Art of Accounting: Recoupment of Staff Training Costs

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IMGCAP(1)]Almost every staff person will eventually leave you, unless they become a partner.

Because of this reality, and also because you must have staff, training methods must be developed that do not take excessive time and allow the staff person to immediately become productive. I think I have done this with my 30:30 training method.

The 30:30 Method, Step by Step
The essence of the 30:30 training method is to get the person working as soon as possible with as little instruction or interaction as possible.

One part of the method is the complete absence of taking the time to explain anything. Never explain why something needs to be done, or the purpose of what they will be doing. (I know—you already think I am crazy!!!)

The core of the 30:30 Method is to get them to do something. Young people out of school are anxious to do things. They do not have the patience or inclination to listen to detailed, long explanations. “Long” to a Gen Xer, Yer or Millennial, and most everyone else is about two minutes. Imagine then how they will feel about a 30- or 40-minute explanation.

Our method gets them doing something with no more than 30 seconds of instructions. (That’s the first “30” of the “30:30.”)

If they are interested in knowing why, they will ask you! Usually this comes after they’ve done something three or four times. If they haven’t asked, they don’t care, and you shouldn’t explain it. If they do ask, after they’ve done it a few times, then take whatever time it takes to explain why. Note that many will figure out the reasons after doing it a few times—these are bright people you are working with—so there is no need for your long upfront and possibly longwinded instructions.

It is easy to tell someone what to do in 30 seconds if the task is broken down into a very small step or task. So break down the processes into single action steps.

Next, nothing should be given to an entry-level person that would take more than a half hour to do. (That’s the second “30” of the “30:30.” Get it?)

This method demands very frequent interaction between the staff person and trainer—at least once every half hour, and many times more often.

However, if the trainer only spends 30 seconds each time, and if the task is clear enough to review within a few seconds, and if the trainer knows exactly what to tell the staff person to do, the interruptions will not be that disruptive to the trainer. The 30 seconds will be spent reviewing a single action and talking about the next thing to do.

The only disruptions I feel are when the person being trained did not listen or does something completely off the wall. Then it is usually because the trainer (you) did not break the task down to a sufficiently small enough function, or you spent too much time explaining what to do.

A word on the interruptions: You will get many, many interruptions. The trade-off is that your total time will be much less than what it would be doing it the old way (before 30:30). We all get a myriad of interruptions. Just add this to the list. The benefits are the minimum amount of time you will spend, the reduced amount of wasted time the staff person will spend sitting with you pretending not to be bored with your half-hour or 45-minute explanations, a better job that will be reviewed as it progresses, much less (or none!) staff chasing their tails, and a more productive and satisfied staff person.

With the right training, there is very little cost and almost immediate recoupment. I have been doing this for eons and it works. Try it. If you have a problem implementing it, post a comment and I’ll reply to it.

Here is a link to a free download to my entire e-book on this method ( Just click and enter your email address and the book will be sent to you.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, published by and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition,” published by the AICPA. Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or

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