Getting honest performance feedback is an important developmental tool. Attorney managers often feel uncomfortable giving negative feedback to their lawyers, even if it’s constructive. And newer lawyers assume that “no news is good news”: if you don’t get criticism, you are probably doing “okay”. But without feedback communication, nobody improves; the managers get frustrated and new attorneys get the feeling that “something’s wrong”, but have no idea why.
There are several stages involved in hearing and accepting feedback:
Denial: “They’re wrong—I’m a hard worker! I do my job! I’m a good lawyer!”
Anger: “Why are they picking on me? It’s the other guy who’s screwing up! They’re out to get me!”
Depression: “I’ll never be good enough! What am I going to do?”
Acceptance: “OK, even if I disagree, somehow, the clients have this impression of me—I need to look behind the criticism and learn what I need to do to change that impression.”
Getting to acceptance is the important thing—once you’re there, you can address the issues and learn what you need to learn to improve.
We can work through this together so you know how to ask for the feedback you need and get the most from it.