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How a collaboration metric can drive the right behaviour.

What defines a Partner’s success? Traditionally, billable hours. It’s quantifiable, easy to understand and lends itself to ranking or comparison. However, rewarding Partners based on this metric alone creates a competitive, individualistic environment with short-term thinking on success and financial gain.

If the metrics were widened, we could look at other important factors to define success and high performance, such as collaboration.

Research has proven that collaboration not only delivers increased revenue but also has a disproportionally high impact on performance. Collaboration is sometimes referred to as the ‘silent activity’ or ‘soft activity’ contributing to success because, historically at least, it’s been difficult to measure this type of activity.

Herbert Smith Freehills (“HSF”) have taken an innovative and highly successful approach to defining a collaboration metric.  HSF implemented a new stream within their Partner reward model called Contribution to the Success of Others (“CSO”), and later worked with ObjectiveManager to build Collaboration Credit functionality, into ObjectiveManager’s software. HSF has been tracking collaboration credits for almost ten years, but it was through the seamless integration with ObjectiveManager that HSF was able to ensure collaboration runs throughout their strategic planning and performance appraisals within one unified system.

The Collaboration Credit functionality allows firms to emphasise the importance of teamwork and collaboration. A typical Collaboration Credit survey takes approximately five minutes to complete. The survey asks Partners to allocate credits to others who have contributed to their success throughout the year. Partners also have the option to provide details about the specific actions that others have taken and what impact those actions had on their own practice.

The benefits of using a Collaboration Credit system, like HSF’s CSO program include:

Demonstrating Commitment | Firms often talk about the importance of collaboration but lack a concrete way to demonstrate this to Partners. Tracking credit is a concrete way to show collaboration is truly a priority.

Mapping collaboration | Track collaboration to see, for example, where there are reciprocal relationships or where collaboration is concentrated in certain practice groups or offices.

Accuracy | Asking recipients of support is typically more accurate than asking Partners to talk about how they’ve helped others.

Filling gaps in existing data | Partners don’t always track non-billable time like supporting a colleague, and origination credit doesn’t necessarily reflect introductions made to a wider network of contacts at an existing client.

Integrating Laterals | Heidi Gardner’s research shows that laterals need to work on incumbent client accounts and with a number of long-term Partners within their first year to minimise the risk of departure and maximise their chance of success. Tracking collaboration credit can provide valuable data and serve as an audit tool for lateral integration.

Incentivising the right behaviour | By rewarding lawyers based on metrics beyond billables, you encourage collaborative behaviour that delivers better client service and wins more complex work, both of which result in higher revenue and greater profitability.

HSF has just completed their first annual CSO credit allocation within ObjectiveManager and over 80% of participants allocated credits to colleagues. The high number of respondents demonstrates the commitment HSF has to achieving a high performing, integrated workplace where success is as much about how you develop work as it is about how much work you win.

To find out how ObjectiveManager can help your firm achieve their goals, contact us.

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