Planning for growth in your firm? Make it personal

Planning for growth in your firm? Make it personal

Planning for growth in your accounting firm depends on your team’s continued effort and commitment. At your firm’s core, your staff needs to be aligned with your vision for your firm’s growth. Too often, however, an employee’s personal goals aren’t aligned with those of their firm. This leads to staff feeling disconnected and disinterested in achieving your firm’s objectives.

In this article, I’ll discuss how you can involve your staff when planning your firm’s growth goals by personalizing your vision to each staff member’s personal goals.

Performance reviews or personalized goals?

As leaders, we must listen and understand what direction our team wants to go. Previously, I’ve talked about the benefits of regular performance reviews. And, while these are still important, implementing personalized goal-setting across your team will also yield many benefits for your firm.

As a leader, your aim should be to create an environment that helps your staff meet their individual goals. This will cement a sense of accomplishment and belonging across your workforce – which can do wonders for your firm’s culture, too. As your employees feel more involved in your company’s growth, they’ll be more likely to stay and grow with your firm.

Align your goals with each employee’s growth plan

We all know that our firm goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, and timely (SMART), and this goes for each staff member’s goals as well. Helping your staff define their personal goals will help you develop an action plan that explicitly aligns your firm’s goals with each of your staff member’s goals.

Here are some questions to help you facilitate great discussions with your staff:

  • What is their “big picture?” Everyone craves purpose and meaning in both their personal and professional lives. Ask your team what skills or talents they’d like to develop, and brainstorm possible roles or responsibilities to support this development.
  • Where do you want to be in 10 years? Find out where your staff members want to be in the future. Do they want to grow in their current role, or do they want to switch as soon as possible? This question helps you gauge their satisfaction with their current career choice.
  • What are their workplace expectations? The line between work and personal lives has changed dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic. While it’s easy to assume that your staff prefers a work-from-home setup, take time to ask, so that there are no false expectations.
  • How do they prefer to be led? As firm leaders, our job is not to control our staff, but rather to support and guide them, working together toward mutual success. Take time to understand how your team prefers to receive feedback on their performance – it will help you and them later on!
  • How can I better lead and support you? As leaders, it’s tempting to assume that we’re supposed to have all of the answers for our team. But, often, our staff can provide insights and suggestions that help us support them in their personal and professional development.

Use objectives and key results (OKRs) to achieve quick wins

Using OKRs as you set your firm’s goals will help you and your employees stay on course. OKRs can be used to break down each goal into individual objectives, and introduce three or four key results per objective to measure progress. By setting regular milestones, you create an environment of accountability and build momentum towards those overarching goals.

Tips for achieving accounting firm growth

In the planning stage, everything can seem perfect and clear, but the path toward your goals can be filled with unexpected challenges. Here are some tips to help you navigate them successfully:

  • Document underperformers: Members of your staff who regularly fail to achieve their stated goals, or fulfill their role, will impact your firm’s progress toward its goals. Every effort should be made to retain these employees, but it’s also critical to record underperformance incidents in the event that termination is needed.
  • Motivate top performers: Employees who share your vision and regularly achieve or exceed their stated objectives greatly benefit your firm. However, it’s important to recognize your top-performing staff members’ achievements and keep exposing them to new challenges and opportunities, so that they don’t become bored or dissatisfied.
  • Incorporate team goals: According to “Goal-Setting Theory of Motivation” by Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham, “Having employees work as teams with a specific team goal, rather than as individuals with only individual goals, increases productivity.” When a team works toward a common goal, they can motivate each other toward completing it.
  • Stay consistent and adaptable: As James Clear explains, “It can be easy to obsess over becoming flawlessly consistent.” When life throws curveballs at you or your team, remember that the key to success isn’t a perfect execution, but, instead, adaptable consistency. Doing one task imperfectly, yet consistently beats any perfectly executed one-time success.

Bringing you and your team’s goals together for big growth

Growing an accounting firm is a team effort, requiring each of your staff members’ active involvement and participation. As you work toward achieving long-term firm growth, I hope the tips in this article help you unite your team and rally them around your vision.