Foot Anstey is an award-winning law firm and is known as one of the fastest organically grown firms in the UK with 500 staff and 50 partners.
Having enjoyed increased success recently, Foot Anstey has roughly doubled in size over the past 10 years. With many opportunities to win clients in new, competitive areas, one of its major priorities has been to develop more focused objectives for everyone across the firm. To capitalize on those opportunities and drive growth the firm also needed to ensure the right objectives were being set and that collaboration was being properly enabled.
However, the firm was still using an outdated system for objectives and opportunity development based on Word documents. Despite having devised a good structure for this system, there were still limitations on the effectiveness of planning and objective setting: the existing documents couldn’t be centralized and weren’t visible to everyone across the firm – ultimately creating a barrier to collaboration.
That was a problem, as one of the firm’s goals was to “put the firm’s best collaboration foot forward” and differentiate itself, in order to win new business and retain existing clients.
Foot Anstey implemented Objective Manager’s Planning and Performance tools to address three key activities central to its objectives and goals. Firstly, it’s using the toolset to streamline objective setting and the performance appraisal process, including mid-year and annual reviews.
Secondly, the firm is using Objective Manager’s survey functionality to canvas feedback for the annual appraisal process. That includes 360° surveys for all partners and senior people in the organization, with all feedback integrated within the solution’s flexible toolset.
Lastly, the firm began piloting client plans for a number of key clients to improve planning and collaboration in those areas – and, crucially, the pilot includes client partners and the teams supporting them.
Adoption of the system has been a success, with the average number of objectives per user sitting between eight and nine – equating to over 5,000 objectives across Foot Anstey. The firm also chose to make all objectives transparent and open to viewing by anyone in the organization, unless specified otherwise and with a valid reason. The result has been 80%–90% of all objectives being shared, going a long way towards fulfilling the firm’s strategic collaboration goals. New objectives and requests for feedback are continually happening, making progress persistently visible.
In the area of performance appraisals, there’s been a high level of engagement with annual forms. Among partners, completion rates have been exceptional, with 98% completed on time.
Additionally, a huge burden has been lifted from the HR team’s shoulders. With the entire system being automated and integrated in one place, the need for fixed, siloed Word documents has been eliminated. Similarly, Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) accreditation and compliance-related activities have been simplified, as it’s no longer necessary to manually pull together the relevant documents and a single report can be generated for each fee earner.
Ramsey Mirza, HR Director at Foot Anstey, believes the increased focus on SMART objectives will drive increased revenue growth in the long term. “You can’t not write a SMART objective with the help of the system”, he says, and the firm is already seeing a dramatic improvement in efficiency and transparency.
“Our goals are to be the best at internal collaboration and make that a competitive differentiator. We couldn’t have picked a better solution to help us achieve that.”
Ramsey continues, “We already have over 500 objectives recorded in the system – around 8 or 9 per person – and around 90% of those objectives are being shared. The Objective Manager system is so user-friendly and intuitive, that user adoption has been phenomenal.”