Creating your small accountancy firm’s Growth Plan: How to get your team to support you to deliver it

In implementing your growth plan, how do you make sure that you get everyone in your team on board with you? How do you get that team support in growing your small accounting firm?

Here are some action tips shared during a webinar we ran for our members in April 2018.

Bring your team to help

We’ve all got teams, I know some of us have got smaller teams than others, and I know Alex and Matt most of your team is in India.

Team support for your growth plan

Once you’ve identified your One Big Focus, getting that team in place to help you with the planning of specific tasks, to identify what tasks, is absolutely key.

Essentials if you want your staff to help you grow

  • Strategic Growth Vision. Work out what you want from your practice and, share it with your team.

All too often I find that we don’t do this enough, and that’s where the rhythm meetings come in, which I will come onto. Keep the personal aspirations to yourself, your personal aspirations are typically not motivating for your staff, because there’s no, ‘What’s in it for me?’ Your staff, even though they may like you, even though they may love working for you, they may not be bothered, and, ‘… if we grow the firm by 10 per cent you’ll be able to take your wife and family on the holiday you’ve dreamt of’, which may not be motivating to them.

Stacey says she needs to tackle their underperformance first.

  • Targets & Actions. You want to translate your vision into that achievable growth.

If you want your staff to support your plan they need to see that detail and, understand how the firm is getting there. It might be appropriate particularly with your management team, as I know Sean you’ve got a decent set of client managers, same with yourself Mark, is to have them with you as you start to put in place the targets, the actions, the choosing the One Big Focus.

  • KPIs and Growth Estimates. Put in place what’s going in on the circles, what are the targets we’re going to try to hit?

It’s important that your staff can visibly see the progress because there’s nothing worse than working really hard and not seeing whether that effort is translating into progress, or not.

  • Tasks. Bring your team together to identify what are their growth tasks in order to achieve the actions set out in the One Big Focus.

So hopefully you’ve got a lovely visual model of how you’re going to grow the practice.

Breakdown actions into tasks

I know Mark it's possibly something you’ll be doing as you buy into the Gap; think through what are going to be the actions, and how are we going to get a monthly client seminar to sell business coaching? So, think about the ‘How’, ‘Who’, ‘When’, and what are the KPIs to measure that say we’re winning with this?

For yourself, Matt, one of your actions is to fully automate your onboarding process as much as possible. Go into Practice Ignition, What practice management systems does that implement well with?’ It’s all those key bits.

  • What resources are needed?
  • Work with your staff to split out those actions.

Matt you’ve got a great client administrator, there are things you’ll want your client administrator to be doing, things that are right for you to be doing, and there are things that are right for your team in India to be doing. Think about who is going to do it and, get their buy-in to do it.

You were all sent in your new membership pack a visual with the One Big Focus, showing the areas we are looking at and the things we’re looking at. That was on an A3, but in the membership site, you can download an A0 version of it, print it out, stick it on the wall, get post-it-notes and work closely with your staff to make it an interactive session in doing that. That’s half of your battle if your team feel they’ve got ownership they’re far more likely to be with you.

Run a monthly client seminar, to sell business coaching

One of the things to realise is, that despite what you tell your team, they may see your plan to grow your firm as a threat. One of which could be outsourcing; a lot of staff subconsciously may see that as a threat, and subconsciously they’ll try to preserve and protect what they see as important to them. And because we’re often dealing with the murky, non-rational subconscious mind, the logic goes out of the window. You may tell your team until you’re blue in the face, for example, that getting Practice Ignition working brilliantly will make their working lives better, but they may think, ‘Ooh, they’re trying to automate my job, they’re not going to need me’. Very often it’s their interpretation of the situation that is going to sway them, regardless of what the facts are.

Their understanding and thoughts on the matter will normally always be incomplete, or inaccurate. After all, they don’t have the specifics in the way that you have. Their own explanation and the story of what’s going on will always be taken much more seriously than the realities of the situation. This means you’re going to need to help your staff embrace and be comfortable with your proposed changes.

I think in June we’re doing a session on courageous conversations, and we’ll dig into this a lot more.


Get your team to support your plan

  • Don’t go in there with lots of initiatives, keep it focused on the One Big Focus for the next 90-days.
  • Think about what are the growth tasks, what are the actions for this One Big Focus? Get the team involved with that, either on a one-to-one basis, or as a team get them brainstorming.
  • Keep the conversation going. That’s why we have the rhythm meetings, which I’ll come on to explain a bit more about.
  • More meetings rather than less.


Use One Big Focus to get team support

It’s about being disciplined in you as a leader, focus on that one thing for 90-days. If you try to do more outside of your One Big Focus, normally that’s when we get initiative overload, and nothing happens.


Involve your team

The more your team are involved, the more they’re planning the work, the more they will buy into this, and the more they’ll support your plan. So, listen to your team, actively ask for their input; what ideas have they got?

As you were saying, Mark, your team is driving the move away from IRIS, the move to TaxCalc, the move to Glide, some of your team, and Stacey I realise that perhaps that’s not for you, and Alex, I realise that for you with most of your team being in India; but some of your team may have some really good ideas worth implementing. Get your team to identify tasks for each action under the One Big Focus. As I said, each task will need a how, who, when, and which KPI is it linked to.

Keep that conversation going

Often, we don’t communicate enough and well enough, and if it’s a big chain such as yourself, Sean, moving 210 VAT registered businesses into the Cloud, you’ve got to communicate often; that means as a group and on a one-to-one basis if it’s really important to you. Sometimes we don’t talk enough, sometimes when we have a meeting we don’t talk and focus on the right things, we just think our staff gets it.

Staff doesn’t deliberately want to become saboteurs, they often become saboteurs because they don’t know what is happening; we think we’ve told them, but we haven’t told them enough times. Or, if we’ve told them then maybe our behaviour as a leader of the practice suggests it just isn’t important to us. Or, when we do communicate, it’s only about the day job. If we don’t keep our growth agenda high in everybody’s consciousness and talk about it regularly, is it any wonder that our staff just get on with the day job?

Progress Reporting

Very often we don’t report on progress enough, use visual dashboards around the office, or on a screensaver so that people can see how we’re doing. Our role as the leader of our firm is that we need to make time to stop the bus and let our staff get on to join us for the rest of the journey. Once they’re on board, keep those conversations open and keep it going. Maintain that open door for a discussion, and encourage people to come to you.

A quick poll, ‘What problems do you think could happen without regular meetings?’

Close poll, share results…

All these things happen without regular meetings. Email overwhelm happens because we all start emailing each other, and we all get too many emails. All these things happen if we don’t have enough regular meetings, this is why we suggest you put in the rhythm meeting agenda.

Rhythm meeting agenda

It’s about daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual rhythms. Within the membership site, there are full agendas for each of these. Let me talk about what happens here.

Annual leadership meeting.

The key here is to review your three-year growth plan. Identify your themes/targets, prioritise them into quarterly One Big Focus plans, and set the One Big Focus for the quarter. That would be with your leadership team,

If you’re small and beautiful, Stacey, that might be with someone in your mastermind group, it could be with me as a coach, it could be with your member of staff.

Annual staff meeting

Here you communicate the year plans with the one big focus for the quarter, and you want to identify and allocate growth tasks to achieve the One Big Focus for the quarter.

So, that might be you Matt, Rick, and the other lady in your office, do annual leadership and annual staff meetings together; whereas John, and Sean, as bigger firms you’re probably going to split those out and will be working with your client managers, your leadership team, not your four trainees.

Quarterly leadership team meeting

You’ll review the progress against the growth plan, review the progress against your One Big Focus, reset your next One Big Focus. You can have the same One Big Focus for the rest of the year, I know Sean’s is all about getting everybody so they’re MTD ready onto the Cloud.

Quarterly staff meeting

This is where you’re going to say, ‘This is our one big focus, you can get buy-in, and will help allocate growth, tasks amongst the teams, brainstorming and action planning with the whole of the business. This is a great way of getting that buy-in.

Monthly leadership team

This is where you review progress on the One Big Focus.

Weekly team meeting

Where you review the progress both on the day-to-day things for the week and also on the progress on the growth tasks in your teams.

And then finally, the daily quick operational huddle.

Within the membership site, there are the rhythm agenda meetings.

To listen to the whole of the virtual masterclass click here (email required).

Ready to kick-start the growth of your firm?