Mentoring prospective partners

I was a guest of Taxation magazine at their Annual Taxation awards ceremony last night. Big black-tie event at the Park Lane Hilton hotel. Met loads of people who had said they’d received my recent email newsletters and that they had not ‘removed’ themselves from my mailing list. Phew!

Sat next to a really nice guy who is the managing partner of a regional office of one of the top ten accountancy firms in the UK. He was very positive and enthusiastic about engaging me to mentor prospective partners in the firm.

He certainly seemed to buy into the proposition that it would benefit the firm and the individuals to engage me to help key mangers develop the business skills required for them to become valuable partners in the firm. He had some very complimentary things to say about me and how his firm could benefit from having me share my ’secrets’ with prospective partners.

He went further and commented that I could probably teach a number of the partners a thing or two too. Especially those partners who are good at the technical side of their role but perhaps less effective as regards the other aspects of their role.

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Facilitating partner meetings

Do any of the following sound familiar?

“Our partner meetings would be a lot more productive if they were chaired by an external facilitator.”

“If we let someone else chair the meetings then all partners could contribute equally.”

“Why don’t we ever stick to the agenda and remain focused on the important issues for the firm?

“Other firms involve external facilitators to run partner away days. Why don’t we find out why?”

It was hearing things like this that prompted me to reflect on one of my key achievements in recent years. I was appointed the Chairman of the MRI UK Tax working party in 2001. I was required to organise and chair regular meetings of anything from 12-25 tax partners from the various UK member firms of the MRI network of independent accounting practices. By all accounts I performed so well that many participants wanted me to retain the role even when I left the member firm and had no ongoing connection with MRI.

My facilitation experience goes much wider of course. It includes meetings and training sessions at what was Touche Ross (now Deloitte.), Clark Whitehill, BDO Stoy Hayward, Chiltern plc and the ICAEW Tax Faculty where I was appointed Chairman from 2003-2005.

I suspect that most people would agree that an experienced external facilitator can help ensure that teams can reach higher levels of achievement. When the facilitator has, as I do, significant relevant experience and is willing to share the benefits of his background in a supportive and constructive manner, so much the better.

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