Virtually every company has some sort of annual performance rating system, which governs raises and promotions. I have been with a few large multi-nationals and seen on numerous occasions individuals who play the "game" do better than those who don't. A big part of the "game" are these year end reviews where you and your manager assess your work.

I have never been one to pat myself on the back and have struggled in writing self appraisals. I feel writing effective assessments is a skill that I wish to enhance. Are there any books or guides for writing excellent self assessments for year end performance appraisals?

  • Who is going to be doing your year-end review? Shouldn't you be trying to do well or improve in that person's eyes rather than giving yourself a good self-assessment. Am I missing something?
    – Brandin
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 16:42
  • Moi, write my own self-assessments? I'd look for ways to get my managers to go giddy over my plans for the coming year. Especially if the successful execution of my plans is good for their careers. Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 0:32

2 Answers 2


If it's review time and you think about what you should put in there you have already lost.

This should be an ongoing process where you continuously look at the work you are doing, the work you want to be doing and reflect about what works, what doesn't work and the progress you are making.

Each week do a small dump of the above in a text file. Every other month review, reword, compress what you already have.

When review time comes you just dump the text into the review form. No need for stress, no need for thinking about it in the context of a review. This will also give you the time to identify and improve as needed. Improvements will not be a forcing function of the review - you are already working on it - and your manager will appreciate it you can clearly articulate this.

Another thing that helps is once you get good about reflecting about what your challenges and strengths: get a mentor. Be open, learn and improve on the know-how of someone who has "seen it before" and can help you accelerate your growth.

Last thing: the review is just a review. It's not necessarily a true reflection of reality. People can and will game the review system. Your focus should be on improving yourself and bringing value to your employer. Once you learn to continuously do this, you will leave the clowns that game the system way behind in your rear-view mirror.


For annual reviews, establishing a paper trail of what you've done helps tremendously. For each goal, it helps to have three things:

  1. A written summary of what you accomplished related to that goal
  2. A URL to a deliverable which you worked on
  3. A document which demonstrates the knowledge you gained and shared with others

In terms of the gap between your self-assessment and the assessment of your manager, focus the conversation on the widest gap and come up with an action plan in order to close it before the next review.


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