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Do-It-Yourself Performance Reviews

In high school, the thought of giving yourself the grade you thought you deserved always sounded too good to be true. Most of my friends, myself included, would in all likelihood lobby for an “A” without giving it much thought. I mean, after all, who wouldn’t? But, then, I’m sure reality would set in. Sure I’d really like to have an “A,” but if I didn’t deserve it, the teacher would see right through me–especially if it was my high school geometry teacher.

In high school, the thought of giving yourself the grade you thought you deserved always sounded too good to be true. Most of my friends, myself included, would in all likelihood lobby for an “A” without giving it much thought. I mean, after all, who wouldn’t? But, then, I’m sure reality would set in. Sure I’d really like to have an “A,” but if I didn’t deserve it, the teacher would see right through me–especially if it was my high school geometry teacher.

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I got to thinking about this after one of my friends asked me to help him write his 90-day review. If you haven’t had to do one, trust me, there are few things harder than writing an objective review of your performance.

First, it’s hard to judge your performance even when you want to be upfront and honest because you won’t have the perspective on yourself that others in the company will have. No matter how self-aware you are, you’re going to have blind spots.

If you give yourself an “A,” or in this case a glowing review, the boss is going to see right through it. But, on the other hand, if you rake yourself over the coals, it could be career suicide.

Employers-I can see the value in asking employees to write their own reviews, but I still think you’re better off building in a 360 review instead. That takes the pressure off of your employees and gives the person you’re reviewing a comprehensive view from those he or she works with on a daily basis.

But, if you’re still sold on the idea of asking your employees to grade themselves, at least make sure you don’t ask them for specific feedback on your performance when you’re evaluating their performance. That’s the worst. All you’re going to get is false praise—trust me.

Employees-if you’re asked to write your own review, take some time to think about key projects you’ve worked on and the impact those projects have had on your team, department, and the organization as a whole. And when providing feedback on your boss, be honest—but not too honest.

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Shawn Graham is Director of MBA Career Services at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (www.courtingyourcareer.com).

About the author

Shawn Graham partners with small businesses to create, implement, and manage performance-driven marketing strategies. His knowledge base includes media relations, business development, customer engagement, web marketing, and strategic planning.

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