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Measuring Staff Effectiveness

This article was first published January 3, 2015. Interview with Matthew Eynon, Vice President for College Advancement, Franklin & Marshall College
 
Measuring staff effectiveness may have traditionally been a one-size-fits-all process, but that is beginning to change due to proactive thinking by advancement professionals like Matthew Eynon. Before joining the Advancement team at Franklin & Marshall, Matthew was a member of the senior leadership team charged with advancement strategy for Boston College's current $1.5 billion capital campaign. Prior to that he spent four years as associate vice president for annual giving at BC, where he oversaw a 30 percent increase in alumni donors and 100 percent increase in giving by young alumni, among other accomplishments. His skills as a “relationship builder” inform his ideas about how to best energize and encourage staff through an evaluation process tailored to individual roles and responsibilities.

The Woolbright Group asked Matthew to share his thinking about how to best assess staff effectiveness and how his approach differs from the traditional model.

“First and foremost, the way in which we measure the effectiveness of staff depends on the unit. Measurements that are applied to a front-line fundraising unit look different from measurements that are applied to units where quantifiable outcomes aren’t as readily available, such as contacts made and dollars raised. We think very carefully about the ways in which we measure the effectiveness of staff productivity unit by unit,” he stated.

“That said,” he continued, “we are very cognizant that, regardless of the type of unit, measurements are rolled up into the overall goals for the College Advancement Office, and by association the overall campaign, fundraising and advancement goals for the college. So, if those measurements are not aligned with the overall goals of the Advancement Division and the college in general, we haven’t built them well.”

Knowing that HR departments at many colleges and independent schools use a fairly standard evaluation format across the board, we asked what prompted Matthew’s interest in taking the evaluation process to a whole new level.

“Here at Franklin & Marshall, and at my last institution as well, we as an Advancement Office achieved a fair amount of success in taking the standard form and adapting it to the particular work of this office and our team. Institutions like ours and others that are thinking effectively about how to link the HR evaluation process to a school’s business units have realized that they have to create flexibility that allows business units to adapt existing principles to their own measures of effectiveness,” Eynon replied.

He continued, “Our Associate VP for Advancement Operations has worked collaboratively and tirelessly with our HR director to make sure that we’re building structures and evaluative tools here in Advancement that allow us to be precise in our evaluations. If we were to overlay the broad institutional measures, it would be hard for us to get at the exact kinds of measurements that are important for an Advancement-specific evaluation.”

“And so, we’ve succeeded in having those structures endorsed and supported by HR, and then communicated those standards to our team as endorsed by HR. We didn’t veer off of an institutional model or policy; we had that policy created and then ratified within the institution.”

We then asked Matthew what role the staff plays in setting their own measurements and evaluation of success.

“I would say there are a number of ways in which staff contribute to the process. The first is to define, on their own, what they believe are the appropriate and most effective measures. This is a process by which they define their own view of those expectations. The next step in the process is the opportunity for them to present those goals and aspirations to their direct manager.

“Following that,” he continued, “there is an opportunity to negotiate and collaborate with a supervisor. This is not a one-directional process; there is negotiation and collaboration. And that is a very important part of the process because it contributes to an understanding of what is required of staff to be successful.”

We learned from Matthew that the process concludes when supervisor and staff agree on what has been defined as the expectations for a given fiscal year and/or an evaluation period. Key to the overall process is that during this evaluation period, staff are expected to be proactive in checking in with their manager to make sure that they are keeping pace with expectations. One thing that concerns Eynon is the possibility that a staff person will be passive in their own self-assessment. If staff are facing challenges, they need to address those early on and not wait for a manager to bring performance issues to their attention.

When asked to cite examples of measurements being used to evaluate and measure progress, Matthew talked first about linking role and responsibilities to reward and recognition.

“First and foremost we think about what someone’s role is; what their specific responsibilities are; and then, rewards or recognition that will be linked to successful outcomes, so that people make a clear connection between role, responsibility and reward,” he explained.

“So, from the standpoint of advancement relations for example, we evaluate the feedback that comes from alumni through surveys as a reflection of the efficacy of our alumni relations efforts. Whether or not we are hearing a high percentage of alumni echoing back to us that they are aware of what’s going on; they feel like they understand the direction of the institution; they feel a sense of pride in what the institutions is doing, that they are involved and supportive of F&M are all strong measures of effective alumni relations programming and leadership.”

Matthew explained that, “We are always striving to build tools and reporting methods that make us more efficient, smarter, faster, and more impactful in our work. It’s a effort in progress and hasn’t been an easy transition. Very often, with new leadership or new management bringing with them a new set of practices, policies or habits, it can be interpreted an indictment of past work. But change is actually quite the opposite--not an indictment of what was done before, but an acknowledgement of good work and the opportunity to build on that success.”

“If we’re maintaining the status quo or standing still, then we’re falling behind. And so, I hope we’re always trying to help our team to understand that any changes we’re initiating now are designed to build on our past success, not to indict what was done before.”

When asked for parting words of wisdom, Eynon thoughtfully added:

“Tread carefully and sensitively into the process. Work hard to strike a balance between the direction that you believe, as a new manager, leader or vice president, you need to go. Most new vice presidents have received very clear mandates from a board or president or others, about what they need to be achieving on behalf of the institution. So, be transparent about those things.”

“Be thinking all the time about where there are opportunities to innovate. I have the great privilege to work alongside one of the hardest-working advancement teams I’ve ever been a part of. And I think that is one of the hallmarks of our shop here. We’re not a big shop, but we’re an incredibly hardworking team. Hard work leads to breakthrough success. I think about innovative ways for us to do our work, and ways we can adapt that make us not only the hardest-working team but also the most innovative team around a whole set of goals. I recommend that we think all the time, as advancement professionals, about where we can innovate; where we can do things differently,” Matthew concluded.


Matthew Eynon, Vice President for College Advancement, Franklin & Marshall College

Matthew Eynon joined Franklin & Marshall College as vice president for college advancement this past fall. Prior to his current position, Matthew was a member of the senior leadership team charged with advancement strategy for Boston College's on-going $1.5 billion capital campaign. Eynon, a native of Danbury, Connecticut, served as assistant vice president for advancement at Suffolk University in Boston, where he was responsible for the leadership of the development team during a $75 million campaign and partnered with trustees and institutional leaders on key aspects of the institution's development program. Earlier in his career, Eynon served in several leadership roles at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, culminating in his appointment as the institution's chief advancement officer in 2002. Total private support for the university exceeded $58 million under his leadership, while the total endowment increased by 75 percent.


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