What to Do When the Future Looks Scary, Part 2
by Marc Staut, Chief Innovation & Technology Officer
Two years ago, I wrote an article for this newsletter called What to Do When the Future Looks Scary. That article focused on dealing with the fear of technology taking over our jobs. With the world and our profession now facing a COVID-19 pandemic, I decided it’s a good time to take another look at that advice.
Many people are feeling uncertainty, doubt, and panic right now. But for leaders of accounting firms, it’s your job to remain steady. You must be a calming presence for your team. Whether you want them to or not, the people in your firm take cues on how to respond to a crisis from you.
You have a choice: you can adopt the mindset that this is the end of everything, or you can recognize it as an opportunity. I don’t mean opportunity as profiting from other’s misfortune; I mean an opportunity to move toward the future.
We all knew the profession was headed toward more virtual work. Now, suddenly, we’re there. While the circumstances aren’t ideal, it’s not completely unforeseen. But a public health crisis accelerated what we already knew was coming.
Positive changes will come out of this, but I don’t believe we’ll go back to the way things were. Once you have 100% of your team working remotely, it will be tough to tell them it’s not possible, even when your physical location reopens.
You don’t need to become an expert on the technologies that make remote work possible. But you should start cultivating a collection of voices you can trust, assimilate the information you collect from them, and start forming your own plans for adoption in your firm.
With so many events, gatherings and public places closed right now, it’s a great time to read and attend webinars and virtual conferences. Remember, you don’t have to do all of the learning yourself. Identify people in your firm who are passionate about technology, process, business development and other subjects and invest in them. Enroll them in some of the many virtual events that are happening in the profession right now. Make sure they report back and share what they’ve learned with the firm.
Have a plan
Getting everyone on your firm rowing in the same direction is more critical than ever. If people are confused about the vision and direction the firm is going, they won’t want to buy into the changes that need to be made.
Some people won’t like the changes that need to be made as your firm adapts to a new reality, but everyone needs to get on board if they want the firm to succeed through these difficult times.
The accounting profession is still about relationships. Take this opportunity to build a deeper connection with your clients. Even if you can’t meet with them in person, you can still create a sense of trust and partnership. They want to know what’s going to happen to their businesses right now and how it will impact their lives. If you aren’t showing them a way forward, they will look for someone who can.
Even if you don’t know all of the answers, communicate with your team and your clients. They are hearing the same scary things as you. If you don’t take the time to reassure them that you understand what’s happening and are working on a plan, you will lose trust.
There’s a Steve Jobs quote:
“These waves of technology, you can see them way before they happen,
and you just have to choose wisely which ones you’re going to surf.”
We may not have seen this wave coming. However, if you act now, you’ll have more control over how the coming waves will impact your firm, the opportunities it will create, and when you take advantage of the innovations that will come from this interesting time.
Do you want the tools and accountability to start from where you are now and get where you want to be?
The Boomer Certified Consultant Training program helps equip accounting professionals with the mindset and skills to become true trusted business advisors to client