A trend we continue to see in the hiring landscape are firms lacking clarity around who they are trying to hire. This month, I want to discuss the thought framework an owner should employ before hiring a new planner. Part of that thought process is to resist the temptation to hire an exact copy of themselves and over-emphasize the business development component and skillset.
However, notwithstanding the consensus view from consultants that having a bunch of people in an organization with overlapping skill sets doesn’t make the most sense strategically, some firm owners decide to proceed down this road anyway. If that’s the case, and you do decide to hire a ‘mini-me’ - in particular, one who has an entrepreneurial and rainmaker skill set similar to yours - here are some things to be aware of:
- Candidates that have rainmaker and entrepreneur personality and skill sets similar to yours don’t need you as much as other candidates who don’t have these skills. After all, young rainmakers and entrepreneurs can always go start their own business (as you probably did at their age!)! Therefore, getting these types of candidates to come work for you can be challenging. If these candidates are true entrepreneurs (like you are), they probably either have their own firms already or will be starting one in the near future via XY Planning Network, Garrett Planning Network, and the Alliance for Comprehensive Planners.
- Rainmaker/entrepreneur candidates are not going to be satisfied in a support advisor type role indefinitely. If your goal is simply to hire someone to do a specified job at your firm forever, there will be a mismatch; these candidate types are looking for a career, not just a job. If you can’t or won’t give them increased responsibilities, client interaction, compensation, and career satisfaction, they will look for opportunities elsewhere in no more than just a few years.
- Don’t be surprised if they push back on your ideas (which can be a good thing if done in a non-threatening professional respectful way). Although this challenge of opinions can contribute to firm growth, it can be a source of frustration for unsuspecting firm owners. For more on this, check out “Hire People Who Disagree with You” by John Baldoni. If you say you don’t want a “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” type candidate, make sure you mean it.
- An organizational chart, job description, expectations summary, compensation summary, and career track ladder should be provided to any new professional hire. However, these ‘mini me’ type candidates will be much more focused on what they have to do specifically to move to the top of the career track ladder as fast as possible. Organizations have lost a lot of good talent by simply not being able to promote them quickly enough. If you go this route in your hiring, don’t get caught in the same trap – give your new planner the best chance for success, and be prepared to move them up if they achieve the goals you set and be careful to not change the goals after they meet them. Keep in mind if you are seeking employees that will ‘think like an owner’, after a while they will likely really want to become an owner and if you can’t or don’t want to provide that, be careful what you ask for.
Here are some questions that firm owners should ask themselves before they hire, but especially before they hire someone just like them:
- What does the professional career track look like for an entry-level position hire? Are the expectations and time frames reasonable for a new hire to move up the career ladder?
- How does this new hire fit in? What will they do that I don’t want to?
- Can I work with someone like me?
- What would my previous employers say it was like to manage me?
- I had to start my own firm to find my right fit – is my new ‘mini-me’ going to leave to start their own firm?
In the end, many of the firms with the most successful growth achieve it by hiring people with a strong entrepreneurial drive and the ability to “make rain” and help grow the business. But doing so introduces unique challenges for the firm, both in developing the talent, and in the process of hiring the right fit for your business’s needs. It can be a rewarding path, but only when done with deliberate and well-planned thought and action.
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