When an accounting practice takes the plunge into outsourcing compliance tasks, it can cause fear among existing staff who question the future (and safety) of their roles.
Resistance to change is natural. But if you want to take your staff on the journey with you to outsourcing, there are a few things you can do to lead them into embracing, rather than resisting, changes to how they manage their work.
As an outsourcing company we often hear about the roadblocks that some practices face in managing the changes. Recently we asked Connect Outsourcing client Green Lion Director Felicity Hall about the staff’s concerns when transitioning her practice.
She said the biggest change her employees faced was not knowing what their job roles would become once the company adopted an outsourced model.
“Our staff going through the transition needed certainty that if we removed their compliance tasks, they would still have enough work to do,” she said. “And they needed to know their work would still be interesting and meaningful to them.”
So, how do you engage your staff in the process?
Communication and input reduce employee resistance
Provide as much information as possible, to as many employees as possible, about the business. Share basic financial information, client feedback, industry projections and challenges, and data from processes you measure.
If your decision to make change is based on relevant evidence, an informed workforce will understand and agree with the need for change. They may not agree on the how and/or what, but you are miles ahead if you have agreement on the why.
Create an urgency around the need to change. Project, for your workforce, what will happen if you don’t make the changes. Communicate this information honestly and use data whenever it is available. Explain that you do have compelling reasons for making the changes.
Spend extra time and energy working with your office manager and reviewers to ensure they understand, can communicate about, and support the changes. Their action and communication are critical in moulding the opinion of the rest of your workforce. They are also the employees who can create the most resistance, first from their actions and beliefs, and then from the employees who report to them.
Align all organisational systems to support needed changes. These include the performance management system, rewards and recognition, disciplinary approaches, compensation, promotions, and hiring. Consistency across all HR systems will support faster change.
Make a clear role description for staff
Make sure you have put some thought into what your staff jobs and responsibilities will change to. Outsourcing works best when your staff are actively engaged in the process with a clear and through description of what their new duties are.
If this is done successfully, most practices we deal with say their staff welcome the new variety and challenges that come with shifts in their role. Paul from Mac and Associates says: “My staff are happy they don’t have to do all the compliance work. I have a local PA and five senior people who are all client-facing. They want more client time and more advisory time.”
Create the protocols for handing over (and responding to) compliance work
Handover of information and accountability of job responsibilities is critical to the success of the outsourced process. Your inhouse staff will need clarity around their accountability for their part in the ongoing workflow process.
Your staff will need to provide accurate and complete client files to the outsourced team so they can complete a job to review stage. You’ll also need good file notes and clear rules and policies if you want your outsourced team to consistently apply those rules.
Your inhouse staff will also be responsible for answering any queries from the outsourced team in a timely manner so that jobs are not delayed through missing information.
You need to make these responsibilities and rules clear to your inhouse staff and enforce them, or the quality of your outsourced work is likely to suffer.
Your behaviour as a leader plays a role in employee resistance
Resistance to change is best viewed as a normal reaction. Even the most cooperative, supportive employees may experience resistance.
Through your approach, you can affect the degree to which resistance bogs down the change. You can reduce natural resistance by the actions you take and how you involve the employees in the changes.
Looking to outsource your practice?
Find out how we can help you transition your practice into a productive powerhouse with our offshore team. We have over 800 fully trained accountants ready to take on your compliance work on a per job basis, so there is no training (on our part) and we can get started straight away. Contact us today to begin your outsourcing journey.