[IMGCAP(1)] Whether you are a managing partner, partner, director, senior manager, manager, or in any other role in a public accounting firm, you are typically required to meet certain goals or performance benchmarks to be deemed effective and competent in your role. A basic example would be billable hours or CPE. However, simply meeting your billable hours or CPE requirements won’t get you to the next level. To achieve great things in this industry today, to advance your firm and advance your personal career, you need to set stretch goals for yourself and work diligently toward achieving them.

The first step is to identify what you would like to achieve. As a managing partner would you like to help your firm recruit a new leader for your valuation department? Or as a partner would you like to develop your successor? Or as a senior manager would you like to develop a niche specialty in state and local tax? Remember to be specific in terms of the goals you would like to achieve. 

Next, find a sponsor. Write down the goals and tell someone about them. These two steps increase the likelihood that you will achieve the goals by a factor of 10! As a managing partner, perhaps you seek out another managing partner in your accounting firm association. As a partner it seems fitting that you’d share with your managing partner. And if you are at any other level in your firm, your supervisor could be ideal. However, don’t rule out peers as good sponsors – and people outside the firm can certainly be good too. In fact, dozens of senior managers, partners and managing partners use me as their sponsor and share their goals with me annually. So if you come up blank in this area, I would be happy to help you - please email your goals to me at art@kueselconsulting.com.

Finally, someone has to hold you accountable and support you in the pursuit of your goals. Ideally, your sponsor will meet with you on a quarterly basis to see how you are doing - but don’t expect them to volunteer – it’s up to you to ask and schedule these meetings. With each interaction with your sponsor, you should demonstrate some progress toward your goal(s). If not, you need to identify why and what you’ll do to overcome any obstacles that are in your way. And, I’ve often found that a monthly meeting makes more sense and can create greater momentum and progress toward goals.

Ultimately, achieving a handful of goals per year “above and beyond” the basics in our industry can yield significant growth for your firm, for your practice or in your career in no time at all. But, it takes a serious commitment on your part. So embrace the power of goal setting in 2015 and watch your success accelerate now and well into the future.  

Art Kuesel is the president of Kuesel Consulting where he helps CPA firms perfect their growth strategies and actions to drive revenue in the door. He can be reached at art@kueselconsulting.com