The accounting industry is rapidly shifting from a reliance on compliance to a stronger advisory focus. This has led to an increasing emphasis on client relationships and proactive communication in the people we employ and develop.
What are the roles you need for success in 2016 and beyond? How will your current people fit into the firm’s structure? And what does this mean for the people who don’t want to change?
What roles are important in your ‘firm of the future?’
A quick look at progressive accounting firms confirms that new roles and responsibilities are springing up as firms develop a more business-like focus. Sopme of these roles are internal, others are external. Compliance roles are increasingly both internal and external, even in small firms, as principals and partners decide what internal roles are critical for the future success of their business.
Some of the ‘new‘ roles that you may want to consider include
- Client liaison manager or associate
- Marketing manager or co-ordinator
- Financial or business analyst
- Business advisor or coach
- Compliance manager
And then there are the roles that focus on areas of specialised core competency including Tax specialist, Systems developer, IT specialist and HR manager … the list goes on.
How will your current people fit into the firm’s structure?
Of course, It’s always important to look at motivation, knowledge and skills in deciding the best position for any individual in our firms. In reality, that’s not always the way it works. People move into roles based on their knowledge and skills and then progress further on the basis of their motivated abilities.
As accounting firms move from a compliance to advisory focus, some key questions are being asked of our firms and our staff, including:
- What skills do we require to move from compliance to advisory focus?
- Which of our staff are interested in moving beyond compliance to an advisory role?
- What training and coaching, in soft and technical skills, do our staff need?
- What happens to staff who aren’t prepared to make the transition?
Of course, there’s no point in telling a strong compliance accountant that they have no future in an advisory-focused firm. There must be room for the different knowledge and skill sets that we will need in the years ahead. As a recent GBU benchmark report noted, compliance is becoming more ‘price sensitive,’ but it’s certainly not going away and it will continue to be a core service offering for accounting firms well into the future.
The key to really developing staff is firstly to give them a picture of your firm’s future. Describe in words, pictures and stories where you want the firm to go and how you see the people in the firm developing.
Which brings us back to your firm’s skill requirements and individual motivated abilities.
There are many simple tools that we can use to objectively look at our team’s interests and aptitudes, including SIMA and DISC. We should be using these tools particularly with prospective and new employees to get a better understanding of their future path based on their current behaviour and personality.
Don’t discount the value of simply sitting down with your employees to ask them where they want to go and what support they need to get there. This is the true value of a professional development review. Consider questions like:
- How do you want to develop professionally?
- What do you really love to work on / what motivates you?
- How do you like to be managed? How do you like to receive feedback?
- What are your ideas about the business and your role?
If you ask these questions, you’ll be amazed at how the communication flow will increase and the environment will change. However, after you ask the questions you have to listen to the answers and put it into play. It’s all about leadership.
Our upcoming training program, “Right People, Right Roles” in January 2016, will show you how to identify the right people for the right roles.
The program will cover:
- Developing the right organisational structure for your firm
- Establishing responsibilities for bringing in new business, clients and service delivery
- Using diagnostic tools and interviews to identify individual strengths
- Creating a strong link between firm culture and individual goals
- Engaging and developing staff on the basis of their motivated abilities
- Knowing what to do when the right people are in the wrong role
Dale Crosby, MD, Training Beyond Accounting and Business Aptitude. Ph 1300 883 789