A couple of weeks ago I was on a group coaching call and I was having a conversation with two of my clients, Michael and Antony.
Now Michael is based over in Ireland, and Antony is based in the south-east.
And one of the points that came up in the call was around ‘staff output’ and in both Michael and Antony’s’ cases they agreed that their teams output wasn’t good enough.
In fact, Antony went on to describe the attitude of his team as “it’ll get done when it gets done”.
So, the question they both had that we opened up to the rest of the call was – “how can we increase our teams output levels?”
Here are the 3 main points you should look at if you want to increase your teams output in your accountancy practice:
1. Set targets & increase the frequency
This one is so simple that it’s often overlooked.
Setting targets for output of work is the most effective ways to kick your team into gear and get them working more productively.
Targets can be set for the practice as a whole, but also per team member.
And one of the mistakes I often see practice owners making at this point is that the targets they set aren’t frequent enough e.g. monthly targets or even weekly targets.
I have a theory and it’s relatively simple to explain…
If something isn’t working, then you need to increase the frequency that you look at it.
E.g. If you’re unfit, then you increase the frequency that you exercise. If your debtors days are sky high, then you increase the frequency that you look at them and chase people.
So, bringing it back to your team, if their current output level is too low, then you need to increase the frequency that you look at it which is why daily targets are important.
Does it feel a little draconian at first? Maybe.
Will some of your team try to reject it? Of course, but these are the weaker team members which might not be the A+ team members you need.
But as the output levels start to increase, you can begin to relax the frequency slightly.
2. Hold your team accountable to their targets
Setting targets is one half of the solution and holding your team accountable to them is the second half.
You can’t do one without the other, it doesn’t work.
So how can you hold your team accountable to their new daily targets?
You could meet with them once a week, but as I mentioned above if something isn’t working you need to increase the frequency.
This is why daily huddles work so well.
The agenda for these huddles is simple:
- What jobs were you working on yesterday?
- What jobs are you working on today and how long do you expect they should take?
- Do you have any bottlenecks?
And what you’ll find is that these huddles often throw up interesting learnings.
For example, you might notice that one of your team members keeps saying the same job each day. The question for them would then be, why is it taking so long? Is it an issue with the client? Or maybe it’s an issue with the productivity of that particular team member.
One of the things I often hear practice owners say when I mention daily huddles is “But Rudi, this wouldn’t work in our practice because of XYZ”.
There are any number of excuses why this can’t work in your practice.
The key is finding a way to make it work.
Because when you combine this level of accountability with the targets mentioned in the point above, your teams output levels will absolutely increase.
3. Leverage technology where possible
This final point is more of a way to maximise the impact the first two points can have.
There are some fantastic pieces of practice management & workflow software out there for accountancy practices that can help you and your team organise and prioritise which jobs people should be working on and when.
The point here is that leveraging technology can often reduce the time spent figuring out what jobs need completing, by who and by when.
What is your teams output level currently like?
If your teams output is currently not good enough, then it might be time to draw a line in the sand and do something about.
By focusing on the 3 points above, you will turn your unproductive team into a well-oiled machine in no time.
Do you have any additional ideas/experiences on how to increase the output levels of your team? Please feel free to share them in the comments below.