In a dynamic and constantly changing professional services market, ensuring you have the right team in place to drive your firm forward is more important than ever. But building a great team that works well together doesn’t happen by accident; it takes time, careful planning, and management to attract and retain the right people that will give your organisation the best chance of success.
With a great team in place, your practice becomes a business with fundamental value beyond yourself, leaving you confident that when you are not present, your team are working to complete projects to a high standard, clients are being communicated with effectively, and you are profitable.
When building and maintaining a team to achieve your wider business ambitions, the following steps outline some of the key elements to consider:
Find the best people, not just the best of those who happen to be looking to move jobs.
Bear in mind that building a high-performance team begins with finding high performance individuals or those with the right attitudes and behaviours to become high-performers. At any given moment in time, it is estimated that less than 10% of the market are actively interested in seeking a new role and furthermore, this disengaged minority is unlikely to contain the best people. To reach the high performers, it is obvious that advertising and agencies are unlikely to yield the reliably best results so consider utilising your network overlaid with executive search, assuming the role is important enough to justify the additional cost.
Identify what high-performance looks like.
Before you begin to recruit therefore, the first step is to ensure your expectations and culture are well defined. This will allow you to employ based on the skills that will match your broader values, rather than simply fill a position. There is a huge number of excellent solicitors, accountants and advisors out there but finding those who can think entrepreneurially, win the confidence of new clients quickly, build their won teams, and navigate tricky waters with ease, is difficult. What does adequate performance look like; when does adequate become notable and when does notable become excellent? The gaps between these three steps is where you will start to identify those whose potential can be developed.
Build your group of specialists into an integrated team
Groups of lawyers, investment managers or any professional advisors become a firm through a common purpose and shared values, including assisting, cooperating and supporting each other. This is done within a corporate culture that will be reshaped over time by a range of internal and external factors, but should intrinsically remain consistent as it trickles down from the top. You can define your firm’s culture by assessing your values, work ethic, relationships between team members, and how your team practice as a whole.
Selecting the right specialists to join your team is the first step to success, however, integrating them into your team and building that ‘team mind set’ is essential so identifying cultural fit is as important as their ‘special skills’. Ensuring the culture and shared purpose motivates and inspires your team to excel is the foundation for building, integrating, and maintaining a successful team. Communicating this and genuinely living it means you should then be able to rely on your existing team to translate this embedded culture to new team members. Conversely, not having a clear company culture can often result in a high turnover of staff, internal conflict, and lack of direction.
Establish specific goals to achieve your company vision
Turning these values into reality requires a set of specific processes to ensure your team understand their own personal and team goals. This will provide them with the opportunity to feel empowered to maximise their potential within the firm and achieve the company vision. In order to articulate these goals, effective leadership that motivates employees to embrace and achieve these goals must be in place. This requires good communication, patience, consistency, and fairness.
Encourage open communication
Where you can, being open and transparent about issues relating to the company is key to ensuring your team feel valued and are invested in the ongoing activity within the firm. Creating an environment where your team feel comfortable to express ideas or concerns will provide them with equal opportunity to be part of company discussions and play a part in suggesting creative ways to resolve challenges and opportunities the company faces. In such a competitive market, a proactive and reactive approach to problem-solving will place your organisation well in relation to the rest.
Ensuring long-term success
In a competitive and constantly evolving market space, how professional services firms operate, rather than simply what they do, will stand them apart from the competition. People are your most important asset – you need an outstanding team around you to succeed which begins with attracting the best and is cemented by working hard to retain them. Having great people who know their greater purpose in the team will stand you in excellent stead for long-term success.