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Mastering the Art of the Self-Assessment

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Mastering the Art of the Self-Assessment

Chad Savoy
VP of Sales, Datadog

JULY 14, 2021

If you need to do a performance review, chances are you also need to write a self-assessment. While it might be tempting to brush it off – after all, that’s precious time you could spend on your actual work – here’s a couple of pretty compelling reasons why you should make the effort:

Your boss might not have all the facts

It’s unlikely your managers are keeping a list of all your accomplishments throughout the year. Even worse, they may only remember that one project that went horribly wrong, but not how you managed to save it. Ultimately, the person with the most knowledge of what you do at work is you. Self-assessments give you the chance to leverage that first-hand knowledge when it really counts.

You and your boss might not be on the same page

In a perfect world, your goals and objectives will be crystal clear, signed off well ahead of time, and regularly discussed with your manager. In the real world, it’s a good idea to record what you thought you were supposed to do and what you actually accomplished. This will help keep your review on track, and provide that all-important context for your conversation.

It's all in the approach

  • Don’t be modest, vague or overly inventive. If you accomplish something great, make sure you mention it, and make sure you can back yourself up (hard facts and figures are really hard to dispute).

  • Acknowledge any failures. People have a really good memory for things that go wrong, so if you screwed something up, acknowledge it. Then explain what you did/or plan to do to fix it and what you will do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Everyone has to deal with a failure at some point in their career, but it’s how you handle and learn from those failures that demonstrates professional growth to your manager and peers.

  • Look to the future and suggest development opportunities. This demonstrates your desire to grow and is an opportunity for you to develop your skills in the areas of your choosing.

  • This is an opportunity, take advantage of it. If your manager doesn’t take the time to do a thorough review, at least your perspective will be part of the permanent record. And this is a really good time to remind your manager of all the good things you’ve done throughout the year.

  • Let your peers to the talking. If you can, take advantage of peer feedback. Every time someone sends you an email thanking you for your exceptional work and contribution, save it and include it with your self-assessment. Peer confirmation of your achievements is a powerful tool – it’d be a shame not to use it...
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