BY L. GARY BOOMER
Gary Boomer, CPA, is the president of
Boomer Consulting, in Manhattan, Kan.
Charge hours have been a primary measure of performance in many accountingfirms. However, thepro-fession is moving from an efforts-based to a
results-based economy, and charge hours
are only one of many gauges that a firm pilot
In order to maximize staff performance,
many accounting firms have implemented
performance evaluation systems; however,
many partners complain that there is too
much paper work, and it takes too much time
to administer. Most partners prefer serving
clients to managing people.
Many firms complicate the performance
management system by attempting to measure everything, rather than priorities.
The following define a successful performance evaluation system:
1. Simple and easy to understand.
2. Quarterly interaction between manager
3. Focus on the future, rather than the
4. The employee is responsible for administering the system.
Too often, performance evaluations are
tied to annual salary increases and conducted on an annual basis during which
employees are rated by multiple managers
and partners. Any comments lack specific-ity and are not relative to improvement and
Another missing link is how the employee’s performance plan integrates with the
firm’s strategic plan. If the firm doesn’t have
a strategic plan or if it is not communicated
and understood outside the partner group,
keeping quality people around at all levels
will be a problem.
SIMPLICITY IS BEAUTIFUL
Good managers do not like bureaucratic
forms and irrelevant terms. Instead, they
are more concerned with how to say what
needs to be said to an employee. Many older
systems focus on compliance, rather than
coaching and development.
Annual evaluation meetings miss the de-
tails. Quarterly meetings are manageable
in most firms if people know and trust the
system. Frequent interaction is positive and
reduces risk of misunderstanding or misin-
A successful performance evaluation
1. Be simple and easy to understand.
2. Involve quarterly interaction between manager and employee.
3. Focus on the future, rather than
4. Have the employee responsible
for administering the system.
lates successes over the past 90 days, further
progress that is required, and specific steps
for the future. Direct each employee’s attention toward the future, rather than focusing
on the past. Frankly, you cannot do anything
about the past other than a self-assessment
of what worked and what did not work.
FOCUS ON THE FUTURE
Good managers use an accountability review
to evaluate employees’ modes of operation
and requirements. A good manager ensures
that people have the resources (i.e., training and equipment) to succeed. People are
motivated differently. While conventional
wisdom says that you must treat everyone
the same, great managers do not. They know
what motivates each person and make sure
that employees design individual, 90-day
game plans that integrate with the firm’s
Significance is important to employees,
and they want to know how they are con-
tributing to the firm’s overall success. Self-
assessment is a powerful tool. Management
need only review and ensure that the self-as-
sessment is accurate and that the employee
is focused on priority goals that integrate
with the firm’s strategic plan.