Topical staffing issues and how to deal with them.

Every practitioners has experienced the frustration of losing staff members to competitor firms and not being able to recruit new team members of suitable quality. There are two main issues to deal with here; firstly how to retain the team members you want to keep and develop within the firm and secondly, how to attract high quality new recruits to keep pace with the firms growth.

How to retain team members
Even the smallest of practices can have systems and processes in place akin to a larger firm. It is often these processes that team members value most. They want the benefits of working within a smaller firm and all that brings in terms of varied experience and more client contact whilst also having the career development offered by larger firms.

Check if you have the following in place:

  • Regular formal 6 monthly career development reviews and personalised training plans.
  • Regular feedback on jobs
  • Regular surveys to know what your team actually needs and what needs changing within the firm.
  • Systems to measure ‘team satisfaction’ at least monthly. This enable you to identify the small issues and deal with them. If left un-noticed then they can grow and the first you know about it is when presented with a resignation letter!
  • Systems to reward performance. The reward is often non- financial. Ask the team what they want and give them a choice.
  • Look at the office environment. Small things like fruit, snacks, chilled water and coffee machines are still lacking in many firms and make a difference. Treat your team as you would your clients.
  • Do you have a business plan that is shared at least annually with the team? This makes people feel secure in knowing where their own role is going and the part they play in the firm.
  • Does everyone have a very clear picture of each individual team member’s roles and responsibilities and the firms’ organisation chart? This sounds obvious but again there are many firms where people don’t actually know who does what.
  • Finish early Fridays, a day off on your birthday, extra shopping day at Christmas, team pizza/takeaway in office lunch, flexible working hours. These are all things that are often seen on a ‘menu of employment terms’ for team members to pick and choose from dependent on what is important to the individual.

How to attract high quality new recruits
Are you as a firm keeping up to date with what many of your competitors firms are offering?

Ask yourself why someone would want to come and work specifically in your firm. You are well versed in talking to clients about why they should choose your firm but what about team members you employ?

Key points to consider;

  • A clear job role you are recruiting for including detailed roles and responsibilities.
  • Explain why your firm is an attractive proposition for a new recruit and why it is different from other firms- go through the above list of what you offer.
  • Get existing team members involved in the interview and selection process. Let them talk honestly to a potential new recruit about what it’s like to working your firm. This is very powerful. Also, a new team member will settle in better when the existing team has been part of the decision in bringing them on board.
  • Do you have a clear interview system- from how candidates are greeted, introduced to the team, asked questions etc? Make sure your system is in place so there is consistency in how you interview regardless of the time or day of the week or mood you are in!
  • Listen more and talk less. The candidate will have already researched your firm, they don’t want a sales pitch about how great you are! Ask more what it is they are looking for and see if you can deliver it.
  • I remain concerned that when many firms take on someone new the new team member turns up on a Monday and no one knows who they are who is looking after them. The partner who interviewed them is out or in meetings and it can go weeks before anyone gives any feedback. There is surprise then often when that person looks to move on! Again, treat new team members like clients. Make them welcome. Make sure there is a clear induction process and your offer letter detailed exactly what they would be doing in the first month. Assign a mentor to show them the ropes and introduce them to the team. Check in with them weekly at least for the probationary period and give feedback on each job.

CONCLUSION
Your team are the main assets within your firm. Recruitment is costly and time consuming. Look at is as if it were any other significant investment in your business. The market place is increasingly competitive and candidates are well versed in what firm now offer as fairly standard. Candidates now place equal importance on nonfinancial matters such as the culture within a firm and the working environment. It may be timely for you to do your own Healthcheck.

May 2016 Copyright - Finola McManus, Practice Perfect

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