Getting the right people under your roof can have a major impact on your business in two ways. First, everyone on your team (including yourself) will enjoy and appreciate their work environment more, resulting in a greater output. Second, filling slots with top-tier players will result in your firm being able to pull in more revenue per employee.
However, team management is perhaps a skill that you’ve never had reason to develop before, especially if you’re striking out on your own for the first time. Or maybe your track record with hires hasn’t been as solid as you might like. So today let’s identify some team-building mistakes and look at ways that you can correct them.
You’re not getting rid of the bad apples
Most people don’t enjoy firing people. Unfortunately, it’s part of the job, an important part if you want to build up a top-tier team. Here’s something to consider – not only will bad hires not deliver within their own particular sphere, but they can potentially bring down your other employees with their bad attitude. And Heaven help you if that negative employee ever gets some face-time with your clients.
Bad hires hurt your bottom line. Get rid of them a.s.a.p.
You’re not promoting your firm’s culture
Are you a super-serious financial institution, or are you perhaps a fun, hip, cutting edge kind of firm? Whatever the feel is that you want for your firm, you need to have it upfront and obvious so that potential new recruits will know what kind of people they’re getting into bed with. A super-serious accountant will begin to dread coming in to work at the edgy young firm, and that attitude will begin to affect the others around them. So make sure your firm’s vibe is visible everywhere a new potential hire might be checking you out:
- your website and social media outlets
- your business cards
- your office’s furniture and décor
- your advertising and employment notices
- your job interview process (here are some examples of ways to make your interviews stand out)
- the way you dress
- even your car can represent your firm’s culture
You don’t have a statement of values
In the same vein as your firm’s culture, a statement of your values can help a hire understand in a concrete fashion how they should react when a specific problem arises. Zappos.com (an online clothing retailer) has a well-known list of 10 core values:
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More with Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
Having these values openly displayed on your website can inform both existing and future team members about how they’ll be expected to approach their job on a daily basis.
(You can find more examples of value statements here.)
You’re not helping your employees grow
People aren’t just searching for a job, they’re searching for a calling. That means that they want to keep learning and growing, expanding their ability to contribute to the firm’s future.
If you expect a hire to do one thing and one thing only forever you can expect to have a lot of turnaround as that hire grows bored and looks for new challenges and ways to improve him or herself.
So provide your team members with opportunities for growth. Bring in guest speakers. Send them to seminars. Put them in charge of investigating the cool things other firms are doing and challenge them with implementing them in your own firm. Pay for online-learning courses.
Whatever the avenue, give them the room and opportunities for growth.
You’re only hiring accountants for all of your positions
Fundamentally there’s nothing wrong with having only accountants under your firm’s roof. But having someone with a different flavour of background can really provide a boost of flavour to the firm.
For example, let’s say that you’re in the enviable position of being big enough that you now need a receptionist. While he or she might benefit your firm if they come with some accounting knowledge, might they not provide even more of a benefit if they had, say, some marketing in their background? You’re already stuffed full of people with accounting know-how, but how many of them can craft an interesting social media campaign (assuming you haven’t hired a full-time marketing person)?
Or how about the person you use to collate and funnel your work to your outsourced team? They’ll need to be able to recognise when certain parts of files are missing, but they don’t necessarily need to be a certified accountant. So what if you hired in someone with an HR background to be your funnel as well as your go-to guy or gal when it comes time to hunt for further hires?
You’re not setting goals
Goals work on both a micro and a macro level.
On the micro level, goals set milestones that employees will feel inspired to meet on a daily basis. As you come in to work in the morning just stop by each employee and ask them not what they’re working on, but rather what they want to have accomplished by the end of the day. Their setting a goal out loud makes it a real and concrete thing that they will want to achieve.
On the macro level, concrete goals give your team members a visible cause that they are contributing to. Their daily grind isn’t just some repetitious task that will go on forever; rather it’s something that’s contributing to the whole and making the firm better.
This emotional investment can make a huge difference in building an effective team instead of a group of individuals hammering away at their keyboards with their heads down.
You’re not introducing your team to your clients
Having team members getting to know your clients early on creates an emotional investment. Clients will no longer be faceless files, they’ll now be people that your firm is trying to help achieve some kind of dream, whether it be personal (e.g. retirement by a certain age, paying for a child’s education) or for their business (hitting a certain amount of revenue by the end of the year, being able to afford to bring in a new hire).
This also gives your employees the chance to get involved in value-add work rather than it being something that only you, the boss, ever does. The more tasks you trust your employees with, the more they’ll feel like they’re contributing to the whole (plus it frees you up to hunt for more clients).
You’re not celebrating your wins
When your team hits a milestone (monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.) make a big deal out of it. Make sure your employees know that they’re appreciated. Offer rewards.
And here’s the sneaky bonus – celebrations are marketing. When a client comes in the next day and wonders why there’s still some confetti in the cracks of the chairs or pictures of your team wearing silly hats on the wall you can tell them that oh, it’s no big deal, your firm just helped a client open a second location. What client isn’t going to be impressed with that?