Beware the Inaccuracies of Self-Perception in Self-Assessment

Potential Pitfalls of Self-Assessments

Most employees will stay within or close to their comfort zones. They’ll use self-assessments to justify their conduct rather than change their behaviors. That’s understandable, because the thought of change can generate fear, anxiety, and insecurities—feelings that are uncomfortable. So, out of self-protection, people will stick with the status quo. They won’t change because their self-perception is skewed.

Self-perceptions can mislead managers, too, biasing them into giving higher scores if an employee has a higher self-perception than the current reality.

Comparing Self- with Peer-Assessments

In a 360 review process, peers evaluate each others’ performance. Throw a self-assessment into the mix, and you have a recipe that could separate rather than mix. Why? Rarely are self-assessments inline with the results peer evaluations. That differential—that gap—is one that the employee may subconsciously try to close because they want to be perceived as they perceive themselves.

One Page Talent Management further identifies these problems with self-assessments. They:

  • Can wound an employee’s self-esteem, possibly causing them to further resist change
  • Can lead the employee and manager to change the “wrong” behaviors—those that may need attention but that will have little impact on performance
  • Focus on what was or is rather than what will be in the future.

Here’s What Managers Should Do

In addition to incorporating self-assessments into 360 reviews, which alone can potentially present a situation where a manager may try to avoid conflict that results from perception gaps, make sure managers can truly help an employee understand their performance based on others’ experiences and observations. The review should focus on the peer and  manager’s feedback, and the employee can then use self-assessment as a benchmark and reality check about their development gaps.