You’ve put goals for one year, two years, and five years on your calendar (if you haven’t, you really should). You’ve got big plans for your firm that you’re sure that are within your grasp. There’s only one really big hurdle standing in your way – your in-house team is less than thrilled with your proposed changes. How does the outsourced accountant get his or her people on the same page?
Call them on it when they don’t deliver.
Let’s get one of the less pleasant components of team-building out of the way first. For a scheduled goal to come together you’ll have to divide it into sub-goals and milestones and portion parts of those sub-goals out to your in-house talent.
If someone drops the ball on their particular piece of the puzzle you’re going to have to call them on it. If you keep sweeping aside missed assignments then it’s going to become a habit for you, and missing those assignments may become the habit developed by your people.
How does the outsourced accountant make a point of course correcting their in-house team? Honestly it probably won’t take much. Start out small. Perhaps in a meeting you can have a point on the agenda where you say, “John, you missed your deadline for Project X. Do you need help catching up?” Often that public embarrassment in front of your other team members will be enough to do the trick.
Aside from setting that particular employee straight it’ll also let your other team members know the consequences of not pulling their fair share.
Along those lines, you have to deliver as well. It’s not going to be particularly effective if you’re calling out other people on not contributing and then you go and kick back in your office and get absolutely nothing done. Practice what you preach.
The outsourced accountant should be clear with his/her plan.
A major reason why your people may drag their feet is that they don’t understand that a rising tide will float all ships – what’s good for the firm will be good for them. This needs to be explained as clearly as possible, so you (the outsourced accountant in question) will need to write up a brief (1 page-ish) explanation of what you’re trying to achieve with the firm and why you’re doing it.
Make it fun.
If you have sub-goals that are do-able within an hour or so try making them fun. The first employee to fully accomplish X in the next hour wins a gift certificate to a professional massage, a bundle of lottery tickets… whatever you feel is appropriate. You can also have bigger prizes for bigger pieces of the overall plan.
If one or more of your sub-goals involves concrete numbers (e.g. reaching a certain number of new clients) then make an ongoing measurement visible to all. The most obvious would probably be the old paper thermometer on the wall with the mercury rising with each new client. However you dress it up it’ll be a big, fun, and constant reminder that you’re all getting something important done.
Really want to dress it up? Then put a prize for your group at the end of the goal – a paid trip to a fancy restaurant, a long weekend, a bonus, you name it, it’ll motivate your people all the more.
Report successes and troubles.
If you make your team feel fantastic about passing milestones they’re naturally going to work harder to return to that feeling, which means more work will get done in a timely manner.
At the same time as the outsourced accountant in charge don’t feel the need to hide it when problems arise. Keeping everyone informed as to their overall success is going to keep them invested in your firm. The more they know, they more they’ll feel that they’re not just working for the firm but that they are part of the firm and they will respond accordingly.
Regular group and individual meetings.
As the outsourced account in charge you need to know when, where, and why your people get stuck. You need to know what they need to make progress. Make it part of your culture that you have brisk meetings where you deliver your updates and your people feel free to deliver updates of their own.