I'm a mid-level engineer who's struggling with some performance issues at work. A staff engineer on my team has taken notice and has been very generous with offering help and advice, to the extent of basically handholding me through my projects. While I truly appreciate the help, I'm wondering if this will be seen as a negative signal during performance evaluation since I'm supposed to be operating 'independently' at this level.
It'll be viewed less as a negative sign for you, and more as a positive sign for the staff engineer. They'll be able to take credit for helping a mid-level engineer succeed, which is pretty powerful for their case to transition to management, or benefits on the people axis.
I don't see how this situation will hurt you, especially if you're hitting all the goals your manager set for you. (i.e. no way you'll get an MM rating) However, I do think this level of involvement will cap your rating. If the perception is that you needed a lot of hand-holding, your promo case to E5 is harder now, and the case for GE is also much harder.
This can be a double-edged sword, but I strongly agree with Rahul that this is a very good thing. The positive edge is much stronger than the negative edge.
The important thing to realize here is that the best way to become independent is to be extremely dependent for a short period of time, which I talk more about in this Q&A. I'll expand more on this idea with an example and what you can do to properly capitalize on it.
What you should do: