đź“ťRedefining Employee Evaluations: A Journey Towards Empowerment and Growthđź“ť

I can't say that I set THAT many New Years Resolutions...I want to get under 20% body fat, the firm has some goals, etc...but I didn't get that specific just for the holiday.

I did however pick a word of the year...or maybe a focus in one word.


Specifically, I want to have more patience.

I get bothered when things are unnecessarily difficult (hello physical signature or mailing things in), I hate repeating myself (just check the SOP/recording), I develop vendettas against the drivers of other vehicles (look, I am not going to Hulk out...BUT...why are you doing 40 in a 60 in the left lane and not moving over when there are multiple open lanes to your right?)...

Hell, I've even started watching movies at 1.5 speed (which to be fair, does REALLY fix the pacing issue of some movies and makes Bruce Lee look like the Flash).

Part of this year (or life-long) journey made me realize that my lack of patience is the other side of my time efficiency push. If I love something (or someone) it doesn't bother me to wait. If I enjoy doing something...there's no issue.

So this anger/boredom/disappointment I feel when I am out of patience has helped me try to figure out two things:

1) why it really bothers me - usually above, AND

2) what to do about it - e.g. apply my normal focus.

This led me to re-evaluate something I hate and have hated for years...EMPLOYEE EVALUATIONS.

Employee Evals in Theory

Let me be clear - evaluating your employees is something you should do for their benefit and yours.

99% of the time, rave about people in public and speak to them privately about issues.


I don't understand this weird concept of waiting 3 months to do it. And then it's awkward for everyone...and no one is incentivized to be honest because you don't want to dump a pile of complaints on them, and they don't want to blow their chance at a raise or bonus...

Imagine Cyclops trying to sit Wolverine down for an hour 4 times a year to go over where he didn't follow proper X-Men SOPs...I think he'd be no-clops pretty quickly.

So let's divorce the concept of employee evaluation from the way it's always been and TRULY make them valuable and helpful.

The Mindset Shift

I started by thinking about what I truly WANTED out of these meetings...ultimately it's better employees. Really it's them being better employees. Really, really it's them being the best versions of themselves in the roles they are assigned.

Because anything more than that is a pipe dream and a detriment to you AND them.

So now that I had that locked in, I turned the focus on me...specifically what could I do to make this happen.

And that led me to really take off my boss hat and put on my coach hat. How can I coach them and empower them to achieve more success and happiness while also moving the bottom line for the firm.

So I redid my questions and my format...feel free to tell me I am crazy, chime in with that I missed, or just steal these and hope we all find great success with them.

The Questions

I wanted to start off on a high note and get them opening up broadly.

-What work do you enjoy doing?
-What do you NOT enjoy doing here? I can't say I will ALWAYS take this off of their plate, but it helps me think about the new hire and their roles...for example my intake person let me know she hates marketing but does like keeping in touch with clients...so we swapped with our marketing person to give my intake person more clients calls and no lunches or events.

What is the biggest Problem you currently have in your role? Honestly, my staff usually tell me they love everything they do, so this is really a follow up to the prior question that gets them to open up.

-What can I do better to help with that?
-What can the firm do to help with that?

Yes, I specifically split up those questions because I want them to know that I am here for them AND that the whole firm is too.


But What About the Evaluation

Fine Nick Fury...the Avengers are Earth's Mightiest Heroes...not the most generally slight better than average ones

So we do review the KPIs they’re responsible for and discuss results.

I do this after the top questions to make sure they don’t just answer based upon their KPIs...they might be aware of their KPIs first and ideally the answers are related...but I don't want to force them into it.

And because I am pushing them to be the best version of themselves, we have to talk about change over time, so this next section goes into that.

What’s the biggest/best thing you learned since our last conversation?
What do you want to learn before our next chat?
Or what do you want to get better at? These are basically the same question, so you can skip this one if the top one gets enough answers. I just intentionally try to be more vague to see what they come up with and THEN move to a more specific question if I need to.

Then we end the evaluation section with
(review our core values and how they fit or don’t fit with them…try to be specific and story/example driven)

For my firm, our core values are:

We are DRIVEN by our Clients' Needs

We are DRIVEN to Provide the Best Client Experience Possible

We are DRIVEN by a Desire to be Better Everyday

We are DRIVEN to Succeed as a Team

We are DRIVEN to Connect with Those who Share our Values

To be honest, I don't love them as much as I used to...so we might tweak them (if/when this happens don't worry, you'll get a newsletter out of it).

But this is where I am following the EOS lead and making sure I have the right people in the right seats. Prior to this part it was about the seat, this section is to make sure they're the right person.

This is more the Jedi Counsel deciding a padawan should stay in the Order than it is them being assigned to a Jedi Knight for training.

Make Sure They Know They're Important

I originally wrote the title as "make sure they feel important"...then I realized that was bullshit...it's not a feeling, it's a truth.

What things does the Firm do that we should KEEP Doing?
Things we aren't doing that we should START doing?

It's easy to add stuff. Networking lunches are great, so let's do more. Client check-ins are great, so let's do them every week. Sending out bills is awesome, so let's do them every day...until you realize you have no idea to do anything else because you have too much on your plate.

How do you like being appreciated? (From languages of appreciation in the workplace) Not everyone wants a bonus, and some people HATE being cheered on in public.

How long do you plan to be here? (If forever then we talk about what role they see themselves working towards, if shorter time we discuss how to wrap up their job and replace them while helping them to their next step - which is usually law school for my people who leave)

Any events you would like us to do or events coming up that we can sponsor?
Any fun events you would like us to do as a firm?

Because why not empower them to steer the ship a bit? Plus, they find amazingly fun events. Recently we did ziplining and the staff member whose idea it was ended up being terrified and quit part of the way through, but it was SOOOOO funny to hear her remind everyone that yes it was her idea for us to do this as she left the rest of the team to finish the zips? the lines? the zipping? Whatever you call them.

Catch-All Questions (Meta!)

Anything else you want me to know?

Were there any questions I didn't ask that I should have asked?

What can I do to be better? (again, I want to learn just as much as I want to teach or guide)

2-3 Major Rocks for This Quarter


We would then work the rocks into our weekly meeting and go from there before we report on each Rock and their KPIs at the next meeting.

And please, please, please BOOK THE NEXT MEETING NOW!!!!

That's the easiest way to get this to stick instead of forgetting about it and then ending up going 2 years between quarterly evals.

I would say keep this up and pretty soon you'll have your own cadre of Justice League worthy employees to save the Universe (or at least to run your law firm so well that it brings you and them AND your clients much joy).  But honestly, this is only round 2 of the redo for me...so stay tuned and I will update as we go.

And seriously - feel free to tell me I am crazy, chime in with what I missed, or just steal these and hope we all find great success with them.


Upgrade Your Life.

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