Self-awareness: There’s power in reflecting on it

The concept of self-development defined by Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist Carl Jung is predicated on the premise that an awareness of self is the basis for all positive human interactions. It relates back to the saying ‘know thyself’; but what does it mean to know oneself and to accurately assess strengths and opportunities for growth?

This question of understanding what it means to be aware of yourself, as it relates to the strengths we bring into the workplace and the opportunities for development we need to grow, continues to be a building block of a solid and contributory performance-management system. Essential to this is an employee’s ability for honest and transparent introspection, not only to accept the feedback but also to act upon it when it is given. This includes an understanding of how others perceive us. The first step in this is our own assessment of ourselves.

It is critical to recognize that self-awareness is an evolutionary process, and, as defined by Avolio and Gardner (2005), “Self-awareness is not a destination point, but rather an emerging process where one continually comes to understand his or her unique talents, strengths, sense of purpose, core values, beliefs and desires.” (p. 324). In other words, practice makes perfect.

Self-awareness can be measured through multiple evaluation tools, notably through the self-assessment process that is part of the annual performance evaluation. When employees review and document how they have utilized their skills and how their work has contributed to the larger organization, they prepare to engage with their managers in the upcoming performance-review conversation and can actively participate in an exchange of feedback and dialogue, which is the goal of Yale’s annual process.

This self-reflection ensures that our staff are well prepared to share their perspectives and insights with their managers. They have input into the process and have thought about their past performance and areas for growth, and they have the ability to highlight key accomplishments that might have otherwise gone unregistered. It also helps managers understand how the employees view their contributions so they can balance both points of view in preparation for a healthy feedback conversation about strengths and coaching for development.

As challenging as it can be to write, the self-assessment plays an integral part in managers’ annual appraisal and it is strongly encouraged that they take advantage of the newly-designed performance management website for assistance. A self-assessment resource guide supports this activity and suggests a completion date of June 19, 2020 (check with your manager for confirmation).

Avolio, B.J., & Gardner, W.L. (2005). Authentic leadership development: Getting to the root of positive forms of leadership. The leadership quarterly, 16(3), 315-338.