Leadership Exchange - August/September 2011 - (Page 13)

There are basically three forms of performance appraisals: • Qualitative-Subjective information and assessment, these appraisals are based on feelings and compare the supervisor’s job expectation with the employee’s. (e.g., A secretary might rate her typing speed of 65 w.p.m. as good while an attorney would rate her job performance as below average in typing.) • Quantitative- Objective and objective appraisals that are based on objective information and measures.(e.g., An individual secretary’s typing speed would be evaluated based on knowledge of the typing speed of all other secretaries in the firm.) • Blended- A combination of the qualitative and quantitative. • Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS) • Checklists • Confidential Report • Essay Evaluation • Forced Ranking • Management By Objective (MBO) • Paired Comparison • Self-evaluation • 360 Degree There are more than a dozen types of performance appraisals used by American employers including (but not limited to): Some of the appraisal methods available are complex requiring hours of preparation and education for both the appraisers and staff and rarely used in small to mid-size companies. In evaluating law firm staff, some of the purposes of performance appraisal such as career development and promotion are not relevant. Legal staff salaries are generally flat within both the office and the industry. Law firm staff increases are often budgeted before evaluation results are available and in these instances appraisals are of limited benefit in setting compensation or being perceived as useful by staff. Qualitative checklist are most traditionally used by law firms to evaluate both associates and non-attorney staff although some firms use essay evaluations or a combination of checklist and essay for associates. Simple one to three page checklist forms rating skill, productivity and attitude of staff are almost always based on subjectivity of one or two attorneys and the Office Manager. Even when staff communicates their opinions via self-evaluations, the mandated annual or semi-annual performance appraisals are often merely endured and rarely viewed as helpful or positive. Some firms have attempted (not always successfully) to use the 360 degree performance appraisal to provide confidential and anonymous feedback to partners from associates and/or staff to provide professional growth to partners. In other firms, 360 degree appraisAugust / September 2011 For a prompt response, e-mail HR questions or issues to jan.c.christensen@gmail.com or call 310-480-3774. The author is not an attorney and does not engage in rendering legal or tax counseling through this publication. No statement in this article should be interpreted as legal or tax advice. als help evaluate associates approaching partnership consideration. There are many pitfalls to this form of appraisal and firms should undertake them very carefully. The MBO appraisal technique has, until recently, been primarily used in law firms for administrative managers. This method provides employees a comprehensive understanding of the firm’s goals as well as the duties and contributions expected of the employee in achieving those goals. A collaborative performance goal setting when coupled with potential rewards (achievement bonus) can result in stronger employee loyalty and commitment. The recent recession has prompted many law firms to seek alternatives to “lock step” compensation plans and motivated them to search for more objective appraisal techniques. A few law firms have attempted to utilize MBO to establish training programs for young lawyers that rank experience levels of associates in lieu of categorizing associates by using the law school class year. When disputes arise between employees or former employees, performance appraisals can be a two edge sword. More than one law firm manager has experienced an occasion when an attorney demanded an immediate termination of an employee who only had appraisal forms in the file with “average” or “above average” ratings. When appraisal forms contain subjective narrative, even well-meaning feedback may sometimes be construed as discriminatory. Business would be best served by first determining the objectives of employee evaluation and then selecting the best technique to accomplish that objective. 13 http://www.certifiedusa.net

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Leadership Exchange - August/September 2011

Leadership Exchange - August/September 2011
Robert Half Legal
Member Connection Campaign
President's Message
Editor’s Message
Region 6 Officers
August Calendar
September Calendar
Save The Dates
September Chapter Meeting Notice
2011 Justice Jog Law Firm Challenge
Human Resources
Certified Document Storage & Destruction
Business Partner/Member Mixer | Justice Jog Kick-Off
Members-In-Transition Welcomes You
GLA ALA Section Reports
American Language Services
Merrill Corporation
New Members & Member Updates
Region 6 Conference
New Member Spotlight
New Member Drive Contest
Information Technology
June Chapter Meeting Recap
New Member Orientation Invite
Community Outreach Program
2011 Justice Jog
First Legal Network
Past-Presidents Evening Seminar Recap
Iron Mountain
Special Counsel
SOS — Succeed Over Stress
Innovative Computing Systems
GLA ALA Essay Contest
Board of Directors
Office Space Available Ad
Esquire Innovations, Inc.
Ricoh Legal/Ikon
Pride of Los Angeles
Technology Tip
CBM Services
Davidson Legal Staffing
Coach’s Corner
ESP Legal Technology
Business Partner Spotlight
ALA Webinars
ALA Legal Marketplace

Leadership Exchange - August/September 2011