next year. Use your self-evaluation as an opportunity to ask for additional training or professional development. For example, if your lack confidence in a job task- ask for training specific to the skill. If you identify a job barrier or challenge, contribute to the solution by offering suggestions and providing feedback.

What if your self-assessment is significantly different from your manager's evaluation?

If you are surprised by your manager's less glowing evaluation, it could indicate you are not on the same page regarding job role and expectations. It is possible your manager did not communicate job performance concerns and missed the opportunity to put a corrective action plan in place. Wildly different evaluations can be avoided by meeting with your manager periodically throughout the year to discuss any issues.

My last tip for completing your self-assessment is to proofread for spelling and grammatical errors. In fact, it is a good idea to proofread, set the document aside for 1-2 days and proofread again before submitting to your manager.

Your self-evaluation is a good tool to remind your manager of accomplishments and challenges during the past year. By preparing for your evaluation, you can reduce yearly dread, highlight your accomplishments, communicate challenges and ask for any needed training.

What tips or insight do you have to share with other readers?

Additional Resources:

Performance Appraisal Action Verbs for highlighting your achievements.

10 Tips for Making Self Evaluations Meaningful


RN, BSN with over 20 years experience in diverse settings and areas. I am also a recovering alcoholic and write openly about my journey in hopes of helping another. Read my articles: https://allnurses.com/member-1231877/blog.html

58 Likes, 5 Followers, 24 Articles, 23,694 Visitors, and 175 Posts.

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