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Personal Goals

Dear Dave
As part of our annual budgeting process we have gone through and set targeted direct labor percentage goals for each individual at our office which we then totaled in order to arrive at a firm-wide direct labor goal. Our motive for this approach was to arrive at the overall tracking percentage for the firm, but since we now have it broken down to the individual staff level anyway, would it be appropriate to go ahead and inform each individual of their personal goal and to hold them each accountable to achieve their targeted percentage?

Dear KL
Inform: yes. Accountable: no.

Any time you have established specific expectations for staff members you should share this information with those individuals. By doing so, you make them partners in helping you achieve your goals. If I know you expect me to average, let’s say, 75% of my time chargeable to project activities week in and week out over the course of the coming year, it’s more than fair to ask me to watch my workload and my time and to be sure to let you know whenever I see a potential problem in maintaining that rate. I can and should be required to do that.

Accountability however, is a little trickier. In a typical firm, the majority of staffers are totally dependent on a supervisor or project manager to assign them work and lack the means to generate work on their own. When that process breaks down, there is very little the individual can do, other than to come forward and to ask, to correct the situation. Accountability is this instance must remain with the individual’s supervisor, not the individual. Asking anyone to take responsibility for something beyond their control is a recipe for stress, frustration and ultimate failure.

Wahby and Associates