“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
How do you get your team to change their ways and to recognise that the firm they work in is itself going through change?
Contrary to popular opinion, accountants are quite a progressive bunch. We like to introduce new ideas, systems and policies into our firms. We like to see our practices evolve and consequently we tend to be on the lookout for better ways of doing things. We’re in a good position to do this as we meet many people, see lots of businesses in action and stay up to scratch with our CPD.
As a consequence, we will introduce new measures to our team on a fairly regular basis…and this is where the problem starts.
We introduce a change to our staff with vigour and enthusiasm. The trouble is that the team have experienced such introductions before. Some changes have stayed the course but many have fallen by the wayside.
Sometimes this is because they have proved ineffective, on other occasions it’s simply that the management hasn’t followed the change through to full adoption. Either way, the team have heard it all before.
This leads to hesitancy in adoption. “Before I change my ways, let’s just hang fire a bit and see if this one sticks.” It’s a natural human precaution but frustrating to management.
If any change is to stick, if the team are to understand that they are no longer in Kansas, then a protocol needs to be followed.
1. The reason for the change must be fully explained and set in context. Where does it fit into the greater plan?
2. A timetable for its implementation needs to be set and made clear.
3. A review process must be built in and shared. Everyone needs to know what success looks like.
4. Responsibility for implementation needs to be set.
5. The team have to be part of the process, not just recipients of it.
6. Feedback must be welcomed and shared.
7. The benefits for the firm, team and clients have to be clear.
If your firm is evolving in your mind, then it must be clear in the minds of your team as well. They are not mind readers.
Where you see vision, your team see only chores if that vision is not shared. Help your team to be part of change, to embrace it and enhance it.