How Does Your Firm Measure Success?
 
Jennifer Wilson

More Results from our 2015 Anytime, Anywhere Survey

We are enormous proponents of anytime, anywhere work programs. This past spring, we conducted our 2015 Anytime, Anywhere Work Survey and began publishing the results in an ongoing blog series (read the “big picture” results here and the benefits firms are realizing with flex here). In the survey, we asked firms if they have implemented performance measures for staff that are based on something other than time. In this blog, we’ll explore the feedback we received related to the measures firms are using to gauge success and how those play into a firm’s anytime, anywhere work culture.

We were very pleased to see that 42% of the 155 firms surveyed have implemented measures on something other than time and another 17% are considering doing so. This is up from the 39% who were using non-time based measures and the 13% who were thinking about it in 2014.

For those who had implemented performance measures for staff based on elements other than time, we then asked them to describe their performance measures. Summarizing the wonderful narratives respondents shared with us, there were five essential elements that serve as the basis for performance measurement, with metrics being the far-and-away leader, followed by the firm’s competency model, evaluations, written goals and then core values-based goals.

As we’ve summarized the characteristics on which respondents base their performance measures, not surprisingly, the number one characteristic measured was individual financial performance measures. One respondent shared, “We have changed our performance focus from hours to revenue commitment. The idea is that we need a revenue commitment from our…staff, but the hours needed to create that revenue are not as important and allow for flexibility.”

The top characteristics measured other than time, with a few respondent comments in italics were:

  • Individual financial performance (19 respondents)
    • “Revenue Production” (5)
    • “Realization rate” (3)
    • “Profitability”
    • “Billed amounts”
  • Technical ability (18 respondents)
  • Client service/client management (17 respondents)
    • “Great client feedback”
  • Marketing/business development (17 respondents)
    • “Community involvement”
    • “Leadership in business-related organizations”
    • “Participation in professional associations”
    • “Cross-selling and promotion of new clients”
  • Turnaround time/deadlines met or missed/efficiency (9 respondents)
    • “The amount of rework”
    • “We value bill, so we don’t use timesheets anyway. We look primarily at turnaround times & utilization rates”
  • People development (9 respondents)
    • “Helping others grow”

We were disappointed to see people development measures ranking mid-way through the measures list, especially in light of the talent shortage we’re facing as a profession. I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to read my blog imploring you not to pay lip service to people development, which happens if you don’t measure and reward it as a part of your firm’s success criteria.

Other interesting success measures firms mentioned include contributions to firm initiatives like serving on committees and heading up team events and leadership presence, professionalism, positivity and flexibility in thinking. Some firms put a priority on professional growth, including demonstrating learning by reading business books to further knowledge.

This respondent comment reflects the growth-mindset needed to embrace anytime, anywhere work and alternative measures:

“We are looking at core competencies and key behaviors. We are increasingly focused on results/outcome and individual growth as opposed to the traditional concept of how many chargeable hours does one have. Of course we still struggle with baby boomer partners who insist value is based on hours in, only.”

Moving away from using only or primarily time-based measures is a critical component to supporting flexible work programs that allow for non-traditional work hours arrangements. Some quick tips to help you get there:

  • Develop written, specific measureable goals for each person on your team focused on the things you most need them to accomplish in the coming year. Ideally, measure no more than 3 to 5 elements per person.
  • If you still plan to use a charge-hour goal to measure success, combine it with a realization goal so that you are at least incenting your team members to only enter quality chargeable hours that can be billed and collected and to deliver work efficiently.
  • Measure revenue produced (billed and collected) or managed (for mid-range and upper-level leaders) instead of hours billed.
  • Measure practice building, future-capacity activities and results including people mentored and developed, new business developed, expanded business sold to existing clients, participation in leadership roles and more.

Clarifying how success will be measured and basing those measures on something other than time is yet another piece of the puzzle of creating a future-ready, anytime, anywhere work culture. In our next blog in this series, Renee Moelders will relate all that we learned about the technology that firms are using to enable flexible programs.

In the meantime, how is your firm measuring success? What challenges do you have moving those measures away from time? We’d love to hear from you!

Gratefully,

 

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