Wow. Two stories, two witches and two similar views of themselves. What incredible stories and relatable to where we are today. I was at a recent Firm Management conference and sat in a partner round table discussion about the growing retention problem in our profession. The scariest part was that we had just had a day of an expert pointing out all of the generational differences in our firms but yet the conclusions of this group sounded vaguely familiar. How do we retain people? All I could see was every partner in the place holding a mirror and asking the same question as Maleficent.
I heard “best practice” after best practice. Bonuses, deferred compensation, retention payments and even more. Some of the most creative ways to pay people to STAY at these firms. One thought kept coming to mind, the stories of these witches! Here are all of these managing partners looking in the mirror and believing that they are the fairest in the land and not understanding why people do not want to stay at their organization. The whole time they are not hearing the REAL message. “My Managing Partner, you are the fairest HERE So true, but EVERY OTHER COMPANY is more beautiful than you”. Yes. Our perception of ourselves can get in the way of how everyone else perceives us and how much other people really WANT to be a part of our organizations. In this situation, the firms that people are leaving for are simply "prettier" than you are but yet our view of ourselves won't allow us to understand why people are leaving. So let me help you.
You. You. You. You are the reason why people are leaving your firm and you have a retention problem. The man (or woman) in the mirror. Why is that? Well, here is a brief overview of the 3 main issues:
The Place – It Stinks No, really, it stinks. You last painted the walls and updated the furniture in 1972 or earlier, there has been no investment in the place and you wonder why they leave. Place is important. When you finally decide to update the furniture, you don’t make the office collaborative, open and transparent. Why? Because you didn’t like it that way. Smh. (Look it up). Hire a consultant and invest a few dollars in the Place. You will be amazed at the result!
The Vision and Values – What? You have them? Seriously? And what are they? Have you told your team the vision of the organization or the values? This generation needs purpose, if you don’t provide it, they leave. Give you team purpose and share your vision! Define your values. Have practices in your organization that support those values.
Passion & Energy People being to wonder if we exist or if we are a ghost. Are you alive? Do you care about anything AT ALL? If you don’t interact with us, how do we know that? You stay in your office all day expecting us to figure it out. We can’t tell that you REALLY believe in what you are doing and where we are going. Get up and get moving! Let the team see you passion and energy, it is infectious. It makes people want to work with you and be in your office.
Yes, the truth is in the mirror. The reason you are not retaining people is that there is a prettier princess in the market. Run, hide, pretend it doesn’t exist. Throw money at it. Or you could change and make your place a place where people WANT to be. Start with these three things and BE BETTER. You can’t buy your way into retention. Purpose will do more for you than money. Listen to the mirror, it is speaking to you.
Wesley Middleton is the managing partner at MRZ LLP, a Houston, Texas-based accounting firm voted Best Place to Work by the Houston Business Journal. Wesley is the author of Violent Leadership (Forbes Books, 2017) and is represented by PumpJack Speakers Bureau. To book Wesley for your event, email Wesley.Middleton@PumpJack.me or click here.