Why do larger accounting & advisory firms grow faster organically than mid-size firms? Believe it or not, the main reason is how they develop their managers and their partner admission standards. Back in the 1980s when Big 8 firms first started hiring lateral talent, they applied a new standard: asking lateral senior managers to bring in and deliver work at partner metric levels as a path to rapid promotion to partnership. And, treating these lateral entrants differently from home-grown staff actually worked. Partner promotions from the lateral positions quickly began to account for a majority of new partner classes.
These firms got the message in a hurry: develop “our own” by challenging and measuring them the same way as the laterals are treated. The result was a whole new approach to staff development. Over time, the approach was formalized by the adoption of career frameworks aligned to technical and business development needs.
It’s time for mid-size firms to take this approach, recognizing multiple partner roles and grooming managers for them with the guidance and validation of career frameworks. Just look around, every mid-size firm has lateral stars at the senior manager and director level. It’s time to grow your own!