How to conduct a self-performance review (with examples)

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Knowing your weaknesses is always the first step to overcoming them. The best way to understand where you can improve is to conduct an honest self-performance review. Personal development in the workplace has been common for senior-level employees and leadership teams for decades.  However, it is now becoming a more common investment for employees at all levels1. Career-focused individuals are becoming more like athletes, sculpting their mindsets, and skills and working on improving their weaknesses. If this sounds like you, you might consider conducting a self-performance review. Here’s our guide on how to conduct one, and how Fingerprint for Success (F4S) can help.

Table of contents
Why is a self-evaluation important for your career growth?
Why is it important to identify your weaknesses?
How can you identify weaknesses?
What are examples of self-evaluation?
How to talk about your weaknesses during an employee performance review
Develop a professional development plan with free F4S coaching
Frequently asked questions

Why is a self-evaluation important for your career growth?

The ability to self-evaluate job performance has a wide range of benefits to assess your career aspirations. When done effectively, the evaluation process has been shown to improve2:

  • Performance
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Relationships and behavior
  • Influence

Keep in mind, though, that the key word here is effectively. An effective performance evaluation involves taking an honest approach when reviewing your skills and attributes, and identifying room for improvement. But, without the right tools and know-how, self-evaluation can quickly turn into rumination. These employees fixate on the minutiae of their job performance, and obsessively worry about ‘getting it right’. Unsurprisingly, this style of self-evaluation leads to decreased performance on the above metrics.

The difference between effective self-evaluation and rumination is subtle, but it has profound implications on job performance and wellbeing. Learning to recognize the difference, and having the tools for effective self-evaluation is crucial to your success.

Why is it important to identify your weaknesses?

When charting your career goals, it’s important to remember that where you land is often the product of your strengths and weaknesses.

Let's say you're a marketing professional with the goal of becoming CMO at a leading e-commerce platform. You excel at strategic thinking, and your understanding of consumer behavior is unparalleled. Great start! But how far would you make it if you lacked leadership skills? And what if you weren’t aware that this is what was halting your professional growth?
This is why it’s essential to identify your weaknesses - and then see them as growth opportunities. Indeed, research has shown that the ability to identify weaknesses as well as strengths is one of the core determinants of career progression3.

How can you identify weaknesses?

As mentioned above, identifying your weaknesses the wrong way can make things worse. That’s where F4S can help with your personal growth. We have developed an evidence-based, self-assessment tool designed to help you accurately identify your weaknesses (we call them blind spots) – and it’s completely free. We test you across 48 different motivational traits and show you areas where you excel, and where you have room for improvement. Once you’ve completed your assessment, you can measure yourself against our ranking tool to see how you stack up!

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Note that your traits are only weaknesses if they don’t serve your goals.

For instance, if you have aspirations of founding your own startup, our research shows there are common strengths that lead to success in entrepreneurship.

High motivation for internal reference

These individuals have a well-developed trust in their own intuition. They’re driven by their own self-belief and vision of what they want to build. They may not seek feedback from colleagues as they trust their ability to develop effective solutions.

Low motivation for procedure

Entrepreneurs are inclined toward charting their own course and forgetting about procedures. They’re more geared towards evolution and incremental change. These are people who focus on creative ideas and innovative solutions. They want to build exciting new products and realities, not replicate things that already exist.

Low motivation for structure

Consistent with the lean, agile approach that many startups take, most entrepreneurs aren’t focused on structure, planning, or organization. In a fast-paced and ever-changing environment, a need for structure can often be an impediment to creative solutions and quick thinking.

High motivation for money

Most entrepreneurs set out to do what they do with a focus on money. They’re willing to put the hours and sweat in, but their eyes are more often not focused on making a profit.

Note that a low motivation for money may be a weakness for a budding entrepreneur, but not for working at an NGO. Again, weaknesses are only weaknesses if they don’t serve your goals.

It’s important to note that your motivational traits aren’t fixed. Think of them in terms of skills that you may, or may not have acquired. Much like learning to play an instrument, or cooking up a storm, with practice and guidance, you can learn to develop the traits that align with your goals.

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What are examples of self-evaluation?

Let’s take a closer look at what we mean by a blind spot or weakness. Below are some different motivation styles and skill sets, with examples of how they can either help or hinder your goals.

Trusting your gut

While advice like “follow your intuition” might seem ‘woo woo’ to some, in many situations, that visceral, unexplained feeling is telling you something that data and spreadsheets can’t. In his bestseller Thinking Fast and Slow, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman writes4:

“Intuition is nothing more and nothing less than recognition”.

If you’re operating within your domain of expertise, your intuition comes from your years of experience. You recognize the best course of action because you’ve seen the patterns in front of you before.

Take the following example:

You’re an experienced hiring manager assessing two different candidates. Candidate A looks better on paper than Candidate B, but your gut is telling you to go with Candidate B.

You may not be able to place exactly why, they just feel right. According to Kahneman, this is the recognition of certain qualities in this person from your years of experience.

If you’re experienced in your field, not being able to trust your gut means you’re leaving a wealth of information untapped. Plus, in a high-pressure situation, sometimes your gut helps drive the final decision.

Attention to detail

Your attention to detail refers to your ability to observe the finer details. Rather than getting the gist of a topic, you’re neck-deep in the nuts and bolts of it. It involves vigilance and laser-like focus on the particulars. It’s especially important for technical roles, like software developers or engineers. However, in today’s tech-driven work landscape, it’s hard to imagine a role that doesn’t require this essential skill.

Of course, while attention to detail is important, it’s also necessary to zoom out and take a look at the bigger picture.

Big-picture thinking

If attention to detail is the ‘how’, big-picture thinking involves the ‘what’ and the ‘why’. It's the ability to think long-term while using creative problem-solving skills.

Imagine that you’re designing and building a house. Without a comprehensive picture of what the house should look and feel like, every detail of the finish may be executed flawlessly, but the house itself will lack cohesion. So, the finish on the walls could be pristine, but they wouldn’t match the floorboards.

Teams or organizations that lack big-picture thinking can make similar mistakes. Solutions may be expertly delivered, but they don’t solve the intended problem. In short, they can’t see the forest for the trees.

Time management

Sound time-management skills are the cornerstone of professional success in today’s deadline-driven workplace.

Do you remember your classmate at university who barely turned in their projects on time? They insisted they wrote their best papers at the last minute and claimed that “diamonds are made under pressure”? It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the research literature would beg to differ. A study5 conducted by the University of Warwick found that students who handed in their work at the last minute received significantly lower grades than those who prepared in advance.

The same is true in the workplace. A review of the time management literature6 found that time-management skills positively correlated with job satisfaction, performance, and health negatively correlated with stress. Luckily, like anything, organizational skills like time management can be developed. With the right coaching, time-management skills can be honed and leveraged for professional gains.

Leadership

If you’re looking to progress into a leadership role, the ability to motivate and inspire people is crucial.

Great leaders inspire their teams to achieve bigger and better outcomes. They create a productive team environment through developing strong relationships with their interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence and they work with their team to achieve common goals.

Unfortunately, the hangover of outdated leadership styles often bleed into how modern leaders manage their teams. Though just as outdated leadership styles can be learned, they can be unlearned, making way for more productive methods. The term ‘born leader’ is often thrown around in popular culture, but with the right coaching, leadership is just a series of soft skills that can be learned at any stage.

Collaboration

If you work in a team environment, collaborative projects are inevitable. Whether you’re in a remote team or on-site, it’s important to remember that your ability to work well with a diverse range of people is the key to hitting your performance goals. This is true both for organizations, and individuals who want to reach their professional goals.

Collaboration skills are often made up of a subset of soft skills including:

Like any soft skills, all of the above can be learned and developed, leading to improved collaboration skills.

Like any soft skills, the above can be learned and developed, leading to improved collaboration skills.

How to talk about your weaknesses during an employee performance review

If you’re having a performance review, and several of your weaknesses have been identified, there’s no need to be concerned.

That being said, you don’t want to be blindsided when they are pointed out. Being aware of your own weaknesses first means that you can have an open and productive discussion on how you can address them. This is where language and framing play an important role.

Imagine that you’re a manager conducting a performance review with two employees who have errors on tasks that require close attention to detail.

The first employee recognizes that they struggle with tasks that require attention to detail, but they’re working on developing their skills further.

The second employee simply admits to having a weakness in that area.

Notice the difference in framing? The first employee feedback indicates a growth mindset which indicates that the employee acknowledges the blind spot, but is committed to taking an active role and has an improvement plan. They aren’t good at those tasks yet. The second response indicates a fixed mindset. In other words, they believe their lack of attention to detail is a fixed trait, rather than a skill they can develop through continuous learning.

Which employee would you have more faith in?

In Carol Dweck’s bestseller Mindset: The New Psychology of Success7, she outlines how the belief that one can grow and develop is more important than any kind of innate talent. She cites countless cases in sports, business, and the arts where achievement is tied to a growth mindset.

It’s no different in the workplace, so when discussing your weaknesses, keep it in mind.

Being aware of your weaknesses isn’t always enough. Being aware and committed to overcoming them is far more useful.

Develop a professional development plan with free F4S coaching

While identifying your strengths and weaknesses is an invaluable part of progress, keep in mind that it’s only the first step. Take the next step in your career development with structured coaching - that’s where F4S comes in.

Once you’ve taken our free assessment, identified your 48 unique motivational traits, and set a goal, we’ll recommend a series of coaching programs with our very own AI coach, Marlee. You can monitor your progress over time as you make your way through the programs, and watch as your personal development translates into career success.

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Frequently asked questions

How does employee self-evaluation lead to professional growth?

Employees who are encouraged to evaluate their professional skills have increased awareness of their own shortcomings. They are better able to overcome their weaknesses, and lean into their strengths.

What can leaders do to encourage effective self-assessment?

The way that employees view their own strengths and weaknesses is often a product of their work environment, and how their managers give employee feedback. It's always important to balance negative feedback with positive feedback in the performance review process. Employees should never feel threatened by a discussion of their weaknesses.

Write a next-level self-evaluation (with examples)

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  1. (2023). ‘Global Personal Development Market Insights’. Available at Skyquest. https://www.skyquestt.com/report/personal-development-market#:~:text=Global%20Personal%20Development%20Market%20size%20was%20valued%20at%20USD%2041.81,period%20(2023%2D2030)
  2. Kross, E. (2023) ‘Self Reflection at Work: Why it Matters and How to Harness Its Potential and Avoid Its Pitfalls’. Available at Annual Reviews. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-031921-024406
  3. Maheshwari, S; Krishnan, T N. (2002) ‘Career effectiveness and its determinants’. Available at IIMA. https://www.iima.ac.in/sites/default/files/rnpfiles/2004-05-06sunilm.pdf
  4. Kahneman, D. (2011) ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’. Available at Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/11468377
  5. University of Warwick. (2014) ‘Students take note: Evidence that leaving essays to the last minute ruins your grades’. Available at Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140909144542.htm
  6. Claessens, B. (2007) ‘A review of the time management literature’. Available at Emerald.  https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/00483480710726136/full/html
  7. Dweck, C. (2006) ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’. Available at Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/40745
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