Self-Gratitude May Just Improve Your Performance Review

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It’s that time of the year, when performance reviews and end-of-the-year reflections take place. Unless you do some internal preparation, you may under-value your contributions and either give yourself a lower assessment score than you should or exude a defensiveness that may backfire on you.

Why is self-gratitude so important? Because you’ve got to VALUE YOU, your effort, collaboration, contributions. You’ve got to give yourself credit before another person will step up on your behalf.

More often than not, the high achievers I coach will be the first to admit where they fell short  or could have done better. The self-disappointment is always evident, even if it’s masked with nuanced positioning that is intended to mask any perturbance. Indeed, I see this happening a lot more with women and immigrants. I’ve witnessed so many high achieving professionals, especially professionals of color, doubt themselves. So imagine rating yourself with this mindset — how will you represent yourself on a self-assessment or in a performance review? How likely will that go well for you? Hmm, we can all answer that.


This kind of gratitude comes from wholeness — the wholeness of you and all that you do. Give yourself credit for all your effort on the project, daily work or deadline in front of you. This loving gratitude is like having your best friend seeing the best in you and helping you see yourself in a grander light.  It’s you, recognizing the elements of your work for which you are grateful to do, or enjoy doing; and, identifying why. Once you infuse gratitude into your actions, your colleagues, your outcome, you can’t help but envelope yourself in warmth and acceptance that automatically allows you to see your goodness from a broader perspective. From that mindset, it’s much easier to OWN all your positive attributes, which then translates into a more positive and uplifted self assessment and performance review conversation.

For example, for me, I am most grateful to have helped so many women and professionals of color get promoted or find great jobs because they chose to own their unique greatness and dared to tell others about it. I reflect on what I did that supported these wonderful outcomes for my clients (creating content, persuading organizations to invest, delivering workshops, etc.). That retrospective always makes me feel happy and warm, because I love what I do. From that vantage point, I can account for my actions that created these positive results for my clients. As I practice gratitude for what was created, my humility or self-critic can take a back seat. As a result, I’m more willing to take ownership for all that I’ve done to create the outcomes for my clients. Even if you’ve had challenges or conflict at work, you can use gratitude — what did I learn? How did that help better the project? What was I able to overcome to make me a better professional?

Highly achieving professionals tend to hold themselves to a very high bar, so they’re more likely to downplay successes because it could have been better. But certain identities will further downplay their achievements. Professionals  from “humility cultures” (Asia, Africa, Middle East) are taught never to “boast” about themselves so taking credit for their work can feel improper and unrefined,  Yet that’s exactly what’s expected in a performance review. For Black individuals whose heritage stems from being enslaved, who experienced centuries of oppression, where they were told they were never good enough and whose claim to personal sovereignty was downright life threatening, owning their greatness is a unique challenge. That longstanding mindset affects how we see ourselves, how we claim our achievements, and feeling safe to do so.

The self-assessment and performance review, by definition, are imbued with cultural norms. It’s helpful to consider who created it? What were the creators’ expectations of claiming achievement, expressing competence, asking for personal growth? Historically, organizational systems were created, based on the cultural systems of European/Caucasians and gender norms of males. Understanding this implicit cultural perspective can help you make the performance review work for you.

What I know for sure is that self-gratitude stems from wholeness. With that mindset, we are free to enjoy all that we are, all that we’ve created…and make claim to the universe (employers included) that, indeed, I made that happen.