Sunday, August 14, 2011

Self-appraisals for in-house counsel -- there ought to be a law against that

OK, I'm guilty.  I have requested self-appraisals from the in-house counsel I supervised (and my bosses requested them from me).  A reasoned criticism of this "common performance management practice" was recently posted by Dick Grote in Let's Abolish Self-Appraisal.

Grote admonishes that self-appraisal use often leads to a misimpression -- on the part of both the employee and the supervisor -- that a performance review is a "negotiated" process.  "That's wrong.  A performance appraisal is a record of a supervisor's opinion of the quality of an employee's work," says Grote.

If a self-appraisal is dictated by your company's policy, then it's important that you let your direct reports know that you will be using it as a "way to gain information from the employee's point of view" and "as one of many data sources" to prepare your actual performance appraisal. 

In my experience, it's important to gather that data from the executives, managers, and other employees with whom your direct reports work.  And you should take the time to make it your appraisal, reflecting your impressions and direct observations, mixed in with information provided by your direct reports and corporate clients. 

You may feel that there is tension in this approach for in-house counsel, who typically enjoy (and have earned) a great degree of self-management.  Perhaps true, but you are the manager and must not abdicate your responsibilities for the ultimate evaluation of how your direct reports are performing in accordance with your expectations.  If you do otherwise, you may find it difficult to be

An alternative recommended by Grote, especially if self-appraisals are not mandated by your corporate employer, is to have your direct reports provide an informal list of their most important accomplishments and achievements during the appraisal period.  This may lead to less confusion than having them provide the "first draft" of the performance reivew.

Read the complete post and links to other resources at Let's Abolish Self-Appraisal.

This summary was prepared by Perry Cone and posted at

Legal Notice and Disclaimer

No comments: