A talent tool that all general counsel should understand is the 360-degree assessment (See my post of Dec. 26, 2007: worries about confidentiality of 360s and five references cited.). Assessments are available for specific companies and certain industries, but I do not know of one designed specifically for law departments. A piece in Talent Mgt., July 2007 at 23, reviews the talent-development tool and makes several useful points.
“The true value of the 360 is that it can show individuals how their self perception differs from the perceptions of others.” They can reveal personal blind spots.
A general counsel might want to invest in 360s for every lawyer to create a composite view of the department. There may be training that ought to be done throughout. Smart general counsel realize cultural change starts with individual change, and they can complement those changes with a departmental development strategy.
Do not use the 360 to identify poor performers nor should you use them to compensate for poor managerial feedback.
If you conduct a 360, it should be part of a broader talent-development system.
It is important that you be able to easily administer the survey online as well is that the feedback reports be easy to understand. “In most cases, feedback is best understood and received when presented in a one-on-one situation by a qualified reviewer (ideally, a personal coach) who understands the feedback in advance.”
The article also suggests that you start with your direct reports and then, if that experience was constructive, spread the instrument more widely.