Performance management for success

The senior partner of a five partner solicitor practice was finding it increasingly difficult to manage the performance of the business

The challenge

This was because of:

  • Poor management information
  • Erratic recovery rates
  • Underperforming fee earners
  • High historic salary expectations

The initial overview assessment revealed key strengths in the knowledge and skills of the individual partners and a high quality client base. The client satisfaction levels were high and support staff were well trained and motivated to provide excellent customer service. In general, it was a nice place to work.

However, the senior partner knew that overall financial performance was slowly failing – and needed to address the situation sooner rather than later. Their current management information was historic and whilst costs were generally well managed, the time cost allocations for each fee earner bore little resemblance to actual billed and paid work – especially after disbursements and related ‘on-costs’ were deducted.

Our approach

The performance management process for the practice as a whole was revised and the new framework provided:

  • Individual key performance indicators (KPIs) for each fee earner
  • Alignment of objectives across the practice
  • Clarity of performance level expectations
  • Real-time budgets and forecasts for pipeline income
  • A reward / bonus structure linked to performance

The result

They now have quarterly planning meetings and each partner presents their own mini business plan for the next six months covering:

  • Pipeline work
  • Business development activities ( e.g. networking, proactive contact strategy for existing clients and prospects etc)
  • Opportunities to exploit
  • Challenges to expect
  • Additional support needed from the team

They are now all singing from a very clear hymn sheet – and a ‘nice place to work’ is now a 'nice, successful place to work’.