Accountants shift towards a high performing culture

Client: Lewis Brownlee (Chichester) Ltd - Chartered Accountants

Lewis Brownlee is an accountancy firm that works with clients across the South of England. The five directors are supported by a team of qualified staff and trainees, providing integrated services in accounting, audit, tax, investment and pension advice.

The Issue

The company has ambitious plans for growth and has identified employee engagement as a key success factor. They believe their traditional approach to performance appraisal needs to change from a top-down annual review to a forward-looking, two-way activity with regular manager and employee conversations throughout the year.  As a training practice, the company also needs to ensure a structured development and appraisal programme for its trainees.

The Solution

With the focus on employee development, the company decided to invest in Actus an on-line performance management system. The Sussex HR Hub was asked to help implement the system, engage staff in the process and work with the company to develop and align the corporate objectives with those of the teams and individuals.

What we did

Project management:

  • We managed the project in relation to tasks and timescales
  • Helped clarify the purpose and objectives of implementing Actus
  • Worked with the partners, managers and staff to get buy-in
  • Liaised between the company and Actus software supplier
  • Advised on the transition from the old appraisal to the new system

Vision, mission and values:

  • We helped to clarify the company’s vision, mission and values
  • Worked with managers to agree team objectives
  • Worked with staff to introduce and encourage personal objective setting (Employee Development, Setting Objectives and Brown Shorts)
  • Developed a simple set of competencies or behaviours to align with the company’s values and quality matrix

System implementation:

  • We developed a working knowledge of the Actus software
  • Liaised on the scope and functionality of the system
  • Helped configure the system to the company’s requirements
  • Formatted the company objectives to system requirements
  • Provided the initial HR administration of the system

The Outcome

Actus was implemented on time with managers and staff trained to use a variety of functions. Following the introduction of the new system, staff and managers are far more positive in discussing and managing their performance and development.  The Company are already seeing a more pro-active management style where employee development is a regular topic of conversation – with staff playing an equal part – and objectives agreed and actioned.

This is an important step towards engaging staff in a new way of working where their own performance is aligned with that of the company – it’s the beginning of an important shift towards a high performing culture.

6 months on …

The Company is achieving its targets for growth which are measured and monitored via Actus. The extent that employees and managers use the system varies from team to team, with the main focus being clearly defined and documented career development paths. Employees have more control in identifying what they need to accomplish and, as a result, are more accountable for their achievements. The great news is that most employees are pro-actively engaging in conversations about the Company’s performance and the team goals, as well as their own.

It’s fantastic to see the progress we’ve made as a company since we implemented the Actus system; it has helped us focus on employee development and improved performance all-round. Dianne’s hard work in helping to plan and implement the system was immeasurable. She helped us clarify what we needed to achieve and then helped us do it, both technically and by working with the teams and individuals to get them on-board with the new way of doing things. We couldn’t have done it without her.

Sarah Alexander – Managing Director