You have a great amount of control over how quickly your staff develop and what skills they improve, but you need to make a deliberate effort to ensure they learn the right things that will benefit your business, help them grow personally, and increase the likelihood that they remain on your team.
Usually, any training is tailored to suit the needs and environment of a business, but more-often overlooked is the need to also consider the learning styles of the individuals, what skills are actually needed, and the role that senior management should play.
Formal, informal or both?
Formal training is any channel specifically made for the intention to teach something, such as conferences, webinars, training videos and exercises. Often, CPE credits are provided. Informal training is less structured and can happen at any time—on the job, in the lunchroom, personal reading, or sharing between co-workers.
Your team’s training plan should include a mixture of formal and informal delivery methods for all skills that are being developed. For example, some staff members may attend a CPE-accredited course on process mapping (formal training), and then discuss what they learned with the rest of the team during a monthly lunch where everyone shares something they have learned recently (informal training).
Training changes rapidly, and so do our training manuals and training processes. Tomorrow's employee will be using vastly different technology than our current team, so we have to continually improve. Communication and documentation is key.
What skills to focus on?
Generally, most businesses are good at developing a technical training plan for their staff that includes technology and legislative changes. However, far less attention is given to soft skill training.
As the compliance side of accounting is becoming increasingly automated by cloud technology, skills such as communication, problem-solving, and time management are becoming more critical than ever. But little time is spent teaching these ‘soft skills’ at college, university or at other practices. This means it is vital for your team’s development—and your firm’s success—that you take the time to develop these critical skills within your team.
Today, flourishing in accounting requires a new way of thinking. It is less about the technical expertise and number-crunching, and more about whether you can handle systems, communicate well, innovate, solve problems, and build a rapport with your clients.
Development must be driven from the top
If you want your team to grow and improve, there is one non-negotiable—you need to drive their development from the top. This is not only a matter of setting time and money aside to facilitate training. Managers need to remain engaged throughout the development process of each team member.
Sit down with each employee to help them identify the critical skills they need and how they will be developed, schedule check-ins dedicated to discussing their development, and continuously help them grow by putting them in positions you know they will benefit from in the long-term as they carry out their role with your practice.
If you are serious about having a team that constantly improves, and want to build the best team that you can, then learning needs to be a part of each employee’s KPIs.
To learn more about training your team and a 6-step guide to designing a team training program, download The Talent Playbook.