There is a growing trend in the industry for accountants to work outside the traditional 9-5 hours, and often away from the office. The generational shift taking place in the industry and subsequent changing traits of the typical accountant mean that these flexible working options are only going to become more common.
Furthermore, advancements in technology have changed the playing field for accountants. It's now possible to get more done in less time. This increase in efficiency and the fact that your staff don't always work right next to you has shifted the importance from knowing how long they are working for to the outcomes they are delivering.
As a partner or manager, your job is to find, lead, and verify the quality of work, and the key to knowing the output for your staff is to know the intricacies of what they are working on. If your staff get results, the number of hours that are hitting their timesheets shouldn’t matter.
“We expect members of our firm to get the work done, exceed client expectations and honor our firm commitments. Everyone is in control of when they work and how much they work”
The key is to allow for visibility across your entire practice. Everyone in your team should know who is working on what when, how long those tasks are taking, who is speaking to which clients, and what was said. Karbon provides exactly this for accounting firms, giving you all this information at your fingertips.
To make it easier to keep track of what is being done, break larger pieces of work into smaller checklist items and assign them to staff as you see fit—something else that is made easy in Karbon. This will give you both a micro view of each task's progress as well as a macro view of the larger work overall.
Setting detailed, measurable goals with your staff will help you to keep track of who is staying on task. This will add to employee confidence as they will know exactly what is expected of them.
You can keep tabs on everyone’s progress through daily or weekly stand-ups, where each staff member states what they are currently working on and their progress so far. You can do this in person, or you can even get your team to post in a team messaging app such as Slack. Stand-ups will give you an overview of the entire team, and show you who is in need of aid or review.
Short semi-regular check-ins with each staff member can be used to get a feel for how each employee is doing in general, and specific to their current projects.
By implementing these suggested strategies you can focus on the quality of the work being delivered and your staff's internal metrics. Embrace technology to provide visibility across your firm and compliment this with occasional check-ins to tell you what your employees are delivering and the value they are providing to the team as a whole. Trust that it isn't necessary to stand over their shoulders to make sure they are performing—it's the results that matter most, not the number of hours they spend in an office chair.
To compare the challenges your firm is facing acquiring, training and retaining staff with accounting practices from around the world, download The talent challenge: insights from Karbon’s 2017 talent survey.