The old saying is “as soon as you hire 1 person you have problems”. This can be true but it doesn’t need to be. The Accounting profession globally hires circa 6M people. That’s a lot of people! The Accounting profession is a people business and you need people to give you leverage and scale. 

And just like any business you need the right people doing the right things! As Jim Collins says in his epic book ‘Good to Great’… 

You need the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats on the bus and make sure no one has their hand on the handbrake stopping momentum. 

Some people (including Partners of multi-partner firms) I meet in the profession have their hand firmly on the handbrake. They are objecting new ideas, stuck in their old ways and stopping progress. They need to get off your bus!

I am serious. Why would you put up with mediocrity? Why would you put up with low energy and limited enthusiasm? Why would you put up with the lack of willingness to embrace technology and other new ideas? Why would you let someone dictate to you (as the owner of the company) how your business operates? Coach them then fire them. Everyone needs a chance (coaching) but if they are not going to embrace whatever it is you want them to do – then GET THEM OFF YOUR BUS!!!

Here’s the litmus test. Whenever I start coaching a firm and the topic of people come’s up I simply ask them “would you enthusiastically re-hire them”? It’s a great question to ask your self. You know who they are right now. Write their names down – including Partners. Ouch. Yes partners as well. Take action. 

Here’s a quick story about 2 Partners – Jim & Bill. 

When I met Jim and Bill (due to confidentiality, not their real names but the story is true) and started coaching them they were a 2 Partner firm with 14 people. The firm was under-performing (around $1.8M in revenue) and the 2 Partners were making $225K a piece. Pretty quickly I said to Jim either Bill needs to go or you need to go but you two should not be in business together. You see, Bill was a handbrake on the business. He was saying he would implement but he did not. He was set in his ways and would not embrace new methods. This went on for 5 years! The profit was stagnant for 5 years. Finally on April 1, 2016 Jim picked up his bat and ball and he split the Partnership. In his first year away from Bill, Jim made $800K profit. In his first year over 3 times the profit. He has since gone on to crack $1M. 

So I asked Jim one day “what made all the difference”? How’s this for an answer. 

“All I have done is implement what I learned over the last 5 years. I can do that now because my entire team are A players and no one has their hand on the handbrake. What I discovered was that a breakthrough often happens after a breakwith”. 

Don’t be like Jim and wait 5 years! Take some action on your people this week. It may not be a Partner but it might someone else who has their hand on the handbrake. 

What (Who) do you need to break with to get a breakthrough?