[IMGCAP(1)]As I sit here at my computer looking out the window, dreaming of the sun, a cool breeze, a tropical beverage, an intriguing book, lots of laughs, a ton of exploration, and the warmth of my family’s impending Hawaiian vacation, I am committing sin number one on ensuring a productive summer.
Concentration is difficult this time of year. We spent the winter pushing through compliance work that had tight deadlines to produce positive results for difficult clients. We ran through spring catching up on the projects that we pushed through tax season. It’s now summertime! The kids are playing in the pool, it’s hot outside, and you are working as hard not day dreaming about your impending vacation as you are about strategically planning the future of your career and your firm.
To combat the overwhelming feeling of looking to future adventures rather than focusing on today’s challenges, here are several steps that will allow you to ensure that you continue to push forward. These keys will set the boundaries for guaranteeing work is continually processed rather sitting in the office bottleneck.
1. Set deadlines (with no extensions): If there is no deadline, or no expectation for a project to be completed, the work will not be completed. Plain and simple, when a task is assigned with no due date, the “pressing matter” will continue into eternity. Consider setting a timeline with small, reasonable steps that will lead to completion. As a runner, I think it is easy to think of this concept in training for a marathon. When I sign up for a marathon, I back into my training. I don’t run 26 miles on my first day. I take small steps every week to achieve the end result. As I hit milestones, I celebrate. This summer, celebrate meeting your deadlines.
2. Make every day fun: Every day should be a fun day, but it is especially important to bring fun into the office culture during the summer. Whether you install a Nerf ball hoop in the office or start the day off with the latest pop hit (think “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon), get the mood of your firm rolling in a positive direction. These simple acts keep the mood light in the office and set the stage for focused, team-oriented results.
3. Set the standard for the future of your firm: Don’t let this summer be a phase that your firm runs into every year. Make it the norm. By focusing on enhancing your firm culture, creating new opportunities for your staff, and developing your staff to provide higher value opportunities to your clients, you will be setting the culture for the future of your firm. If the prospect of improvement does not excite you and your firm, it’s time for a leadership change.
4. Delegate approval: Face the facts, some of your teammates are on vacation. That is not an excuse for work not to continue to move forward. Assuming that the direction has been set and processes are in place, just because the partner is summiting Mount Whitney is no reason for your clients not to receive the high level of service that they expect. If delegation of approval for work has not been clarified or these responsibilities are currently dependent on one person, it is time to re-evaluate and implement a new system to assure your firm continuously offers high-level service.
Today is an exciting day. Forget about the pool. Forge greater relationships with your team to ensure great future results. Remember that every day is a day to improve. With a focus on improvement on a daily basis, this summer will be one to look at as a turning point in your firm. As the author and speaker Tom Peters puts it, “Excellent firms don't believe in excellence—only in constant improvement and constant change.”
Make today a productive day. Go improve yourself and your firm!
Adam Blitz is a CPA and a relationship builder. Through his 10+ years in public accounting he has refined his ability to develop relationships with partners and clients alike in the pursuit of enhancing business profitability and individual satisfaction. Adam’s passion for business development stems purely from the notion that CPAs help people. He works with professional service firms to enhance relationships with clients, vendors, staff and communities for the purpose of developing revenue streams. Adam has a Masters in Leadership Studies and has published a thesis on the value a CPA provides to clients and staff. In his spare time, you’ll find him hiking the Sierra Nevada or training for his next triathlon. You can reach Adam at Adam@getblitzedsolutions.com or via Twitter @getblitzed.
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