It’s that time of year again – in addition to year-end deals and pouring over your budget for the next year, you are tasked with putting together the performance reviews for your legal team. If your company has a set process in place, you’re lucky – someone in Human Resources will likely help you.  If, however, you are the GC of a smaller company or a smaller legal team, the performance review process might be more daunting for you. 

A way to simplify the process is by having your team members – including your administrative staff – put together self-evaluations. Self-evaluations are great for many reasons, but here are the top three: 

  1. Work is done for you. Having a thorough self-evaluation by each of your team members gets you half way through the evaluation process.  In other words, instead of you trying to remember what the members of your team worked on during the year, your team will now provide that information for you.  A good self-evaluation will get your team to list a) what they worked on during the year, b) what their strengths and weaknesses are, c) what their goals are for the next year, and d) any other issues they (and you) would like to address. When it comes time for the review meeting with your team member, or for writing a summary of their performance to distribute, you can use the self-evaluation to draw from and as talking points for the meeting. 

  2. Helps plan for the next year. Providing a space in the self-evaluation for your team to discuss what they would like to accomplish for the next year will help you prioritize your own goals for your legal team. Or, to put it a different way, helping them voice their goals will encourage them to try to line their goals up with your (or the Company’s) goals. Also, you will likely get a sense from them how committed they are with respect to the long-term.  If they can’t articulate their goals at the Company, perhaps this might raise a red flag that they are not happy or they might be seeking alternative employment opportunities. At the very least, it will open a dialogue about where they see themselves in the future of the Company.

  3. Engagement of your team. In addition to the direct benefits a self-evaluation will have on saving you precious time, one of the greatest benefits to your staff is that it will keep them engaged in their own professional development. The self-evaluation gives them a voice in their own development and path in the Company. It gives your team a sense of pride in what they accomplished as it forces them to reflect and think about all they have done throughout the year.  

    You can even take it a step further and provide a section in the self-evaluation where they can offer suggestions to enhance the legal department. This is especially useful if you are new to the GC role. Because many of your team members came from another company or law firm, they have likely seen other initiatives at work and can comment on how successful they may be.

While it does require work on the part of your staff to put together, the benefits of doing a self-evaluation outweigh not doing it. It is a powerful professional development tool for your legal team and for you.