As an accounting firm coach, mentor and consultant I get to see inside a lot of accounting firms. I get to see a lot of stuff that works and a lot that does not. In the area of learning and development, or training as some may call it, I’ve concluded that there are four types of learning and development activities that are embedded in successful firms. It is part of their culture to run these. Those four types of activity are:

  1. Values, vision and mission training
  2. Technical training
  3. Non-technical training
  4. “How we do things around here” training

Now this may not sound all that profound, but let me explain in more detail why you should pay attention to all four.

Values, vision and mission training

This is first for good reason. I have long held the belief that it is only when your team members understand and buy into the vision and values for your firm, and why you do what you do, that they are fully engaged and give their best for your firm.

This is not so much about formal training, but you as leaders talking often about the firm’s vision, values and mission. I don’t want you to get hung up on any particular words like vision, values and mission, but I do want you to be able to paint an inspiring picture of what your firm stands for, where it is going and what behaviours and actions you value.

Technical training

Many firms do this pretty well and some think this is the only type of training needed. Wrong!

Pretty much every firm delivers tax services, so tax training is a given. But if you are delivering valuations, audit and all manner of other services then you will need training to support those areas too. 

I believe your technical training should be regular, structured and interactive – at least monthly but in many cases more often. That is particularly necessary in the world of tax where change is relentless.

I still sometimes encounter accountants who think that attending the NTAA / CPAA / CAANZ annual tax update is all that is needed. I strongly disagree with this. Tax regulation does not stand still and you are at risk of giving bad advice if you do not keep up. That is bad for your clients, bad for you and bad for the profession. Get someone from Tax Banter to deliver updates to you and your team or attend their “public” sessions. They’ve been delivering tax training since 2008 and I have a number of clients who love it!.

Make sure your training includes some case studies. This does three things. First it brings to life technical issues and makes them more real, more easily relatable. Second, it involves your people in sharing stories about clients they have worked on and situations they have encountered. Third it helps you identify opportunities to assist other clients in similar circumstances or with similar issues or opportunities.

Non-technical training

It is a well established fact, (but often ignored) that the more senior you get in a firm the more important the non-technical skills become. These skills include supervising / managing / leading other people, business development, delivering presentations, client service and relationship management, interviewing and recruitment, negotiation, time and priority management and may other things I’m sure you can think of to add to this list. 

When it comes to training, this is my specialty. I’ve developed bespoke workshops for firms and also deliver my Manager Development Program twice per year in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and as an online facilitated option.

It’s designed to give emerging, new and experienced supervisors and managers the skills they need to thrive in their role and contribute to their personal and firm success. 

You can see details here:  Manager Development Program – Planet Consulting

There is still time to join the Brisbane, Melbourne and online cohort which kick off on 20, 22 and 19 February respectively.

Sorry, Sydney is booked out, but you can go on the list for the next cohort in October.

“How we do things around here” training

This is about the policies, procedures and systems that are an integral part of the operation of your firm. This is the training that most firms forget about or do very little of. I believe the value of this training type is seriously undervalued. 

Of course, to be able to run “how we do things around here” training you actually have to have agreed on that! I see in many firms multiple ways to complete the same tasks which I think is madness. Work out the best way to do each task and make it your way. Then regularly train the team. This reinforces what is expected but also gives people the opportunity to question processes and ultimately improve them.

Although I have targeted this at accounting firms the same principles apply equally to legal, architecture, engineering and other professional firms.

Do these four types of training well, and you’ll go a long way to having a great team that delivers for your clients and your firm.