Each year, Hanley Wood requires its employees to submit a self-assessment as part of its appraisal process. And each year, I’ve looked forward to it about as much as getting a root canal. You see, I’m not naturally inclined to tout my accomplishments — it feels a bit boastful, which makes me uncomfortable. So each year, I drag my feet to complete it, putting it off as much as I possibly can, especially when so many other tasks seem to take higher priority.

But upon finishing my report this year, I was surprised by how I felt. It was a mixture of gratitude, pride and ambition. The task of reviewing and reflecting on my contributions to the company in the past year made me grateful to be working at a place that offered so many opportunities for growth. And I was proud to recognize the impact of my hard work. It gave me a boost of self-confidence, which led to a resolution to make the next year as good, if not better, than the last.

And that led to an “Aha!” moment: That was the whole point of the exercise! The impetus to perform well at our jobs always comes from within. Requiring employees to go through this process is a healthy way to fuel that motivation.

In that spirit, I’d like to share our process, along with some guidelines, for employers who would like to implement a similar program. Our form is simple, consisting of just two questions:

  1. Describe your most important professional accomplishments over the past year, and explain why they represent significant contributions to the company.
  2. Identify one career development opportunity for you in the coming year. This can be a skill to help you become more effective in your current role, or one that will help prepare you for other roles in the firm.

In answering the first question, it’s helpful for employees to identify a situation that posed a challenge in the past year. How did they overcome that challenge? What was the result? How did it impact the company?
For the question second, employees should name a goal for growth and a skill that will help to accomplish that goal. How will it benefit the company? Offer a plan with a timeline to help achieve this goal.

Though employees may be reluctant to participate in the beginning, as I was, the positive result gained from the experience is invaluable. I’m already looking forward to reviewing next year.