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Recruiting and Retaining a High-Performing Team

Being able to recruit people with the right skills is crucial for any professional services organization. It can be challenging to find talented employees and turn them into valued members of your high-performing team.

Finding the right person for your team is only the beginning. There are hurdles that must be recognized along the entire employee journey — from recruiting to retaining — otherwise, employees may feel undervalued or that they are not being given the opportunity to advance in their careers.

For employees to be successful in their roles, you must provide guidance and opportunities for them — and not just at the beginning. Training and onboarding is the first time you have the chance to show a new employee that your company prioritizes supporting them in their success. Once the training and onboarding portion is over, are you giving your employees access to more senior members of staff for advice and guidance for further honing of their skills and expertise?

Retaining employees once on-boarded and trained is key to success — just like any sports coach who has put together a winning team — no manager wants to regularly lose their top hitters. Finding and training replacements takes time, which could be time wasted if the new hires also leave quickly. The most obvious way to make sure you retain your best employees is to make sure they feel like your organization is a great place to work. This can be fueled by giving your employees:

  • The opportunity to develop their expertise and skills
  • The ability to mold the direction of their own career growth
  • Access to a variety of engagements that expand their knowledge, experience, and skills
  • The right balance between internal and customer-focused (external) work
  • The ability to learn and/or teach in-demand skills with other team members

Most professional services leaders struggle with granting some or all of these opportunities to their staff. Here are some tips to creating processes that will help to increase the chance of repeatable employee success.

Underlying Challenges

No matter what advances there are in technology, managing people is always likely to be challenging and complex. However, the first step to building repeatable success is to identify some of the pressure points that can make it more difficult than it needs to be.

1. Recruiting is a Scramble

A thoughtful recruitment process takes time — finding good candidates, assessing the different mix of skills that they have, and how they will add to the current team you are fielding. But all too often in professional services, time is the one thing you don’t have. By the time the management team gives the OK to start the hiring process, it is because people are not available to deliver committed work, so it becomes a scramble to go out there and grab someone. That time pressure makes it much more difficult to recruit effectively.

2. The On-boarding Process is Ineffective

Once a new team-member has been recruited, there can be a gap between the excitement they felt at the interview stage and how they feel in the first few months of the new job. Sometimes they end up feeling that what they were told about the culture and mission of their new organization doesn’t measure up in reality. They may feel unsupported or underinformed. The training materials they need to help them to succeed may be out of date, there could be a lack of engagement with other team members, and all in all it can feel a struggle to see how the new person can fit in.

3. Employees Are Out of the Loop

Is information shared with employees? A survey Kimble conducted called “Dedicated But in the Dark” found that while three-quarters of employees say they care deeply about the health of their business, less than a quarter felt they had full insight into how the business was performing.

In these kinds of companies, employees are generally expected to input information into the system, information which is vital for managers to draw on to run the business. But it is a one-way street — information isn’t shared with them. This makes it more difficult for them to see the bigger picture or to evaluate their own contribution. This lack of information tends to fuel disengagement, as they are less likely to feel part of the team.

4. Employees Aren’t Involved in Resourcing Decisions

Some business leaders treat their consultants or other service professionals as “fee-dogs” — they are put on one project after another without being involved in selecting the projects they work on or setting the direction of career advancement in any way. That might have been acceptable in the past but, to attract and keep the brightest talent, that kind of approach is unlikely to be successful now. People want to develop their skills and take their careers in particular directions.

Equally, as employees do develop their skills and experience, is the business keeping up to date with what they can offer? Resourcing managers can make a better match with appropriate roles when they have access to updated profiles.

5. Incentives are Individual, Not Team-Based

In the past, bonuses and incentives were often attached to individual targets. But that doesn’t always drive the right behaviors. When it comes to sales, for example, targets are traditionally biased towards new customers — but if existing customers are a big source of repeat and new business, then arguably, the team which has been nurturing them and providing the service that is bringing them back should figure in the reward.

Incentivizing the right behaviors isn’t just about bonuses. It is also about creating a culture where people feel that their contribution is recognized and where everyone can take credit for success.

Want to learn more about Resource Management?

Visit the link below for Kimble’s PS Team Essentials Collection – a curated set of content that will lay the groundwork for understanding what challenges keep professional services teams from delivering value to their customer, and what strategies and solutions can help overcome those challenges.

Resource Management Essentials

How to Solve

A good professional services automation solution can make the recruiting, training, and retaining of employees more predictable and proactive. Having a system that houses accurate and up-to-date data increases the confidence of resource managers that their decisions will result in more satisfied employees and customers.

PSA supports resourcing managers by freeing up time otherwise spent scrambling to put together the right team — allowing them to spend more time with their employees, understanding their needs, skills, and the desired direction of their careers. This cumulates into happy employees, more successful projects, and ultimately, a more satisfied customer base that is likely to return time and time again.

1. Begin Recruiting Earlier

Because the sales process is generally quite protracted, services organizations which have visibility of the pipeline can often see ahead of time what skills are likely to be in-demand. They are likely aware what roles they are likely to have to fill and where the log-jams might occur. But that doesn’t always translate into a decision to go out to recruit as early as it should do.

Perhaps the organization doesn’t have confidence in the information regarding demand or the pipeline. Or perhaps they are not certain this will be sustained over the long term. There can be a reluctance to act on this — and thus a reluctance to begin the hiring process. But for a services organization, recruiting great people is the best way to grow.

PSA plays a critical role in increasing the accuracy of the backlog, pipeline, and future demand — all which lead to more proactive and strategic recruiting decisions. PSA will increase the trust which resourcing leaders have in the incoming demand, and will allow them to make more confident decisions about who to hire and when. PSA allows resource managers to look forward — recruit and hire in the months ahead rather than scramble to hire when a gap is identified.

2. Take a Strategic Approach to On-boarding

As soon as someone has been recruited, before they actually start work, you can begin involving and including them in outreach work, team building, online activities, and offering initial training and educational material. It’s important for resourcing leaders to have visibility into who is being on-boarded and when they will be utilizable so they can strategically and proactively put the best-fit resources onto projects. PSA allows resourcing leaders to see the status of new recruits and who will be available, and when, to be put onto billable work. This increases the chance that the right resource will be put on the right project — ultimately fueling more successful project delivery and more satisfied customers.

3. Make Information Accessible

Ensure that everyone can access the data they need to feel in the loop. In the big picture, these might be things like, what are the overall targets that the business is working towards? How are they performing against them and what part does each individual department have to play in that? Where people on the ground feel they are in the loop, they will work and contribute more effectively, and find their jobs more rewarding.

Having a PSA allows employees to access the metrics and information that will drive everyone towards the same targets and business goals. PSA can help to align all teams towards the same metrics and key performance indicators. It reduces the chance that information about KPIs will be miscommunicated from one team to the next. It doesn’t leave it up to business leaders to constantly remind their team what goal they are working towards.

The digital workplace requires people to be autonomous, to self-manage, and to make decisions which affect the future performance of the business. It’s key to share how employees’ decisions impact the overall success of the business rather than just their individual roles or within their team. In order for individuals to be confident to make the decisions they are most fit to execute on, they need relevant information at their fingertips. Having a PSA allows for access to data that is up-to-date and accurate.

4. Encourage Employees to Contribute to the Resourcing Process

One key to retaining top talent in services organizations is ensuring service delivery professionals feel engaged in their work and have a stake in their professional development. This starts with by giving users the ability to raise their hand for assignments that interest them or map to their career goals. A good PSA can ensure skilled professionals’ preferences are accounted for in the system and do not go unnoticed.

A PSA can also make it easier to keep tabs on the new skills and expertise your people are developing over time and suggest people who might be newly qualified to take on more senior roles. If people realize that updating their profiles is likely to lead to them achieving new work goals and being offered exciting new opportunities, they are that much more likely to participate in this process.

5. Review Team Performance

Think about how performance is reviewed within the organization. It is helpful to have the kind of data a PSA can provide to be able to identify which are the strongest teams and departments within the business and what are the leading practices they can share.

Teams have to be encouraged to consistently share information about what they are doing and what they have learned. If the organization is going to continue to improve, they will have to share the knowledge they have acquired on an ongoing basis with new people who join.

Final Thoughts

Recruiting and retaining high performance teams is a virtuous circle. When talented people are swiftly and effectively brought onboard a strong team, the experience is rewarding and engaging. Creating a one-team culture in turn contributes to a unified and positive customer experience.

Over 489% ROI achieved using Kimble*

See How

*A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting

489% ROI in just 3 years using Kimble PSA*

*Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting

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