There is not a person in business today who thinks that we will come out of this COVID -19 crisis as we were before. We all recognize that as we slowly bring our economy back it will be through a “new normal” and whether that “new normal” is a bridge to the “old normal” or a pathway to a new “business model” is anyone’s guess. Regardless, every firm needs to think about what their annual partner retreat should focus on and why it needs to be different than any in the past. This perspective provides one person’s insight.
To begin with, you might want to consider holding the retreat by Zoom while partners are uneasy about gathering in big groups before a vaccine is available.
Every firm and many businesses are going through a crisis like none that anyone could foresee or one that any of us have had to ever navigate before. There are and will be tons of articles and even books written about this crisis and how it will change every business forever – we just don’t know what that means. What we can say with certainty is that those firms and firm leadership that acknowledge that there will be a “new normal” and puts forth the effort to create a successful roadmap to navigate the future will return to success quicker and more significantly than those firms and firm leadership that just react to what the “new normal” delivers. The question is do you want to respond to or react to this crisis?
It is clear that firm leadership is critical to how each firm will respond to and re-build from this crisis. As John F. Kennedy’s quote and Abhijit Naskar’s quote clearly state, in every crisis, there is an opportunity – opportunity to become a better firm than you were before.
So, where do you start on this road to recovery? One critical place on that road is your annual partner retreat. So many firms hold annual partner retreats and talk about a bunch of things, make some good decisions about the future and then leave the retreat and it becomes business as usual. We have addressed this paralysis in a previous perspective and want to use this perspective to focus on the retreat itself, not what happens after the retreat.
What should be different about all partner 2020 retreats? There are several agenda and format changes that should be reflected in your 2020 retreats which we will briefly highlight.
In Our Opinion, to have a successful 2020 retreat, you will need to allocate three days to effectively implement the above agenda and to ensure that the output is a clear roadmap for the firm to move from the “new normal” to the “new business model”. Managing partners of every small and midsized firm needs to champion this approach to the 2020 retreat, lead the way and make the commitment to provide the leadership, training, coaching, and support to everyone to ensure the successful execution of the retreat’s output.
It takes courage to face a crisis and to not let the crisis define you but to find the opportunities that every crisis presents. It may for the first time for many firm leaders and partners to challenge themselves to think outside the box. So many aspects of what we did, how we did it, what clients want and need, what clients are willing and able to pay for, will require firm leadership and partners to think differently. Firms and firm leaders that understand that the thinking post-COVID-19 can’t be tweaking around the edges, but re-thinking most of what we have done for the past 50 years. Great leaders will define the future for their firms and lead the way to successfully navigating from COVID-19.
Tony Zecca (CPA and retired CohnReznick partner and National Director of the Advisory Group) is a ESPOSITO CEO2CEO consultant who is brought into client assignments for his skill in strategy, growth and transformation. ESPOSITO CEO2CEO, LLC — a boutique advisory firm consulting to leading CPA and other professional services firms on strategy, succession planning and mergers, acquisitions and integration is actively led by Dom Esposito, CPA. Dom, voted as one of the most influential people in the profession for two consecutive years by Accounting Today, authored a book, published by www.CPATrendlines.com., entitled “8 Steps to Great” which is a primer for CEOs, managing partners and other senior partners. In Our Opinion, is a continuing series of perspectives for leading CPA firms where Dom and his colleagues share insights, experiences and wisdom with firm leaders who want to “run with the big dogs” and develop their firms into sustainable brands. Dom welcomes questions and can be contacted at either firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.292.3277.