Take a deep breath — tax season is officially over! I hope you all had a very successful busy season.
So what do you plan to do now that you have some breathing space? Have you thought about what your priorities should be this year? And as someone in the training and consulting field, I’m curious: How does your firm stay up to date on professional development training, software, compliance and overall team building?
I know, that’s a lot of questions — so let’s break them down and see how you can make a plan to accomplish all these things with a “year-at-a-glance” perspective.
The majority of employees today, especially your younger staff, are hungry for professional development. In fact, they can’t get enough of it — even when the generalities inherent in this type of event or program prove to be somewhat less than specific. After all, it’s impossible to be everything to everyone, to teach everything to everyone, in a single program.
Last week I was able to have the entire Training, Consulting & Implementation Services (TCIS) team together for a three-day meeting. We balanced professional development with software training, compliance updates and team-building events.
We built our theme around one book, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams, and made sure we threaded the book’s message throughout the entire meeting. Let’s take a look at the different types of learning we were able to touch on in just three days.
• Professional Development — Having a book for the team to read and discuss is a giant step toward professional development. We as a team have used this approach for many years, because while a book read alone is good, a book shared by a team is GREAT. Good to Great, Crucial Conversations, Speed of Trust, Strengths Finder, Switch,
Start with Why and others. These books serve as a foundation for the culture and values of the TCIS and, from what I understand, many other teams. Our team then uses the book as a reference going forward depending on the situation. At our yearly meetings we tie in all the books we’ve read, sharing why they’re our foundation and how they’ve helped us grow and continue to develop. An important thing to remember is if you’re going to have your team read a book, spend some time telling them why you chose it and how it’s relevant to their personal development.
• Software Training — Since we’re the team based on education, we have to be up to date on the software on which we train our customers. That’s why we take time to hear from our development and product management areas at our yearly meetings; it enables us to see a road map of different products and gives us ideas on how we can help our clients reach their goals with our software. Many tax and accounting firms do a lot of update training in the summer months, to ensure their staff is up to date when the fall deadlines hit.
• Compliance — Over the last year, the IRS has issued a number of mandates around security and multi-factor authentication (popularly known as MFA). We made sure to address these topics at our meetings so the Thomson Reuters client-facing teams could tell us more about the struggles you, our customers, are having — and how we can help.
• Team Building — I know many firms celebrate the end of busy season with a firm-wide party or outing of some sort. This is a great way to thank your employees and provide them with a time to get to know each other better. You work hard, so some play time is in order also! A team that knows and enjoys being with their co-workers is so valuable, and necessary for your success. Don’t stop at one event per year — get that calendar out and choose a few dates throughout the rest of the year to relax with your team.
I hope you’ll take the time to reflect on the points I made above, and to plan for the development of your teams in both soft and technical skills. That’s how thought leaders are developed — with a balance of each type of learning.
Congratulations again on completing another tax season, and be sure to let me know how we at Thomson Reuters can help you come up with a plan for your software and training needs.