Your Self-Review Form Does Matter

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If you treat your performance review self-evaluation form as a bureacratic formality, you're wasting a chance to bolster your position and possibly fatten your bonus and salary too, says career guru Scot Herrick.

Making the effort to turn in an "accurate and complete" self-review helps in at least four powerful ways, Herrick says in his Cube Rules newsletter for October and a series of related posts on his Web site of the same name.

Keep Yourself on Track

It forces you to both track your performance and stay focused on the goals that were stated in your previous review. "If you are having a hard time filling out the form with the results of your performance, it means you are not tracking your performance right during the year. That needs changing," Herrick remarks.

Resume Fodder

It documents your accomplishments - just like a well-crafted resume. Your management wants documented results. So do hiring managers outside your firm.

Help the Boss Defend Your Performance

It gives your supervisor "ammunition" to justify the rating she's giving you, when challenged by higher-ups. Such challenges are inevitable, because each department's final ratings of its own members are hammered out in "calibration" sessions to align salary and bonus amounts with company-wide budget resources. Most of the time, supervisors fall back on their own perceptions and motivation to defend ratings they gave their team members. Accurate information from your self-review can help your boss make your rating stick.

Herrick describes how he succeeded in justifying a high rating he'd given a subordinate for the first time in awhile. The higher rating meant 35 percent more bonus and 1 percent more salary for the employee. Higher-ups wanted to hold the person's rating at its historical level, but relented when Herrick cited "what she did as it related to her goals and how that related to the department. All facts."

If Necessary, Defend Yourself Against the Boss

If you and your boss disagree about your performance, a credible self-review can bolster your appeal to HR.

"If you are in a situation where you are getting a poor rating from your manager that isn't deserved," Herrick says, "How much rationality is in your self-review will be your strongest case for getting the rating overturned to yours." Even though he doesn't recommend appealing ratings within a company you work for, he says providing an accurate self-review "might buy some time" and make a bad manager "pretty uncomfortable" about sandbagging you.

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