Recently, a legal practice colleague shared with me details of a text message that she had received from her 21 year old daughter who is studying commerce and design at university. To support herself through her studies, the daughter is working part-time in the administration section of a boutique design and construction company.
Because my colleague's daughter is known to me, I can verify that she is a smart, personable young lady with a bright future. Even so, the encouragement from a manager in the employer organisation for the young lady to pursue a tax agent's licence and to mentor her through the process was commendable.
The conclusion of the text to her mum was in these terms. "I can't believe they are giving me so many opportunities. I am so surprised".
Those words reminded me of similar words used by Simon Sinek (Start With “Why”) in an address about “Leadership” in Melbourne in 2017. In the collective voice of a group of hypothetical young employees, this is what he said.
“When we feel that our growth is more than the company’s growth, that is when you get our loyalty”.
My colleague’s daughter is a "walk up start" for a graduate position at a Big 4 accounting firm. I speculate that the commitment from the part-time employer might make the daughter's decision very difficult indeed.
If she tosses over an offer from a Big 4 firm, do I think that the construction company will succeed in retaining her for more than say three years post her graduation? Probably not.
Do I think that, for the rest of her promising career, she will make referrals of good potential clients to the construction company, providing its quality of work and the value it delivers are satisfactory? Naturally, I do.
Do I think that she will encourage her smart, creative peers to apply for a job there? Naturally, I do.
As we seek to transform our professional knowledge firms to make them more innovative, more profitable and to ensure their sustainability, what lessons can we learn from the initiative of the boutique construction company?