Posted By Sandra Wiley,
Thursday, November 15, 2012
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Are you feeling more confident in the economy? Many are saying they are cautiously
optimistic and the overall barometer is edging up, albeit slowly. Are you starting to have visions of the "old
days” when you were so swamped with new clients that you could not keep up with
the demand? Remember also your desire to
hire new staff and your inability to find anyone at any level. We were hanging on to our staff by paying
signing bonuses, increasing our benefit packages, insuring they had valuable
training and even offering on-site massages during tax season.
The climate changed and many of those benefits
and good feelings went away. Firms began
to get more conservative. We managed
expenses more closely, laid off staff, the massages went away and we became
more focused on solid firm management principles. Now that we are starting to feel
a little relief, will you be tempted to let go of those solid management
principles? I would encourage you to
relax, but not let go. Keep your eye on
the strategies that will become a part of your long-term culture, not just a
part of a temporary strategy.
Let’s look at the foundational strategies that might have become
a habit over the past few years that you should hold tight to as the recovery
on strategic firm initiatives:
Firms have worked hard to look at specific strategies that will drive
firm growth, increase top talent, and improve processes as well as develop
technology initiatives that support the overall firm strategies. The plan was the roadmap that was used to
maneuver through the tough times and now will guide you through the more
on internal and external relationships:
Leadership in firms have always known that the firm is built on strong
client relationships and most have subscribed to the idea that strong internal
relationships are necessary also. That
formula is certainly not retreating now that the economy is beginning to
recover. Emphasis on internal and
external relationship building is essential to the continued growth of the
on creating value not just selling the next deal: Growth is always a part of the public
accounting practice, and during economic stress, the firms natural tendency is
to have a laser focus on growth strategies.
The growth strategies must continue with the same intensity and
commitment by the leadership group.
on new opportunities: When
stressful times are in our midst, we search outside the box for new
opportunities out of desperation to find new services and new streams of
revenue. Don’t let that intensity stop
simply because the pressure is off. Keep
encouraging your partners and team to look for new opportunities that will give
your firm a vision to pursue.
on progress, not perfection:
When the whole world is spinning out of control and the firms stays flat
everyone pats you on the back and says you are doing ok. Now that the world is slowing down, some will
have a tendency to move into the "we have to get back to 20% per year growth –
NOW!”. Slow down and remember that
progress is good and some growth is far better than flat. Perfection is a dream that can soon turn into
a nightmare, so continued improvement is your goal.
on your talents and your ability to collaborate: We are a profession that started out as a
group of rough individualists and have learned that teams, collaboration and
groups are far more efficient and effective to complete projects. The momentum exists, so continue the path and
expand the groupthink that is working so well in your firm already.
on being grateful: Gratitude for
team members, clients, projects, peers and partner group becomes much clearer
when times are tough. Work hard to
continue to see the amazing resources around you and make a special effort to
tell them how grateful you are to have them in your circle of influence.
on creativity: Creativity within
the firm often comes from a position of stress, and the firm may have developed
some creative new processes, services, task forces and projects over the last
few years. Don’t let the creativity stop.
Encourage your entire workforce to look for ways to improve the firm
creatively by finding ways to do things faster, cheaper, easier and
on leadership: Firm leaders have
been forced to give up some control, responsibility and authority to other
talented individuals in the firm with the reduction in workforce and the
emergence of top talent at the manager level.
Leadership exists throughout the firm so don’t back off of that emerging
trend now. Continue the strategy of
developing your top talent into the future leadership group in your firm.
on technology solutions: We all
realize that technology is an accelerator for almost every initiative in the
firm. Technology sometimes will ebb and
flow in the firm if the leadership group does not see it as an asset. Don’t let
technology become a simple expense line on the P&L statement. Insure that it stays on the asset column on
The time for strategic thinking is now. Take the focus challenge and continue to build
on the habits that you have developed over the last few years. This continued
focus will serve your firm well for the long-term.