[IMGCAP(1)]Let’s say one of your top players at your firm is out suddenly for the remainder of the most important time of the year. What do you do?

Kevin Love, one of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ top players was recently injured during the NBA playoffs. During the most important part of the NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers will attempt to win the NBA Championship without one of their top three players.

Consider a similar situation that has hit, or will hit, your accounting firm at some point (if it hasn’t already). One of your staff quits on January 15, or your most effective manager for the last 10 years is hit with a serious illness during the middle of your busy season, or your largest client experiences huge losses due to the California drought and cuts back on your services by 90 percent. What are you going to do?

Below are the seven steps you should follow in order to minimize the impact of these sudden changes that your firm may experience.

1. Rely on your confidence: The initial shock is rough. But you, your team or your firm have overcome challenges in the past. This is just another setback in realizing your long-term objectives. Whether it’s harking back to a personal challenge that you overcame (such as learning how to be a parent or pushing yourself beyond your limits in a marathon) or finding a historical tragedy (Pearl Harbor or 9/11, for example), there is hope in these situations.

2. Evaluate the situation: Gather information on what the potential impact will be to your firm or your company. Compile a list of the affected clients and staff, and quantify the effect on your bottom line. Now that you have calmed down, have a reasonable expectation of the impact. Is this the end of the firm? Or is this a bump in the road? Be resolute in your evaluation of the situation.

3. Engage your team in discussion: Bring your team together (whether it is a division or a selected group) and communicate the changes that will occur. Be positive. Don’t discount the discomfort and fear that may be in your team’s heads, but at the same time, remind your team that change creates opportunity. Advise your team that plans are being put together to ensure that the challenges up ahead are met with resilience, and you want their input.

4. Develop your plan: Now that your team understands the challenges ahead, forge the plan to reduce the stress on your team. Recognize that your plan may not completely fill the shoes of the party that is not available. Instead, find pieces within your team that make up the ability to replace the key team member or the key piece of business with pieces that will make up the whole.

5. Build a shared vision with your team: Help your team see the new reality. This will be uncomfortable to begin, but with time, communication, a caring and nurturing culture, along with a motivated team, fear will transform into challenge. Eventually the awareness of the challenge will turn to increased confidence. Nurture this shared vision and ensure that you don’t cave in to consensus. Instead, promote a belief in a shared vision.

6. Execute the shared vision: Your team has come up with a plan. This plan has been delivered to your team. It’s time to live up to this new plan. Remind yourself time and again, you aren't filling one big shoe with a replacement shoe; you are taking your combination of puzzle pieces (relying on the strengths that were underutilized) and building the puzzle back to completion. Work hand in hand with your team to face struggles head on. During the most difficult of times, resist the temptation to scrap your plan. Utilize the strengths that your team maintains and believe that you will overcome the loss.

7. Move forward and reflect on the challenges that you have overcome: You did it. You learned, you developed, you fought, you cried, you accepted reality, and you conquered. The challenge was difficult but at the end of the day, you overcame one of many challenges that you or your business will be faced with during your career. Take this confidence and apply it the next time a challenge arises to face it head on.

Live by your firm principles. Be caring. Be nurturing. Lead by example and you should be just fine! Your goals or your reality may change. But through trust in yourself and belief in your team, you will be able to conquer any setback.

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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