This may be a case of "some stuff shoulda been done earlier", but it's too late now.

I am to fill out a standard Performance Review/Evaluation form, rating myself on Productivity, Knowledge, Quality, Teamwork, etc. My question is how I approach it and what do I do.

This is my first year, and neither of the above metrics have been discussed with my boss prior. I just do my work, without necessarily accounting about it until it is done, send it on its way, sometimes getting "thanks" in return emails, without having had discussions about "the Evaluation" of my work.

Well, I know I can do better in some areas, like some things have taken me a bit of time to implement (being a programmer) so I can try to improve in my speed (however this may be unlikely), so instead I can improve on the type of tasks I work and focus on. Quality of my code is pretty good, and while that's subjective, it is objectively better than that of what was before me. My work and what I was hired to do is to improve existing codebase, according to my boss, and that is what I am doing. We have a strongly influential internal customers for whom we write the code, and in their mind I was hired to write specific features (&they do not see improving codebase as one of those). The customer dept is not my boss, and yet they have been quite influential in various decision making, such as what I am to work on, & where I am to be located inside the building, with my bosses' casual approval.

I can self-fill-out my form, as best I could, without having much insight of how I am perceived from the outside. I have some ideas, but I really don't know.

Right now it is hard to say whether I "Met" or "Exceeded" expectations, since those expectations are in motion and are not in writing. In essense, I am to spontaneoously create my own expectations, while filling out the form, and then rate myself on those expectations and do it today. And I suppose I am to find a happy medium as to where what I think or what I come up with, will somewhat coincide with what my boss and HR were expecting of me, and not outright clash.

My question is -- ... what is my best course of action right now?

Do I self-fill-out the form & send it to my boss? We are to discuss it before he submits it to HR. Do I go asking my customers how they think I am doing and then gently incorporate their vision of my performance into my review? Do I do something else?

My goal is I suppose, to present myself in best possible way -- accentuate the positives, eliminate the negatives, and align with the expectations of my boss and HR. Since I don't have a measuring ruler, who knows maybe I have exceeded expectations but I will rate myself as "Met", or I can rate myself as "Exceeded Expectations" only to be met with bosses look asking "where have you?" despite what I think I did... in other words "this evaluation will start the discussions about my performance, opposed to being a result of them".

  • I think it's odd that you rate yourself. Generally my boss rates me and then I get a chance to comment on his judgment. – Lawrence Aiello Nov 24 '14 at 16:22
  • boss said he will do it as "how it was done with him". I am to fill it out and then discuss it with him. – dennismv Nov 24 '14 at 16:23
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    @laiello - self evaluations are very common in my experience (US, programmer). – Telastyn Nov 24 '14 at 16:30
  • also if that matters, when I was hired, boss said we are to be more as "equal", despite the chain of command on paper. So I am more or less self-sufficient, yet for company processes, I am to report to my boss. Otherwise, we are to be on same level. Plus, maybe he is not sure himself on how to rate me or maybe wants to get my input as a starting point for one reason or other. – dennismv Nov 24 '14 at 16:31
  • ARe you sure he wil discuss it before sending to HR? THat is almost never how it happens becasue final ratings are determined for everyone through negotiation to determine who gets what. He can't promise you something the higher group of people (including HR) hasn't signed off on yet. – HLGEM Nov 25 '14 at 19:58

Do I self-fill-out the form & send it to my boss?


Self evaluations are there for you to go through and comment on how well you think you've done against what you think someone in your position should be doing. In practice, they're used as talking points between you and your boss more than anything. Your boss will fill out their thoughts independently, then you will compare and talk about things. XYZ could be better. ABC is great, keep doing it.

But I've yet to see any self-evaluation that meant anything. My boss has always had their mind made up well before review time how my review was going to go. Your mileage may vary.

  • it sounds like the self-evaluation is more so for boss to see where you think you stand, and then introduce you to where he thinks you stand. So it is like starting a conversation on item A we are in tune, but on item B, I'd like you to excel more, and item C is irrelevant and we don't have to do it, despite your outstanding efforts on it, so the purpose is starting conversation and adjusting workflow, I suppose ... – dennismv Nov 24 '14 at 16:47
  • @dennismv - generally, though your workplace and your boss in particular may vary. Mostly though, your boss does these things because HR tells them to. Not for any good, cohesive reason. – Telastyn Nov 24 '14 at 16:51

There are two purposes to the self appraisal. The first is to remind your busy boss of what you have done The best bosses keep notes but even they miss some things. Most bosses just don't (or worse only keep the complaints so there is no good to balance them) and need to be reminded. It also makes it easier for him to sell the management committee on giving you a better raise.

The second is for the boss to check to see if your impressions of your performance and his are aligned. This helps him know if you are going to have an easy conversation on the evaluation or an uncomfortable one which helps him prepare for the meeting.

Towards this end, you need to decide what to say. Underselling yourself is usually more disastrous than overselling yourself. Providing less detail is often less successful than providing more.

For instance if you rate yourself as having met expectations and he thought you were outstanding, it could well make him reconsider what he thought. If you rate yourself as outstanding and he thinks you are only meeting expectations, he may prepare for an awkward conversation, but it is unlikely he will revise the rating upward or downward.

The meat of the information you provide about what specifically you worked on and how well it went is important when the managers get together to determine the final ratings. Very few places let the immediate supervisor do the rating without others involved for budget reasons.

Most of the people in the meeting where this is done do not know you or your work (well they might if you properly apply office politics to ensure people are aware of your contributions, but that is a discussion for another time.). They also have people they want to see rewarded. Generally there are more people who deserve the highest ratings than the company can afford to give based on the budget, so they have to look at all the evals together and determine which ones are the ones they will reward. This can be a very difficult and sometimes acrimonious discussion and any positive information you can provide to your boss to help him sell you to the higher ups improves your chances of getting that higher raise.

Having more information in your self-appraisal helps your boss sell you as the person who deserves the higher rating. It can also save him significant time in preparing his own side of the appraisal which tend to make him happier with you while he is doing the writing. It is always better to do something that makes your boss feel as if you have helped him out when he is going to be writing about you. The only times I have seen more information backfire is if the boss thinks you are lying about what you did (some people do).

In some ways you are better off in trying to sell yourself since the criteria are not defined. I can tell from personal experience, it is very difficult to get an outstanding evaluation when you did something other than the things you were being evaluated on (typically decided a year in advance with little change even when your job duties change significantly), even if they were more difficult and complex things. So be grateful that you can determine some of what you think was important about what you did this year. It actually gives you more scope to propose a higher rating.

  • +1 for: goal is help the boss to be happy about you when s/he is writing report about your performance – Peter M. - stands for Monica Dec 10 '16 at 23:10

Im sure you have already made your decision but I thought I would still share this with you and anyone else who may read this thread later. one of my mentors told me once was never be afraid to brag on yourself when it comes to performance evaluations. If there are issues that need to be discussed, you make them bring it to light. As you said yourself , they have never taken the time to discuss your performance before this evaluation and most of the time in business, no news is good news.

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