Working for yourself has its pluses and minuses. You are your own boss and gone are the days of formal annual reviews with managers.
As an employee working for a big company, being called into your manager’s office for an annual performance review is definitely a nerve-racking experience. It’s that time of year when the big bosses assess your performance and having the good, the bad and the ugly laid out can be scary. When you’re professionally evaluated, you leave the room filled with valuable expert advice and a clear understanding of how you can improve things.
Having your own business, you don’t have anyone to be your boss and no one will be peering over your shoulder. You can do whatever you want and no one will evaluate your job performance. Sound good? At first yes, but in times of troubles or falling sales, you’ll only have yourself to blame.
Being able to carry out a self-evaluation for a performance review is critical for the success of your business. After all, it’s your sole responsibility and no one else’s.
1. Determine the performance review categories
As a small business owner, you tend to wear many hats so that you can successfully run your business. Unlike the individually manned departments of big companies, today you might act as an accountant and tomorrow as a marketing executive. Day by day, you have a different set of tasks, goals, objectives, and responsibilities that represent various categories from operations up to management.
When creating a structure for performance evaluations, make sure to include all important areas and make a list of categories to give you a holistic view of everything. Whether it’s a major area like accounting, stock keeping, and sales building, or something more minor, you need to determine and include all tiers. Be honest and don’t overlook key areas, even more, minor ones such as knowledge growth and service offerings. An example for performance review categories are:
- Professionalism, which reflects how you communicate with other people and your attitude towards your work.
- Communication skills in both oral and written form. You may want to include customer service management in this category.
- Leadership abilities, which shows your proficiency when it comes to managing employees, resolving issues and increasing team productivity.
- Other key areas include career development, time management, sales growth, and efficiency.
2. Create a report card for your performance review
Self-evaluations for performance review should be done regularly, once a year, with a mid-year check in to ensure consistency. The goal here is to assess your effectiveness in a timely, scheduled, and regular manner. Did your overall performance improve? How about the key areas that need enhancement? Did you make any progress? What about the target objectives and growth opportunities? Have you met them?
With a report card, you can clearly see each and every category including the areas that need improvement and the areas where you excel the most. Another great thing about making a report card is that you have a copy of your performance management record that you can use to compare and measure growth as time goes by. It serves as a learning card, to push both you and your business forward.
- Make sure to save a copy of the report card on paper or digitally and include relevant notes.
- Your evaluation should contain vital information like your key competencies, individual scores, goals, ratings, and summary.
- Don’t forget to make plans for improvement especially in areas where you came short.
- Remind yourself about when to carry out the next performance review by making a calendar entry.
3. Gather data and assess your performance
Doing a self-evaluation for a performance review is impossible without the right data. Keep in mind that you can’t accurately assess your performance without the necessary information. Performance appraisals are always done in an objective manner, not through hearsay or undocumented reports.
Gather all necessary data from as many sources as possible. This could be your business records, receipts, bookkeeping, customer surveys, email marketing, management documents, social media pages, sales data, etc. Apart from feedback from customers, your team members or vendors could be a great source of external feedback too. You can use the following tactics to get feedback from others:
- Use online tools such as SurveyMonkey and QuestionPro to create anonymous surveys.
- Try to keep your questions unbiased, you want the results to be as accurate as possible.
- Include data from third-party analytics platforms you use for your business such as system software and other business applications.
4. Develop a strategy for improvement
With all the information, relevant data, and scores you’ve collected, now it’s time to develop a strategy and take your business to the next level. Use these development opportunities to improve areas that need attention, things that require an immediate response, and blind spots that could hinder the success of your trade.
Remember that performance reviews are made to assess and resolve problems. You, therefore, need to be open to solutions in order to better your business. If you recognize that your small business needs a specific skill set to increase sales and performance, don’t be afraid to outsource talent. Here are some tips on how to develop effective strategies:
- Clarify your plans of action and make sure that they go well with your goals and objectives.
- Communicate your strategy in a clear and concise manner using multiple mediums.
- Use message boards and employee engagement meetings to contextualize your strategies.
- From yourself down to your staff, let everyone in your team participate in improving your trade.
5. Set goals based on your strategy
Finally, for how to do a self-evaluation for a performance review, set new concrete goals to lead your business in the right direction. Use everything you’ve gathered, from the report card to the strategies you’ve built to plan the future of your trade. Don’t rush things, and instead carefully plan your goals so that they’ll be effective and achievable.
Keep your goals as visible and easily accessible as possible. Setting goals and filing them away in a drawer won’t improve your performance or the growth of your business. Likewise, set measurable milestones to see improvements, track progress and do quick evaluations. To efficiently set business goals, check out these tips:
- Determine your long-term goals in different areas – service, social, profit, and growth.
- Create short-term objectives to achieve your long-term goals; make them S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bounded).
- Get feedback from employees and managers and try to co-create goals with them.
- Be consistent and always look at the big picture, stay organized and focus on what you want to achieve.