Now that April 15th is almost upon us and the tax season will soon be winding down, I encourage you to meet with your key staff members right after tax season to assess what worked well this year and what didn’t.
You may be thinking, “Trust me, I already have my finger on the pulse of what’s happening around here. And whatever needs to be fixed – well, I’ll get around to it before next year. A post-tax season team meeting would only be a waste of time.”
Keep this in mind: Your staff members are the folks on the front lines experiencing things in a way you couldn’t even know about unless you asked. They’re the ones hearing the praise and the complaints from clients, and stumbling through any flaws in your system.
That’s why, for your firm’s optimal success, I suggest setting up a meeting with your key staff members right away, while this tax season is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
Still shying away from the idea? Listen, nobody enjoys hearing what went wrong. But the meeting I’m talking about is a brainstorming meeting, not a criticizing meeting. The goal of a brainstorming meeting is to generate exciting ideas and come up with productive solutions.
If that reminder isn’t enough to make you feel more comfortable, following are some tips for running the best tax season debriefing meeting possible.
First, in advance of the meeting, distribute to the attendees a checklist of what you’ll be discussing so everyone can give it some quality thought beforehand. The list can include every aspect of tax season, from the performance of software and supporting materials, to the office facilities, to inter-office communication. In each area you’ll want to know:
• What went really well?
• What are the things that helped you just get by?
• What are the things that need improvement?
I suggest setting aside two hours for the meeting.
Open the meeting by expressing your gratitude. It reminds everyone that you’re a team and creates an environment of respect and goodwill. Then remind everyone that this is a brainstorming session, intended to keep the firm successful and growing in the right direction.
A great way to generate momentum is to start with a strength and what went right. As problems present themselves, stay focused and steer the group toward proposing solutions. Rather than placing blame or getting defensive, the goal is to come up with improvements. Use inclusive language like “we”, and build on ideas. And remember -- even bad ideas can spark good ones.
A wise practitioner recognizes that their employees are full of valuable knowledge and will seek their input. I can’t stress enough what a wonderful force this meeting can be for you. Not only does it get your staff involved and committed to the firm’s overall success, but it can result in some really cool ideas and fast improvements. What a great way to put a meaningful bookend on tax season, reenergizing your team for tomorrow’s workday!
Next up in The Tax Season Top Ten, a fond farewell to tax season via video.
Until next time,
P.S. Haven't registered for the CPA Practice and Financial Freedom SuperConference 2014? You do not want to miss this one. Go here to see the speaker line up: www.CPALiveEvent.com