Getting the most out of the appraisal process

Anthony Brooke

At this stage in your legal career you will be familiar with the appraisal process that seems to occupy every waking moment between the beginning of November and the end of January.

For an appraisal system to be successful, it has to be focused on two main aims – helping the individual to make the best of their abilities and helping the firm to get the most out of its people.

How to get ahead

What really determines if you get ahead is whether or not people view you as capable of taking direction to hone the skills you have. Nobody leaves law school as a fully proficient professional. You need to be able to respond and adapt to guidance in order to develop as a lawyer. If you engage with the appraisal process properly, you can utilise the exercise as a tool that provides key pointers for success and will lead to you being a star in the making.

While it may be easy to dismiss the appraisal process as something that is more useful and valuable for junior staff, performance reviews can be the per­fect opportunity to lay a foundation and consider your career path, and for planning your development strategy in terms of advancement within the firm. Performance reviews today are less about how a person matches their “job description” rather are multi-layered to reflect key personal and professional competencies that are key to an organisation and your success within it.

Preparation is key

Knowing what you have done well and being able to put strategies into place to address areas where you may need to improve will demonstrate to your firm that you have been proactive in terms of your development by the time the next review comes around.

Constantly evaluate your performance and how you are perceived by internal and external stakeholders alike. Start keeping a record of your wins, be proactive and meet regularly with your manager to re-affirm your devel­opment plan with prioritised, action-based solutions. In doing so you will have a more open, honest relationship with your manager, thereby helping you achieve your career goals.

Strive for more

An effective performance appraisal process can be an extremely valuable tool for any organisation, but in many of them the process has overshadowed the effect. Simply filling out forms and conducting interviews does not measure employee performance. Make sure you are not sabotaging the effectiveness of your appraisals.

That being said, simply increasing activity in the run up to an appraisal is not the best approach; rather you should be maintaining this level of effort throughout the year. Set yourself key review dates on a monthly or quarterly basis to ascertain whether you’re consistently working towards the goals and objectives that you have agreed, little by little you’ll find yourself making progress towards your final aim.

Don’t be deterred

Perhaps you missed out on a pro­motion or an increase in your salary this time. Do not let this deter you. Appraisals are the perfect opportunity to set key milestones and identify potential future opportunities identified so that, next time, you won’t be overlooked.

If you’d like any advice from our experienced consultants or career coaches about how Brooke Thornham can help then please get in touch.


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