Finding feedback can be challenging because it comes in a variety of settings and from some unexpected sources. It may be formal, informal, unheralded, unscheduled, and delivered by anyone from the most senior attorney to the most junior clerical assistant. Finding feedback may be challenging because delivering it is not part of an an employer’s culture. If lawyers in private practice get no billing credit for training and evaluation, persuading someone to commit otherwise billable time to it may be tough. Failing to provide feedback shows a supreme lack of professionalism, and an ill-placed faith in the performance of otherwise untrained subordinates. Take heart: A wise man once told me that he could always tell if he was doing all right at work if no one was yelling at him.
Finding feedback: decoding & deconstructing
Whether it is formal or informal, review is on-going and people are making judgments. Your ultimate success may be measured by your ability to identify issues and take corrective action even when no one sits down with you to discuss problems. Listen carefully to all conversations with anyone who reviews your work or with whom you interact.
Finding feedback: sourcing
Although you may work for splendid lawyers who provide sound advice and impeccable service, they may not be particularly good teachers. They may be reluctant to be critical and unwilling to deliver useful, detailed reviews of your work. If they won’t talk to you, pay particular attention to their mark-ups. Get a copy of the document as filed and compare it with what you submitted. After your review, go back with specific questions.
Finding feedback: A really soft skill
If this sounds as if you may be managed by telepathy, you are correct. Management by Telepathy or by the Power of Unexpressed Suggestion is rampant in most organizations. Don’t expect lawyers to have well-honed management skills: they went to law school where the “M” word is rarely spoken.