Using Self-Evaluation to Teach the Missing Basics to Young Talent

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Self-Evaluation: Regularly assessing one’s own thoughts, words, and actions—against clear meaningful standards; and one’s own performance against specific goals, timelines, guidelines and parameters.

What soft skill drives learning and growth more than any other? Regular, productive, honest self-evaluation against clear standards. Self-evaluation is not only the fundamental building block for teaching and learning other self-management skills, but also the fundamental building block for teaching and learning ALL soft skills, not to mention most hard skills and practically any other kind of significant learning and growth. When it comes to continuous improvement of any kind, self-evaluation is the beginning, middle, and end.

Plenty of Assessments to Choose From

If you’re considering implementing self-evaluation in your organization, try starting with some big picture assessment tools. For example, key tools include profile personality types, interests, values, or communication style. Try to identify (and vet) several options. Indeed, the more the better.

But where can you find these tools? Your organization may already own some, so ask someone in HR. You also can find assessments in books, and you can look online (some are even free). Another option is to work with a consultant, or you can create one yourself without too much trouble based on any competency model or any list of traits, characteristics, behaviors, skills, or preferences.

No doubt, there is an endless supply of reasonably easy to access off-the shelf tools. Probably the best known personality profiling tool is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is a proprietary tool that separates people into 16 types based on how they take in information, how they make decisions, whether they draw energy from internal sources or external, and whether they prefer to keep issues open or move them toward closure.

There is another personality profile I like, called the “Enneagram.” This tool separates people into nine categories based on differences in what ultimately motivates a person on the deepest level. This model falls on what I would call the “groovy” end of the spectrum. Meanwhile, in the middle of the spectrum, there are many very interesting profiles of communication styles using different frameworks of evaluation: direct/indirect, rational/emotional, assertive/receptive, aggressive/passive/passive-aggressive/manipulative.


Most assessment can be done online with automated reporting. Or you can print out an assessment (or buy a kit) so it can be done on paper with an old-fashioned pen. Some are best tools are delivered verbally with an interviewer.

The Way Forward

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to choose which big picture assessment tool is best because you should have them do several different self-assessments, using several different models. Finding one’s “type” according to multiple different models is great way to getting multiple perspectives on one’s self in very short order.


Do several of them. For example, have your employees complete a different self-assessment tool every two weeks. In the intervening two weeks between assessments, ask them to really digest the results. The second option is to take them through a self-assessment boot camp by completing a series of self-assessments in a very short timeframe. Either way, just the process of completing a self-evaluation tool usually has a significant impact. No doubt, the results can be quite illuminating, especially when one has the results from multiple models to consider.

What’s more, using the results as a tool for one-on-one coaching will take it to higher level still. Try to use their individual results as a springboard to provide some coaching style feedback along the way.

About the Author

Bruce Tulgan is a bestselling author and the founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking, a management research and training firm. He is the author of numerous books, including It’s Okay to Be the Boss; Not Everyone Gets a Trophy; and The 27 Challenges Managers Face. His newest book, The Art of Being Indispensable at Work, is due for release in the summer of 2020 from Harvard Business Review Press. You can follow Bruce on Twitter @BruceTulgan or visit his website at

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