As a business owner, you may find that half of your time at work is spent on people issues.

This is especially true for professional services firms. It is your people that your clients pay you for, after all — their talent, experience and professionalism. It’s not about your office address or IT system, even though these may help things along a little.

With all that is going on at work on a day-to-day basis, how do you attract and retain the best talent so that your business can continue to be successful with no major disruptions?

Keeping good people

Besides paying reasonably well and creating a good working environment, there are three key things that many senior executives or partners of consultancies struggle to do, especially if they are the founders and view the business as their “baby”.

It is no surprise that these are HR blind spots for your company too. The three keys to retaining talent are:

1. Educate your leaders to become nurturers, not work allocators

Allocate responsibility, provide stretch targets and emphasise intellectual challenge.

 Encourage managers to change their mindset from one that previously saw them telling their subordinates what to do, towards one that advocates helping colleagues find their own motivations for achieving their goals.

 Get your managers to set an example for subordinates, and provide the necessary frameworks, guidance and coaching when needed.

2. Empower your people

Empower employees across all levels, allowing them to deliver their best. Empower them to achieve their goals by having flexible task-based teams.

Encourage initiative and remember to provide constructive feedback. Don’t make money the number one reason for working at your company.

What helps retain quality people at the firm is a combination of renewed intellectual challenge and ability to influence their own development.

In addition, it is important to play to individual strengths; don’t box your people in or force them to do things they don’t like to do.

Empower your people to be involved in the success of the business, and you will notice your culture evolving. People start imposing their own quality standards at the individual level.

Over the years, this will reduce the reliance on people at the top of the company to deliver on all of a client’s needs personally, which enables the company to grow.

3. Encourage knowledge development through the entire organisation 

Actively encourage information sharing and knowledge development. Create a working environment that promotes open exchange of information among consultants and allows people to become more specialised in the areas they are passionate about if they so desire.

Learn to employ people who really fit the culture, not just “fill a gap”. In other words, focus on a candidate’s personality and attitude during recruitment, rather than his skill set.

Survival and success in a consulting company are intrinsically linked with its people and how well they are motivated and empowered to perform.