Build great Teams – People management

Self-Assessment – A Case Study

Self-Assessment - A Case Study

Why is self-assessment such a strong force? None of us likes receiving criticism or negative feedback. We particularly don’t like receiving it from others. We are often slightly more open to it when it comes from ourselves. If you recognize an area for improvement in yourself, it’s easier to agree with someone else who points out the same deficiency. This case study highlights how end-of-year reviews can become easier if self–assessment is used year-round.

The Initial Situation – End-Of-Year Reviews

We did three things to improve the situation. The first two things we did supported the third – the self-assessments. First we took the very wordy goals which were open to interpretation and we reworded them to set clear expectations. They actually ended up wordier – but the new words meant it was very clear to both sides what constituted great, good, OK and poor. There was now little room for discussion.

I don’t enjoy conflict and used to dread the weeks when we did reviews. It was a constant battle between my expectations and theirs,so to reduce my stress and the stress of my team I decided to bring more structure to the proceedings.

What We Did – Structure And Self-assessment

We did three things to improve the situation, and the first two things we did supported the third – the self-assessments. First we took the very wordy goals which were open to interpretation and we reworded them to set clear expectations. They actually became wordier, but the new words meant it was very clear to both sides what constituted great, good, OK and poor. There was now little room for discussion.

Next we implemented quarterly reviews so that the end-of year review was the final meeting in a series of meetings. By the fourth meeting, there could be little surprise about how things were going. Having set this structure in place, the thing that made the biggest difference was monthly self-assessment.

Each month every team member completed a very short self-assessment that focused on their progress towards their goals. It asked the following questions about the previous month’s work and I only expected them to take about 15 minutes to complete it:


  • List the things that went well

  • Identify what did not go as well as expected or could have gone better

  • Share your suggestions for what needs to change for you to be successful that you can’t change yourself.

  • What suggestions do you have for things you can’t change that would help you be successful?
  • Any answers to the last question were brought to me for discussion to see if I could help remove barriers.

    What We Did – Summary

    What did we do to make the difference? By implementing self-assessments, the whole team became more engaged in their own goals. I didn’t ask them to spend long each month thinking about it, but a small amount of time made a big difference. The specific questions I asked helped focus them on positives so they could see where they were making progress. That’s motivating. More importantly it helped them admit where it wasn’t going as well as they hoped. The last two questions made them think about what they could change. That had better results than me telling them what to change. If they identified what they could change, but didn’t change it, that’s a very different conversation to them waiting for me to tell them what to do.

    At the end of the year, reviews took minimal time and were not argumentative because both sides came into them well aware of the situation. There was no surprise. With three previous meetings to highlight challenges and plan how to address them, we had no need to argue. If the team member was given support but took no action – they knew it. The whole process became much less stressful.

    My Question To You

    Have you tried self-assessments for your team? How did it go? If this is something you would like to discuss or would like some help with, contact me at nikki@mulberrybushconsulting.co.uk. You can also buy my book Accelerate to Team Success which is available as a paperback or on Kindle.

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    About the Author:

    Nikki Faulkner photo Dr Nikki Faulkner founded Mulberry Bush Consulting to work with business leaders and their teams to make the 'People' side of their business as effective as possible. Mulberry Bush Consulting's specialty is helping small businesses who are new to having employees and helping businesses who are growing rapidly and increasing their employee-base at a rate that is creating a significant challenge.

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