We hear a lot of conversation today about company culture and the impact it can have on the many aspects of an accounting firm’s success. We could debate what that means, but I want to focus instead on how you can create a proper company culture. Most people know they want to change or shift a culture; they want a culture that is ‘growth’ oriented or ‘entrepreneurial spirited’, however, achieving these goals is sometimes easier said than done.
There are many things that will impact your company culture, but here are the primary areas where we see the most impact.
We all know hiring is important. And we have all heard the stories of companies that hire for ‘culture fit’. But what does that mean? It means you hire for values and for people that will succeed in your environment. In an accounting firm, your people are your product. Building and maintaining the culture you want requires people that can thrive in that environment, will respect the culture you’ve established, and will help the firm grow.
Training is critical to building a culture. While many accounting firms do a lot of CPE for technical training, what is often overlooked is the non-technical training that makes individuals successful at their job. Many of your people may be technically proficient, but if they aren’t trained in non-technical areas, they will never reach their full potential or the proper levels of success. Firms should be training in non-technical areas like client service, management skills, business development and marketing, and leadership. Once your people have the right technical foundation, focus your training in these areas to impart your company’s “way of doing things”, and further promote your company’s culture.
The one element you will see among companies with an attractive and distinctive culture is accountability. It’s a key success indicator between high performing and low performing companies. It is also one of the hardest things for many accounting firms to tackle because it requires conflict. If you want to create your company culture, you have to ensure people do what they are supposed to do, the way it’s supposed to be done. For example, if you want to build a culture where everyone contributes to growth, you have to expect it, set goals, measure against it, and then hold people accountable if they don’t hit those goals. Making exceptions or dismissing missed goals only teaches your people that the goals don’t matter and they won’t be held accountable. This concept holds true for all aspects of your company, from management and leadership to client service.
While creating a culture can often be initiated from the top down, it truly evolves and flows from all angles. Your accounting firm is a living, breathing organism of clients and people. The culture of your company stems from all of them, not just a single individual.