From the President: Standing Up for Yourself


As a union member, you always have a contract to support you, and through your union, you have a voice in your workplace. Standing alongside your colleagues, you can help shape your working conditions.

Contract provisions are established with the intention of ensuring transparency, equity and security. Management often crafts policies intended to undermine your union security. One potential pitfall is the self-evaluation. As we head into the annual evaluation period next month, many of our members will undoubtedly ask if they should  write a self-evaluation. In the past, the Guild has answered with a resounding no. The reason? Frankly, it is to avoid providing management with the fodder to interpret your actions and words negatively, in a way that might reflect poorly on you, or give your manager a reason to deny you a merit raise, for example. The mindset has been that it is a manager’s job to provide mentorship, guidance and feedback. 

I have noticed, however, that there are members who are eager to  participate in the evaluation process and to discover a more progressive way to use the evaluation for meaningful dialogue and professional growth.   

The Guild intends to contract with a human resources consulting firm to train leaders in best practices for using this process to your advantage to help achieve your professional and personal goals.We will learn how our members can better engage in a productive dialogue with their managers about performance, career growth and development. Additionally, we will continue to hone our skills in helping our members respond to undeserved negative reviews, or evaluations used improperly as disciplinary measures.

Once we are fully trained up, we will teach you what we’ve learned and share our vast experience in representing workers over the years. Among the areas we’ll share are tips on are:

  • What words to use and which to avoid.
  • How to determine what you want to convey in your evaluation meeting and what is the most effective way to do so.
  • What are the best self-evaluation writing practices?
  • What is your manager looking for?
  • What is the best way to leverage a positive review for a merit increase?
  • How can you create a career path through the evaluation process?
  • Is it important to respond to negative comments/reviews?

For now, however, the Guild is offering several tips for members to follow in the optional self-evaluations if they choose to do them: 

1. Include specific results with supporting information.
For example, a reporter might demonstrate that she “owned” her beat by scooping the competition repeatedly throughout the year. In ad sales it might work for an account lead to say he increased sales by 25 percent using fresh, new digital marketing strategies and received a vendor recognition award from a top client.

Point out the details rather than assuming your manager remembers the great articles, headlines, videos, or marketing campaigns for which you were responsible.

2. Match your accomplishments with department goals as you understand them.
If you have a lot of accomplishments, use lists or bullet points. (Be sure to include unexpected projects to show your ability to adapt.)

Try to prioritize your results in line with the goals of your department or the organization overall.  It should be clear how your categories align with department and company priorities to illustrate you understand and are contributing to the bigger goal.

3. Be succinct.
The more concise you are, the more professional you'll look. The more you ramble, the more likely you are to appear unfocused or reveal information that could someday work against you. Before submitting your self-evaluation, read it thoroughly several times and edit it. Consider each sentence individually and whether it adds relevant information or value regarding your work.

4. Incorporate feedback that you have received.
Quotes and compliments from your manager and colleagues that showcase your focus on completing tasks, managing relationships, and meeting or exceeding expectations can be helpful.

5. Highlight what makes you unique.
Connect your strengths and individual skills to your results, showing how you approach projects and relationships. For example, “I used my research skills to enhance our products and services, leading to a 20 percent increase in sales and a 95 percent customer retention score.” 

It is important to document how you differentiate yourself not only by what you do, but how you do it.

6. Get inspiration from job descriptions.
Rather than a laundry list of everything you’ve done during the year, look for guidance from similar roles or refer to the job posting you responded to in order to connect your work to the requirements and expectations of your job title.

7. Confer with your Guild Officers.
Before you submit your self-evaluation, send an email to your union official asking them to review so you don’t write anything that could come back and hurt you. 

It’s important to be deliberate and strategic in your self-evaluation. Should you elect to participate in a self-evaluation, remember to be an advocate for yourself. You know the great work you’re doing and the value you bring to your workplace. Use the evaluation as a resource to define your own goals as a professional and how your current position can help get you there. 

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