[IMGCAP(1)]If you didn’t know it by now, you don’t know everything (nor do I).
Sorry to burst your bubble. But there is more No only do you not know everything, you don’t know most things! You may know a lot about accounting, you may understand the tax code, and you may appreciate the nuances of internal controls, but I guarantee you don’t know everything.
Recognizing the fact that you don’t know everything is incredibly important. Even more significant may be the acceptance that it is OK to not know everything! Now that the awareness has been established that A) you don’t know everything and B) that it is in fact OK not to know everything, we have the opportunity to explore the opportunities to grow and expand our minds and experiences for 2015.
So as we set and review our goals for 2015 we should evaluate not just what we want, but the path we are going to take to get there. Year-end goal setting is often reviewed months later with sighs and disappointment. We have great ideas and lofty goals, but we constantly get in our own way to meet our boundless conditions because we don’t have the right tools or people in place to attain achievement.
For example (and every firm does this), a firm has set a goal of improving its realization by X percent from last year. This is a fantastic goal. The goal is communicated to the firm. When it comes time for the first-quarter review, the firm notices that realization hasn’t changed since the prior year. And there is always an excuse!
We have new staff that needed additional training, new systems were installed and not trained upon appropriately, or there were new consulting issues we had to deal with this year which made the project more difficult.
With that said, as part of your goal setting for 2015, I encourage you to analyze a problem that recurs year after year and say to yourself, “You know what, I just don’t know how to fix the problem.”
For 2015 I encourage you to change your tactics on these problems, concerns and troubles that have escaped you for years. The crucial part of this challenge is the following: I am calling on you to go out and find the person (or team) who can fix the problem. This person may be someone internally who could take on the challenge, an industry consultant or a new hire.
To help you identify how to solve those riddling problems that seem to have no answer, use the following three steps (in order) as a guide for setting and meeting your 2015 goals:
1. What is the problem? You may say, “The problem is that we want to improve realization X percent and haven’t been able to do so.” But rather than reiterating your goal and not being able to meet it, let's focus on the underlying reasons for not meeting this goal. Rather, the problem in this example is, “What are the causes or barriers for not being able to meet our realization?” Now that we know the issue we will be examining, we can identify an employee, partner, consultant or mentor to advise (and lead) on solving the problem.
2. Who is the champ? I know many firms use a “champion” mantra for various systems and processes within their office. So now that we have identified a new problem to reach our goal, we need to identify who our champion will be. When you are looking for a champion, you need to search for somebody who is passionate, who believes in the cause and takes it to heart to achieve the desired results. Furthermore, this champion is somebody who is vested in the outcome, maybe financially, but absolutely emotionally. And lastly, this person is not the person who on several occasions has allowed the firm to miss the goal. Change is necessary.
3. Why will this goal be great for my colleagues? One of the first rules of leadership is that you will not get anybody to do anything if they don’t care about it. The champion of this process along with his/her team need to create the anxiety, the want and the need to change. This anxiety is preferably not financial, but emotional. In the example of improving realization on jobs, the anxiety and opportunity for the rest of the firm is that the firm has the opportunity to spend more time doing the things they love, as new efficiencies have been developed to reduce time on the job.
Knowing what you don’t know is an incredibly powerful tool to help our organization succeed. Recognize that your situation is rarely novel and has been resolved in the past. As we move into 2015, let's focus on leveraging the resources available to us to enjoy a prosperous, rewarding and exciting year!
Adam Blitz, CPA, is a tax and consulting manager at Wiebe Hinton Hambalek, LLP in Fresno, Calif. Along with his CPA, Adam has a Masters of Arts in Leadership Studies from Fresno Pacific University. Adam authored a thesis entitled, "The Leading CPA—the value of the leading CPA." Adam is focused on working with his clients, colleagues, and industry professionals in enhancing the value of the CPA. For additional information, he can be contacted at Adamb@whhcpas.com or via Twitter @getblitzed.
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