For me the recruitment and retention equation is simple: good people + good processes = better outcomes for clients and, in turn, better profitability for your advisory firm.
My experience has shown that clients don’t like change at the best of times, so having a consistent “face” to your advisory business – and not just your client-facing advisers – signifies to them stability. Given client relationships build over time, retention of quality staff also deepens client trust.
I’d think the last thing we’d all want to do with our precious time is continually look for good staff, retrain them in “this is how we do business here” – only to lose them shortly after and then repeat the same process, most likely for the same outcome. The old adage “time is money” is no truer than when it comes to people management and especially so at the front end of the process with recruitment and induction.
Like any area of expertise, it pays to know your limits. Be prepared to use reputable recruitment and selection firms and make sure your needs and people offer are clearly articulated. Don’t just advertise a job; advertise a career. If you haven’t had experience in interviewing prospective employees, go and get some, because they will judge you by how well you preform, as much if not more than you are judging their suitability for your business.
Most of the prospective employees I meet with are looking for a “home” where they can make a difference, so make sure your offer provides scope for those who want to achieve, and that you are readily prepared to reward those who do.
Once you’ve located a “star”, do all you can to retain them. You don’t want to become the training house for their next job, as this can be an expensive exercise.
You need to ensure reward and recognition delivers to each individual’s need; for some, money, although important, is not always the answer. Being prepared to have different offers for different staff is okay, and I have long made sure that I play favourites. Socialising of bonuses only disengages your best performers, because you need to make sure you reward the right behaviours as well as the right people; it’s not always about hitting the sales number target.
Lastly, make sure any initiatives are simple to understand, fully transparent and reported regularly. It is pointless making an employee work towards a target or offer they feel they can never achieve; the outcome is counterproductive for everyone, with bad client outcomes, disengaged employees and HR headaches for business owners.
Think about collaborative targets for your staff and bonuses that are paid from profits. This way everyone contributes to the end goal and then enjoys the benefits.
The role of practice principals
You can’t change or develop a culture without the right people, and if you want to change the culture within your business be prepared that you may need to change your people.
The path you take will depend on your view – is talent innate or can it be developed? Employees on their own won’t develop a culture, or they may even contribute to the wrong culture.
Leadership is the key to attracting and retaining talent, and ensuring everyone has the focus your business may require.
Ask yourself: when was the last time you showed real leadership in your business? If the answer is later than yesterday, then you are already too late. As a business owner you need to demonstrate leadership to your team each and every day. After all, don’t you expect each of them to deliver exceptional outcomes for your clients?
We can probably name our best and worst managers we’ve each worked for over our own careers, so learn from your own experiences, communicate clearly and often with your team and lead them to your combined success.
Achieving success through others is a wonderful experience; after all, I’m sure if your current and/or past staff do talk about you, you’d want to make sure it’s positive.