“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
– Alvin Toffler

Standing For Your Growth: A Professional Self-Review

Whether or not your company participates in performance reviews, it’s a good idea to a conduct private and personal assessment of your professional year Year-end performance reviews are a very common practice, but they are not universal. In fact, doing so may help you in structuring your goals and preparing for any official performance reviews.

Taking a hard look at your accomplishments (and struggles) over the year can be difficult, but that little perspective will set you up for the next year and any forward. In addition, taking time to really evaluate yourself methodically can be grounding and eye-opening.


Whether or not you are currently employed, you can benefit from a private self-review of your professional standing. The purpose of a review is threefold: you can identify any roadblocks, gain perspective, and begin to strategize.

Roadblocks can come in the form of goals not met, obstacles that may have prevented you from getting the job done, or a lack of focus. Anything that has hindered you in the past year can be assessed and monitored for the next year.

A review can also provide perspective. You’ll be able to prioritize what you do every day. With this perspective, you can get to the bare bones of your responsibilities and whether or not they’ve contributed as roadblocks.

And finally, a review will help you create a strategy for the next year. If your goal for the next year is to advance within your company, a review can give you an idea of what changes you will need to make. If your goal is to find a job in general, a review can help focus your job search strategy.

When doing an independent review, it’s not easy to pin point what to assess, but five important aspects to review are your job role, your accomplishments, your goals, your engagement, and your performance.

Assessing your job

Reviewing your job role is a multi-step process. First, you begin with making a list of what you do on the job. This means all day-to-day activities and ongoing projects you actually do. Next you write down what you should be doing. This could be the job description that was presented to you in the beginning or advertised when you applied. Or, it could be responsibilities that are indeed on your plate, but you are unable to get to them. Before you compare the two lists, reorganize the lists, ranking them by which responsibilities are most interesting to you, and then by which responsibilities are most important to your job or your team’s outcomes.

As you compare these lists, you will naturally gain an understanding of whether or not you are prioritizing your time well. Or if there are any factors that are preventing you from duties you ought to be doing. From there, you can create solutions that will help you be more effective at your job.

Assessing your accomplishments and future development

This part is easier said than done. It calls for a little bit of bragging, which can be difficult, but don’t hold back! This is when you look at your year in the best light. Recall projects you led successfully or problems you solved quickly and creatively. Doing so will highlight your strengths and reveal where you can apply those strengths in the upcoming year.

A good practice is to keep a record of positive feedback you’d received from coworkers or supervisors over the year. Not only are they nice to pull out as a pick-me-up when you’re having a bad day, but they also allow you to easily recall highlights of your year. Keeping a collection of positive feedback you’ve received over the year will help you in compiling stories of your accomplishments that you can reflect on at the end of the year.

Assessing your accomplishments and the accomplishments you want to achieve is important in determining any future development. Establish how you want to develop, what you need to learn to help you in the future.

Assessing your engagement

Engagement can be defined as a true connection to your job and your work. You enjoy what you are doing and feel invested in your responsibilities. If you find yourself erring more on the side of working to get the job done, then this is an opportunity to identify ways to boost engagement. Refer back to your list of responsibilities you would like to do: Would taking on new responsibilities or project increase your engagement? Taking the initiative to expand your role independently or bringing up your ideas to a supervisor in 2016 is the right step to take.

Assessing your performance

All of the aforementioned elements will play into how you assess your overall performance during the year. It’s normal to have a cyclical performance level, with some periods being higher than other. Picture a timeline of accomplishments and activities over the year. What factors played into periods of lower performance? Can they be avoided in the future or dealt with differently? Write down any points in time or projects that proved difficult, and include reasons that contributed to any difficulty.

After you evaluate your performance from your perspective, do it from the perspective of others such as your boss or teammates. Recall the accomplishments that had you working above and beyond to the benefit of your team. Conversely, look back at your list of responsibilities that you should be doing, but may not have been. How critical are those responsibilities to your team’s overall success? Looking at yourself from the outside can be uncomfortable, but it may also be the most important exercise for your future.

The independent self-review is when you lay the groundwork for 2016. An honest look at what you did (and didn’t do) over the year will yield the wisdom necessary for future planning. Official professional review or not, use the end of the year time to reprioritize your focus to benefit your impact at work. For yourself and others.