Self-Evaluation and Performance Review

What if combine two things with different purpose into one and the same activity?

combine_formPurpose of Self Evaluation

If I want to improve, grow capabilities, expanding knowledge, challenge behavior, utilize my greatness and in short become a better person it helps to know about myself. Create an awareness of my strength and what I have a desire to improve. In order to succeed being a better person motivation is equally important. Awareness and Motivation is key. As I am more likely to find motivation to change something I identify, it’s more important that it’s my own finding, rather than it’s the absolute most critical one. That is the idea with Self Evaluation.

self-assessment_Homer The purpose is to support you to develop yourself by building self-awareness while maintain motivation to improve.

Purpose of Performance Evaluation

In its best form it’s to find out if all my efforts paid off. Did I get the result I wanted? Any corrections to do to perform better? BUT that is not how it is used most of the time. The most common purpose of performance evaluation is for the employer to set salaries.

Combining the two

So, what is happening if we combine those two in the same activity and dialog with your salary setting manager? I am asked to do a self-evaluation which is the base for performance evaluation which is base for my salary setting. Knowing this self-evaluation is affecting my money – of course I end up in the sell-mode. Time to make a good impression! Not only for the money, it’s also to get my manager to trust me, let me work on interesting assignments. Good for me if my manager knows I’m great.


NOW, let me add another observation: In order to base the salaries on the performance evaluation the company sometimes come up with the idea that the result must be according to a certain distribution, i.e. there can only be a certain percentage of top-performers, great-performers and average performers. This have an interesting effect on the self-evaluation and performance reviews.

This is what’s happening

  1. I evaluate myself on the very positive side because I know this affects my salary and my possibilities to work with interesting things. (The purpose is no longer self-development and improvement)
  2. The manager can comment and reflect but as it is an self-evaluation I have the last word and I will hold on to my view.
  3. Now the manager have to bring this self-evaluation and compare it against all others self-evaluations and check it against the company’s distribution of performance reviews.
  4. It may (understatement) turn out that there are too many top and great performers so the manager have to go back to the employee (me) and tell that: “- You thought you were good in this but actually you are NOT.


  •  No benefit from the self-awareness (as you are in selling mode)
  •  No fair performance evaluation as it is relative to your colleagues
  •  Motivation is probably gone when your manager is telling you are not performing as you think

What will the company gain with a process where you have to tell people they are not so good as they think!? How is it good for the company to let the self-evaluation be useless? Wouldn’t the company perform better if we all thought we were top-notch-great?

TEAM_toppick_cropTo win the World Championship, is it a good strategy by the coach to tell the players that they are not so good as they think they are? Is that how to create a winning team?

Mixing self-evaluation and performance review into the same activity will most likely have a negative effect on performance.

(There are probably no companies that have this setup, but if they do, I hope they re-think before all talent people are gone.)


About Johan (Welund) Westerlund

Coach, Mentor and Trainer of Teams, Leaders and Organizations in Lean/Agile Values, Principles, Methods and Tools. Founder of Uniqa Team AB
This entry was posted in agileHR, assessment, awareness, Change, communication, Evaluation, Leadership, Organizaition, Performance Measurement, self-awerness and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Self-Evaluation and Performance Review

  1. Michael says:

    Great summary! I quite recently worked with a team regarding team competence development. I asked what if we used your last self-evaluation as a base to discuss competencies in the team. You can probably guess what the response was. “No, impossible, that´s a total waste. The assessment we just boosted to look good for the performance review.” A little later I talked with the manager who could not believe how poor self-knowledge his employees had. I think it proves your point. It is a wasteful activity that creates frustration for all.

  2. Johan (Welund) Westerlund says:

    Thanks Michael, At least I’m not alone observing this collision, but too bad those proves exists…

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