Part 5 of 6 part series on Change for Accountants
In my experience, when I sat in a chair like yours, the failure to implement could be explained by a fear of change or failure to change.
This series investigates 5 Key Barriers to Change that are specific to Australian Accountants.
Specific Barriers to Change for Accountants
There are common reasons why we find it hard as Accountants to change what we are doing.
- It’s easier not to change (TA69)
- Established industry patterns don’t support change (TA70)
- Concern about negative reactions from clients (TA71)
- Partners complicate the decision making process (TA72)
- Procrastination (TA73)
Over the course of the series I’ll look at each barrier separately – discussing the nature of the issue and why it occurs, before suggesting action/s to move beyond the barrier.
This week we are up to Barrier #5 : Procrastination.
Procrastinating over the action we are meant to take is guaranteed to stand in the way of even the smallest changes we want to make.
While we can make massive decisions and spend vast amounts of time in planning, better results are made possible when we take even small action steps.
The Problem is that Accountants are Trained to Procrastinate!
As Accountants we are predominantly taught to analyse, test and measure. Our focus is on trying to achieve perfect levels of accuracy and quality. The problem with perfectionism is that it can lead to slow decision making and even slower implementation.
Perfection also requires you to operate within frameworks of familiarity and certainty. Whereas, change is the exact opposite as it is about making a decision and often doing activities that are unfamiliar or uncertain.
Change therefore challenges something deep in the core of our Accounting natures.
What it takes for Accountants to Change
In my experience, change was only possible once we put in place the right structure that would support the necessary action across our organisation.
1. A Mentor for Change
The very first step of this process was to appoint a mentor, who could oversee the process and act as:
- a guide through our uncertainties,
- a referee who ensured decisions were made; and
- an accountability partner who made sure we implemented strategies.
In my own experience, our best successes were only made possible when we had a mentor who forced us to plan action and then, actually do it.
The mentor ensured three things:
- That we all agreed on strategies,
- Our strategies had an activity plan (steps) with clear milestones, and
- We stayed on track. When issues arose and we started disagreeing on how to move forward, our mentor was there to make sure we agreed on what to do.
2. A Mindset to follow through
The second crucial element required for our firm to overcome the procrastination that was stalling our growth was to commit to ACTION.
Our problem was we wanted certainty before we acted.
This put off the activities we knew were necessary to change. We were scared about making the wrong choice. Thus the only way we knew it was going to happen was to get a mentor – someone who had faced the same challenge before and could take some of the uncertainty away by guiding the process from the outside.
The key is to make a decision, then ACT on it.
Make a decision, then ACT on it.
Once the we started doing the activities we often ran into stumbling blocks.
- sometimes it just didn’t work
- sometimes clients did not engage; and
- sometimes the team had a better way.
OF course, making the decision can be a barrier in itself when we have multiple partners. Read TA72 on Partnerships for strategies for partners.
What are your experiences?
- Are you aware of procrastination in your firm?
- Are there partners ‘too busy’ to even consider making a decision, let alone implement?
- Do you make decisions but fail to follow through with action?
- or Do you have trouble getting everyone to agree:
- upfront; or
- during implementation phase
I’d love to hear from you about this topic. Please comment below, or email me directly.