Teamwork makes the dream work: 3 ways accounting firms are building better teams

teamwork dreamworkOK, sorry for the cliche title…

No really, I am. But it highlights a very important point. Your team are one-off the most important assets to you and your accounting firm. I’m guessing you already know this.

When you have a team of motivated people that are bought into what you’re doing, it tends to lead to things such as: happier clients, better working environment and culture, improved efficiency, happier practice owner (that’s you!) and a whole host of other benefits. 

But building a good team requires time and attention. It can’t just be an afterthought. 

So what types of things are other accounting firms doing to build better teams?

As part of our Practice Owner’s playbook we caught up with 3 firms who shared how they’re doing things below.

Jump straight in...

1. Create the right environment for them to thrive in

Michael is the managing partner at AD+ accountants, a practice with 17 team members based in Glasgow.

In his words…”your team members come into work to try their best and succeed, so it’s important that you recognise this and create the best environment for them to thrive in.”

The outcomes of this are clear: your team will feel valued, your clients will get a great service from happy motivated team members, they’ll then deliver great feedback which further spurs motivation and the success cycle continues. 

So what are some of the things you can do to create a thriving environment for your team members?

For Michael it was all about doing things collectively as a team and improving communication. 

michael

“One of the ways we have got our team more involved is through regular communication and team meetings. Not just about client work, but about how we can improve other areas of the business as well. By taking their ideas and showing that care by actually implementing them, they feel even more involved and it develops a culture of inclusiveness.”

By solving problems as a team, versus you trying to solve it yourself in isolation, it will likely mean that you’ll come up with better solutions and they’ll value being included in the process. These problems or questions could be things such as:

  • What apps should we use in our app-stack?
  • How can we improve our customer service even further?
  • What can we do to win more clients and grow?
  • How can we systemise our onboarding process to make it easier for us and our clients?

The collective brainpower here is much better than just yours alone… 

2. Work towards your team’s strengths 

As the business owner, you might spend time attending courses or possibly working with a coach or mentor to help you improve, but what about your team, who is coaching them to improve?

For Faye, the Co-Founder of FUSE accountants, she runs an internal coaching and mentoring programme for her team of 15: “I know that my team are the most important part of my business, which is why I spend so much time coaching them and helping them to improve.”

Every few weeks, Faye will sit down with her team members and review their progress and development. They look at whether they’re working towards their strengths and figure out if there’s anything else they want to work towards. 

faye“If they’re not working towards their strengths then we can look at other ways to engage them in the business e.g. if one of their strengths is writing then I might get them involved in some marketing work. I’ll also help them with their career development so that if they ever decided to leave, they’re well-rounded individuals. The knock-on effect of this is that they’ll hopefully tell others just how great it is to work at FUSE.”

Another one of Faye’s big beliefs is that transparency is crucial in your accounting firm.

“Targets and billing shouldn’t be something that’s only held at management level. Everybody in the team should have visibility over this so that they feel engaged and they are bought into what you’re trying to achieve.”

3. Flexible working for your team is crucial 

How flexible are you with your team members?

And I don’t mean just letting them start and finish work a little earlier to miss the traffic, I mean truly flexible to the point where they don’t have set working hours and it’s up to them when they do the work?

Sound scary? This is exactly how Zoe runs her small but growing team of 4 at But The Books.

zoe“None of my team members are full-time employees. They don’t have set hours and don’t have to work office hours if it doesn’t always work for them. Being able to offer flexible working is great for team morale, and another big benefit is that it helps us to recruit new team members. Whilst everybody else is advertising for full-time staff I benefit from being able to choose from the great people out there needing flexible part-time work.”

Of course this kind of model doesn’t come without its challenges. You need to have a good system in place so that you know who is working, when they’re working and what jobs they’re working on.

I wonder where you might find one of those… 🙄 

Is your teamwork making your dream work?

Whatever your goals and ambitions are, having a team there to support you is absolutely key. 

Without a team that is bought into what you’re doing, lacking motivation and not working at the level they could be, then delivering the level of service and achieving whatever level of growth you’re looking for will be that much harder. 

So a question to think about is, are you doing enough right now to get the best out of your team? And if not, what more could you do?

There are some great ideas above from Michael, Faye and Zoe about how they’re building better teams in their accounting and bookkeeping firms, and there’s plenty more out there as well. 

(If you want more ideas just like these from other practice owners then you'll love our Practice Owner's Playbook. We interviewed 26 accountants all about how they run their firms)

To finish with yet another team cliche, Together Everyone Achieves More... 

Join hundreds of subscribers!

Get content to help you improve your practice delivered to your inbox.