Monitoring subordinates performance is important – in fact it’s essential.

I mean, we monitor the business very effectively by setting budgets and forecasts, don’t we? So why shouldn’t the same apply to employees? Of course it should.

The problem is how do you set up KPI’s that are fair, measurable and attainable? (By the way KPI’s are easier to set up the further you go done the organisation chart).

When I was in corporate I always struggled with setting up KPI’s – evaluating them was even worse! I always found myself doing the evaluation in 10 minutes. This is about the average time that managers spend on performance evaluations.

The thing is, I found the whole KPI process ineffective. Firstly it was too subjective(mostly because tasks and outcomes were not properly defined). Secondly, in the hands of an immature manager, the career of a budding young CA could be shattered by feedback that had just a tad too many strong words.

But that is not what this article is about.

The real issue is:

KPI’s are not part of the executive mind-set.

What is far more important is ‘value-add’. Never mind the KPI – it is far more about bringing meaningful value-add to the process.

Now this is not for everyone. A lot of CA’s would be frightened by such a concept. But if you want to step into the executive space, it’s no longer about KPI’s – it’s all about value add.

But we are not talking about a job here. We are talking about a mechanism that you can use to propel yourself into the executive space. The CA’s who are scared off, are simply not ready to make this move – they remain stuck in the manager mind-set.

So if you want to move dramatically closer to the executive space, start measuring your value-add.

Of course, this is difficult!

What I recommend to my clients is that they literally keep a score card. Every time they notice a value-adding action, they measure it and enter it on the scorecard.

Some things will be easy to measure.

For example, you were going through the company’s tax return and you noticed that certain expenses had been classified as ‘capital’. You say to yourself that maybe this could be reframed as a deductible expense. So you get hold of your tax consultants `and propose that they relook at the fundamentals. In the process they discover a way to claim the deduction. Bottomline, you have created value of 28% of the nominal value of the expense. Neat and tidy.

Another more difficult example: You are ruffling through some debtors reconciliations and you discover that there are a number of current outstanding POD’s being deducted by customers. You make an inquiry and you discover that there has been a breakdown in the management of the POD filing and scanning. This is not so easy to quantify but the value is enormous. Either way, some calculation needs to be done to quantify the extent of the losses that could have eventuated from lost documents.

The next step, of course, is to present this scorecard to your boss!

It is very important to for boss to show these value-add stats at her Exco meetings.


Because it becomes her value-add!

Everyone is smiling.

But most of all, your boss gets the credit. If she is gracious, she will say “I have this great young CA working for me – she’s bright and smart and ADDS A LOT OF VALUE.”

Now I can hear some of you saying; “Why is she taking all the credit? I came up with the idea and I did all the work”.

Well there’s a bit of bad news for you – this thinking is at best, naive and at worst it’s just plain stupid!

The person at the top always gets the credit. When Steinhoff produces outstanding results, it is Marcus Jooste (CEO) who gets all the credit.

Similarly when you report to an executive, she gets the credit of any value that you deliver. Part of that, by the way, is that she sees herself as the clever one who employed you in the first place. Should she mention your name as the champion of the project, well, that’s just a cherry on the top.

But here is the real issue – focusing on the value-add shifts you into the executive realm. By making your boss look good, you get her to see your value to her.

Your value-add becomes her value-add.

I know I’ve made this sound easy – it is not easy. But the very fact that you have shifted your focus away from a KPI mentality to one that centres on value-add, has begun the process of enhancing your executive presence.

And just to end this off, when you have a value-add scorecard on the table, you set up a process to create more money for yourself. From a business perspective it is far easier to negotiate a bonus when you can show what value you have added. You can be sure that usually that this is the way your boss has negotiated her bonus.