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4 steps to building accountable teams at your CPA firm

4 MIN READ | Posted on April 30, 2019

4 steps to building accountable teams at your CPA firm

In this cutthroat competitive age, CPA firms can no longer afford employees who occupy a spot on their organization charts. To thrive, they need employees who can think like employees – people who strive to achieve results.

To accomplish this, CPA firms must build an internal culture of accountability that encourages and inspires employees to own their work. When a culture of accountability flourishes at a CPA firm, employees are committed to achieving goals.

Outsourcing accounting firms know they are accountable, and so should employees. They should understand their role and willingly take initiatives. They should neither wait for other employees to troubleshoot problems, not they play blame games.

Instead, they should come up with solutions, overcome obstacles together, set targets that are achievable and measurable and track their progress. A culture of accountability allows CPA firms to enhance productivity levels, satisfy clients, and maintain a robust online reputation.

But how can a CPA firm build and sustain a culture of accountability? The answer is – to develop higher levels of responsibility, they need to facilitate a radical shift in the way employees think and act. They need to transform the way employees see, own, solve, and play their role at the CPA firm.

Here’s a four-step approach that can help them build a culture of ownership and accountability in their CPA firms:

1. Set SMART goals

CPA firms run into trouble when employees set goals but do not communicate them to the relevant stakeholders. When your team members know what is expected out of them and what they are accountable for, they will drive your CPA firm forward. Setting and accomplishing goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) is one of the critical aspects of accountability.

It is critical to make sure all team members know their roles, their goals and how they affect the growth of your CPA firm. Besides, each employee should have at least three key performance indicators (KPIs) against which their performances should be measured. This will keep everyone on track to achieve the set growth targets.

Allowing your employees the ability to track their progress and the visibility of what’s going to happen next will keep them moving steadily in the right direction.

2. Insist on achieving results

Often, organization charts and role descriptions push employees into boxes and give your teams the idea that they are getting paid for performing a specific role. This role-oriented mindset leads them to believe that if they have justified their employment by performing those functions, whether or not the desired goal was achieved.

Successful leaders emphasize the idea that their teams must focus on achieving results, rather than “doing the job.” Such leaders inspire people beyond the boundaries and encourage them to pursue goals by motivating them to wonder, “What else can I do?” over and over until the end goal is achieved. Such leaders enthuse people to think that their “role” is to achieve results.

Besides, let your teams understand that just having plans or strategies is not enough. They should be able to answer what they planned, what happened, what went wrong, and how they could have been made better or more profitable; after all, results matter.

3. Hold your outsourced accounting firms to high standards

The outsourced accounting firms, accountable for their performance and results, can set a good example and contribute to building an environment of accountability in your team. This should be music to every employee’s ears.

When you hold your outsourcing employee to a high standard, your internal teams should also assume the same sense of commitment and responsibility. Your business relationship with outsourced accounting firms will convey to the team members that you expect nothing but the best. Besides, your staff would know that there is external control or monitoring, which will keep them honest and responsible.

4. Encourage give-and-take feedback system

Allowing give-and-take feedback is critical for successful CPA firms as it will enable people at every level to hear the other person’s opinion and provide their own. Feedback is one of the most effective ways to identify shortcomings and to put your CPA firm on the growth track.

You can use the team’s feedback to handle existing problems and adjust expectations before it is too late to make a difference. Also, a healthy exchange of feedback will nurture trust and transparency by giving everyone a voice.

Accountable managers lead by example, so when you are taking steps to lead your CPA firm toward a culture of accountability, responsibility and transparency will catch on like wildfire. Set clear goals, take ownership for your actions, encourage open feedback and follow up with your team members.

Over to you

Building a CPA firm where accountability is embraced positively is not easy. It requires employees and their teams to bake it into every facet of the CPA firm’s operations and ensure that goals are communicated, and employees understand what is expected of them.

There are more than one ways to define accountability. While it is essential to understand what responsibility means to your firm, it is equally vital that the concept of accountability is agreed and understood by your teams. If done right, accountability will help your team, and your CPA firm, thrive.


Bringing forth rich marketing experience in the accounting industry, Vishal blends his wealth of knowledge and creativity to educate accountants about the pressing industry issues. He is passionate about marketing and helps accountants scale their practice through his detailed write-ups.


Bringing forth rich marketing experience in the accounting industry, Vishal blends his wealth of knowledge and creativity to educate accountants about the pressing industry issues. He is passionate about marketing and helps accountants scale their practice through his detailed write-ups.

Unauthorized copying or plagiarism of our content is a violation of intellectual property rights. We take such matters seriously and will pursue legal action to protect our original work. Anyone found engaging in such activities will be held accountable under applicable laws.

Originally published Apr 30, 2019 07:04:16, updated Mar 22 2021


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