In this article I will explain to you what this quality is really about, elaborate on the importance and purpose of self-evaluation and finally provide you with some advice on how to improve on this quality.
Self-evaluation is not just writing a review
First, it is important to realize that there are various means of self-evaluation, and a self-review in the Judge Center is just one of them. Self-evaluation is not just about submitting a document stating some strengths and weaknesses about you. Self-evaluation is the concept of constant reflection upon your own actions. Consider it more a state of mind than the actual action of self-evaluation. Candidates that struggle with this quality will often not see this difference.
Submitting frequent self-reviews is an indicator of a judge with strength in self-evaluation, but it is only an indicator. Self-evaluation is a continuous process, and the judge program is seeking this constant reflection in Regional Judges. So if you write a self-review once per year, you might be already above average, but this might not be exactly what we are looking for.
Although self-evaluation does not necessarily lead to written self-reviews, it is certainly recommended to do so, for two reasons. First, a written review forces you to really get into a state of mind where you reflect deeply on your performance. Taking the time already goes a great distance towards good self-evaluation. Second, a written review provides you with a data point for the future. This allows you to track your progress and make your improvement more visible to yourself and others.
But why is this a Quality of Regional Judges? A judge without the ability or willingness to self-evaluate will most likely also not be able or willing to improve upon his behavior and performance as a judge. A judge with a good sense of self-evaluation, on the other hand, will improve on such shortcomings, not because the program expects it from him, but because he wants to change for himself. This is a much stronger and long-term motivation for change.
The purpose of self-evaluation
Self-evaluation and self-reviews in particular serve similar purposes as reviews in general. But they have a slightly different focus. While reviews from others focus on the observable, self-evaluations can focus on things that are not that obvious to others. This shift of focus is also visible in the original description of the qualities. It states that self-evaluation includes “effectively identify areas for their own improvement beyond superficial practices such as rules knowledge”. So what does this mean? Why should you not talk about your rules knowledge? Well, because there is little gain in that. If this is an area of improvement for you, other judges will tell you soon enough. Instead, focus on less-visible aspects like charisma, diplomacy or conflict management. Philosophy is another great topic for self-evaluations. Try to figure out why exactly you do not understand this section in the IPG. This might then also help you to articulate your concerns when discussing it with other judges in the future.
Another aspect of this shift in focus from observable to non-observable is the shift towards the reasons for your strengths and weaknesses rather than the symptoms themselves. Think about self-evaluation as something that starts with self-awareness. As an example, suppose that another judge noticed that you could improve on your head judge announcements. Suppose that they lacked presence and focus. As a first step of self-evaluation, you might also observe this shortcoming. But the more important step is asking why your head judge announcement lacks presence and focus. Maybe you felt unprepared for the tournament? Or a small change in the schedule just before the announcement threw you off? These are factors that no peer-review can observe and another important reason for self-evaluations.
How to write a meaningful self-review
Again, there are many forms of self-evaluation and the review is just one of them. Nevertheless I will focus on the self-review in this section. So how do we write a good self-review? In three steps:
We start with the process of self-assessment. This means that we gather information about our performance and qualities and write them down. This can include observations by others but should also be based on your own observations – and feelings. Do not forget the feelings. This might sound a bit clichéd and difficult to tackle, but your feelings are a good indicator for where things need improvement. At the end of this step, you should have a list of aspects, areas and qualities that you would like to improve upon or that you feel very good about it. The first ones are obviously areas of improvements, while the latter ones are your strengths.
But before we write them in the review, we should ask some questions about them. Why do you think you are so good at communicating with other teams? Why do you struggle with delegating when you have a team lead position? Again, try to go beyond mere observations and try to find the reasons behind your strengths and weaknesses, because answering these questions will provide you with deeper insight into your own skillset.
If your employer requires you to write period self-evaluations, then you might be tempted to write about your areas of improvement in an overly positive way. While it is certainly not necessary to make yourself look bad, you should not spend too much time wrapping your shortcomings in a way that makes them become less obvious. Most self-reviews you write will not be read by anyone else, so you would just be lying to yourself. There is one major exception, though: the self-review for your L3 checklist will naturally be read by your panel. Nevertheless, this still is not a reason to think and write about yourself only in a positive way. Believe me when I tell you that your panel will quickly realize it and will question you about it. In fact, writing an entirely positive self-review is a very easy way to display a deficiency in this quality.
As a last step, it is crucial to realize that any form of self-evaluation is not worth much if you do not try to improve as a result of it. This goes with any sort of review but counts double for self-reviews. If you want to do this properly, you need clear objectives. You may already be familiar with the SMART mnemonic for objectives. It is quite simple: any sort of objective you have for yourself should be
You can read more on this concept on the web (e.g. Wikipedia-SMART Criteria) or in Graham Yemm’s book “Leading Your Team: How to Set Goals, Measure Performance and Reward Talent”. If you really want to improve on your shortcomings, try to come up with SMART objectives and reevaluate them periodically.
So I hope I have succeeded in explaining to you why self-evaluation is an important quality, and what the judge program means by self-evaluation. If you find yourself struggling with this quality, then try to follow the three steps I have outlined:
- Write down observations of others and yourself (assess yourself)
- Try to find out the origin for these observations (question yourself)
- Set yourself objectives on how to improve on these shortcomings in the future
As a closing note, self-reflection is not just something that can help you become a better judge. Self-reflection can help you become a better person. I recommend everybody to self-evaluate and self-reflect regularly. If done properly, you will see that it provides you with a better understanding of yourself, your skills and your goals. And hopefully it will also help you to reach these goals in the near future – whether they are judging-related or not.