This is the fourth in a series about successfully transitioning to a stand-out Professional Services Firm. In this perspective, we will begin our deeper dive into the first major principle that creates a standout professional services firm – creating a standout team.
Managing partner is back in her office after the partners’ meeting where she told all the partners that the firm must become a standout firm and shared the 5 principles they need to adopt. She asked the partners to think about each principle and at the next meeting she will start to get deeper into each principle and what they need to do. As she starts to prepare for the next partner meeting, she asks Jim, a trusted long term tax partner to join her so she can bounce some ideas off of him.
“Jim, I need to think about how I want to discuss the first principle – being a standout firm starts with having a standout team. You and I know that everyone is not on board with this. Although I am concerned that not all of our partners and senior staff will rise to the challenge, I am 100% committed to taking the steps to make this firm a standout firm and helping each partner rise to the challenge”.
Jim says “Look, I understand and admire your passion but is this something that we can really achieve”?
She responds, “When we are successful in transforming our team into a standout team, we will take that first step to being a standout firm that our clients love and that our competitors look UP to.
Jim responds with one simple question – “How”?
She responds “Not easy but it starts with getting everyone to understand what a standout team means and what it means to be a standout partner“.
Jim asks “what does it mean to you”?
She continues. “Let’s start with a few key concepts. First, everyone must understand that our clients are this firm’s True North, it is why we exist and what every aspect of our firm must focus on. Second, let’s put an end to siloes and my this and my that – we are a team of ONE. Finally, the only things we control 100% are who we are and what we believe, how we work and what we deliver to our clients that helps them be more successful.”
“Jim, pivotal to our success in creating a standout team is leadership throughout the firm. We need to lead with total conviction and commitment to transforming our firm and our partners to truly be exceptional and to weave the above concepts into every fiber of this firm.”
She continues “to create a standout team we need to ensure that our work product and process are sharp, consistent and focused on creating value for our clients. As a team, we must have a shared value system that rewards teamwork, firm-first and client loyalty driven by the value we deliver every day. If we are to be a team of ONE, it must be built on trust and respect for all team members. To sustain our exceptionalism, we need to be able to adapt to change, accept constant learning and create a culture that shares the rewards of our success with everyone. Finally, we must constantly maintain the focus on our True North – our clients and their success”
“Jim, when we get everyone to understand the above construct, believe in our transformation goal and perform within that contruct, we will be well on our way to having achieved the first principle – creating a standout team of professionals.”
Question – Do you think your team is ready for the challenge and will commit to traveling the road to successful transformation and exceptionalism?
Creating a standout team is not accomplished with training programs. It is accomplished through leadership, consistency in actions, setting the expectation and not accepting actions that do not reflect exceptionalism and finally total commitment. The challenge is simple, do you have the commitment to transformation, to changing the DNA of your firm, to guiding everyone in the firm to the necessary True North of client success, to compassionate coaching but tempered with an unwillingness to accept less than exceptionalism from any partner or staff – to being true Advisors.
In Our Opinion, for any firm that wants to be a standout firm, the transformation starts with the commitment to creating a standout team and not accepting anything less. As Tom Flores states “A total commitment is a paramount to reaching the ultimate in performance”. The commitment must be clear, unwavering and visible and must start from the top.
Creating a truly standout team seems like a daunting task and there are a ton of challenges to face. Given that in too many firms, the norm seems to be a few standout partners surrounded by too many partners that believe their job is getting the report or tax return out on time and without error. As MP, understanding that the transformation to a standout team is both a push and a pull that can only be successful with total commitment, setting clear expectations and accepting nothing less – that is what will make your team a truly standout team.
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.