How to motivate and retain your talent

June 11, 2019

By Dawn Wotapka at Journal of Accountancy on June 10, 2019

When it comes time to grow their business and bolster their reputation, accounting firms often turn to recruiters to attract dazzling — and, likely, expensive — new talent. Perhaps a better strategy is to develop existing employees, according to Philip Palaveev, the founder and CEO of The Ensemble Practice LLC, a business management consulting firm based in Seattle.

“A lot of businesses recognize they need good people. They want to have talented professionals, but they don’t want to train them or develop them,” said Palaveev, who spoke Monday at the AICPA ENGAGE 2019 conference in Las Vegas.

That, he said, can be a mistake: “The best talent is the talent inside your own organization. Those are the people who are most loyal, who understand the culture and can relate best to your clients.”

Palaveev, a speaker and author of The Ensemble Practice and G2: Building the Next Generation, recommended these ways to nurture existing talent:

Invest time. It takes between seven and 10 years to fully develop a new adviser’s capabilities to the point where he or she is capable of both servicing existing clients and attracting new ones, Palaveev said, though that doesn’t mean you won’t see results along the way.

“You’re planting a tree, and you’re not going to see a full harvest for 10 years,” he said. “Many people, given that equation, prefer to buy the apples in the market, but ultimately that is not a sustainable way of having a profitable orchard.”

Develop people. Once you’ve identified employees to nurture, take the time to coach and mentor them with both short-term and long-term guidance and advice that can encompass both day-to-day issues and career planning.

“Every professional needs to be following in the steps of someone interested in their career. They need to spend time learning and shadowing,” Palaveev said.

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