In this article, Heather Townsend, co-author of How To Make Partner And Still Have A Life and The Go-To Expert, shares 5 tips based on her recent experiences of helping her client successfully get appointed to a partnership position in a top 5 firm in the UK.
It is a long journey through to partnership. In fact the average time in Big 4 firms to get through to partner is 10 years +. The question is, what can you do to speed up the end of the journey? Or can you speed up the journey?
You can drastically increase your odds of shortening the last part of the journey by changing your behaviour and mindset in the 12-24 months before the admission process.
1. Spend time BEFORE you get into the partnership admission process to strengthen your business and personal case for partnership.
A huge mistake to make is to consider that all you need to do is rock up to the partnership admission process, cram for the interviews and that is all you need to do. (In a recent post I discussed why you ignore your personal case for partnership at your peril.)
Before you actually get onto partnership track it is worth spending time working on and building up your business case and personal case for partnership. Very often it is those professionals who have invested in building up a business case, i.e. a strong personal brand and growing client portfolio, who will find that they get their career accelerated through to partnership. With partner numbers still dropping in the professions, making partner is becoming harder and harder. (The recent Accountancy Age top 50+50 survey found that the top 50 firms partners had dropped to 5780 from 5805 a year earlier)
In fact more and more of the UK Big 4 firms are starting to work with their ’emerging leaders’ 2-3 years before they are ready for partnership. As these firms (and Magic Circle firms in the UK) have found out, if you help your emerging leaders strengthen their business case and personal case significantly before they go through the partnership admissions process, this process sorts out itself.
Therefore, the more you can do before you actually get in the admissions process, the greater your odds of making it through.
2. Invest in relationships with advocates for you across the partnership
When it comes to that all important vote you want to make sure that the partners, even the ones in other parts of the firm, have heard of your great reputation. After all, if they are going to have to vote you in, they will want to know who you are! Therefore, you want to make sure that there are more partners championing your cause than just the partners from your area of the practice.
3. Devote time each week to strengthen your business case and personal case
Getting through partnership track and into the ranks of the partnership is very much a marathon and not a sprint. Building relationships with partners, refining your business case, preparing for assessment centres etc etc all take time. This is time you are supposed to find from somewhere (not sure where!), and is on top of business development, chargeable time, developing your team and trying to have a little bit of life outside of work. Consequently, if you can get in the habit of doing a little bit every week on your business and personal case for partnership, you will have a better chance than those who leave it to the last minute.
For example, a BIG 4 director used to allocate 2 hours every friday to helping him create, build and strengthen his business and personal case. Yes, he did go on to get to partner.
4. Consider being on partnership track like a personal PR campaign
As I mentioned earlier, you need to make sure that your name is known for the right reasons by partners all across the firm – many whom may never have spoken to you so far in your career. Of course if you have had the luxury of serving on cross-firm committees and projects this will help your profile and reputation massively by the time you get onto partnership track. As you think about your personal PR campaign consider:
- What do you want people saying about you? How best can you get these messages out there?
- What can you do to get the right messages out there? (Remember that actions speak louder than words)
5. Remember to be yourself as you go through the process
Far too often good candidates fail to get through the partnership admissions process because they try and be someone who they think their partners want them to be. The only person you should be is yourself. Firstly, it takes less energy to be yourself and act authentically. Secondly, if you try and be someone else you can come across as fake AND lessen your personal impact.
These are just 5 tips to help you quickly make it through partnership track to get to partner.
Which is why you should sign up right now for my FREE LIVE Webinar for senior managers and directors on partnership track to get the full inside story to save yourself time and heartache to make it through to partnership quickly.
Remember to become that successful professional who makes it to partner means you need to take action now and attend this FREE live webinar with Heather Townsend and Tara Fennessy to find out how to shortcut your way to partner
Heather Townsend helps professionals become the The Go-To Expert. She is the author of the award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the ‘FT Guide To Business Networking’ and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’, and ‘The Go-To Expert’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices.