In-house lawyers: appraising and coaching members of the team
In-house lawyers: appraising and coaching members of the team

The following In-house Advisor practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • In-house lawyers: appraising and coaching members of the team
  • Approaching appraisals positively
  • Dealing with awkward issues
  • Following-up post-appraisal
  • Reviewing objectives regularly
  • Encouraging staff to bring solutions/suggestions not just problems
  • Using others to coach and mentor

Approaching appraisals positively

In many organisations, appraisals (in the sense of an exchange orchestrated by the HR function) are only held once a year. However as the team leader, you are appraising your staff throughout the year by observing their behaviour and how others interact with them, having one-on-one conversations with them about the challenges they face, and informal conversations with the business colleagues they support. Appraisal sessions should pull all the threads together and not be the moment of revelation of dissatisfaction.

It can send a very negative message if the impression is given that appraisals are an imposition—they are an important way of demonstrating commitment to a team member’s performance and personal development.

You clearly have to conform with whatever process requirements your HR department stipulates, but here are a few suggestions:

  1. let your staff know in advance any specific questions you will pose

  2. ask them to nominate their most and least appreciative clients so you can talk to them

  3. fix a time you are confident of keeping and which perhaps gives an opportunity to have lunch together after the more formal session

  4. hold the session in a meeting room, rather than your office (if you have one)

  5. consider this running order:

    1. start by reviewing their successes or improved approaches

    2. review their frustrations and concerns

    3. discuss feedback from business and legal colleagues

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