It’s safe to say most of us want our employees feeling good when they’re working for us. Happy team members tend to be more productive team members, have more to contribute to the success of your practice, and stay longer.
But employees suffer when they feel insecure – when they’re not sure whether they’re doing a good job or not.
The easiest way to fix this is to be clear about what you expect from them and help them create SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timeline). Their work-life will no longer be a guessing game. Plus, their progress towards a given goal will provide accountability, making it evident to both you and them how they’re doing.
I’ve been a witness to practices where expectations are continually changing. The result is always the same: employees feeling stressed out; on edge.
To be clear, I don’t recommend that you make a team member’s job so predictable that it becomes mind-numbingly dull and they tune out and/or look for a better, more interesting situation. However, I do believe in providing each employee with a framework of expectations in which they can work with a sense of security.
In some cases, you’ll have no problem coming up with goals for your team members. However, many practitioners struggle with this. They claim they can’t think of any good goals for their employees, and as a result, things stay the same – workers may be sluggish, uninspired, bewildered, stressed out, or plodding along with no sense of direction.
The best place to start to create employee goals is “Company Goals.” A lot of practices take one step forward, two steps back and three sideways instead of making steady forward progress. The reason is that there are no company goals. There is no clarity and direction of where you want the company to be a year from now and the end of shorter quarter or trimester periods. My advice to you is to get the company goals down first.
Here are some examples of “Company Goals” during tax season: (January 1st – April 30th)
- Response times: Phone calls and emails received before 3:00 pm should get a response that same day. Those received after 3:00 pm get a response by 12 noon the next day.
- Turnaround times: Personal/business tax returns – once the client gives us all the info, complete within 5 business days.
- Growth: 10 new business clients, 50 new 1040s
- Learn and connect: Twice a month “30 minute” Brown Bag “learn and connect” lunch.
- Client Happiness: Place 5 random calls to our clients every week to ask them about their experience. Get 10 awesome testimonials on Yelp and on Google Reviews.
Once you have the Company Goals, share them with your team. You will be surprised to know how many practice owners create company goals but keep them to themselves. Don’t be one of them. Schedule a meeting with all your team members and walk them through the goals.
Okay, now your team is informed where the company wants to be at the end of the quarter or trimester. Now it’s time to ask them to design their own individual team member goals that stem from your company goals. Meet with each team member to go over their goals. Sometimes you may need to meet with a team member a couple of times before they get to the final list of SMART goals.
Here’s an example of goals set by a team member that came from the above company goals for the same four-month period.
- Response times: Adhere to the company goal.
- Turnaround times: Contribute to help my team achieve the 5 business day tax preparation turnaround time.
- Growth: Get 5 new 1040 referrals from our “Refer a friend” program.
- Learn and connect: Actively participate and contribute during the lunches.
Goals are important. By following the process I shared here, you’ll not only prevent your team members from feeling insecure, but you’ll make them more productive, and in ways that contribute to the success of your practice.