I seem to remember a TV commercial from the 1980s in which an actress pleaded with the viewer, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”
Ah. Jealousy. Unpleasant feelings connected to a person who has something you wish you had. It happens among CPA practitioners. I’ve seen it.
Most often, I see practitioners envying others for their great teams.
I hear it all the time:
“Good employees are hard to find.”
“Nobody has any sense of loyalty anymore.”
“Everybody wants to do the bare minimum and just go home.”
To these folks, it sounds like a fairy tale: the practitioner with an army of dedicated individuals behind them who contribute the best of themselves to the practice every day.
It’s not a fairy tale. I know because I have a dream team, and I know other practitioners who do, too. So why don’t you?
You’d have a real chance if you started emulating practitioners with great teams. Do what we do, and you’ll increase the likelihood of cultivating a team that would make anyone jealous.
Here’s what to do:
Hire slowly and thoughtfully
Some practitioners are frantic to hire, and that’s exactly the wrong state of mind if you want to hire quality people.
I understand you may have work that needs doing, and that you’d feel a lot better having a body behind that desk sooner rather than later. However, hiring quickly is just asking for a poor experience.
Take the time to really get to know candidates before you make an offer. Make sure they fit into your practice culture by having them meet with existing team members. Often our employees will pick up on a vibe that we missed.
If the team doesn’t want to work with a candidate, trust that.
Don’t hesitate to cut loose your troublemakers
If you buy into the myth that there’s a world shortage of “good people”, you may find yourself holding onto horrible employees for dear life. That’s just crazy! “Horrible employees” encompasses a wide range of personalities you don’t want in your practice: folks who are lazy, gossips, Negative Nellies – I could go on, but you get the idea.
These are the people who will not only fail to help drive your practice forward, but who will poison the minds of their co-workers and create unpleasant experiences for your clients.
You can’t afford to have these people around, and pay them money on top of it.
Don’t be afraid to have a vacancy in your practice for a while if it means getting rid of a bad seed.
The morale of your team and your professional reputation are too important. Unload troublemakers quickly and without regret.
Show real gratitude
The work of building a great team doesn’t stop at hiring well. It’s equally important to retain the good people you have.
A truly great team is more than what it knows and how it performs.
Great teams are fiercely dedicated to the success of their employer.
Nurturing this kind of enthusiasm and loyalty relies on showing genuine gratitude on a regular basis.
Uplifting gestures like free lunches, parties, and small gifts go a long way.
But ultimately, they mean nothing if you don’t also verbally thank your team consistently.
And it’s not enough to off-handedly say, “Thanks, guys,” over your shoulder, although doing that now and then is fine.
You must occasionally give meaningful thanks – and that means speaking in specifics.
Rather than, “Thanks for your help, Rachel,” make a real impression by saying, “Thanks for your help with the _______ project, Rachel. It really made a difference when you _______, and I loved the way you organized the ______.” This is how you make them love you.
Create lots of face time
The more connected you are to your team, the better they’ll perform and the faster your practice will grow.
Smart practitioners have regular staff meetings, and also meet one-on-one with employees to check progress, answer questions, and hear out ideas.
Meetings provide valuable information to the practice owner and promote a sense of teamwork among employees.
Meetings also help employees feel supported and heard. Don’t be that boss who closes their office door each day and only emerges to address the team when something’s wrong or there’s new work to be done.
Uphold and refer to your core values
Amazing employees flourish within the guidelines of Core Values. Have you established a set of Core Values for your practice yet?
Core values are your firm’s fundamental beliefs – the guiding principles that dictate the behavior of everyone on your team, including you.
Core values can also serve as a gauge against which you can check your decisions: are you staying on the right path, fulfilling practice goals?
Examples of core values include honesty and transparency, sustainability/commitment to the environment, and innovation and excellence.
A great way to encourage and uphold Core Values is to recognize when team members embody them and call them out for it.
Don’t hate me – or anyone else – because we have awesome teams. Instead, follow our example.
It doesn’t have to be a wish upon a star. It’s about taking time to find your stars, and lovingly polishing them once you have them.
P.S. Whenever you're ready, here are 4 ways I can help your grow your practice:
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