Your appraisal is a chance for you and your manager to discuss your performance. For some people, the prospect of a performance review can cause them to worry. If you fall into this group and feel nervous about your appraisal, try to think of it as an opportunity to review your progress, get valuable feedback from your manager and set goals to help you get to where you want to be in your legal career.
Here are our top appraisal tips to help you get the most out of yours.
It’s essential to put in some time to prepare beforehand. Review your objectives from your last appraisal and assess whether you’ve met these, how you’ve developed and what you’ve achieved since then.
If this is your first appraisal in your role, think about the things you’ve done in your time at the firm that you’re most proud of. Have you successfully handled a tricky or unusual case? Did you go above and beyond for a client? Or have you been involved in lots of business development and helped to grow the profile of the team?
If you’re aiming to get a promotion, think about ways in which you’ve demonstrated the skills and behaviours needed to reach the next rung of the ladder. Come to your appraisal readily armed with examples. This will make it as easy as possible for your manager or supervisor to evaluate your performance and whether you’re ready to step up in your role.
Not only that but reflecting on your achievements beforehand will give you a boost of confidence going into your appraisal, which will only help you perform better during the meeting.
Consider your goals
Think about what you’d like to achieve in the short-to-medium term and consider how your current firm can help you get there. If you know that you’ll need to undertake specific training to help you reach these goals, research what this will involve so you can share this with your manager.
It might also be useful to think about what drives you in your career. Often these motivations are linked to aspects of our personal life. If you’d like to move house or start a family, for example, this might motivate you to succeed in your role as a lawyer. It’s also likely to impact how much you’d ideally like to earn, which is something that might also come up during your appraisal, so it’s important to think about your financial goals too.
Think about what you’d like to ask your manager
Your appraisal is a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with your manager and talk about how you can grow in your role in a way that will benefit you both. Would you like to ask if you can start dealing with a more varied caseload, or would you like to do more business development? Or you might like to ask what you can do to make your manager’s life easier. Think about what you’d like to find out during your appraisal ahead of time so that the conversation is as fruitful as possible.
While on the face of it, your performance and progression are the focus, an appraisal is also an opportunity for an open and honest dialogue between you and your manager.
If you have ideas for how your role could be improved, how your manager could better support you or even how the wider team could work better, this is your chance to speak up and share your opinion. This is a good way of getting noticed and showing your commitment to the team and the firm.
Clarify your objectives
If you set any goals with your manager during the meeting, make sure you fully grasp exactly what these are and what will be expected of you. If objective-setting isn’t part of your appraisal, clarify with your manager what your priorities will be for the next 12 months so you’re clear about the direction you’re heading in and your part within the team and the wider firm.
Reflect on how it went
Afterwards, take some time to review your notes and think about how your appraisal went. If your manager asked for any follow-up information, send this over promptly. Evaluate your new objectives and make a plan of action so you understand how you’re going to meet them.