From XU Magazine, 
Issue 19

How to help your staff accept and welcome change in your small accountancy practice

Having a growth plan for your accountancy practice is essential to ensure that you’re moving forward. However, if your staff aren’t engaged and supportive of these plans, moving forwards can become difficult. This article, from Heather Townsend, Author and Founder of The Accountants Millionaires’ Club, outlines how you can engage and win the support of your staff to ensure that your efforts to grow don’t go wasted.

Understand why your staff may resist change

Only when you understand why your staff aren’t being supportive can you begin to engage them and more forward.

Growth plans for a business involve change. And change, for many people, is scary. Regardless of what you are changing, whether it is big or small, or what you think of it, any change can elicit the ‘fear of the unknown’ in your staff and in response, they will resist it.

As change triggers such an emotional response, logic and reason won’t always be enough to win your staff over. You’ll be glad to hear however, that there is a far more effective way to gain their engagement and support.

Help them accept this change

The idea of the Emotional Cycle of Change, as identified by EliSzabeth Kübler-Ross, is that most people going through change typically pass through five emotional stages.

  1. Denial – this initial stage is brought on by fear of the unknown and denying that the change will come about is an attempt to protect oneself.
  2. Anger – accepting the inevitable can lead to anger, especially if the person feels that the change is a negative one.
  3. Rationalisation – once the initial emotions have been processed, the person can begin to rationalise the change to make sense of it.
  4. Acceptance – once the change has been accepted, the person can begin to embrace it and feel positive about it.
  5. Advance – the person can now use the change to grow and progress into the future state.

It is important to recognise that people need to go through this cycle in order to grieve for how things were and progress through the stages to fully accept and embrace the new. You can actively help your staff do this by:

  • Openly communicating with them as much as possible, especially about what changes will be implemented and what they will mean for them and for the business
  • Providing them with the information they need to prevent them from filling in the blanks themselves
  • Letting people express how they feel and addressing them appropriately
  • Not dismissing emotions or avoiding them
  • Working together on building your growth plans once your staff have started to accept the changes
  • Being available and approachable to answer any questions and provide reassurance at all times
  • Only once you have helped your staff go through the full Emotional Cycle of Change (and everyone will do so at a different rate), will you find that you have gained their full engagement and support with your growth plans.

Be prepared for staff who may not support the change

There is always a chance that even after the Emotional Cycle of Change, some people will still resist changes. If this happens, what can you do?

You can either try alternative methods of influencing them, such as telling an inspiring story about real-life people or situations to motivate them into helping you reach your business’ potential, or you can try all of the above and let them know that these changes are happening anyway.

If those staff members choose to leave, it may just be the best thing for your business as you need all of your efforts for growth to be moving in one direction.

Only when all of your staff are engaged and supportive of your growth plans can you be sure that you’re moving efficiently towards success.

Why leave it there?

For more tips on growing your firm

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