Episode 54: Understanding the Context of ‘No Bypass Policy’ for Your Accounting Team Structure
In this episode of The Wize Guys Podcast, Brenton Ward, Jamie Johns, and Ed Chan share their insights about the need for a discovery session for every accounting practice.
To find out how to ensure that you are not a prisoner in your own business, Ed and Jamie will give a thorough outline of how you can start to design or redesign your business to achieve the ROI of your end goals.
0:00 - Intro
0:52 - Understanding the ‘No Bypass Policy’
1:24 - How body-system reporting works
2:03 - Why structure is related to your internal processes
2:24 - The importance of delegation and a hierarchical system.
4:29 - How to empower your team
“One of the most important things in a deeper narrow team structure, particularly with practice firm owners looking to implement it is the No-bypass policy because the deeper narrow team structure doesn't really work without the No-bypass policy.” - Jamie Johns
"If you want them to take more responsibility, stop undermining them." - Ed Chan
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Brenton Ward: Jamie, just in terms of implementation and practical insights, any of the vault resources or tools that come to mind that can help best assist with this with the training? So we've obviously got the knowledge for the practice owners on deep and narrow team structure, but anything that you can think of as part of the training process with the team?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, I think one of the most important things in a deeper narrow team structure, particularly with practice firm owners looking to implement it is the No-bypass policy because the deeper narrow team structure doesn't really work without the No-bypass policy. We might get Ed to touch on that, but essentially if you own your own firm, you don't really wanna bypass your senior client manager. Then at the next or a deeper level working down the team, you don't want your senior client managers to ultimately bypass the senior production manager with the production managers team as well. And then really the third point there, I always like it, I sort of call it the buddy system.
So if you have, for example, a junior accountant or an intermediate accountant who's starting, get them to have a buddy and get them to report to their senior. It might be like a senior accountant or a senior bookkeeper. That really sort of really honors and from a practical point of view, puts in place how a deeper narrow team works. Because what I've seen over the years is like a partner, for example, with 30, 40 years experience and they take on directly the training and taking all the queries of the junior account and a bookkeeper. And that's just the wrong way to do it. So yeah, you've really gotta implement the no bypass policy.
We often talk about the no bypass policy in the context of clients, but it does also apply to what we're talking about today the internal operations of a team as well. So otherwise you get to the point where I showed earlier where you have all the staff just reporting to the manager or the partner if you like. So prep. But yeah, we’ll discuss the No-bypass policy in terms of a deeper narrow team. And Ed might be better than that well
Brenton Ward: Ed, you might just quickly summarize it for us.
Ed Chan: Sure. Often owners say to me, I wish my staff would take more responsibility, take their job seriously, and have more accountability and it just seems like I'm doing everything. And then when I observe their behavior in how they manage their teams. I observe that they're undermining their people. I say, Well if you want them to take more responsibility, stop undermining them. Typically the response to me is undermining. I'm not undermining them. Like they don't know that they're doing it.
Now, give her a very quick example. He or she is given some work by the client. He or she goes to the office and goes to in this situation here, goes the blue person right down the bottom and says to him or her the accountant, Oh, I've got some tasks that you'd need to do quickly and the client wants it done quickly. So effectively he or she's bypassed the senior manager, bypassed the senior production manager, and gone to their staff and given them instructions. Now, if you do that, if you keep doing that, then eventually the client manager and the production manager will say, Well, you want me to manage these people, but you keep undermining my authority. You keep bypassing me. If you wanna manage them, you manage them, then you manage them then and they'll sit back and wait for you to manage them and you'll end up having a paid audience around you. And that's not because of the staff having bad staff, it's because of poor management on your side.
So often, the opposite happens. One of the junior accountants will bypass their senior manager and go to you to ask a question. So effectively you should say to that staff member, Go back to the production manager and the senior client manager to get it answered. If they don't know the answer, then you have a three-way conversation. You have the junior accountant, you have the manager in there and yourself, and you give them the answer and then you step away from that and let them implement it right. Also, often you should because it's more efficient to have the two of them in the same room so the left-hand knows what the right hand's doing rather than just explaining it to the junior accountant and the production managers. It doesn't know what's going on. So that's really, really important and it's very difficult to do often because of habits.
Now, let me just qualify that. I'm not saying that you can't speak to account the team, right? That's not what I'm saying. I often go to the junior accountant and accountants and talk to them and say, how're things going? Are there any blockages to production? Because I'm really focused on productivity and no blockages. And often they might say, Oh yeah, I'm having trouble getting this bit of information from the client, or, my computer's not working, or there's some problem and I go back to the manager and let them know that there's a problem there. But I had the responsibility of the implementation of the solution back to the team, back to the leaders of the team so that they're empowered to run the team rather than you just constantly in interfering and getting in their way. When we just measure them on the KPIs, the productivity on the time sheets, and the Fab5 five and they're the best measurement, and in the meantime let them get on with the job.
Brenton Ward: I love that!
Kristy said I love that if you're not delegating, you've got a paid audience. Yes. We'll put that in our little blackboard book of Wize phrases there.