Working with the right staff can be the difference between failure and success for an accounting practice. But now that so many people are working remotely and the talent pool has broadened far beyond neighborhood boundaries, it can be a challenge to manage your team in a way that’s efficient for business goals but respects their personal needs and work/life balance.
Proper management of your team is important for your business as well as your individual staff members. Employees that aren’t appropriately managed feel less confident about their work and won’t be as productive as they could be. Whether they’re in the same office or across the country, here are four ways to make managing your accounting team easier.
Set clear standards for your accounting or bookkeeping team
To maximize productivity and ensure a stress-free working process, it’s important for your team to know what you expect. Before they get started on any project, they should know exactly what they are doing on it and how their performance will be graded. If possible, have them create some of those standards so that to feel more buy-in and control over what’s expected of them.
Whether you decide to give them an official handbook, a training module, or any other way of communicating standards, be sure you get their documented approval of your expectations to help avoid any confusion in the future. This should also include getting their signature, either physical or digital.
We know everyone gets busy, but your accounting firm’s team members are too important to ignore. That’s not to say you have to check in with them every hour – the specific frequency with which you communicate with your team is dependent on several things, including the kind of work you do, how long they’ve been at the firm, and their level of comfort with technology. It’s up to you to experiment and find a cadence that allows you to stay in tune with your team but doesn’t interrupt their workflow.
However, we suggest that in remote working arrangements, it’s best to communicate a little more than you might think necessary. Sending someone an extra email or chat message is far less interruptive than physically walking up to them to talk, which requires someone to stop what they’re doing and give you their full focus. According to some studies, it takes over 20 minutes to regain focus on a work task after being interrupted. It’s much easier for remote workers to set notification preferences and integrate communication into their schedule, which is why it’s okay to communicate a bit more than you might in an office setting. This is especially true for members of your team who aren’t used to remote arrangements and need a little extra guidance.
Equip your practice with the right tools
Whether your team works remotely or on-site, there are things they need to do their jobs effectively. This includes everything from easy file sharing among teammates and clients to a simple method to track the hours they have billed against specific projects. And while some people at the firm who have been there for a while may feel comfortable speaking up when they don’t feel adequately equipped for their job, it’s ultimately your responsibility as a firm owner to ensure your team can work efficiently with the tools you’re providing.
Maintain accurate timekeeping
We’ve already discussed the importance of communicating with your team and giving them what’s needed to succeed. It’s also your job to see that the communications and tools you equip them with are being used properly. That’s not to say you need to micromanage your team members or track every single minute of their workday. But you should look at broader trends in their utilization rate; hours billed on specific projects, and the rate at which they complete typical project milestones. This can help you see if they have any obstacles in their work or if there might be a faster way to complete their regular project tasks.
Conclusion on accounting team management
Management in accounting firms has always been a tricky task, and the onset of a global pandemic that created new remote working arrangements everywhere didn’t make it any easier. Accounting firms have specific challenges that make management tough: lots of different forms, numbers, and stringent legal regulations that can be extremely costly to break.
Luckily, plenty of modern tools available today can help any size accounting firm manage its team more efficiently. With a comprehensive accounting practice management software tool, it’s much easier to give your team what they need, communicate with them about important project tasks, and make sure they understand what you expect so that you can keep your operation running smoothly. Your team feels engaged, successful, and valued by the organization.