This is part 5 of a 6 part series
We have established that people are your greatest asset in a professional services firm. You are selling the capabilities of your staff and therefore you must ensure that you have the best people surrounding you.
365 Day recruitment is the idea that you are constantly searching for top quality people for your firm. There’s a big difference between searching and actually hiring people. Meeting with someone does not necessarily mean that you must hire them immediately. There are many instances where the conversations have taken 12 months to bring people over. It’s a matter of persevering with the right people.
Having longer conversations with people allows you to ascertain their true fit within your firm. There have been many instances where someone has presented well, talked the talk, however, they could not walk the walk. Conversely, where the firm has offered the new employee the world and in reality, there’s not even a free lunch.
Constant conversations with the right people allow you to build your talent pipelines
The Constant Search
Good people are hard to find. Good people who fit exactly what you’re seeking are even harder! How many times have you had the team working under a significantly increased workload because a lot of new work has come in? How many times have you had the vacancy listed with every agency under the sun and still not found someone months later? (There’s an inherent issue with this which we can discuss another time).
Having a number of people whom you’re currently speaking with allows you to ensure that you have a “pipeline” of people to bring in as you secure more work. You’re working in a professional services practice. The people with whom you’re speaking to, will also want to take their time when they change roles. This also means that you’re attracting people who have considered and evaluated what you’re offering.
The constant search allows you to bring in people who buy into your vision and purpose
Knowing that you have a number of people you can turn to when things pick up offers you, as the business owner, confidence that you have a few alternatives aside from overexerting your team.
This is something that few of the larger firms do. The Partners constantly meet with other professionals around town. Sometimes it’s a coffee, other times it’s a beer, both time to share ideas and pick each others’ brains.
Always account for turnover
People will leave. There is no doubting that. It’s only a matter of when. You can look after your people as much as possible but they may just need to go. Whether it’s due to a sick relative overseas, their partner moving interstate with work, the desire to change careers, or to go back to uni; people will leave. And frankly, you shouldn’t stop them. If they’re a top performer, encourage them and let them know that the door is open.
There are people who leave and return and there are those who don’t return. If one of your team leaves for a commercial role, end it on a good note and provide them support. Offer them assistance if they get stuck. Keep the lines of communication open. What’s the absolute worst that happens? You’ve spent a couple of hours over the course of a year keeping in touch with a former colleague you enjoyed working with. You never know where it could lead.
Staff turnover is natural and at the right levels, is healthy for businesses. New ideas, new inputs, new ways of tackling matters, new suggestions – they all have to come from somewhere. 10% is about the right number, depending on the firm. So, one in ten of your team leaving each year is what you should be looking at. When we’re seeing firms with 20%-40% turnover, that’s when you know you have a problem. Can you imagine 40%? That’s almost half your team gone! Think of all the intellectual property, the client knowledge, and the skills walking out the door?
And like that, your key people have left…
We were working with a client who (usually) had a fair amount of foresight when it came to looking for new people. They knew that good people were hard to come by and would offer us decent notice prior to starting our search. One day, one of the Senior Accountants came into their office and resigned – they had to go overseas to look after a sick grandparent. That’s okay, wish them well, move on. A month later, another Senior Accountant came in and resigned – this time it due to their partner’s business doing well and wanting to be hands on in there. That’s okay, wish them well, move on. A month later, one of the Managers resigns – their partner was not doing well and they wanted to travel. Really?! Three in three months? True story!
The moral of the story is be prepared. People will leave. There will be turnover. People will leave when you least expect them to. Life happens. For a lot of people, work isn’t the most important part of their lives. You should know what your options are and have that “pipeline” ready.