How to get the best out of your accounting staff

Ed ChanFounder & Non-Executive Chairman, Chan & Naylor

When building a business, your focus as the owner should lie on developing people and building systems. The people and systems will then build your business even without you actively running it.

This is the key to working ON your business and not IN it.

There are three principles we teach at Wize Mentoring that will help you get the best results from your staff:

1. Implement a deep and narrow team structure

What does your hiring process currently look like?

Mis-hiring and hiring because your staff say they are too busy is one of the biggest and most expensive mistakes you can make in your firm.

Team design is critical to building a firm that runs without you. It’s not a matter of hiring an experienced person, putting them in a seat, and expecting them to do everything. This fails more than it works out.

You need to have a deeper understanding of how team structure affects the operation and growth of your business. A traditional shallow and wide team structure will see you remaining a prisoner to your business because all queries, work, and demands land squarely on your shoulders. You're also reliant on finding extraordinary people, who are hard to find and expensive to keep (and expensive to lose!)

With a scalable deep and narrow team structure, you build a resource mix that creates a high-functioning team that is not dependent on you.

Here are the top principles to implement to get your team structure right:

  1. Have the right people in the right seat

  2. Have a no-bypass policy in your team

  3. Manage the communication traffic and production traffic in your firm

Ultimately, having a deep and narrow team structure will give you more time and leverage to do other things in your business that will help you grow.

Ask yourself: is your team structure currently wide and shallow, or deep and narrow?

2. Optimize your production through capacity planning

In our experience, developing and implementing capacity planning is not something that is done enough in practice.

We never allow any of the firms I’m working with to hire anyone until I have completed a Capacity Planner. Because it’s not a case of just hiring more bodies to throw at the problem—this never works.

It’s about getting the right mix of skills. By creating a team with complementary skills, you’re able to get leverage and scale. Namely, 1 plus 1 gives 5

If you don’t get the right mix of complementary skills in your team, it becomes extremely clunky, inefficient, and you will lose productivity.

The Capacity Planner will determine whether you are under or over capacity. Without it, the majority of what you’ll be doing will remain guesswork. You should be more scientific than just guessing.

3. Bring it all together through leadership

When you put the right people in the right seat and identify the finders, minders, and grinders in your firm, you’ll be able to remove yourself from the business, and maximize gross profits while you’re at it.

But it’s important to note that great leadership is at the core of achieving this.

To become a better leader, you need to have the ability to be self-aware and understand your impact on others.

You need to be focussed on getting the best out of others and have the ability to make good business decisions, i.e. investing in the balance sheet vs. being focussed just on the P&L.

With these strategies and better leadership, you’ll be able to have a stronger culture, better productivity in your teams, and an accountable and result-oriented staff.

Ed Chan
Founder & Non-Executive Chairman, Chan & Naylor

Ed started Chan & Naylor from a small home office in Sydney and grew it into a National Financial Services Organisation that now works without him, with offices in most capital cities around Australia, servicing more than 10,000 clients.

In 2018 he co-founded WIZE Mentoring, a network for accountants who want to know how to successfully grow their firm and have it run without them.

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