Skip to navigation
8 Min Read

The Power of Employee Self-Assessments for Personal Growth and Company Success

Nicole Klemp

While they’re not typically a favorite activity for employees, most HR leaders would agree that performance reviews are crucial to performance management. Yet, year after year, many HR teams struggle to design and implement performance review processes that are fair, valuable, and efficient. 

There can be any number of reasons why a company’s performance review process falls short of expectations. But in many cases, we see that they’re missing one critical tool in their performance repertoire—the employee self-assessment.

According to the American Psychological Association, a 30-year study of performance management research found that when employees participate in the performance management process, they’re more satisfied with the outcome. They’re more likely to feel their review process was fair and unbiased when it involves a collaborative, two-way conversation.

Read on to learn more about the significance of self-assessments, the benefits for employees, managers, and the organization as a whole, and how to incorporate employee self-reviews into your HR strategy.

What is an employee self-assessment?

Performance evaluations help your organization recognize and reward people fairly and equitably. They help you identify skill gaps and opportunities for improving employee performance, so you can successfully invest in and retain the right people. They give employees and managers the chance to review what’s working and what’s not, and open the door for more meaningful discussions about performance and career growth.

An employee self-assessment is a specific type of performance review in which the employee reflects on and evaluates their own performance, skills, and achievements within the context of their role. It’s a valuable opportunity for employees to articulate their contributions and identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement.

Employee self-evaluations also serve as an opportunity to set goals as an individual and team member and can be used as a development tool for both personal and professional growth. The exercise of looking critically at one’s own job performance can help employees gain new perspectives and insights for improvement.

Why are self-assessments important?

When effectively implemented, employee self-assessments can serve as a catalyst for personal and professional development and foster a culture of continuous improvement and accountability in the workplace. 

Studies show that when a person reviews their own performance, it can boost their self-confidence. Being personally responsible for assessing their performance and becoming an active participant in the review process can empower and motivate employees to work harder to overcome weaknesses and perform at a higher level.

As 15Five CEO David Hassell shared in an article for Business News Daily, “Modern employees are intrinsically motivated to work autonomously and by opportunities to learn and grow. So, from a management perspective, self-assessments—which contribute to autonomy and development—are incredibly valuable. Work produced by intrinsically motivated employees tends to be more impactful and sustainable than work derived from extrinsic motivators, such as bonuses or fear tactics.”

Benefits for employees

By encouraging employees to articulate their experiences and aspirations, self-assessments open up avenues for better communication. The process facilitates a more collaborative relationship between employees and their managers, promoting a more transparent and supportive working relationship.

Self-reviews give employees a chance to remind their managers of their many contributions during the review period. They can also be used to uncover potential blind spots (a strength the employee believes they possess but the manager doesn’t agree with) and hidden strengths (a strength the manager describes that the employee may not have realized they have).

While self-reviews should align with your regular performance review schedule, year-end self-assessments provide employees with a platform to look back and showcase their biggest achievements of the year. This can be beneficial when it comes time to discuss compensation or promotion opportunities.

Self-assessments enable employees to set realistic and achievable professional development goals while taking ownership of their own successes. As Shaneequa Parker, compliance director for a New York City-based nonprofit, shared in an article for Indeed:

“Employee self-performance assessments give employees a voice in the performance appraisal process, which helps to ease some of the stress that comes with it. The self-assessment can be modified to reflect the organization’s goals, emphasizing an employee’s specific role and highlighting key performance measures that the company would like to focus on during the evaluation cycle. Workers who participate in the process are more likely to accept the process’s outcomes, be more content with their work, be motivated to grow professionally, and be committed to the organization.”

Benefits for the company

Self-assessments aren’t just for the employee’s benefit, they can positively impact the organization, too. The feedback provided during a self-review can tell managers (and collectively, the HR team) a lot about what motivates certain employees and groups to do their best work. This information can be extremely valuable when making decisions related to talent management, resource allocation, and strategic planning.

Making self-assessments part of your performance management strategy can also provide a boost to employee engagement and satisfaction. It’s yet another opportunity to show employees their voices matter and that they’re valued and trusted in the organization.

From a learning and development perspective, self-assessments can also be used to identify potential skills gaps and opportunities for targeted training. When employees call out the specific areas they feel need attention, you can meet them where they are with the appropriate education and learning to improve performance. When employees are enabled to be active participants in their own development, they’re more invested in the company’s mission and goals.

Learn about 15Five’s Best-Self Review >

How HR leaders can improve employee self-assessments

The HR team is pivotal in building a dynamic performance management practice. Unfortunately, performance management doesn’t come without challenges. For example, research by Gallup uncovered that only 2 out of 10 employees agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates high-level performance. 

You can use self-assessments to make performance reviews more of a collaborative process rather than something that employees feel just happens to them. Instead of being told how their performance stacks up, they get to be part of the conversation. 

HR leaders are in the best position to foster a supportive and non-judgmental environment when it comes to performance reviews of all types. When you create a culture that prioritizes individual growth, overall company success will follow.

When facilitating self-reviews, establish clear guidelines and expectations and ensure employees understand the purpose and goals of the process. You can also provide guidance on what employees should reflect on and what information to share in their self-reviews. 

Here are a few employee self-assessment sample questions:

  • What are your one-year goals within the company? (5 years? 10 years?)
  • What skills do you need to develop in order to reach these goals?
  • What do you consider your three greatest strengths in your current position?
  • What’s one skill or strength you would like to gain or improve on?
  • Is there a weakness you’ve worked on improving since your last review? How successful were you?
  • Name one of the biggest projects or deliverables you worked on this year/quarter. How impactful were your contributions? Why?
  • Identify a situation, conflict, or project that didn’t go your way this year/quarter. What did you do to try and solve it? What was the outcome?
  • How would you describe your work-life balance? What could make it better?
  • If you had to give your performance a rating out of 100, what would you give yourself?

Incorporating self-assessments into performance management

Integrating employee self-evaluation into the performance management cycle enhances the overall effectiveness of the process. You can make this happen seamlessly by aligning self-assessment timelines with regular performance reviews and allowing for a comprehensive 360-degree evaluation.

Encourage a culture of open communication and feedback. This not only helps employees in the self-assessment process but also creates a constructive feedback loop that is beneficial for continuous performance improvement.

As Ben Douglas, SVP of HR at Advantage Forbes Books, recently shared at 15Five’s Thrive conference, “Performance management is all about being intentional. It is all about paying attention to the nuances of relationships. In taking the opportunities to have engaging conversations. Each conversation and interaction should matter and should make a difference. When they do not, leaders need to look in the mirror and challenge themselves. We should be relentless in our pursuit of helping people be successful in their work.” 

What do employees really think of your performance review process?

Ever wonder why HR leaders, managers, and individual contributors can have such different opinions about the performance review process (even within the same organization)?

Hear from 15Five’s Polly Stocks, Jeff Smith, Jennie Yang, and Chaunel Johnson as they dive into this very topic with an insightful and candid panel conversation. They discuss how to reduce bias in performance reviews, how to turn them into growth-oriented discussions between managers and employees, and best practices for accurately spotting top performers and making fair compensation and promotion decisions.

Watch the webinar >