Only last week, I received a desperate call from a new client who had received three resignations in a week! With a long hot summer of lengthy holidays, bank holiday weekends and last minute getaways ahead of him, he was worried that he would find himself bereft of qualified accountants by the autumn. The truth is, in todays candidate led market your competitors are constantly looking to tempt your finance team away but with a few simple actions it is stress free and (relatively) easy to retain a settled finance team. As a specialist in the recruitment of senior finance and accountancy professionals I’ve seen the value of a happy and knowledgeable finance team and (unfortunately) the mayhem caused when a qualified accountant decides to move on to pastures new.
Here are my top 4 top tips to keep your team happy with you for the foreseeable future:
1. Is your team motivated towards or away?
Of course, you know that everyone in your team is different but by understanding what motivates them professionally you can keep them engaged and incentivised. Generally, people are either motivated TOWARDS something (professional athletes are motivated towards winning the next race) or AWAY from something (joggers are motivated away from carrying a few extra pounds!). Some in your team will be motivated towards career progression and new challenges- offer them the chance to study, new projects and bigger responsibilities. Others will be motivated away from long working hours, a stressful office or an unfriendly team- offer them flexible hours, regular one to ones and team social events. Once you know what motivates your team, you can motivate them!
2. Its always a good time to talk
If you don’t know what motivates your top employee- ASK THEM! That goes for everything. No matter how senior, your team are only human and all humans like talking about themselves. Have scheduled and impromptu one to one chats, ask them about their motivations, how they are finding their role and if they have any concerns. Your team will appreciate you taking a genuine interest in them and will be more likely to come to you with problems and concerns before they go out on a job hunt! Even it’s a problem you can’t solve you will be ahead of the curve.
3. The team that works together, stays together
Not quite, but a happy and motivated team will keep your top performers at their desks and at the top of their game. With every job seeking accountant I meet I always ask what it is that they want out of their next company and the top answer is always to join a happy/nice/friendly/welcoming/motivated TEAM. A collaborative team will boy up stressed out teammates on a bad day, get on famously with non finance colleagues and (guess what?) support you. They will be happy to stay late at month end, contribute new ideas for the business and volunteer for additional responsibilities. Encourage your team to work together by setting and rewarding team achievements, organising regular team social events (a team lunch or breakfast on a Friday morning will go down a treat), and hold open forum team meetings at the end of a month.
4. Reward, reward, reward
I am sure that you know all about setting targets. Seemingly, every management handbook, blog and training course stresses the importance of setting targets and they are absolutely right. If you don’t set targets, the time to do so is now. But targets ONLY work if people are rewarded for hitting them (or sometimes just for giving it a damn good try!). Rewards don’t have to be flashy, in fact often they don’t have to be in the form of pounds and pence – just showing an appreciation for a job well done is enough. Buy the team a Starbucks on a Monday morning if they hit 90% of their team targets the week before. If your team hit a reporting deadline by staying late on a weekday, send them home early on a Friday afternoon. Buy a batch of lottery tickets and hand them out to individuals who have hit their weekly targets. The ideas are endless and the more creative the better! Talk to your team, find out what motivates them and reward them accordingly. Organise a night out at the end of a successful month and you might even enjoy yourself!
Keeping your finance team happy isn’t rocket science, but nor is it straightforward. Like most things, a little effort done consistently and repeatedly will reap rewards for years to come. Remember, little things make a big difference; smile at your team (even on the busiest of days), take time to chat with every new starter and get to know them a little, notice peoples new hairstyles- it all counts. Every Monday stick a post-it note on your computer screen or in your diary; “What am I going to do to retain my team this week?”
If you follow these tips, work with your team and do a little bit each and every week your finance team (like your favourite calculator) will be with you for years.