Performance Reviews: How to Create an Elite Accounting Team

published on 05 May 2023

We all understand the importance of having a top-notch accounting team. But how do we guide our team to become thor best version of themselves? How can we asset those who are not getting there?

Performance reviews provide an opportunity to assess individual and team performance, identify areas for improvement, and recognize outstanding achievements. By conducting regular performance reviews, you can ensure that your accounting team remains at the forefront of the industry, providing exceptional service to your clients.

In this blog entry, I will discuss the significance of performance reviews, the key elements to consider, and how to use these evaluations to drive your team toward excellence.

The Importance of Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are essential for any accounting team, but they're especially crucial for elite teams that aim to stay at the top of their game. Regular evaluations help identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement, ensuring that your team remains as efficient and effective as possible. Plus, they're a great way to celebrate successes and keep everyone motivated!

So let’s see some simple steps you should take to conduct them successfully.

To set a plan performance reviews
To set a plan performance reviews

#1 Before de Performance Reviews

Setting Clear Goals and Expectations

Before you can evaluate your team's performance, you need to set clear goals and expectations. Start by establishing SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) that align with your firm's overall objectives. This way, your team will know exactly what they're aiming for and can work together to achieve those targets.

Make sure to make them transparent among the entire company, this means that everybody has to know what are they being measured for and how. Also, make sure they have the right tools and training to improve their own marks and monitor how they are doing.

What should you review?

  • Technical Competence
  • Communication and Collaboration Skills
  • Attention to Detail and Accuracy
  • Adaptability and Problem-Solving Skills

Creating a Positive Review Environment

A performance review should be a positive experience that encourages growth and development. To create a supportive environment, make sure to:

  • Schedule reviews regularly: Performance reviews should be a regular occurrence and employees need to be prepared for it, so schedule at least one week ahead. Aim for at least once a year, but consider more frequent check-ins for faster-paced projects or teams.
  • Encourage open communication: Foster a culture of honesty and transparency, where team members feel comfortable discussing their performance and sharing feedback.
  • Focus on growth: Emphasize the importance of continuous improvement and learning from mistakes, rather than dwelling on shortcomings.

#2 The Performance Review

Measuring Performance

When it comes to measuring performance, it's essential to use both quantitative and qualitative metrics. Only a good and fair combination of both can give a balanced review and an honest opportunity for the employees to get better.

Quantitative metrics might include billable hours, revenue generated, or the number of clients served. Qualitative metrics, on the other hand, could involve assessing teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. By considering both types of metrics, you'll get a well-rounded view of your team's performance.

When using metrics make sure you are following the framework you established right at the beginning and is public to the entire team. Don’t change the game on the go.

Providing Constructive Feedback

Providing constructive is arguably the most important part of any performance review. Is the only honest way to give your employee the chance to improve his performance. Here are some tips to help you deliver refreshing feedback:

  • Be specific: Clearly explain what the team member did well and where they can improve. Rely on the numbers. If attitude feedback is needed, make sure to rely on accurate well known, and previously assessed actions and scenarios. Don’t name other team members nor use gossip as a source.
  • Use the "sandwich" method: Start with positive feedback, address areas for improvement, and then end on a positive note. This a very old technic, but why fix what ain’t broken? Works most of the time.
  • Offer support: Discuss how you can help the team member improve and grow in their role. Give clear and realistic tasks or steps to follow.

Celebrate Successes

Performance reviews should not only focus on areas for improvement but also celebrate outstanding achievements. Recognize and reward team members who have gone above and beyond in their work, whether through exceptional client service, innovative problem-solving, or contributions to the firm's growth and success. By acknowledging and celebrating excellence, you can inspire your team to strive for even greater heights.

Set New Goals

During performance reviews, it is essential for all participants to focus on the future. Engage your team members in conversation about their goals and aspirations for the upcoming quarter and year. Clarify the top three business priorities so that they can align their plans with those objectives.

#3 After the Performance Review

Do Quick Follow-ups

If necessary, offer shorter follow-ups on specific topics or projects to help team members stay on track. But remember to keep what happened at the meeting inside the meeting. Don’t expose your employees to public displays of micromanagement.

Foster a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Finally, use performance reviews as an opportunity to foster a culture of continuous improvement within your accounting team. Encourage team members to set ambitious goals for themselves and to view challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. By cultivating an environment in which excellence is the standard, you can ensure that your accounting team remains at the forefront of the industry.

The Power of Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are a powerful tool for keeping your elite accounting team at the top of their game. By setting clear goals, creating a positive review environment, measuring performance, providing constructive feedback, and celebrating successes, you'll ensure that your team stays refreshed, motivated, and ready to tackle any challenge. Now, go forth and conquer those numbers.

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Kevin Mitchell, CPA

Senior Manager and CPA with over 20 years of experience in accounting and financial services, specializing in risk management and regulatory compliance. Skilled in managing audits and leading teams to deliver exceptional services. Proud father of two.

🔗 Kevin Mitchell | LinkedIn

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