Consider nonfinancial metrics when compensating partners

Featuring Allan Koltin, CPA, CGMA, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group

Video transcript:

We are in the people business, right? So the ability to not just recruit but to retain and grow talent, how do you measure that? You measure it through an upward evaluation. And that’s where you can look at 20, 30 different leadership characteristics of what a role-model partner should be doing with talent day in and day out. And you can begin to see separation in those partners that are great communicators, great trainers, great motivators. They are really viewed by the staff as their sponsor when a headhunter calls and makes an offer [for] $10,000 more down the street. They don’t leave because they’ve got a good sponsor.

So measuring if you will — you know the old adage, if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it and if you don’t manage it, you can’t improve upon it. So the first one is the use of upward evaluations. The second one is really partner-peer evaluations. And this is a series of practice management questions in terms of everything from good hygiene — you know, the partners, are they role models? Do they treat their other partners with respect? Are they responsive? Do they put in the necessary hours, if that’s a criteria? Are they team players? Are they willing to help out? It’s the things you can’t measure in the statistics, but you know which one of your partners, when you are in a bunker and you need somebody to cover your backside, you know which ones are there for you. So partner-peer surveys are incredible and will produce a lot of good information on the things you just can’t measure in the traditional metrics.

The third one is client satisfaction surveys. And, you know, where I think we have moved this from the long, once-a-year, once-every-other-year survey — which is a little bit like the Titanic, it’s a little like molasses — to continual through email, monthly or quarterly short surveys — two, three, four questions. Did you get value for the fees you paid? Was there anybody on the engagement team that did a great job? Was there anybody on the engagement team that didn’t do such a good job? Would you refer other clients to us? Is there anything that me as the managing partner or chief marketing officer, whoever is administering the survey, that you would like to talk to us. Point of impact, immediate. If a client has a bad experience and you are waiting nine more months to find that out, guess what, the client won’t be there to tell you. They’ll already be at another firm. So those are the big three: upward evaluations, partner-peer surveys, client satisfaction surveys.

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