A few months ago Heather Townsend, co-author of 'How to make partner and still have a life’, explained the 10 lessons that every prospective partner needs to learn to an audience of over 200 tax, finance and legal professionals. The 6th lesson was the need to have a consistent business development routine. As a follow on to this talk, in this article, Heather shares 3 signs that the consistent business development activity you are doing is not effective.
One of the great things about working with talented professionals is seeing them achieve their potential and overcome their insecurities. I was, therefore, somewhat surprised to have a call with one of my most successful clients and hear he was worried about his billing. He was understandably concerned that his pipeline was looking light after the Brexit shock and the summer months. So, I started to prepare my normal advice about what to do when your pipeline looks a little light. As with all of these things, between worrying about the problem and speaking to me, 3 new chunky matters had landed on his desk. Therefore, in this blog post I will share the key things to check BEFORE panicking about your pipeline.
1. It isn’t that time of year
When I used to work as a learning and development manager for BDO, I learnt that the firm didn't want to know our team over summer or the peak audit months. It doesn't matter whether you are an auditor or lawyer, there will always be busy periods and quiet periods. However, if you not yet aware of the rythmn and flow of your type of practice, it can be very easy to get anxious when the phone doesn't ring. Before you worry about the phone NOT ringing, talk to the more experienced people around you. Are they quiet too, and is this normal for this point in the year?
2. Are you being a busy fool?
Everyone has a comfort zone when it comes to business development. If you are interested, mine is blogging. I can always write a blog if it means I can avoid doing something in my "too hard" box. As a result it is possible to be consistently marketing, but not doing enough of the right stuff.
The right balance of the "right stuff" will be different for different practices. The marketing plan for a litigator will look fairly different to the marketing plan for a Company Commercial Lawyer with a loyal set of long standing clients. But typically, the "right stuff" for most professionals in practice means a consistent business development routine which you implement weekly. (I.e. the 6th lesson in Heather’s 10 lessons) The routine has you keeping in touch with your existing clients and introducers, maintaining a high profile where your clients/introducers hang out on-line and off-line, investing in producing high quality valuable content which you are sharing with your network.
3. Are you well known within your marketplace?
Many of my clients start off as their firm's best kept secret! Is it any wonder that they can the reputation of being a safe pair of hands who isn't future partner material. If you have spent the time building up a strong brand in your firm and external marketplace, work will come to you. Of course, there is no guarantee that this work will come to you in a consistent manner!
If your business development routine is targeted, measured and implemented consistently then new leads will come your way. Be aware that seasonality may mean that they don't come in a regular manner across the year.
Heather Townsend is a best selling author and executive coach who helps people make partner in the legal, accounting, and consultancy professions. Click here to download Heather’s FREE ebook containing all of the 10 lessons. She blogs on the How To Make Partner website, where you can read many more articles about winning new business.
The new edition of the best selling How To Make Partner And Still Have a Life is out in September 2016. It’s been called ‘an absolute must-read (and potential life saver) for anyone pursuing a professional career.’
Buy your copy now and get 20% discount with the code H2MPG20
What would be the impact on your business if you lost several of your best team members?
No doubt it would be a very detrimental effect. It would be costly, timely and not only do you lose the revenue but you also lose client relationships and all of the effort and training that you have invested over the course of their time with you. Above all, the biggest impact this can have is the “knock on effect” of other colleagues following suit and the lowering of morale within the rest of the team. At Pro-Recruitment we don’t simply fill vacancies for clients but we partner with you to retain your best talent, which is why we are a preferred supplier to most of the FTSE100 and all of the Big 4 and Top 10 accountancy firms throughout the UK.
1. Do you water your plants? Well, do the same for your staff…
In order for your plants to grow, you have to water them and give them light. Quite simply you need to do the same for your employees. You need to allow them room to grow, feed them with training and information in order for them to further their skill set and develop as a professional. Your best employees, those employees you want to retain, seek frequent opportunities to learn and grow in their careers. Without the opportunity to train, try new opportunities and attend seminars and courses employees feel they will stagnate. A career-orientated and valued employee must experience growth opportunities within your organisation. They also need to see a space that they can grow into; otherwise they won’t grow, just like plants.
When was the last time you asked an employee if they felt they were developing or asked them what else you can do to help develop them?
2. Did you get bored and move on? Well, so will your staff...
Talent and skill utilisation is another factor your key employees seek in your workplace. So often when candidates register with us they want to try something new and in their current firm or company, they are unable to do so. A motivated employee wants to contribute to work areas outside of their specific job description. Think about offering secondments, project work or allowing them to do work that wouldn’t ordinarily fit into their portfolio. How many people in your business would value from working in another team or on a different project? You just need to know their skills, talent, and experience, and take the time to develop this to your advantage.
3. All you need is love!
Frequently saying ‘thank you’ goes a long way. So often when we interview candidates there is a common theme that people don’t feel valued. Your staff members must feel rewarded, recognised and appreciated. Most businesses tend to make new employees feel very welcome, take them for lunch and invest time and training into them. However, over a period of time we forget to value or say thank you to longer standing members of staff.
A few ideas that have been implemented that we have seen work well and have a positive response are;
Treating a long standing team member to a lavish meal or trip to the theatre with a partner/friend to show your appreciation for recent hard work/long hours.
Offering employees the chance to leave early or have a1/2 day holiday on a Friday, giving them recognition for the work they have done
Treating the whole team to a Pizza one lunch time, just because you can, it will raise staff morale more than you would think
These small touches make a difference!
Recognise when individuals are doing well, and encourage them. The best form of recognition is instant.Good leaders recognise their staff in front of others, a ‘pat on the back’ and praise in the office goes a long way, so step outside of your office and walk the floor.
4. Show me the money...
Carry out thorough research into salaries and total reward for your industry or niche. Many companies can get the soft parts of team building and retention right, but if you overlook rewards and salaries, you may become an easy picking ground for your competitors. Managers who have a good relationship with their recruiters ask them for an overview of the market and expected salaries for their team (please ask us for the most recent salary survey in the market).
Really, the message is: don’t overpay, because you will attract individuals for the wrong reasons, and don’t underpay, because you will lose staff and find it hard to replace them.
Some companies are so afraid of losing a superstar that they just pay way too much without really finding out what the employee’s other needs are. Many superstars just want simple additions to their salary such as working one day from home, the freedom to try their own projects, flexible hours or the ability to attend training courses.
Call us for a full list of ideas and benefits that are offered by other clients.
5. Do people in your team smile?
The age old saying “You spend more time with the people you work with than you do with your friends and family” is very true. That is why creating a friendly and welcoming place where people smile and enjoy their environment is imperative. Don’t get us wrong, employees are there to work but you must strike a healthy balance to create a conducive environment.
Arrange time out of the office to focus on team building and camaraderie, it actually works very well. It can bring your team closer together, because they experience each other in a different environment, outside of work. A few other things that can help create this environment could be;
A pub lunch once a quarter for the team
Show an interest in your staff. Genuinely asking your team about their weekend and their private life, knowing the names of their spouse/ children/ pets can make a very personal difference
Having a more casual working environment once a week, such as, “dress down Friday”
Treat the team in the office on a Friday at 4pm to say well done on a hard week (beer/cakes/doughnuts have worked well)
Try to implement just one or two of the above suggestions, or stop and ask yourself, do you do this for you staff already? Some of these suggestions cost you nothing but a little time and effort.
The outcome - You will be more likely to keep your superstars with you for the long haul.
Want more top tips?
Pat Keogh is Managing Director of Pro-Recruitment Group.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 269 6311
A counter offer is a last ditch effort by a company to hang on to their top talent. At Pro-Legal we have seen a significant increase over the last couple of years in organizations trying to hold onto their key staff. Whilst this situation doesn’t always end up the way you would want it to, there are some steps that we can help you put in place to put you in the best position should this situation occur during your hiring process.
Here are my top tips to handle a counter offer from the outset of your recruitment process.
1. Sell from the outset
It is imperative to make sure that you sell a situation from the very beginning, this starts with writing a compelling job specification. Does the role have career progression? Work/life balance? Remember to illustrate this in all the specification.
Make sure that whoever is involved in the hiring process (your immediate team, HR, external recruitment) is fully aware of your organisational culture so that they are able to sell this to any candidates.
2. Know your candidate
From the outset get to know the candidate; why are they looking to leave? Do they just want a pay rise? Is it a promotion they are after?
Remind the candidate of the reasons that they chose to explore your opportunity, and give them peace of mind that you can deliver on what they are looking for. But don’t over promise and underachieve!
3. Cover the counter offer!
Why not try to mitigate the chance of a counter offer by addressing it during the interview stage?
This follows from knowing your candidate, but an interview is a chance to really delve into their motivations. Ask them directly about their reasons for leaving and the action they would consider taking if their current employer asks them to stay. Are there any warning bells at this stage? ‘I love my boss and my team – I’m only looking for more money’
You must get to the bottom of this during the interview to avoid being drawn into a bidding war.
4. Contact, contact, contact
Upon making an offer to the candidate, give them an opportunity to come in and meet with the wider team. This will increase the candidates buy in and also gives you another chance to address any concerns that can be raised.
Upon reaching a decision and having an offer accepted it’s easy to become complacent. You’ve found your new addition to the team and the candidate has found that new opportunity they have been looking for.
This is where it is vital for complacency not to kick in! You must stay in contact with the new hire until they have joined your team and they are at their desk. By keeping in touch - finding out how their boss took their resignation - you stand a better chance of keeping things flowing and maintaining control of the process.
5. Use a professional recruiter
A good recruiter will understand the importance of controlling the process; they will have prepped their candidates for the possibility of the counter offer. They will have spent time getting to know their candidates and the candidates’ motivations before introducing them to you, the client.
A good recruiter will shortlist only talent who have genuine motivation to move; those who are simply looking for a bargaining tool with their current employer don’t tend to make the shortlist.
6. Know when to walk!
We all know that the recruiting process is very much a two-way thing. As an employer you are looking to attract the best talent, and an employee is looking to join the best organisation for them. Make your first offer your best one; throughout the process you should have sold the benefits of the role and organisation – you want it to be the opportunity that attracts the right talent – not the thoughts of the extra cash that they want added to a salary at the last minute.
Make sure that you get to know your candidate, their motivation to leave their role and what they are looking for. Sell them the benefits of your opportunity and organisation, using professional help to guide you through the recruitment process. Know when it’s simply better to walk away.
Please remember that each counter offer is different, so for more advice please do get in touch.
Conor Dilworth is Director of Pro-Legal.
email@example.com or 0207 269 6339