If staffing concerns in your firm keep you awake at night, you’re not alone. Whether you are looking to build talent in your own practice or guiding your professional services clients, you may have noticed what so many others have. Most professional services firms find it tough to attract and retain top talent, and for a good reason. Over the years, there has been a shift in employee expectations, and the modern workforce craves growth.
In conjunction with a narrowing in the pipeline of graduates, the shift in employee expectations has made it more challenging for firms to generate the interest of qualified candidates and retain such talent. The expenses associated with staff turnover can also drain your firm's finances. Typically, the average cost of replacing an employee is approximately 50 percent of that person's annual salary, after factoring in separation costs and costs related to recruitment, training and productivity.
The more demanding the role, the more expensive it is to find and hire a replacement. Sometimes, replacing an experienced supervisor could easily cost your firm about 150% of his or her annual salary. Unfortunately, positions in the professional services industries have long been associated with a lack of flexibility, mundane tasks and long hours.
When competing against larger companies offering attractive employee benefits and perks, these aspects place many small and medium professional services firms at a distinct disadvantage. If you want to retain employees, you need to have a deep-rooted conviction that people really matter. You must aim to develop your employees' capabilities and manage individual and team performance while consistently nurturing their careers.
What Holds Firms Back from Building Talent?
In an ideal world, you would be able to reduce employee turnover while developing your employees’ capabilities, managing performance while nurturing their careers. But this is far from an ideal world. Most firm owners acknowledge the importance of developing their team's talent, but not many can keep up with the consistent training and coaching needed to develop their people. Typically, this occurs due to issues, including:
- Lack of Time - Most firm owners face numerous urgent tasks that consume their time. If you falter on aligning your work processes, you might find yourself tackling some daily crises that interfere with activities such as nurturing talent within your team. As your book of business grows, you may find it even more challenging to dedicate time to developing talent in your firm.
- Poor Talent Development Culture - Even the most committed firm owners who made talent development a priority begin to slip once they get bogged down with work. You can make a significant impact when you distinguish between organizational coaching (which has a broader scope) and individual coaching. Building a talent development culture or environment takes some additional effort, but it pays off in the long run. As a diligent leader, you can avoid the trap of focusing only on organizational training and provide some hands-on training and coaching to your employees at set intervals.
The Best Ways to Build Talent in Your Firm
Talent management is pivotal to every firm’s success. You may have an incredibly talented and experienced workforce, but if you can’t manage it well, then your firm may suffer. Improving talent management from the ground up takes time and is never a set-and-forget effort.
You need to be hands-on in your training approach, creating a strategy that focuses on the development of every employee in your firm. The talent management strategy you implement should provide each team member with learning opportunities, internal mentoring and one-on-one sessions.
Here are some effective ways to build talent in your firm.
1. Identify What Talent Means to You
Depending on your vision and the firm's culture, talent can mean different things. In addition to number crunching, you might also value people-handling skills, teamwork and other similar attributes. Determine the talents you value the most and whether these talents line up with your employees.
2. Consider Planned Career Development Offerings
Humans possess a strong desire to improve themselves and are naturally curious creatures. If you have a high turnover rate in your firm, it could stem from the absence of career development opportunities. When your employees feel they aren't growing within their roles or there is not much scope for advancement or promotion, they are more likely to look for greener pastures.
One way to prevent high employee turnover is to cater to your employees' ambitions. Provide sufficient opportunities for them to learn and grow within your firm. If you need some new talent, it might be beneficial to work with your current team members, helping them hone their skills rather than hire new people.
3. Prioritize Results
Most people have experienced being micromanaged by their superiors at some point and recognize how frustrating it can be. As the person at the helm of your firm, you can change this dynamic. Focus on your staff's results and not the processes they follow to achieve those results. When you give your employees some flexibility in performing their roles, they feel respected and valued. The autonomy in their work helps improve job satisfaction, which in turn improves your firm's productivity.
4. Give Some Thought to Hard Work vs. Talent
When hiring any new staff members, consider their talent as well as their proven history of commitment to constant improvement and perseverance. Sometimes, hard work can beat talent hands-down. If you have a slightly less talented employee who shows a willingness to work hard, it means they also have the potential to develop their skills over time, with proper guidance and training.
5. Always Adopt a Zero Tolerance Policy towards Negative Behavior
Some exceptionally talented people can also be arrogant, leading to unsuitable behavioral traits that can affect your firm's workings. Negative behavior from one employee can become a stress point for the rest of your team, and it's something you should not ignore or tolerate. It’s never a good idea to overlook red flags in an employee’s personality just because they are highly talented.
6. Create a Conducive Work Environment
Ensuring your staff has a positive, safe and healthy work environment is a crucial facet of talent management. Focus on maintaining such an environment, and your talent will remain happy, engaged, productive and loyal to your firm, boosting business success.
7. Offer Equity
The equity model gives your employees incentive to work harder because they too own a piece of the firm, and equity and ownership can attract talent like moths to a flame. Professional services firms are often designed based on the partnership model, which becomes a big part of your firm's strength. If you can offer this opportunity in your firm, use it because it’s a powerful tool to attract and retain talent.
8. Make Talent Development Part of Your Company Culture
Your firm’s goals, structure, and culture form the foundation of successful talent management. By changing the way you look at and manage your team, you can build an unstoppable workforce. Depending on your requirement, you can choose talent management software that can help in:
- Career management
- Compensation management
- Employee engagement
- Employee recognition
- Performance management
- Recruiting software
- Relocation management software
Build a culture that dictates a consistent growth mindset where talent is nurtured and recognized as a matter of course. Ultimately, training and coaching to support that will become part of your standard workings.
This will help strengthen your current team and can help recruit and onboard new employees in the future. Stack your firm in "step-up" roles so that everyone is learning, and it will help solidify a constant development culture.