I was surprised when a judge recently asked me how to write a self-review. I guess when you’ve been doing this for 1o years, you take some things for granted. On the plus side, it gave me a topic to blog about. Let’s begin with the mechanics of a self-review. There is no separate category for it, the point of confusion for the aforementioned judge. You just start out by entering a normal “Evaluation” review. In fact, the default setting when you do that is to enter a self-review with your own name in the “Subject” field. Other than that, everything else is the same. That brings us to the “why?” Why write a self-review? Currently in the Judge Program, there are two times when a self review is mandated. The fairly well-known one is part of the L3 Advancement Process (aka Checklist). An L3 candidate must write a self-review details their strengths and weaknesses in the 12 Qualities of a Regional Judge before they can begin soliciting L3 Recommendations. It is an important step in self-awareness.
The only other required self-review is the end-of-year self-evaluation for L3+s. This is basically the same thing, L3s are asked to write a self-review about themselves with regard to the 12 Qualities of a Regional Judge. It’s a chance for self-reflection. You can see if you’ve improved or atrophied in specific qualities, and make an action plan for the following year.
So why write self-reviews beyond these two required items? Is there a reason to enter a generic self-review from an event? Yes, for these reasons:
1) You spend all day with yourself. This is pretty obvious, but I find that it is an important point to make. Normally, when you give feedback to another judge, you are limited by your interactions and observations. There are various ways to force the issue, but ultimately, if you don’t observe much worth commenting on, feedback may be sparse. This isn’t the case with a self-review. You are your own observer on all of your rulings and actions throughout the day. Make sure to take notes so you don’t forget!
2) You’ll never remember if you don’t. You might think that writing a self-review is a waste of time because you will remember everything from the event. As someone who doesn’t remember things from this morning, I can attest to the fact that human memory is faulty. A year from now, are you really going to remember that ruling that you made at this event? Write a review and get that record down.
3) You are your own accountability. Sometimes getting someone else to give you feedback and write a review of you is like a Herculean task. We all want what’s best for each other, but sometimes life just gets in the way, and I’m sure you’ve found that even when a review is promised to you, it might not get written. If no one else is going to write a review and record all of the things that happened, you might as well do it yourself. You can even record the face-to-face feedback that others give you onsite that never makes it into a review. That way, you’ve got a record of that too.
4) You don’t have to spare your own feelings. A lot of people understandably worry about what the subject of their review will feel. The sentiment “Am I being too harsh?” can be a huge barrier to entry for review-writing. Hopefully, you don’t care about that and you can just tell yourself exactly how you felt. A self-review is a great way to practice the mechanics of a review and get into the habit without having to worry about your subject. Plenty of time to worry about that later.
The next time you work an event and think “No one reviewed me” or “I didn’t write a review of anyone” consider doing a self-review and killing both of those birds with one stone.