While many companies treat employees as disposable, the most effective accounting firms recognize that employees are the company’s most valuable asset.
Accountants tend to be smart and thoughtful. Therefore, taking advantage of your team’s skills is a good idea. However, you need to be able to delegate to them while still being able to control quality. As management, one of your roles is to ensure your staff can function as a team by removing roadblocks and breaking down data silos.
Employees want to feel empowered. What information do they need to help customers? Help them be more proactive by giving them access to information to act when customers need help.
Of course, some confidential customer information should only be visible to a relatively small number of designated people. You can configure your systems for this necessary protection. But if you want to work effectively as a team, trust is a crucial factor.
Whether or not you are a sports enthusiast, there are countless examples of superstars being highly regarded after being recruited by a team. But then the team underperforms. Why? A star does not make a team. There are other instances where a team exceeds expectations, but there is no star in the team. How is it going ? Team work.
It’s a beautiful thing to see a group of stars working as a team. That’s when you have a dream team. And a dream team can make your dreams and those of your clients come true.
We have all heard that there is no “I” in the word “team”. This includes partners and business owners. If you want to run an “I”-centric business, that’s your choice since you own the business, but your business will struggle to live up to its potential.
A balanced growth path
In addition to empowering your team, most people want to grow in their careers, personal lives, and families. They enjoy the recognition that comes with these successes.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak from the main stage at the Scaling New Heights conference this year. My preparation reminded me of many fundamentals of my career and critical things I learned along the way.
One such item was Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life. This concept helps people maintain balance. The idea is that you should have one to three goals in each of these areas to maintain balance in your life.
I have seen many professionals go on to great careers and destroy their families or their health along the way. You can choose what you like, but I like the balance. I suspect your team members usually want balance too. (see below)
Additionally, it’s wise to create new opportunities for each team member to thrive in your business. Make sure they can see an upward growth path for them. For many, this will mean less administrative work.
For example, many of you have come through public accounting. Remember how much administrative work we had to do the first two years? I hope there is less administrative work for you today.
For me, maintaining balance requires downtime, quiet time, and a bit of isolation for reflection. We all need time off. In the US market, we are far too prone to working excessive hours, believing in the mantra that hard work will bring success.
On the contrary, I think working smarter will bring the kind of success you want. Additionally, for most accountants, a holistic, client-centric approach to consulting can be personally and financially rewarding. You can use your accounting skills to benefit your clients, your community, your business, and yourself.
Put yourself and your team in a position to win by making yourself replaceable for a few weeks a year. Mike Michalowicz, in his Clockwork CORE course, calls it Operation Vacation. In some industries, such as banking, it is necessary to be absent for at least a full week to detect potential fraud.
For attitude and style, I prefer Mae West’s old movie title “Every Day’s a Holiday” because acknowledging each day as special and a source of pleasure is far better than each day being a chore while you you hang out at work.
When our family was younger, I planned many years with one week vacation per month and one vacation that involved three weeks. Somehow all the work was done and our family was better off.
Breaking down silos, such as texting to personal phones, messaging silos, etc., allows team members to cover each other. Conversely, if the information is only on one person’s phone or email, how do we communicate it to others? Forward SMS or e-mail?
It sounds like a recipe for more text messages and emails, less clarity, and poorer, not better, communication. And since you might be in the middle of this mess every day, you can’t switch off. When was the last time you took a real vacation?
Coordinating your team, protecting and enhancing your company culture, and developing the right service offerings your team can and wants to deliver are noble management tasks. But you can also get a little tech support.
The technology that helps
Coordinating a team requires a productivity platform. We can coordinate our team with any of the major platforms choosing from Microsoft 365, Google Workspace or Zoho One with their current technologies. All three platforms have a group calendar, collaborative co-editing capabilities, web meeting software, and many other features.
For example, suppose you choose a tool like Microsoft Teams. You will quickly realize that the Teams platform has many useful and integrated features with traditional Excel and Word productivity software.
You’ll likely need a practice management tool like Karbon and a document storage solution like SmartVault to keep your practice and documents under control. Optimizing your tool stack with the right workflow is paramount to your team’s success.
Consolidating all customer communications into your company’s single collaborative channel with an excellent customer experience will be a competitive advantage. Liscio is a great example of a platform that can achieve this goal. When you consolidate and centralize requests to and from your customers in Liscio, you further optimize your workflows.
Consolidating all customer communications, including all PBC requests (prepared by the customer) in a secure, shared space for staff gives your team the ability to hedge each other, provides leverage, and eliminates information silos. Visibility by your entire team of all documents, requests and communications is a crucial advantage of the Liscio platform.
Teamwork = dream job
Your practice has many opportunities with clients, and you can build an excellent practice as a sole practitioner. But the real leverage comes from a highly skilled team working together. When your dream is to deliver superior customer service with a great customer experience, a team has to do the work. An African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Can you pick and train the right team? Can you help your team work together? The best companies use teamwork to achieve the dream! You have this!