Follow Mint Lounge

Latest Issue

Home > News> Big Story > Take the good with the bad in appraisal forms

Take the good with the bad in appraisal forms

Honest answers are best in an appraisal form, whether one is talking of a success, a personal issue affecting work or a dip in performance

The self-appraisal document is not just about writing your contributions in the most positive way. It’s also a way to inform the employer how keen you are to learn and expand your skillset.
The self-appraisal document is not just about writing your contributions in the most positive way. It’s also a way to inform the employer how keen you are to learn and expand your skillset. (iStockphoto)

It’s appraisal season at most companies, starting with the exercise of filling forms. It can be a daunting task to scrutinise one’s own performance before the manager does a thorough review of strengths and weaknesses. What if you portray yourself as an overachiever, or indicate that you haven’t had many workplace successes in the past year?

Self-reviews are generally conducted to help initiate a dialogue and encourage personal growth and development at work. These reviews could translate into a raise or a promotion but, more importantly, self-reviews give people an opportunity to evaluate their role in the team as well as in the company and help them understand themselves better.

As Devi Meenakshi, an independent human resources (HR) consultant who’s worked in the field for over two decades, puts it, “It’s an introspective exercise that can help people to look at their career and themselves and find ways to plan a better work future.”

Her tip to filling out a self-appraisal form effectively to start early. “It should be an ongoing process through the year. Start recording critical incidents and assess tasks as you complete them. This not only makes the process easier at the end of the year but also helps you reflect and improve continually.”

Also read: Time to open up about menopause in the office

Another tip is to stay away from “I am” statements. In other words, instead of talking about your generic traits and behaviours, focus on highlighting specific achievements and contributions related to your performance and support them with quantifiable proof of work. Personality traits are open to interpretation and may vary according to perception and bias, explains Maitreyee Bhaduri, director (human resources), at Pathlock India, a cybersecurity solutions provider. “It is best to take a factual and objective route when it comes to self-assessment,” she says.

If you’re still keen on including “I am” statements, emphasise your positive traits and skills like reliability, creativity and technical expertise, by highlighting examples of contributions you’ve made to successful projects. For instance, explain how your creative thinking helped save a client-related crisis. Or, how you initiated a team building exercise to make a new recruit feel more welcome.

Work beyond work

The self-appraisal document is not just about writing your contributions in the most positive way. It’s also a way to inform the employer how keen you are to learn and expand your skillset.

So, discuss training, workshops or courses you’ve undertaken inside and outside the organisation to enhance your knowledge and skills. It will demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning and openness to new tasks and challenges.

Meenakshi offers another suggestion: “Think of at least one skill you would like to learn for the next couple of months that adds value to you or to the team to improve outcomes. If possible, list an area of improving your EQ (emotional quotient) since that helps you become a better worker.”

Truth matters

Eeti Sharma, co-founder of skincare brand Asaya, believes in the power of truth. She says it is best to acknowledge failures , explain reasons, and propose improvement.

“Employees need to be able to confidently express the things that did not go well, or as planned,” she says. “They should recognise when, and most importantly, why they weren’t able to find success in that particular task. Presenting a simple plan of action that they have devised to avoid a similar situation going forward helps show that they are interested in learning and improving.”

Prolonged dips in performance are always a cause for worry. How can an employee talk of performance dips without coming across as inefficient and worse, a burden on the company? In such cases, an employee may need special assistance. Hence, regular open and honest conversations with either the reporting manager or HR become more crucial, says Bhaduri.

Hiding personal issues or not providing valid justification for long absences or a drop in performance can even cause mistrust between an employer and employee, says Bhaduri.

“That’s why it is important to choose disclosure wisely. Report temporary issues to your manager and HR. Own your performance slips and demonstrate efforts for recovery,” she says. “Personal issues should ideally not be a reason for performance dip. Unless, of course, it’s an unavoidable or critical problem that’s stopping you from giving 100% at work.” Even then, clear communication is essential.

“Talk about improvement plans, and how the organisation can offer support,” Sharma suggests. “This collaborative approach fosters effective problem-solving and ensures that both employees and managers are aligned in finding solutions for continuous improvement of the worker and the company.”

Such conversations will help prevent similar occurrences from recurring, says Bala Kumaran, director of digital marketing solutions company BrandStory. “Employees and employers can learn from these experiences and plan ways to enhance performance.”

Let's get personal

Can an employee bring up personal issues in self-reviews? There are no rules for work and personal life are interconnected and could provide context to an individual’s performance.

Experts believe in playing it safe while still being open about issues, whether it’s a difficult married life or managing too many family-related responsibilities, when necessary.

According to Bhaduri, it’s a matter of choice. “But this should not be an excuse for poor performance during performance evaluation,” she insists. “Personal circumstances that affect employee work performance should ideally be shared and communicated to the reporting manager or HR well in advance for necessary consideration during an evaluation.”

Kumaran advises on handling such discussions sensitively. “Employees can focus on the intersection of personal circumstances with professional responsibilities, highlighting how challenges are being effectively managed or resolved.”

What’s more, the employer needs to handle conversations around personal issues more carefully. Sharma says: “Employers need to ensure confidentiality when such information is being shared, creating a supportive and empathetic work environment.”

Perhaps the best way to approach writing a self-review form is to think of it like a journalistic piece where you share both sides of the story: the achievements, the hurdles, the hits, the misses and the learnings. The document should reflect your honesty, clarity and willingness to learn, and, more importantly, it should help the organisation know more about you.

“Employers can then play a pivotal role in supporting employees by offering solution-oriented feedback, and fostering an open dialogue for their personal development,” Kumaran says. “This collaborative approach ensures a sense of purpose and mutual benefit.”





Next Story