Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Nine Ways to Make Your Firm More Exciting

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Nine Ways to Make Your Firm More Exciting

Article excerpt

Adding freshness and fun can be a serious part of doing business.

Remember the excitement of being a kid, when life was full of possibilities and little pleasures were a really big deal? A managing partner can use such feelings as the basis of an effective approach for creating teamwork and momentum. For a small firm the effort to make a more exciting work-place can reward modest expenditure with a generous pay-off. It's not a stretch when you think about it. Interested, confident, well-informed staff are ambassadors who make clients look forward to your visits. Camaraderie and energy among employees and owners extend out. ward to everyone connected with your business. Think of it as marketing through office culture.

If you want to rally your firm's staff and get them energized, it's fairly easy to do. Here are a few simple steps to generate, maintain and build on enthusiasm. We follow them at our three-partner, 11-person firm in East Brunswick, New Jersey, but they apply to any type of business--yours or your clients'. A firm whose staff and principals are focused, efficient and happy is likely to have excellent growth and profit prospects.

1. LOOK FOR NEW IDEAS AND SKILLS

Fresh ideas help to create a more dynamic office culture. To assist clients with the changing world (not just the changing accounting profession), a firm needs to learn new ways of thinking and doing. Look around: Regularly check new business books in major bookstores, scan bestseller lists and read the cover stories in business magazines.

Our firm's ongoing CPE policy encompasses more than the profession's minimum requirements. Our partners attend or send staff to conferences with state-of-the-art leaders and visionaries, which have included business gurus Tom Peters, Peter Lowe, Gideon Malherbe, Guy Kawasaki, Bill Gates, Ted Turner and Steve Case.

Seminars, workshops and conferences are an important opportunity to learn and network. Vary the types you attend so you learn something new. To avoid a rehash, call and ask questions about the content and speakers before signing up.

We consider speed-reading, time management and motivational courses--even though they offer no CPE credit and no chargeable time--worthwhile staff training. The firm pays for those programs and gets significant value from them. The partners look for improvements in staff work patterns and client relationships, and we find such training imparts or improves skills needed in business as well as in everyday life. Speed-reading courses not only teach how to read faster with greater retention but also how to be more selective about what to read. Motivational courses foster enthusiasm and teach ideas and techniques that add energy to many people's workdays.

Our partners attend motivational refresher courses two or three times a year, and we take our staff at least once a year. Staff and partners discuss the content of them. When we spot employees using techniques learned at programs, we compliment them. We encourage the staff to discuss new ideas with clients; it lets clients know we are improving our skills to better serve them.

In general, the partners decide on the program to attend, although staff occasionally make recommendations. If there's a conflict, the employee chooses. Exposure to a variety of courses expands imagination and widens our scope better than annually repeated programs can. The opportunity we give people to learn skills that aren't job specific is valuable to them. It sets us apart from our competition and helps us retain staff.

Another way our firm cultivates fresh thinking is by subscribing to interesting professional publications, such as Fast Company, Business 2.0, Wired, Red Herring, Christie's International Magazine, Harvard Business Review, Strategy and Business, Success, Bottom Line/Personal, Bottom Line/ Business and PC World. Staff and partners choose the office subscription list. …

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