As great a boss as you may be, some turnover is inevitable at your accounting firm. When you need to permanently replace an employee, hiring from the outside is time-consuming and expensive, and can easily lead to morale problems in-house. Rather than take those risks, the smart way to replace an employee who has left your business is to promote someone from within. That’s only one of the reasons you should strive to build a bench of knowledgeable employees.
Having a strong bench also comes in handy when someone gets sick, goes on maternity or family leave or takes a vacation. But in order create a solid team, you need to plan ahead and make sure your current staff is trained and ready to move up in the org chart. Here’s how to ensure you have enough qualified employees on staff to take on new roles when needed.
Delegate more and micromanage less
It’s usually easy to recognize those employees who have that extra spark of motivation and enthusiasm (as opposed to those workers who are just going through the motions of the work day and waiting for 5 o’clock). Self-starting employees who want to learn more and do more are always looking for ways to improve their skills. Now is the time to give them more responsibilities. Delegate some of your more laborious tasks or the duties you don’t like doing, such as writing press releases, handling your company’s social media accounts, or following up with clients after tax season. Push your employees to learn, be understanding when they make mistakes, and work to help build their confidence.
Once you’ve delegated, then comes the challenge of actually letting go. Most small business owners can’t help but be micromanagers. It makes sense: After all, you put blood, sweat and tears into building your business with your own two hands and no one else knows your business like you do. However, you can’t grow your business if you continue on the same path of trying to “do it all” by yourself. Part of delegation is allowing employees to learn from their mistakes. Instead of standing over them and micromanaging their every move, give employees a goal and then provide the freedom to accomplish tasks in their own way. You might be surprised to find that your way is not always the only way to do something! If you delegate to an employee and they still need to turn to you for constant direction, you’re not cultivating an independent thinker or building your bench.
Send employees back to school
Educational expenses related to improving job skills are tax deductible, as you know, whether you or your employees pay for the class, books and any other related expenses. You undoubtedly already send your employees to learn new accounting skills, keep current on new tax laws, and learn how to use new software. But accounting-related training isn’t all your team can benefit from. Why not think outside the box and have employees learn search engine optimization (SEO), website design or new marketing skills? You can also send your employees to industry trade shows, conferences, workshops and networking events where they can meet new people and gain new knowledge. If your employees are reluctant to go back to school, build enthusiasm by offering incentives such as bonuses, extra days off or gift certificates to their favorite restaurants in return for completing courses or certifications.
Cross train employees
The more your employees know about each other’s jobs (and your job), the better it is for the future of your company. Suggest the idea of cross training to your employees and ask for feedback on what skills everyone is interested in learning. Bonus: Employees who might be bored with their own jobs will get revitalized by teaching others. Show your employees how each task in day-to-day activities contributes to the success of the business as a whole. Keep employees in the loop about changes in each role and get suggestions on other ways to cross train roles.
It’s important to reward employees for their achievements and encourage them to learn more skills they can put to use at your company. Even if you can’t promote them right now, be sure to recognize their achievements. At CorpNet, for instance, we acknowledge employee achievements during meetings, on our blog, and by taking employees out to lunch or dinner. Formal rewards programs are effective, sure—but don’t forget that personally thanking employees in the moment goes a long way.
Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, business expert and mother of four. She is the CEO of CorpNet.com, a trusted resource and service provider for business incorporation, LLC filings, and corporate compliance services in all 50 states. Nellie and her team recently launched a partner program for accountants, lawyers, and business professionals to help them streamline the business incorporation and compliance process for their clients.
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