How to measure your contribution to your employer’s policy objectives & performance?
A starting guide on how to measure and improve your net contribution to your employer's advocacy and business objectives.
In the world of public affairs, it is incredibly difficult to understand the contribution to the performance of the company you advocate for.
That’s probably why it's so important to conduct a survey of your contribution to the organisation’s policy objectives and overall bottom line. A good lobbyist must be able to demonstrate that his role is vital and even profitable to the company. The difficulty lies in the quantification and measurability of advocacy actions.
In today’s article, we will explore how to conduct a survey of your performance, how to account for your costs and benefits to your employers, and how to improve on it.
Identify your goals
The first thing you will have to do is to identify your employers’ goals and the objectives associated with your position.
Any for-profit organisation will try to achieve one or several of the following four objectives:
Increase its revenues,
Decrease its expenses (cost-saving),
Maximise its efficiency (do better with less),
Achieve intangible benefits (reputational, mostly).
Non-for-profit organisations (NGOs) will not look to increase revenues as a goal in itself, but rather as a means to achieve more. If that is what you provide, it is nevertheless something with mentioning.
This being said: does your job provide one or more of the points above? Do your department’s goals respect the broader objective and strategy of your organisation?
Determine your costs
The second step to understanding where you stand in terms of profitability is to total the costs linked to your activities.
These can be summarised in two broad areas: Direct vs Indirect costs.
Direct costs are the costs associated with your employment, such as your salary, benefits, and any other costs related to your role.
Indirect costs include any other costs that your employer incurs as a result of your employment, such as the cost of office space, equipment, training, or other resources such as phone bills, or subscriptions to various services.
List all the items where a cost occurs in your daily activities. You might not be able to identify them all at once, so try to identify them as you go, over a period of time (a week, probably a month, although you should calculate costs all year long).
Compute all the figures for each item you identified. Use a spreadsheet to sum them up.
Then move to the next point.
Determine your benefits
This is where the correct identifications of your and your employer’s goals will come in handy.
In addition to these goals, your strategy should have identified key performance indicators (KPIs)—to understand the difference between goals and KPIs, I drafted a handy guide here.
Did you meet your objectives? How do your KPIs perform? You should gather as much data as possible to identify the positive (or negative) advancement of your strategy.
In this light, does your activity contributes to the overall goals and performance of the company? Did you manage to introduce a piece of legislation that creates a new business line for your employer? How profitable is it? On the contrary, were you unable to avoid the approval of a restrictive regulation that costs millions to your organisation?
Again, you will have to gather as much data as possible and compare it to your company’s overall performance, identifying the areas where your actions had an impact.
Now that you have these figures, let’s do the math.
Calculate your net contribution and ROI
Your net contribution and return on investment (ROI) will be the two most important figures to prove that your activities are positive to your employer, and to what level.
To calculate your net contribution, subtract your costs from your total benefits.
Net Contribution = Benefits - Costs
If the result is positive: your activities are a net contribution. Bravo!
If it is negative, your activities are a net loss. You better understand why.
On to ROI. The ROI is the ratio between your net contribution and your costs. It is expressed as a percentage.
Return on Investment (ROI) = (Net Contribution / Costs) x 100
Your ROI will tell you how efficient your contribution is. If your net contribution is high but your costs are too, it is less interesting than being able to do more with less. See it as a compass pointing you to areas for improvement.
Analyse, report, improve
Now that you know the figures, it is only the beginning of an ongoing self-improvement process.
Look at the numbers. What do they tell you? Do you see a reason why you outperformed this year? Is there an item that cost dearly but brought little? Can you allocate resources better?
Reporting is an important part of the process. Your supervisor, your colleagues, and your collaborators might want to know how you and your department performed this year. Try to craft a narrative that shows where you performed and where there’s room for improvement.
Finally, you must improve. There is always room for growth. First, try to improve your Net Contribution score. Once clearly in the green, you will want to work on the ROI. Improve as you go, and make yourself irreplaceable.
I can’t recommend you enough to start this exercise. Don’t just take my word for it. In How to Work with the EU Institutions, Alan Hardacre and Aaron McLoughlin write:
The final phase of the public affairs methodology, the one that is without a doubt the most often neglected, and certainly the most difficult, is that of feedback and evaluation. […] You need to know what you did, how you did it, what happened, what impact you had and how successful you were. You then need to use all of this to make improvements to your objectives and KPIs, internal processes, preparations and finally in your engagement and actions.
For the sake of fairness, I will also use this methodology to conduct my own audit. I will let you know how it went, and share with you my remarks on the exercise.