In 2009, staffing fell from its perch as the number one issue in the AICPA's PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey — where it had been for several years. While the downturn in the economy has provided temporary relief to some firms, it won't last long. The fact remains that the leaders at most firms are aging and will soon retire.
Firms need to start thinking now about succession planning and who will lead the firm into the future. Whether it appears to be a vital issue or not, retaining and attracting talent is critical to the long-term viability of a firm. When I talk to most firms, they don't disagree with this statement. However, when it comes to investing in developing future staff, actions don't always back up the words. Until firms begin to focus on the root of the problem – little focus on developing the firm's middle – they will struggle to keep their best people and build a pipeline of future leaders.
People Leave Bad Managers – Not Bad Firms
The adage, "People do not leave bad firms—they leave bad managers", has never been so true. Generations X and Y are flooding the workplace, and these individuals are definitely different than Builders and Baby Boomers. Counting on loyalty to keep employees around is not enough. You need to offer the total package – a pleasant work environment, work/life balance and an opportunity to succeed and develop. The best way to ensure they get the total package is to match them up with excellent managers within your firm.
Where Are These "Good Managers?"
They are likely already sitting in a cube or office in your firm. They simply haven't been given the attention or support to transform from a good employee to a good manager. Most firms are looking for the magic bullet, but there isn't one – you are going to have to invest in mid-level people to develop them. Here are some of the top issues holding firms back (along with potential solutions):
Consequences of Not Developing the Middle
So what are the consequences of not developing your mid-level people? It will have multiple outcomes:
- Financial –If you lose your best people, especially those with valuable experience, you will have to make significant investments to recruit and hire replacements. This cost will most certainly outweigh the investment required to develop those you already employ.
- Culture – When people are constantly coming and going, it is very difficult to develop a sustainable culture within the firm.
- Human Resources – If people in your HR department are constantly transitioning employees in and out, they are taken away from efforts that pay off in the long run – making the work experience better for existing employees.
- Process – Some people have better opportunities for employment simply because they are talented and possess extraordinary potential. They likely play an important role in your processes, but if yours is like a lot of firms those processes are not well-documented.
- Succession Planning – The sustainability of your firm and its culture is better served by developing from within. Providing employees opportunities to develop a well-rounded skill set creates a pool of future leaders throughout the firm.
The Performance3 Management Summit
The Performance³™ Management Summit is the perfect opportunity for you to start developing the middle! Your current and future managers will have the opportunity to learn best practices, hear nationally recognized keynote speakers and network with other professionals from around the country. If you're serious about developing your people and building a pipeline of future leaders, this is an event your firm cannot afford to pass up!
This year's event will be held on October 25-27, 2010 at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri and will feature keynote presentations by Bruce Tulgan & Mitzi Dulan. Click here for more information on The Performance3 Management Summit.