Should you allow employees to do a Self-Appraisal?

Posted by Julie • August 6, 2015 (Last modified July 29, 2018) • 3 min read

An interesting perspective on self-appraisals recently came to our attention at Trakstar.  A customer wondered, “Some employees are more comfortable with self-promotion and give themselves higher scores on a self-appraisal. When managers see the higher scores, do they tend to rate the employee higher by association?

Because managers can’t “un-see” either high or low perceptions provided by the employee, should employees be allowed to do a self-appraisal?

Answer: Yes. And maybe? And, no. And maybe?

What a great question!

After much thought, we talked about it at Trakstar and came to a definitive answer: YES. Employees should definitely be allowed to do a self-appraisal.


Here are the reasons we agreed upon:

1. High scores, low scores, or in-between, self-appraisals give a voice to the employee.  Self-appraisals provide the employee an opportunity to reflect and to document accomplishments. Without a self-appraisal, an employee is wholly dependent on the manager’s memory or perceptions. I don’t know about other managers, but I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. I need the employee’s help. The alternative, denying the employee a voice, seems more consequential than the bias that might happen when the manager sees the employee’s perspective on the self-appraisal.

2. Self-appraisals allow employees to re-connect with their own goals as well as any expectations there may be at the company. A self-appraisal provides a “centering” time and an opportunity to review new priorities and as discard old ones. This is desirable. (Another point in favor of self-appraisals.)

3. Self-appraisals promote conversation between managers and employees. Employee and manager see things from different angles? Ratings are different? Good to know that now! It’s a perfect time for the employee and manager to get on the same page.

4. Self-appraisals create transparency. Clear expectations have been set. Both managers and employees should have access to the same expectations.

Okay, you’re sold on the importance of self-appraisals. But, what happens if an employee inflates his/her scores? Or if an employee is being overly modest and deflates scores? Does seeing a baseline/bias affect a manager’s rating?

ANSWER: Of course!  We’re all affected by the perceptions of others.

What do we do about it? Talk about it.

Here are some questions to encourage thoughtful conversation between managers and employees – once both sides are done with their portion of the review.

  • We came to different conclusions here.  I’d like to hear more about your perspective.
  • Looks like we’re on the same page. Why do you think we’re aligned so well here?
  • I’m glad you shared this story. It helped me remember XYZ event.  What do you think about that now that some time has passed?
  • Seems like you’re being modest. I see you as a leader in this area.
  • You’re doing well, and a little more time and coaching may help you grow your skills here.
  • While you’ve rated yourself highly here, I’d like to see a little more XYZ. That’s why my rating isn’t the same as yours.

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