The art of staff development: Be a builder
I recently came across Cincinnati Partner Blake Roe’s bio on our new website. “I’m passionate about helping my team members achieve their goals,” he writes. “Each year, we have a firm conference to celebrate our accomplishments and spotlight our new partners. My goal is to be thanked in as many new-partner acceptance speeches as possible — my current tally is eight and counting.”
I love this because it epitomizes a piece of advice I often give to new partners: if you want to look back on your career and see success, be a builder. That can mean a number of things; you can build a business, build a niche within a business, or you can build and develop people. Blake is a fantastic builder of people — one of many we’re fortunate to have at Plante Moran. And, that skill is so critical, particularly today.
It’s weird; given how acclimated Generations Y and Z are to change, you’d think they’d have a clearer vision for what their futures can be. But, they don’t. When many younger staff members look at the way things are at an organization, they assume it’ll always be that way. Part of being a builder of people is to paint the picture of what could be — both short and long term.
If you want to look back on your career and see success, be a builder.
I remember years ago — probably more like a couple of decades ago — I was having dinner with a talented member of my team named Beth Bialy. She told me she had an offer from a client that she was considering. So, I did what Frank Moran had taught me to do: I set my biases aside and said, “Let’s work through this and see what’s in your best interest.” After all, what was in Beth’s best interest would be in the best interest of the firm in the end.
When I asked what was leading her to consider another offer, she told me that she didn’t see a future where she could be partner at Plante Moran. “We have so many partners in the governmental practice,” she said. “There’s just no room for me.”
But, I knew something she didn’t. I knew I was going to move on to something else, as were a couple of other partners within the practice. Still, I hadn’t painted the picture well enough that she could see down that road. Luckily, once she got a sense of the long-term opportunities for her, she stuck around, became a partner soon after that, and as of July 1, she was promoted to serve on our seven-person firm leadership team. (Can you imagine what would have happened if Beth Bialy had left the firm on my watch? Talk about a staff development failure.)
I was fortunate. My mentors did a great job painting the picture of what my career could be early on, and it’s been a great pleasure for me to do the same for others. After all, no one wants to look back and think, “I wasn’t great at building, but I was a heck of a maintainer.”
How about you? What are you building? How do you go about developing people at your organization?