Small Firm Life: Performance Reviews

This week I had my annual review at work.  In the days leading up to the review I was increasingly nervous about it, not because I thought it would be negative but because last year I had a very difficult time articulating my responses to the Managing Partner’s observations.  I felt so frustrated because as soon as I left the meeting I thought of a million things I could have said but did not.  I thought I was adequately prepared for the review because I had completed my Self Assessment and reviewed it before the meeting, but this was not sufficient. 

My co-workers laughed when I told them that this time I was “preparing for my review” but I am very happy that I did.  This year I wrote a list of responses to possible issues that would be brought up during my review and I practiced saying them.  I also made sure to cut and paste compliments from clients and case data into my Self-Assessment so that I would be able to demonstrate my accomplishments. 

 The difference between my review this year and last year is that I had a response to all of my boss’s comments.  In fact, in the few sections where he had checked off “Needs Improvement”, I got him to change the response to “Not Applicable” because he admitted he had never had the chance to observe me in those situations and his choice was based on perception but not actual knowledge.  The areas were Team Leadership and Explaining Legal Concepts to clients.    I then proceeded to explain to him that I really did want feedback in those areas and I hoped that he would take the time to either ask my team members for feedback or observe me with clients. I doubt that this will happen, because in the past two years it has not happened.  Sadly, I really do want feedback but at least I am glad I was prepared to defend myself. 

This year I displayed a level of confidence that I lacked last year and I know my boss was both impressed and taken back. Having practiced potential responses and having actual data on my Self Assessment helped me to take control of my Review.  I only hope that next year my boss will also prepare for my Review so that I can receive actual feedback and not just his perceptions.



Time after time, women are criticized for not having the confidence of their male counterparts.  I’m really inspired by how you took charge of the situation!

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