Many accounting & advisory firms have programs that give bonuses to staff for sourcing candidates for open positions. In some cases, these programs are highly successful, in many they are not. What makes the difference?
The answer is culture. The companies that do this well begin the process before staff join the firm. During recruiting interviews, the importance of attracting and developing people at all levels is stressed as an important priority for the firm. Candidates are told that they will be mentored and will be expected to mentor others as their career progress — note the subtle message, working the expectation of career progression into an early interview. They are also told that attracting great team members is an important part of their job. If fact, during orientation, this aspect is covered in detail along with the importance to their careers of networking.
As one partner recently said: “We tell our candidates that they are joining a great team, and they need to contribute to the strength of the team in two ways — personal development and internal referrals. I typically say: “The future of this firm is in your hands, and when you sit in my chair, you’ll really understand why. Build your network every day. Use it to help us get other great staff and use it later to attract business when your contacts move to senior roles at clients. Just start today, it’s the best career decision you can make.”
If you want this culture, your partners need to cascade it down to staff by being great mentors and making recruiting and performance management high priorities. There’s a war for talent out there. This is the way to win.