In the white paper CPA Firm Leadership: Communication Drives New Possibilities produced by the CPA Consultants’ Alliance, the nearly 800 CPA firm team member respondents indicated that the two things most missing in their firm’s leadership were:
- Communication at the right time to the right audiences, and
- The ability to develop a strong team and delegate to them.
I discussed improving internal communications in my last post. In this post, I’d like to explore six ideas to develop a strong team by creating deeper relationships with your people:
- Make your care and concern evident. Stop by your team members’ offices or cubicles – especially during busy season — and ask them how they’re doing. Ask if there’s anything you can do to be of assistance to them. Ask if there’s anything the firm can do to make their jobs easier or enable them to better serve clients. Be of genuine service to them. Show that you care.
- Ask rapport building questions. Ask your team members questions like, “What is your most significant concern right now?” and “What would you most like to achieve in the coming year?” Ask other important career development questions like the ones I’ve outlined in this blog. Send your team members interesting blogs, articles and information tailored to the things they’ve told you they care about – personally or professionally. Illustrate that you understand them.
- Be accessible and responsive. Team members feel important when you make yourself available to them. Your people’s needs often represent the needs of many clients, so serving one team member will make a difference in client service, too. Establish a personal response commitment for e-mail and voice mail (typically by close of next business day or 24 hours) and discuss the importance of responsiveness with your firm’s leaders to make sure you put your people’s needs first. When your people need you, be accessible and available – make it easy for them to reach you and show your interest in them by giving them your time.
- Keep your word and commitments. When you make a commitment to a team member, move heaven and earth to deliver it. If you cannot, reset expectations ahead of time and establish a new commitment – then keep it. Acknowledge missed commitments. Apologize if you are unable to keep your word, ask if there is anything you can do to minimize the disruption and commit to do better next time. Doing this will build trust and confidence in your leadership and your relationship – and failing to do so sets an internal example that dropping balls or failing to keep your word is acceptable.
- Make a difference by making an investment. Your people want to work for an employer that makes them better. When you understand your people’s goals and objectives, you can provide them proactive advice, invest in new skills and abilities and deliver opportunities to grow. Allow your people to shadow you on higher level client, prospect and referral activities. Invite them to participate in strategic planning and leadership sessions in some way. Give them assignments that will stretch their abilities. People remember the investments you make in them.
- Stay in front of your people. As competitors lurk and recruiters call, communicate regularly with your people. See or talk to every key team member within your group regularly. Be as in touch with your people as your competitors or those seeking to hire them will be.
Even deep into busy season, there is no more important activity you can undertake than deepening your team member relationships. What do you do that enables you to deepen your team member relationships? Please post a comment and share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you!
About the author
Jennifer Wilson is a partner and co-founder of ConvergenceCoaching, LLC, a leadership and marketing consulting and coaching firm that helps leaders achieve success. Learn more about the company and its services at www.convergencecoaching.com.