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Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology to reduce the number of "defects" in a process. Respect : To respect the dignity and inherent rights of the individual human being in all dealings with people. Integrity: To maintain high moral and ethical standards and to reflect honesty, integrity, reliability and forthrightness in all relationships. I am a cheerful and spirited jaguar who has been training diligently to be the official mascot of US Bankcard Services, Inc. As we continue to grow, it is my pleasure to share with you who we are and what we stand for as a company. Offer expertise to our merchants, exchange best practices with business partners, and educate the public on industry changes and events .
We believe service begins inside a company – serve and empower each other so that each employee is enabled to deliver the best to our merchants.
We pledge to support small business development – it is simply better for everyone, businesses and residents, living in the communities we all call home. This article focuses on the targets a firm should set for its partners if it wants to build profitably for its future and not just recognize past achievements.
Methods of profit sharing in law firms have traditionally differed greatly as between North America and Europe. What is interesting, however, is the extent to which we see a growing trend on both sides of the Atlantic towards performance related systems based on a wider managerial and business role for partners.
1) Recognising and understanding that there are a number of internal and external factors which influence and affect the way b which partners feel that their efforts should be rewarded and the partnership profit ‘cake’ divided.
2) Breaking down the firm’s strategies to all levels of operation through the identification of the Key Areas of Performance (or ‘Balanced Scorecard’1) which will underpin both partner development in their role and the compensation discussions.
3) Defining the firm’s performance expectations for all of its partners at every level of seniority and development.
4) Regularly reviewing the individual partner’s progress and performance against the firm’s expectations; the system should be clear and simple.
5) Determining the profit allocation should be based on partners’ contributions to the progress of the firm and not just the attainment of pre-ordained targets. Before a firm can link performance to profit it must consider its culture and whether a shift in values is required to adopt a different style of reward system. What is important is that a firm recognises that its values and reward system are interdependent and constantly evolving. In our view, every firm should define carefully the objectives which it has for introducing a performance management system for partner which can lead to the setting of goals and targets which can then be linked to profit sharing. While the first criterium is clearly limited by the number of hours in the day, the latter three can be extended almost without limit. Having said this, no one wants to create “clones” or expects that every partner is excellent at everything.
We have recently been working with a number of firms to define the expectations of their partners on a balanced scorecard basis. Working on client assignments is, of course, at the heart of any professional service firm’s purpose and reason for existence. The basis of the discussion should be first assisted by a preparatory self-assessment by the partner based on his personal contribution plan.
The periodic partner review should lead to determining the areas of focus for improving performance in the next six to twelve months and for identifying the support the partnership can provide.
The objectives are hurriedly drafted and skimped – they do not adequately reflect appropriate career development. The objectives are too vague and aspirational –they cannot be interpreted, acted on as a series of tasks, or measures.
The objectives have no meaning and are left to gather dust – the appraised partner will wonder if the review process has been worthwhile.
The objectives are simply imposed by the appraising partner and not ‘owned’ by the appraised partner – the appraisee will view their involvement as insignificant. In many years of appraising and moderating appraisals, we have found that the most difficult and badly done section of the annual appraisals is the setting of objectives.


The most important rule is to ensure that the targets and objectives are linked to the overall strategy of the firm.
Check that the objectives are prioritised (use words like ‘must’, ‘should’ and ‘could’ to give a sense of this). As clients demand more of their service providers and as the business world becomes steadily more complex, only limited success can be attained by individual lawyers working in loose association with each other and concentrating their efforts and rewards on solo endeavours. What are the issues and working relationships which must be mastered in order to drive performance? These core values guide us to develop the company culture, shape the way we serve merchants and work with partners, and position us in relation to the society as a whole.
This serving spirit also extends to support our business partners so they can also do their best for our merchants.
We are also committed to charitable giving as a way to demonstrate our gratitude to a society from which we gain strength every day.
Use of those trademarks does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by the owners of those marks of US Bankcard Services or its products or services.
Law firm leaders talk a good game about how the firm ‘rewards what it values, and values what it rewards’ but in reality many firms have historically given scant regard to anything except seniority and billing.
In Europe, the majority of UK law firms have historically operated against a background of ‘true partnership’ with equal sharing for all partners.
There is now wide recognition that partners in successful law firms must develop their roles as managers of people, developers of business, leaders of teams, builders of ‘thought-ware’ and nurturers of client relationships. In the words of Jack Welch “it should be clear and simple, washed clean of time-consuming bureaucratic gobbledy-gook. The firm needs to help each partner achieve absolute excellence in terms of their value and level of collaboration; to get there it will always need from every partner a substantial contribution on volume. Our methodology requires in the first place a comprehensive study of the behaviours and accomplishments which are expected and valued of partners at every level in the firm. At the same time, however, client work can become a comfort blanket for partners in the sense that it can provide an excuse to resist change and can be impediment to team-building and collaboration. Identify the areas where the firm must perform as a whole in order to achieve its strategic and economic objectives which can then be drilled down into ‘Key Areas of Performance’ on a balanced scorecard.
Ensure that remuneration levels match contributions to strategic objectives of the firm as well as the maintenance of cultural values. Encourage partners to support new ventures and develop new services in line with objectives.
Encourage, motivate, value and reward high achievers who are critical to the firm’s strategic success and who contribute to an exceptional level.
Sustain concepts of teamwork between partners with greater collective responsibility for the performance of practice areas. Encourage and reward the most capable partners to lead the firm and practice areas as effectively as possible.
Value performance which contributes to the sustained growth of the firm and one firm approach. Embrace a firm-wide approach to enable partners in different practice areas to be rewarded on a consistent basis. Clarify the differing roles of partners as working lawyers, producers, managers and owners. Enable the firm to attract and retain partners of the highest calibre and introduce partners from other firms. Be linked to internal training and review processes which support the development of partners’ development and improvement in performance. Recognise that partners have different qualities and should be encouraged to focus on areas where they have strengths whilst contributing in all areas.
Define the requirements and appropriate performance levels for partners at each stage of progression on the firm’s lockstep ladder or partner career structure both qualitatively and quantitatively. The primary purpose is to discuss and clarify partner development and to set some helpful objectives. There should be a summary by the partner of his chargeable work as well as major activities on non-billable work (both pre-agreed and own initiative), including any client or internal leader feedback. One problem is that this is an area which is normally left until last on the appraisal form and is dealt with when both parties have become tired or when time has run out.


The case for investing in partner personal development towards a more collaborative business model is therefore unanswerable, both in personal terms (managing an individual’s own career), and in organisational terms (developing and managing for profitability). In smaller law firms, the progression of an incoming partner towards equality tends to have proceeded by negotiation or as a result of senior partners ‘giving up’ partner of their profit sharing entitlement on an ad hoc basis.
If your evaluation system involves more than two pages of paperwork per person, something is wrong”2. Most firms lie on a spectrum between the traditional collegiate firm which harnesses performance from its partners through a value system of trust and expectation of future higher rewards further up the lock step and the more entrepreneurial ‘eat-what-you-kill’ firm which harnesses performance by emphasizing internal competition for rewards based on yesterday’s performance.
We have found that this then results in the establishment of criteria which are complementary not only to the firm’s assessment processes for promotion and rewards, but also to the firm’s overall strategy and objectives. The really successful partner has an ambition to be more than just a competent technician and client minder. There should also be a 360°-reviewwith views from fellow partners, associates and staff, and, to the extent available, from clients. For example, instead of “work to improve cash collection”, one might say “by the end of the next quarter negotiate interim billing arrangements with the following clients”. In larger European firms, the tendency has historically been for the firm to have a formal lockstep arrangement. This immediately raises a difficulty in that success in many dimensions of these roles can only be considered qualitatively rather than quantitatively. We believe that widely used partner contribution plans (or partner business plans) can help in three ways. These types of review have been frequently placed by law firms in the ‘too difficult’ pile, but we have recently helped a number of firms produce state-of-the-art working 360° models. Instead of “assist with precedent building”, one might say “review and redraft the firm’s standard lease for small offices by October 31st”. I will never forget the moment I won the USBSI Mascot contest; it was a great day for me as I had some pretty tough competition.
In contrast, many North American firms have tended to operate on more meritocratic principles based on individual performance of partners as originating and working attorneys, which finds its most extreme model in the ‘eat what you kill’ principle. The behaviour of partners is governed by their values and attitudes which in turn are based upon their previous experiences.
Just recently, I have been given the nickname of Super Jay, and I promise to work very hard to live up to my new moniker. To bring about changes in the way partners are valued and rewarded, we must create some forces and influences which will gradually affect partners’ experiences and then their attitudes and behaviour.
Evidence abounds that the more focused any professional becomes on attaining stretching objectives which he or she has personally set, the more likely it is that success will be attained. Like a “Superhero” of credit card processing, I anticipate being at your side, ready to assist at any time along your card acceptance journey! Second, if the individual plans harmonise with the team and firm plan, it can help bring about both a feeling of unity and a sense of common purpose and synergy.
First, a balanced scorecard approach encourages partners to believe that there are other things which the firm values as well as financial performance.
Third, if a partner is prepared to set and agree some meaningful objectives which can be monitored and measured, it provides a form of self-assessment which can be helpful in allocating compensation. Second, the firm must have in place the policies and procedures which will help to give partners the comfort they need to trust in the new arrangements.
The plan itself ought to be brief and needs to summarise the small number of critical business objectives which are relevant to the individual partner across the firm’s scorecard or key performance areas. Third, the firm must work hard on the firm’s climate and environment to ensure that a supportive culture exists. It needs to be written in such a way that it will help the partner make decisions about priorities and time allocation, as well as clarifying how success in achieving objectives will be identified and measured. It further needs to set a compelling agenda for every partner to develop strengths, build skills and neutralise weaknesses.



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