As an accountancy practice owner, you can be doing one of two things:
- You can be looking forwards building your practice (i.e. your business),
- Or you can be looking backwards, fixing your over-reliant team and all of their problems.
You can’t be doing both of these things at once, it doesn’t work.
If you’re spending 90% of your time ‘fire-fighting’ different problems in your practice that ultimately come down to your team, then that’s 90% of your time that isn’t spent on building and growing the practice.
It’s a bit like driving a car, if you try looking forwards and backwards at the same time, you’re going to crash at some point.
So, as part of your journey from being a well-paid accountant to a business owner, there’s a few things you need to put in place, and one of these things is an A+ team.
Having an A+ team in place means a couple of things:
- They are self-reliant, so there is no reliance on you being there to have to help them.
- You have more time to focus on growing the practice and winning new business
- They are more productive and efficient, which means that your profitability increases
But what exactly does an A+ team consist of?
A simple formula
This formula is so simple, it can be very easy to dismiss it at first. The simple things are often the best so please give it a go…
A + A = A+
The first A stands for ‘Attitude’, and the second A stands for ‘Ability in their current role’.
Attitude + Ability in their current role = A+
For both attitude and ability, we give an average from 0-10, where a 0 would be very bad and a 10 would be amazing.
We then take the average of those two numbers, and figure out if they are A+ or not.
My rule of thumb is that an average of 8+ is an A+ score. If somebody scores less than an 8 then you have to ask yourself the question, “why is this person on my team?”.
Here are some important points to note:
- Don’t overanalyse – As accountants your job is to analyse numbers. In this exercise, don’t. Go with your gut feel. More often than not that first number that pops into your head will be the right one. It should take you less than 2 seconds to figure out each number for someone.
- Low attitude numbers – People are generally born with this, and it very rarely changes. Ask yourself, “do I want to pay them for the next 10 years while they decide to maybe change their attitude?”. One rotten apple is all it takes to spoil the cart…
- Low ability numbers – There can be two things at play here. Either we have a square peg in a round hole situation i.e. the right person in the wrong role. If this is the case we either have to find them a more suitable role or if not, move them on. The other reason ability can be low is training. If this is the case, then that sits 100% on your shoulders as the practice owner to put right.
Have a go at doing this exercise for your entire team, clients often tell me it’s one of the most insightful things that they do.
Here is an example scorecard:
|Name||Attitude (0-10)||Ability (0-10)||Average||Result?|
|Mary||6||8||7||Why is this person in my team?|
|Helen||9||6||7.5||Is the ability a training issue or the right person in the wrong role?|
Leadership is about making the right decisions, not the comfortable ones
Once you’ve done this exercise for your team, chances are there might be one or two question marks about a few peoples’ names.
If that’s the case, then it’s time to become a leader in your practice and make the right decisions, not the comfortable ones.
It’s easy to ignore what’s in front of you, and allow non A+ team members to remain just because it’s comfortable. But please realise that when you do this you will never truly have a team that aren’t completely reliant on you. You will never have the trust in them that things will get done without your involvement and ultimately that will prevent you from achieving your goals.
Once you make the decision to move somebody on, follow the right legal and HR processes and make it happen.
It starts with a decision though.
Are you happy to settle with what you’ve got, or do you want to build a self-reliant A+ team and become a thriving business owner?