We do annual reviews of all staff including lawyers. Prior to the reviews we ask every lawyer to complete a performance review on every staff member they interact with, this includes administration staff. All partners and the administrator plus the primary assigned assistant prepare reviews of lawyers.
The managing HR partner and I review the reviews. We then create an adhoc list of items to discuss positive and negative with the staff. At the annual review we encourage staff to share their thoughts of what is going on in their life both personally and professionally. In general without naming names we share comments, positive and negative with staff members.
Throughout the year we spend time, one on one, with staff recognizing birthdays, anniversaries and personal challenges. Dealing with any performance issues as they arise rather than waiting until the annual performance. We hope in doing this that we create an environment of caring and professional growth. We feel this policy helps reduces the number of surprises when negative issues are reviewed at the annual review.
Although our policy is only a few years old, we have received positive feedback from employees about the process.