Large institutional firms are generally more organised than small firms in the employee review process. But there’s no reason why small firms can’t do it just as well.
Here are some tips…
Make your annual reviews part of your annual forward budgeting process.
In other words, plan your costs and fees in the one exercise. When fees are in the conversation, it’s easier to focus partner attention.
Have some internal guidelines that will help you to be consistent.
For example: What type of firms do you benchmark against; What do you see as appropriate fee multipliers for each level; do you pay ‘over salary’ rewards for particular results; and so on?
Set up your reviews as a two-step process.
Step 1 is a structured interview (preferably with the Managing Partner) about how the firm is going and how the employee sees themselves going against any personal goals. This provides context for any money conversation. Show that you take their feedback seriously.
Step 2 is about money, conditions and a structured offer (based on your prior analysis of what the firm can afford).
Employees will place a lot of store in how professionally and sincerely you go about all this.
It goes without saying that cancelling a review on 5 minutes’ notice because you’ve decided to go to lunch isn’t a great start!
Published: Queensland Law Society – Proctor, November 2013 (p.53)