Self-evaluations are a tool commonly used by companies to increase performance of individuals as well as the company as a whole. If used effectively, self-evaluations can be a positive reinforcement for employees to utilize the skills they are already doing well, and to strengthen areas of weakness. By making the employee part of the process, identifying strengths, weaknesses, and changes is personal and therefore more likely to have a constructive impact.
In college I worked as a counselor at a summer camp. Every summer we were given a self-evaluation about half-way through the camp season. The questions were pre-written (coming from our job description, staff goals, and camp's mission statement) and we were to rank ourselves on a five point scale. We would complete our own self-evaluations and our directors would fill out the same evaluation for us, then we would have a one-on-one meeting to sit down and discuss them together.
One summer, evaluations came out just two weeks before the camp season was over. It was my fifth summer on staff and though I took the evaluation seriously, I was not terribly worried about it. I had always done an excellent job and considered myself a leader in that way. I filled out my self-evaluation accordingly, giving myself honest, but mostly glowing reviews.
My directors' evaluation did not match mine. It was a devastating, if not somewhat blind-sidingly terrible performance review. It seems I was ignorant of several things I was not only doing wrong, but failing to do at all. I was actually sent home the day of my evaluation, instructed to take the following week off, and to come back for the last week of the summer in a demoted position.
In hindsight, I have come to realize that the entire experience could have been avoided if I had simply been evaluated and talked to earlier in the summer. Stress, poor communication, and my own smug attitude had all been contributing to my lack of awareness at how poorly I was doing my job. Receiving my evaluation at the time that it came (which was very late in the summer) only served as a slap because my bosses had not given me any prior warnings about things I should have been doing differently. The discrepancies in my self-evaluation and their evaluation of me displayed my ignorance.
Though I was punished, I do not believe this particular evaluation was effective. I was understandably embarrassed and somewhat hurt, and then not really given an opportunity to make any changes. The company (my camp), its employees, and our customers (the campers) were all disadvantaged, in part, because of the poor management of employee evaluation.