Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 8

PRACTICE MANAGEMENT

MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS
OF ANNUAL REVIEWS
By Geoffrey B. Gilbert

W

hether you own a law firm, work for a private firm,
or are employed within an organization's legal
department, performance reviews are a routine part of
the workplace. Most managers spend hours reviewing
their direct reports. Goals for improvement are set.
Bonuses and raises are awarded. But, once the process
is over, how much follow-up really happens?
For those conducting reviews, what guarantees do you have that your direct
reports will make the requested adjustments? For those being reviewed, are
you cheating yourselves if you don't follow through with those requests?
Far too often, I hear about supervisors who conduct annual reviews, award
bonuses or raises, and stop there. During the year, people are preoccupied
with their day-to-day responsibilities and forget about the points raised during
the annual review - until the next round of reviews comes around. Typically,
little progress is made, and both parties can remain dissatisfied.
Following up on the recommended improvements and implementing those
changes is in the best interest of all involved. Here are three suggestions on
how to hit a home run with this year's annual reviews.
1. If you are leading a review, create accountability.
After you have reviewed someone and given them a bonus or a raise, that
person has little incentive to improve if there is no immediate follow-up. The
likelihood is that they, and you, will soon get overwhelmed with other work.
Nothing will change without accountability.
This year, resolve to improve the process. During the review, discuss the recommended changes with your staff member or attorney. Together, brainstorm a list of steps needed to make each change so that your direct report
leaves with a concrete plan. Ask your staff member for regular progress
reports, be they biweekly or monthly. After the meeting, schedule monthly
or quarterly follow-up meetings to assess progress. Otherwise, you leave the
results to chance and the staff member's personal initiative.
Following this process sets you and your direct report up for success. The
partners I coach report that they typically see steady improvement and
a higher level of motivation from their direct reports as a result. If not, at
least there is a record of discussions that can be referenced.
2. If you are being reviewed, take responsibility.
If your performance is being evaluated, immediately write down the
requested changes. Take the initiative to schedule and send biweekly or
monthly progress reports to show your reviewer that you have taken his or
her recommendations to heart and are making the changes. Whether you
agree or disagree with the recommendations, it is your job to carry out the
firm's wishes.
8

WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

MARCH 2019

*

APRIL BRINGS NEW PRACTICE
MANAGEMENT EXPERTS
In the April issue of Washington Lawyer, we'll debut fresh insights from
D.C. Bar practice management experts Dan Mills and Rochelle
Washington. The Practice Management Advisory Service provides
free, strictly confidential in-person and hands-on guidance to Bar
members. For details, visit dcbar.org.

Whether you are a new or seasoned attorney, it is crucial to find out what your
law firm wants from you as well as what your direct supervisor expects. When
I speak with groups of attorneys, I encourage them to write down their firm's
expectations and to report regularly on their progress. Employers value those
who accomplish what they have been asked to do.
Recently, an attorney who was not in good standing at his firm came to me for
help. He was so busy with day-to-day work that he was unable to respond to
recommended changes in how he performed that work. After several coaching
sessions, the attorney was able to better manage his workload so that he had
time to ask his direct supervisor and the managing partner for specific ways
to become a better contributor. I recommended that he treat his supervisors'
requests as he treats requests from a judge. He did so, and within a month he
began getting kudos from colleagues about his contributions.
Instead of fighting what your employer wants, welcome the feedback and work
to make the changes. Both you and the firm will benefit.
3. No reviewer? Conduct your own review.
If you aren't scheduled for a review, conduct your own. This goes for firm owners,
managing partners, attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants, and administrative staff.
The purpose is to get an honest assessment of yourself as a professional and to
continue improving.
Consider asking respected colleagues for feedback about how you could do a
better job. If you're not comfortable doing this or aren't sure where to start,
contact me for suggestions.
Many call this leadership. No matter where they fit in a firm's hierarchy, strong
leaders don't need a boss or an annual review process to encourage them to
grow. Leaders set goals, break them down into steps, and get those steps done.
A better annual review process helps you and your firm grow. Most of us are well
aware that there are many things we could be doing better. If we want our teams
to improve, we need to lead by example and improve our own skills.
What choice will you make? Will you change the annual review process for your
firm? Will you change your response to your annual review? Will you commit to
a self-review? I hope so. I think we owe it to ourselves and to our clients.
Geoffrey B. Gilbert is a member of the D.C. Bar and a long-time executive coach for
attorneys. Reach him at geoff@coachforexecutives.com.


https://www.dcbar.org/bar-resources/practice-management-advisory-service/ http://www.dcbar.org http://www.dcbar.org/

Washington Lawyer - March 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
The Women's Wave & Its Effects on Politics
Features: #Me Too & A Time Of Reckoning for the Law
Feature: Righting The Gender Imbalance In Big Law
Feature: A Day in The Life of Two Women Lawyers
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask The Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Efect
Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - The Women's Wave & Its Effects on Politics
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Features: #Me Too & A Time Of Reckoning for the Law
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Feature: Righting The Gender Imbalance In Big Law
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Feature: A Day in The Life of Two Women Lawyers
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Ask The Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 42
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - The Pro Bono Efect
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 48
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover4
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