Firm Partner: Are you doing the right work?
December 14, 2022 •SAPRO
Firm Partner: Are you doing the right work?
Inefficient workforce strategies to avoid
Efficient work strategies lead to a healthier, and often more profitable accounting firm. This statement is incredibly uncontroversial. However, if we identify a common cause of inefficiencies, it’s a bit more irksome.
What’s the problem, exactly? Most firm partners are doing work they shouldn’t be doing – this often means picking up the load of more junior resources but at a higher cost.
If a partner is handling things that are well within the capabilities of other firm resources, it’s a clear sign of an efficiency problem. As an example, the median firm partner’s salary is $161,606 per year (according to Salary.com). If most of a partner’s workday is filled with “head down” accounting work and minor team issues — the highest and best use of time is seriously lacking.
The Primary Responsibilities of Partners
Primary responsibilities of accounting partners typically fall into two categories — team operations and firm performance.
The following fall under team operations:
- Managing staff and staff levels: As nearly every industry understands, there is a staff shortage in certain parts of the world (especially in the USA). Doing more of the day-to-day work is a noble ethic, now. However, the long-term growth suffers if staff levels remain low and team performance isn’t properly managed.
- Selecting, empowering, and evaluating managers: One more step removed from the daily accounting, partners (in many cases) must also employ leaders who ensure the work is complete. Ideally, in mid-sized firms, partners primarily manage the managers who get the work done. Finding quality candidates, properly training them, and evaluating their effectiveness are key components of successful firm partnerships.
- Overseeing the performance of certain departments, offices, or regions: Taking the macro view of how areas (under your supervision) perform is another key activity for partners. However, this is still far removed from the daily grind, and focuses on metrics such as overall capacity, timely delivery, and creeping into firm performance.
Doing these broad tasks well, allows an efficient partner time for focus. Focusing on team performance, to be clear.
- Focus on developing relationships with key players of potential client accounts.
- Strengthening those relationships of existing key accounts.
- Developing high-level growth strategies for your areas of responsibility (or the entire firm).
Inefficient Work Leads to Poor Job Satisfaction and Retention
If partners use their time for tasks that are within the capabilities of their team, it’s an inefficient use of resources. When this occurs, it’s often the case that most supervisors and managers are also doing too much work. Meaning, leaders are handling too many daily activities reserved for newer accountants on the team.
In short, everyone in the firm should be spending time on the “highest and best use” activities for their time.
Even a layer further than management working on things they shouldn’t be, is the deeper problem of satisfaction and retention.
Not doing the right thing at the right level stunts personal and professional growth, while often building resentment. If you’re a manager but feel like a new accountant with a different title, it wears on your excitement and fulfillment of the work. Increasing the enjoyment of work in a team comes from developing an environment where the staff is doing the right work at the right level. Not only is looking after the fulfillment and career development of a team the right thing to do — it helps with staff retention (aka, a partner-level responsibility).
Finding the Cause (and a Solution that Works)
The good news is that many of these inefficiency issues aren’t due to a lack of skill or drive but come from more solvable problems. In other words, the reasons a firm’s partners and managers aren’t performing at the highest use of time have pragmatic explanations.
Those reasons include:
- Not enough people to complete all the work
- Not putting the right people in the right place
Without a full team of trained and qualified accountants, managers struggle with capacity. This problem leads to more daily work for partners. Likewise, when partners don’t have enough time to truly evaluate their team's leadership capabilities — it’s extremely difficult to put people in the right positions.
On-Demand Resources Solve the Workforce Issue
Having the resources who are well-trained and qualified individuals is perhaps the most important step toward improving the efficiency of your firm. These amazing people are exactly the types we provide to our partners.
At SAPRO, we provide firms of all sizes with the resources they need to fulfill client demands, adequately train their management team, and focus on the high-growth activities befitting a firm partner.
Ready to become more efficient? Get in touch with us today.
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