DWF introduces new performance expectations framework

DWF is introducing a new performance expectations framework for all its people designed to more accurately, comprehensively, fairly and equitably set the expectations for each individual and measure their total personal contribution to the business’ success. This will enable DWF to better manage, develop, recognise and reward its people and, by capturing the breadth of contributions and the different combinations of contributions, the firm will be better able to play to people’s strengths.

DWF’s Chief People Officer, Catherine Williams, says “The new framework reflects the broad range of contributions of its people which are needed to make the firm successful and recognises that it is the firm’s people who will drive performance to deliver the scale of the firm’s ambitions. The firm wanted to clarify and communicate its expectations of people, and articulate the ways in which the firm will capture and measure the breadth and variety of contribution that our people make, both quantitative and qualitative, looking beyond the financial elements of delivery to recognise the value added activity which develops the firm’s capability, people, processes, services and reputation and helps secure competitive advantage.”

The framework measures an individual’s total contribution to the firm across all elements of the business including introductions to prospective employees, new business referrals, and continuous improvement related to our products, processes and our people. Most law firms measure an individual’s contribution by the fees they bring into the business, by their success in managing client relations and developing new work streams from existing clients. DWF’s framework goes beyond this and encapsulates a much broader spectrum of possible contributions an individual can make. In addition, DWF’s framework includes a tool to measure the scale, scope and impact of that contribution so it is much more accurate than the normal law firm approach to measuring performance and right behaviour.

DWF’s framework measures an individual’s entire contribution to the business to fairly and equitably recognise and reward them by looking at all aspects of the different roles that people can undertake in conjunction with the role profile, team and personal objectives, and the half year and end of year Performance Reviews. For example where someone has been heavily involved in Investment Time activity (sector growth and development, product development and innovation, mentoring, training) and as a result shows a reduction in their chargeable hours and potential billing income, this can be balanced for the individual in the context of the overall performance of the team and also demonstrate the ROI of the non-chargeable time by linking with relevant management information. Having visibility of individual, and overall, contribution allows DWF to effectively measure performance, manage, develop and reward its people appropriately and play to people’s individual strengths.

The framework provides:

  • Clarity: Developing a common language and format for demonstrating people expectation and contribution
  • Consistency: Applying the same, measurable principles to all new and existing people giving a fair and equitable experience
  • Scalability: A mechanism that provides a platform to support alignment and integration of new lateral hires and wider business opportunities

The framework delivers a bespoke role evaluation methodology that accurately, fairly, consistently, and transparently captures and defines the roles within DWF allowing:

  • Alignment of roles across the firm
  • Clarity of the expectations of contribution by role

Transparency of the measures and criteria applied to assess a people’s contribution:

  • Describes ‘What Good Looks Like’
  • Makes clear the differentiators between the different career levels (equitypartners, fixed share partners, associate partners/directors and people at all level with the firm)
  • Defines clear expectations/levels of performance – Meets, Exceeds and Outstanding.

The framework defines and describes the differences between the different career levels and three main expectations/levels of performance – Meets, Exceeds and Outstanding and was developed through reviewing a number of technical approaches to role evaluation and through researching industry standards. The framework was extensively tested against lateral hires, integration exercises for mergers and acquisitions, promotions, and legacy DWF roles (400 in total). The results were calibrated with input from partners, directors and senior business leaders, and adjustments made to accommodate the nuances and unique aspects of the roles evaluated. Calibration changes were then reapplied and retested to further refine and improve accuracy.

The framework has been rolled out to partners and is now rolling out across the business.

Catherine Williams, Chief People Officer, says “We want to drive exceptional performance from all our people and to develop, recognise and reward them for that exceptional performance. This means playing to people’s strengths and acknowledging a broader range of contributions to our business success and the success of our clients.”

Catherine Williams

Chief People Officer

I am the firm’s Chief People Officer responsible for developing people strategy, people engagement and people investment.