Bookkeeper. While that title may harken back to ledgers with lines and lines of meticulously handwritten numbers, today’s modern accountants and bookkeepers couldn’t be farther from their antiquated counterparts. As accountants and bookkeepers working to help better businesses in this modern world, we have most likely all spent our fair share of time convincing clients of the conveniences and advantages of modern technology. But, what about within our own business and our own team members?
Chances are your team is made up of a good mix of tech-savvy, digital age Millennials with an appetite for constant change, as well as seasoned, experienced but routine-loving employees – both of which contribute to a vital, healthy team culture. But, even with the value of a diverse team taken into consideration, it is apparent that accountant and bookkeeping firms must take advantage of the new technology and digital tools available in order to increase productivity, save time, reduce errors and increase profits. This is really the only way for firms to stay competitive in today’s marketplace.
How can we do this without alienating certain team members, or creating an environment of constant frustration and confusion? With purpose, care and strategy, you can still pursue excellence through use of technology, while helpfully inviting your team into the process. Listed below are a few ideas to help you navigate the transition more smoothly:
While technology certainly is a helpful and necessary part of our workplace, if we tried to utilize every new tech, app or gadget that came along claiming to be the “it” item, we would lose our employees’ confidence and patience pretty quickly, not to mention the immense amount of time we would waste on failed product! If you want the benefits technology can offer, you must commit to putting the work into researching and testing before you offer it to your workplace.
Take the time not only to read reviews and talk to other people in your field, but also to try out the product yourself. Use it for several weeks, or even months. Find out what problems it solves for you, what ways it saves you time and what headaches it adds. If you decide the benefits outweigh the inconveniences (because let’s be honest, no tech is 100% perfect), you now have the first-hand experience to essentially sell your team on why this product will work specifically for your office. If the leadership team is willing to get their hands dirty, taking the time to learn a new product and offer personal testimony to its benefits, your team will be much more likely to overcome the hurdle of the unknown and follow suite.
Identify Your Tech Enthusiasts
Another helpful strategy to getting your team on board with tech is to utilize the ones who already are immersed in it. Identify the members of your team that are geared towards electronics and represent forward thinking, quick learners, or are comfortable with change. Recruit them to try out some of the new products after they make it past your initial trials. Encourage them to provide you with feedback on how these products will integrate into your specific office routines, and whether they will serve you in accomplishing your tasks more quickly.
Be willing to change your mind based on feedback from this team, as their boots-on-the-ground vantage point might help you see things that you may have initially overlooked. These individuals can also serve as a valuable asset in team meetings, or around the office, as a positive voice for change. If they are able to share, with an air of excitement, all of the advantages and conveniences they are experiencing, this will further build confidence among those who might be more prone to resist anything bringing disruption to their routine. Investing in a few key individuals that will help advertise these changes as positive and exciting can make it easier for others to join in the excitement, as they transition into something new.
Pace Yourself and Communicate
If you are just jumping on the tech-forward bandwagon, don’t get too trigger-happy and make the mistake of overhauling everything at once. This creates confusion and undermines the confidence of your team in their processes. This can lead to mistakes and result in bad service to your customers. The point of technology is to alleviate extra work, make you more efficient and, ultimately, to help make you the best you can be for your customers. If you change too much too fast, you will put an unhealthy demand on your team to not only fulfill the requirements of their job, but also to do that while learning a whole new mode of operation.
Instead, take the time to communicate well before you implement a change that is coming down the line. Offer them glimpses of the new product – begin offering your testimony from your experience in the product, start your “tech-savvy” team on it and then roll it out to your whole office. Give them several weeks to test out the product before making the switch to solely using the product. Offer lots and lots of training, and provide an open space for your team to share with each other tips, tricks and pain points. By implementing one change at a time and doing so with time and care, you will invest into building a team of confident experts who will, in turn, provide your customers with fantastic service and make you look excellent as a firm in your community!
Listen, Be Patient and Be Willing to Change
Above all, it is absolutely vital that you have patience with those on your team who are struggling to adapt. They obviously have expert skills that brought them to your firm in the first place. There are most likely many on your team that you hired because they were excellent bookkeepers and accountants, not because they were tech whizzes. Although the demands of the job and the times are changing, they carry an extremely valuable piece that your firm needs. Give them time and space to transition within the changing times.
Be open to hearing from them, with a balanced ear, that there may be some changes that aren’t necessarily going to serve overall. Ask them questions about what they view as most efficient, discuss back and forth with them about the benefits and downfalls of technology, and give them space to share frustrations. It may be that you are able to disrupt some preconceived notions, settle some fears and overall help them see some advantages to change, just by openly conversing with them. Let them take a little bit longer to fully transition to the new way of doing things, and offer them support and assistance while doing so.
Overall, your end goal is not to have the most decked out, tech-slick office, your goal is to have a team whose morale is high, whose work is efficient and precise and who in turn can offer your clients excellent care and service. By utilizing the increasing amount of amazing technology out there, you can assist your firm in reaching all of these goals but you must remember to do it in a way that is most beneficial for both your team and your clients. By researching and testing, you can eliminate time wasted on bad products. By utilizing those on your team who are naturally adaptable and tech-savvy, you can create an environment of excitement and positivity around the introduction of new product. By pacing yourself and communicating thoroughly, you reduce the amount of error that comes with change, as well as the amount of frustration.
Lastly, make sure you are patient with your team and careful to see the asset and gift each member is to your firm. By placing value in their talent, you can build their confidence, settle their fears and promote a willingness to step into the unknown unto seeing the bettering of themselves, their service and the firm overall. Your firm must change to remain excellent in this digital age, but your team is what will carry you there. If you take your time and care in the transition, you can be well on your way to being the best accounting firm out there, with the latest tech and the best team to operate it!