A friend of mine, Stephen Harvard Davis, is an expert at helping businesses retain top talent. I’ve just been inspired to add this item to my blog having read something similar on Stephen’s blog which focuses more on job transition in larger corporate businesses.

1 – Don’t presume that good prospective partners will always be available.

When I ask managing partners and team leaders what is the biggest issue facing their firms the reply is invariably related to partnership succession. Retaining good people who might be tempted away is one concern. Another is the difficulty of distinguishing the firm, especially the smaller and medium-sized one, such that prospective new partners are motivated to join.

2 – Identify the skills and specialist knowledge the firm needs to sustain it into the future and how you are going to attract it.

Do you just need an additional partner to make up the numbers or to add new specialisms? Is the work flow already there for them or will they have to spend a lot of their time winning new work? If a partner is coming up for retirement do you need someone with the same skills (and if so how easy will it be to find them?) or might this be an opportunity to enhance the skill set of the partner group?

3 – Look at how your competitors attract and retain their new partners.

What actions can you adopt and improve? Can you make a valuable promise that they can’t easily match? How about a mentoring course provided by a credible external expert as evidence of the firm’s intention to help the new recruit develop and enhance their skill set? [Obviously I would suggest that wouldn’t I, but only because it make sense.]

4 – Don’t throw money at prospective partners.

Retaining or attracting partners by using salaries and guaranteed profit shares is destined to fail. The simple reason is that there will always be another firm that can offer more money and besides, the right new partner for your firm isn’t always attracted just by money.

5 – Identify the reasons why prospective partner would be attracted to work for your firm.

What makes your firm different? The people? The partners? Is that enough or is just a cop-out? How can you evidence your promises and commitment to the prospective new recruit?

6 – Identify the reasons why your partners might be attracted to work for a competitor firm.

It can be dangerous to assume that just because none have left that they haven’t considered doing so. Some prospective partners may be just biding their time waiting for the right opportunity to come along.

7 – Don’t treat all partners and prospective partners the same way.

Everyone is different so a ‘one size fits all’ policy doesn’t work as there are different types of partner and they are looking for different things from a firm – whether it’s the one they trained with or it’s one they moved to more recently.

8 – Remember that if you lose one person you consider a prospective partner then ‘the risk’ of you losing others increases by 50%.

Equally if you attract someone who has the right attributes then the chance of attracting more people like that increases by 50%.