May 24, 2021

You make lateral hire partners fail!


Yes, you heard me. It’s you who makes them fail. And it will hurt you and your total firm – big time.


Firms hire partners from the outside in hope of them becoming “accretive” quickly. External partners bring added value with them to the firm.


Accretion. Value.


These mean many things to many people. And “quickly” can be as long as 3 years.


So how do you know it’s working? And who has time to wait for years?


Perhaps it’s not that complicated…


Shouldn’t a new partner just make her or his business case, full stop? Then everyone knows what to expect. But business cases are quickly forgotten once the new partner has joined. Their value becomes based on just random observations and feelings.


The #1 reason for failure


The popular opinion that you will hear is that hired partners fail for two reasons: lack of rainmaking and, as one of my contacts nicely described it, ‘tissue rejection issues’.


But I would say there’s another reason, and it is actually the number one reason for why lateral partner hires fail: lack of communication.


Internally and in all directions.


Just stop and think – does anyone know exactly what you hired the new partner for?


Was it for incremental revenues (the more, the merrier)? Their account building or penetration skills? Subject-matter knowledge or to offer expertise? Excellent leadership capability for a mediocre practice? Large-deal experience…? And so on.


But who would know if you don’t tell or communicate it regularly with the team?


Without upfront and repeating communications, you tee up the new partner for failure.




Because all folks around will try to mirror the new partner in their image of a successful partner. But what they believe to make a successful partner isn’t necessarily what the firm’s strategy needs, or what the new partner was hired to do.


You hired them, so you need to help them and stop setting them up for failure.


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