The accounting industry’s transformation has forced a rethink to how staff performance is measured.
Many firms have done away with timesheets and moved to value-pricing, technology advancements have improved efficiencies, and many accountants are working outside traditional hours of 9-5 or not in office at all. These are just some of the issues that mean time-tracking is no longer an effective way to track employee and project performance.
Managers are looking at new ways to determine how well staff meet expectations. Do they understand the firm's objectives? Are they meeting their personal goals? Are there any major issues that need to be addressed?
Your accounting firm should continually monitor and evaluate employees to ensure your firm is on the right track. Taking into consideration the changes we have seen in the profession and the changes that are still to come, here are five steps to measuring performance in your team.
#1 Set measurable goals and objectives
Many accounting firms are moving away from KPIs as the ultimate ruling on staff performance, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn't ask your team to set goals and objectives to help focus. If you haven’t already, consider the OKR method.
Whether your team adopts OKRs, KPIs or something else, they can all be tracked in Karbon. For each quarter create a piece of work to record the targets of each team member. Each staff member should add a number of objectives in a Checklist which they will aim to meet. You might choose to sort the checklists by individual, or by the categories you want the team to focus on, such as client service, acquisition, and productivity.
Throughout the quarter, staff can visit this piece of work to be reminded of what they need to achieve, and also see what their team members are working towards. At the end of the quarter, your team can go through each individual's objectives and discuss together how well they were achieved. It's also helpful to note next to each item how well it was achieved (along with a score out of 1.0).
After completion, this piece of work will be useful to look back on—for yourself and for your staff.
#2 View the firm’s wider progress
Measuring performance isn’t only about the individual. You’ll also want to look at how the team as a whole is tracking.
The Work overview of Karbon will show you all the major jobs going on throughout your team. Sort these to see what jobs are currently in progress, what is coming up, what has been completed, and what is overdue. In particular, you’ll want to look at these overdue items to see what caused the deadline to be missed.
You can also sort by individual, and see how specific members of the team who manage a large number of jobs are performing.
#3 Monitor how your staff treat clients
One of the most telling qualitative measures of your team’s output is the feedback from clients after a job has been completed, or as a client-relationship is progressing.
You can view all your team's communication related to a piece of work or a practice contact. Pay attention to what clients are saying to your staff, and how satisfied they are with the work that is being delivered to them.
At the same time, check how your staff communicate with clients. Are they writing in the friendly and professional tone you want your firm to portray? Are they responding promptly? Are any clients being neglected? All these issues are important measures of the service you are offering to your clients.
#4 Carry out a client survey
At regular periods, perhaps annually, you may wish to formalize your feedback by conducting a client survey. You can set up a digital survey using Typeform or Survey Monkey and email the link to your clients.
Responses will be tracked to help you identify specific issues and determine whether your firm is meeting client expectations.
#5 Focus on the individuals
At times you will also want to focus on the performance of specific members of your team. Use their Karbon To-do for this. Pay attention to how many tasks they are completing each week, what tasks they have planned, and any tasks that are dangerously close to their due date.
This can be used as a base for regular one-on-one catchups with each team member to discuss how they’re tracking. You can go over any issues you have identified, what issues they are experiencing, and any blockers they may have.
You need to be evaluating the performance of your team on an ongoing basis, and this should focus on all the areas you want your firm to excel in. If your firm is moving away from timesheets and towards flatter structures and flexible work arrangements, alternative methods to measure performance need to be found.
Karbon provides an effective tool to manage and track all of this that is not only suitable for the way your firm operates now, but will remain suitable as you evolve in the future.
To compare the challenges your firm is facing acquiring, training and retaining staff with accounting practices from around the world, download The talent challenge: insights from Karbon’s 2017 talent survey.