Most accounting practitioners believe that being charismatic extroverts, or throwing money at your employees, are the most effective ways to keep employee morale high. This is just not true.
An outgoing personality and initiating conversation with your employees are important aspects. Paying an employee in exchange for their work is a given.
But what I’m suggesting is paying attention to the “little stuff”, which can have an even greater impact.
All it takes is a little involvement during the work day and recognition beyond money — recognition that is personal and emotional. Your team members just want to know that they are noticed and appreciated.
Give recognition that makes employees want to bring forth the best they have to offer.
Publicly acknowledge your team member’s contributions and ideas. No matter how small, make sure you mention your personal appreciation.
It starts with developing a deeper level of awareness. Practice listening, looking for opportunities to thank your team members and be specific!
Just recently I noticed that my office manager was helping one of my accountants with the upcoming tax deadline. She was helping him print files, organize, and contact clients — going outside of her responsibilities for the greater good of the firm. At our monthly team building lunch I thanked her in front of everyone.
“Thank you so much for helping Bob the past two days. I know that there are other things you could have been doing with your time. I really appreciate and value your ability to be such a team player. I just wanted you to know I noticed and I am grateful.”
The look on her face spoke for itself. She was so pleased to get recognition.
Praise the Home Team
Write a thank you note to your staff’s loved ones at home, or even send a gift on their employment anniversary. Express that you know they have made sacrifices for your firm; family time, etc. Let them and their family know that their commitment is noticed and very valuable.
One of my accountants has been with me for almost 10 years – crazy how time flies. I sent a beautiful bouquet to her home, thanking her for her loyalty and commitment to my practice, and thanking her family for their support over the years. I also included a gift card to a local Italian restaurant, remembering her love for good food and time with family.
Schedule weekly get-togethers. Meet with the entire firm to share words of encouragement, go over the work flow, and any upcoming tax deadlines. Make sure to let them know they are doing a great job.
You can also schedule meetings with each department asking them about their biggest stressors and how they are planning on tackling them. Touching base with your staff shows that you are engaged and that you care.
Insist on Honest Dialogue
Disrespectful behavior and dishonesty are not permitted under any circumstances. Kindness is always encouraged, but sweet talk is unnecessary. Being direct and constructive in your conversations with your staff will produce honest feedback for both of you.
Organizing outside work activities is the glue that holds high-performing practices together. Make it a tradition to regularly get your team together, outside of the office or in a conference room for some socializing.
Just last week I bought everyone in the office lunch, and our office manager created an activity for us. We were given seven riddles, and as a team we had to figure them out. While the riddles truly stumped me, what was most fascinating was being able to see the diversity of answers and the process each employee went through to get to an answer.
Great people make great businesses, and happy people perform better. Make it a top priority to keep morale high by valuing your employees.
You’ll find that the other challenges you face will fade as your team works together to overcome obstacles. This will also bring you a sense of ease knowing that you can trust your employees to do the job at hand.
Salim Omar is the author of The Million Dollar CPA Firm. He is also a successful business owner of Straight Talk CPAs, an accounting firm, and President of CPA Marketing Genius. He has a passion for helping CPAs engage in personal growth and professional development. While he is...