Surviving a bad performance review

You can't avoid professional criticism. You may have strong opinions as to the innate fairness of the appraisal process. You may be unfairly damaged and have documents to prove it. You may be thinking that you're being criticized for stuff that happened months ago and is no longer relevant. Regardless, the criticism hurts and remains potentially lethal as long as it sits in some partner's drawer, already signed off on by other partners. Well, if you've ever felt abused by the performance-review process, you're not alone. Such heart-to-heart talks trouble everybody. What you need is a survival strategy to deal with performance appraisals. Otherwise, they can drive you nuts.

Then there is this alarming news: As law firms continue to be operated more like businesses (as opposed to being run like private men's clubs), the performance appraisal becomes an important tool for weeding people out as well as identifying top performers. According to Ellen Wayne of the New York Law Journal, "Evaluations have taken on an importance they never had before. Associates are not only judged on the basis of their work skills and performance targets, but now have the added anxiety that termination could be the result of a less-than-glowing review."