My Coast Guard
Commentary | April 12, 2022

Civilian self-evaluation due this week  

By Kathy Murray, MyCG Writer

“It’s an unnecessary chore. No one looks at it anyway.” 

“I feel like I’m bragging.” 

“It’s optional. Besides, I don’t know what I would say.” 

These are some of the reasons employees give for not writing the optional self-evaluation before their annual performance review.  “A lot of people leave it blank,” says Brooke Lawson, the Coast Guard’s Program Manager for Civilian Performance and Awards. “But that’s just a wasted opportunity. What you say could have an impact on your performance rating.” 

With the annual performance cycle wrapping up at the end of this month, some supervisors are already reaching out for input. Ideally, they’ll get it by early April since supervisors must complete the final ratings by April 30. But even if you haven’t heard from your supervisor requesting input, Lawson and her colleagues are here to remind you why your self-evaluation matters, and perhaps more importantly, how to do it well. 

As of April 1, most civilian employees will be moved to the Department of Homeland Security’s Performance Management Program (PMP). This will replace the Excellence Achievement Recognition System (EARS) we’re currently using. There is still time to do your self-evaluation on the EARS system and there is training for the new PMP. The important thing, no matter what system you use, is that you participate in the performance process and provide input for your final rating.  

Why should I bother? 

Look at it this way: your supervisor may have 10-12 people reporting to them. That’s a lot of performance reviews to prepare and even more accomplishments to keep track of. You’re relying on their memory to keep track of everything you’ve done - everything that makes your performance stand out.  

Maybe your supervisor will remember. But more likely, they’ll focus on what you did most recently or even something that came to their attention because it was a problem. There may be something you’ve done for your team, customers, or even other departments they don’t know about. “This is your chance to highlight those impactful things that make your performance stand out,” Lawson said. “The more you can remind your supervisor of what you’ve done, the better position you are to be rated accurately.” 

In addition, regularly taking stock of what you’ve accomplished, learned, or even struggled with on the job, is a good habit to get into. It can help you identify areas where you’d like to improve or new skills to acquire, and help you develop career goals for the future. 

Ok, so what do I talk about? 

Your self-evaluation is more than a summary of what you did over the year. It’s your chance to make what Lawson calls a “power statement” of your accomplishments. 

And no, that doesn’t mean you’re going to simply brag about how great you are. You need to be specific by highlighting your successes. When and where have you helped the organization or your team? What project or projects was a particular success?  What were you most proud of? What recognition did you receive? What extra things did you do that made an impact? 

The best way to keep track of these highlights is to collect them along the way.  Set up a performance folder on your home drive or in Outlook so you’re not just going from memory. Kristin Cobb, an Employee and Labor Relations Specialist, calls it an “I Love Me” folder. It’s where you’ll put any kudos you receive, complimentary emails, praise from customers, a special training you put together, or other accomplishments you want to remember. 

That way, when the time comes to write your self-evaluation, you’ll have everything ready to go. “It’s always weird to write about yourself,” Cobb said. “I still struggle after all these years. But keeping a folder in my planner helps.” 

Your goal should be to write about what you’ve accomplished, particularly, those times you’ve gone beyond what’s expected. It may be helpful to think of it like a resume, Cobb says, where you're writing about the things you do that stand out. “A lot of people will just write up their regular duties,” she says. “But what you want to really capture for your supervisor is what else you’re doing above and beyond or outside that performance plan.” 

While you should be honest and not inflate your accomplishments or be dishonest, self-evaluations should focus on the positive. This isn’t the time to be overly self-critical or go on about a mistake you made.  

“The time to discuss opportunities for improvement is during your formal review discussion, ” Lawson said. “This is your chance to sell what you’ve done.” 

The main point we want to get across to people she added, is “don’t miss this opportunity by leaving the evaluation blank and not providing input on your own performance.”