How to recruit and retain the right staff

OK- you have by now read this series of articles and have a business plan, a marketing plan, improved your gross margin, managed your own time and feel life should be good ! Why then can't you find or retain the right people to work in your firm ? They broke the mould when they made you and the younger generation just aren't made of the same stuff as you ! If any of that strikes a chord with you then read on.

  • Plan ahead.....what does your production schedule and workplanner tell you for the year ahead ? When are you likely to need new people especially when you consider your marketing plan and winning additional work targets.
  • Nurture recruitment agency contacts. Meet with them so they can see your firm and know your business. Have an 'ongoing' recruitment policy and see good quality candidates as they become available. Don't just look to recruit when you have a gap to fill. The most su c cessful firms I know recruit good quality people and make a role for them. This always proves successful in the longer term and practitioners find they have no problem in finding work to keep them busy.
  • What can you offer as an employer that will make people w an t to work with you ? Do you share your business plan with your team so they know where they fit in and what the future holds for them ?
  • Do you regularly survey your team, get feedback and report back to them on how you have taken their issues on board and what you have done about it. This may sound a bit 'fluffy' and in the territory of what only larger firms do. However, smaller practices who do this report that the business plan progresses much more effectively and it sets them apart as a successful firm.
  • Do you have a system of communicating regularly with your team so they feel involved in the business ?
  • Do you have a simple system in place to measure how existing team members feel. This really does help you to retain good people. How often has someone handed in their notice and when asked why they are leaving you say 'If only you had told me....I could have done something about it ?' Again, measuring peoples happiness really does help to retain those you want to keep within your firm and proves that you are different as an employer.
  • When interviewing do you have a set list of questions that you always ask people ? Don't just focus on technical matters- you want to assess an individuals' attitude and personality. Also, everyone is human. How often have you conducted an interview that is different depending on your mood or the time of day ? With a system in place you can ask the same questions every time and ensure every candidate receives the same information and impression of the firm.
  • Get your team involved in the interview and recruitment process. Second interviews are often best conducted when they are held by a member of the team and not you. If the team is involved in the process then a new recruit will be much more likely to have a clearer picture of what it is like to work for you and will settle in better.
  • Do you have clear written roles and responsibilities for everyone in your firm ? This simple 'booklet' is easy to produce and should be shared with candidates and existing employees. Again, this makes it clear how existing team members and new recruits fit in to the big picture. People like clarity and the sense of security of what part they have to play in the development of the firm and its business plan.
  • Do you have a comprehensive job offer letter which includes what the induction progress will be and how a new recruit will be trained on what to do ?
  • When someone leaves or joins do ensure that everyone else in your firm knows about it. I have often seen a new team member join a firm with no one knowing who they are or where they will even sit ! Ask yourself what kind of impression this makes and is it any wonder that people then chose to move on in a short time to another job?
  • Many firms now offer 'working second interviews' whereby a candidate come back for half a day and is 'tested' on a piece of work so you can assess their technical competence. This can prove very effective.
  • Accept that not everyone wants to progress in the firm. Such people can still be a valuable asset- make sure they know that.
  • Do you have a visible training plan for all your team ? For people to want to work and stay with you they need to know how you will train them,give them feedback and offer skills development. This is also necesary for you as an employer in order to people to become more competent and valuable to the development of your business plan.
  • What do you have in place to ensure people feel valued in your organisation and how do you reward them ? Reward does not mean just financial. Have a f le xible package of rewards as time off may be more important to some whereas others are target and financial driven or put a greater value on a social day or evening out.
  • When a new recruit starts working for you ensure you meet with them weekly for the first 3 months to give and receive feedback. Many times I have listened to practitioners say 'Oh- they were useless and had to leave within 3 months and it has cost me a fortune !' When I dig a little deeper I find that the new recruit had no opportunity to see the partner and had no idea what their role was or what exactly they were meant to be doing other than be given a box of records and told to get on with it ! No feedback on jobs is given and no opportunity to learn from mistakes.Often, they didn't even know who their 'mentor' was who they could go to and seek guidance or training from.

All of the above are very basic and simple measures that can be readily put in place. They don't involved a huge amount of partner time or cost and yet will save thousands of pounds in recruitment fees and disrupted production schedules and resulting damage to client service levels. Food for thought.

I am happy to answer individual questions by e-mail on this topic.Please send any questions you have to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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