Four tips to help you complete a self-assessment

By Jeff O'Malley | March 27, 2020

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, federal employees are facing unprecedented challenges, including adjusting to telework or alternative work schedules, while continuing to produce the high-quality work that is necessary during this public health crisis. As a leader, you are responsible for supporting your employees and teams as they adapt to this new way of work.

One way to ensure you are the leader your team needs is to reflect on your capabilities and complete an honest self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. While this may sound easy, self-assessments can be quite difficult. Blind spots, personal biases and overconfidence can cloud your ability to objectively take stock of where you are and where you need to grow and develop.

Here are four tips to help you complete a self-assessment:

1. Keep the ultimate goal in mind. The role of a self-assessment is to give you the big picture about your current state and develop an action plan for improvement. While this requires deep self-reflection, try not to get bogged down in minute details. Remember that the promise of growing as a leader and delivering better outcomes for your team and agency are your ultimate goals.

2. Commit to your growth. Remember that any self-assessment is an opportunity to focus on your growth and development and not an exercise in self-bashing. Acknowledge your flaws while committing to learning from your mistakes. The courage, honesty and humility you will gain in an honest self-assessment are the keys that enable you to understand the skills, preparation, character-building and effort you need to become a more capable leader.

3. Don’t forget your strengths. When completing your self-assessment, make sure to acknowledge the strong traits or skills that you already have, as it is equally important to identify them along with your areas of growth. Your strengths are generally what you’re known for and a good self-assessment identifies them and challenges you to improve them. 

4. Be honest. “Checking the box” and completing an assessment without deep thought or self-deception is a waste of time. Be honest with yourself and consider using the Partnership’s Public Service Leadership Model to help you accurately reflect on your skills, as the model challenges you to be open and think deeply.

To help you complete your self-assessment and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How can I increase my impact?
  • What new skills do I need to increase my contributions?
  • How can I leverage my strengths to help my team better accomplish our mission?
  • Where do I struggle most?
  • If I could change one thing about how I’m leading, what would it be?

Finally, use the results of your assessment to develop a plan and identify one to three areas for growth and one to three strengths to leverage. Start with implementing no more than one or two next steps, as having too many actions can be overwhelming and decrease the likelihood that you’ll accomplish them. If possible, work with a mentor or coach to hold you accountable and support you along the way.

Use the Public Service Leadership Model coaching questions to complete a self-assessment. The Partnership’s leadership development programs also use assessment tools to help you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.


Jeff O'Malley