Build ongoing partnerships with your accountants so that everyone succeeds
By Sandra Wiley, COO of Boomer Consulting Inc.
It hasn’t been easy for many firms to keep morale up over the past 18 months, and the long hours that accompany the busy tax season don’t necessarily help. But by putting some best practices in place throughout the year, your team will be much better able to weather your busiest times. These five steps can bring your team closer together and keep motivation high all year long.
1. Set expectations regularly. One of the things that surprises me is the tendency for CPA firms to do once-a-year evaluations and assume that will be sufficient to keep employees on track. There’s nothing more demoralizing than making it to the end of the year, thinking you’ve excelled, only to find out in an uncomfortable meeting that you’ve actually fallen short. Set expectations in writing, then face to face. You should also have ongoing discussions about how well the employee is meeting the goals that have been set. The more often you communicate, the less time each meeting will take.
2. Talk about the job. When people talk about “walk arounds,” they often think it means to ask employees how their kids are doing or what they did over the weekend. That’s fine — but it’s even more important to communicate with them about their job. Ask them how work is going and what you can do to help if they are encountering challenges. It can be highly motivating for them to know you’re there if they need you.
3. Educate them about the business. When times are tough, it’s important for employees to hear from leadership about what’s happening and how they can help to make things better. Even when the firm is doing well, it’s good to let your people know what they can do to keep the firm on that path. Your team members want to know how they’re tied to the business and how they can make a difference.
4. Let them lead. Put people on a committee — whether a communications committee, a social committee, anything they might be interested in — and let them lead. And be sure to put other people in charge besides the firm’s partners. You will build their confidence by letting them be responsible for something and giving them the tools to succeed.
5. Give back to the community. People want to help, and they want to feel good about themselves and the place they work. Schedule firmwide community projects, or even just a couple of days a year, shut down the firm for a charitable event. It creates loyalty and goodwill, and builds community spirit that will carry you through the toughest of times.
This story is from the CCH e-newsletter First Choice, written specifically for tax, accounting and audit professionals. First Choice offers tips, tricks and ideas about how to increase your public accounting firm’s productivity and efficiency. Every issue also features insights with a tax, audit or accounting professional.