- Incorporate financial management training into career development for staff at all levels – not just principals. Financial fluency should not be an afterthought. It’s not fair to promote someone to the decision-maker level without arming them with the tools they need to gauge the company’s success. This means identifying key performance indicators or revenue goals, and teaching people what drives the KPIs.
- Make every job the most important job in the company. One of my favorite anecdotes to this end is the NASA janitor who reportedly told President John F. Kennedy that his job was to help put a man on the moon. If your receptionist believes that his job is as noble as your structural engineer’s, you will see enthusiasm and ownership of individual results reflected on your bottom line. Elevating morale requires celebrating the wins of the back office staff as much as your star business developers.
- Create an incentive plan centered around financial accountability. A Christmas bonus is great for morale, but doesn’t inherently tell staff that every hour of their day that year built up to the amount that they’ll see on the check. A good incentive plan is one that gives each employee the ability – and the mandate – to control their own destiny by performing their job functions in a way that is beneficial to the firm and responsible with client resources.
- Share financial information widely. If you are going to follow the advice above (creating an incentive plan), make sure that the staff knows how they are being measured. What are the firm’s financial goals for the year? The quarter? Does everyone know the basic tenets of the firm’s five-year plan? More important than sending out results after the end of a reporting period, information sharing needs to be proactive. Disseminating revenue reports and project profitability after the quarter has ended or the project is closed is reactive. Instead, tie reports to firm-wide and project-level budgets and goals while there is still time to correct any issues. Use these reports as an opportunity to point out the cost reduction efforts of that receptionist, the above-target chargeability of your second-year architect, and the new project manager who just beat her profitability target.
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