Hint: It’s not about how smart they are or hard they work.
By Rick Telberg
How do you spot the hidden rock stars on your staff?
And what do up-and-coming tax, accounting and finance professionals need to know to get ahead in today’s profession?
These aren’t idle questions. Many firms and individuals are struggling with these issues right now. But don’t take it from me. Just listen to the decision-makers from a dozen firms I met with in a Milwaukee hotel recently. The mission: Learn how to deal with a looming new staff shortage. Some took away solid action plans. “Our firm,” said one, “is trying to develop our rock stars and this showed me we need to be doing more.” Another said, “Excellent! It gave us the details and the ‘how-to.’”
Interestingly, the Milwaukee group’s conclusions and recommendations closely parallel our related research findings. So we can be fairly certain that we’ve obtained some of the profession’s favorite strategies.
You could probably adapt one of our methods for your firm. In Milwaukee, we divided the group into two teams, the Green Team and the Blue Team. After some preliminary coaching, each team hammered out a list of the top five talent indicators – the clues in an employee’s behaviors and attitudes that demonstrate the highest likelihood of the best ROI for a firm’s time, energy, and money in training, coaching and mentoring. Then the group filled several flip chart pages with their lists and hashed them out with each other. After identifying the key indicators, we moved on to identifying the best strategies for recruiting, grooming and retaining top talent.
By far, the top predictive indicator across all firms is the trait, “They are always trying to improve.” It comes in a few flavors or variations. For instance, the Green Team at the Milwaukee strategy meeting favored a passion for “continuous learning.” The Blue Team preferred, “They do ‘extra credit’ – things that the partners wouldn’t normally expect from someone at their level.” But they add up to the same thing.