Do the words “performance review” cause you anxiety? They don’t have to if you know what to prepare!
Whether you are a senior lawyer, junior lawyer, or in-house counsel, having a process to prepare for your review will not only help to alleviate anxiety but will also allow you to take control of your career. Once you figure out the key elements of preparation and the timing of them, you’ll be able to plan ahead and possibly even enjoy the process.
Here are five things you’ll need to show up like a boss:
- Know what you want: I’ve noticed that many approach performance reviews passively in the sense that they believe the singular focus is to get feedback. While that is partly true, performance reviews are also an opportunity to check in about your overall career development and to give feedback to your employer about how things are going from your perspective. If you have something in mind (like a raise, promotion, or request to test out another practice area), plan around that and get your story of “why” ready. I recently helped a senior associate in a small law firm prepare to ask to become a partner at his performance review. We worked on his narrative to make a convincing pitch, and it worked!
- Get the data: no matter whether you are primarily seeking feedback at your review or have something specific that you’re pursuing, get the facts and statistics. This may seem obvious (like billed hours or new business that you brought in), but don’t overlook things like your pro-bono work or the number of articles you have written to raise the profile of your employer.
- Accept criticism with courage: take advantage of these reviews to identify areas of improvement that will assist you in your own professional development. No one is perfect. If you don’t want to be caught by surprise, conduct your own self-assessment of what you have done well and what needs to improve. This will reduce any defensiveness and impress your employer.
- Stand up for yourself: if you don’t agree with the feedback, explain why and gather the data to support your position. You may need to set up a follow-up meeting. If you don’t understand the feedback, seek clarification. You should never be forced to sign a summary of your performance review when you disagree with, or don’t understand, its contents.
- Don’t focus on the negative: focus on your strengths to overcome any obstacles. If you’re looking for an objective measure of what they are, take a strengths survey (by registering for free) here.
If you’re looking for more help with your performance reviews, check out my previous articles:
- Performance Review
- “O” is for why this is going to be an “outstanding” associate evaluation season!
- “F” is for “Focus” Your Mind on This!
- “E” is for Taking the Frustration Out of Associate “Evaluations”
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