Building Your Bench for Succession – A Few Ideas to Help You
Thousands of firms are working through the succession and retirement of senior partners and deciding along the way whether or not they can pull it off internally and stay independent. The single most important factor for success is what we see when we look over our shoulder – is the bench of people there to succeed us? Here are some ideas to recruit and keep employees on your team:
• Make recruiting a constant effort in your firm meaning that you are always looking for people, not just when someone leaves. If you make the commitment to hire more than you need another very healthy thing will likely happen – you will actually be able to make choices and outplace the weaker players, strengthening the team along the way.
• Firms having the best success building their bench almost always have a commitment to grow their own. That means a commitment to a campus recruiting process and not being afraid to compete with the larger firms.
• Create an internship program in your firm. It is a tremendous way to get a test drive before you actually hire someone.
• Make sure that you have a staff bonus program for recruiting experienced people. You want your team talking to friends about how great it is to work for you and with some skin in the game, they will be more inclined to send you quality candidates.
• Do a better job in defining your position descriptions and what it takes to advance to the next level in your firm.
• Make it clear what the career progression is in your firm and what the ladder looks like. It is important that everyone else in the firm knows who is on the partner track and who is not. You will lose younger “stars” who want to move up if they think the ladder is clogged by too many people above them.
• The college grads that you are hiring today want to be “a part of it”. Short of putting new hires on the Executive Committee, there are things that you can do to make your people feel more engaged. Here are a few examples:
1. Find opportunities to talk about your mission and vision often and how the firm’s actions and direction are consistent with them.
2. Put young people on task forces and committees of the firm. Better yet, form an Inclusion Committee to get their ideas on how the firm can improve communications with and involvement of the team.
3. Create opportunities to communicate with the team especially from the firm’s management/leadership group. For example, meet with your manager group after partner meetings to keep them informed; hold an open forum lunch for staff with your managing partner a couple of times a year.
Building your bench is a big job and it involves several different fronts. For smaller firms it is much more difficult to devote the resources to get it done. With that said, it is the answer to perpetuating your firm and accomplishing internal succession. Read the full story on this topic here.