The Wize Guys

Episode 2: Are you on the right track to building a business that runs without you?

June 02, 2021 Wize Mentoring for Accountants and Bookkeepers Season 1 Episode 2
The Wize Guys
Episode 2: Are you on the right track to building a business that runs without you?
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Episode 2: Are you on the right track to building a business that runs without you?


“You've gotta find the right people, you put the right training in and you can tell that they're the right people because you can see them progressing. You teach them once, you teach 'em twice, and they get it.”

Welcome back to The Wize Guys podcast! Today I'm joined once again by Ed Chan and  Jamie Johns. Ed and Jamie, along with me, your host, Brenton Ward, founded Wize Mentoring to help Accounting and Bookkeeping firm owners scale their businesses.

In this episode, we talk about removing yourself from your firm's everyday operations and developing relationships with your team leaders. Another big topic we discuss is the importance of hiring the right people! Delegating is very important and we give practical advice about how to do that smoothly. 


Timestamps:

1:07 - The concept of 80-20 rule

4:14 - The importance of developing relationships

8:10 - Reasons why you need to create a blueprint for recruitment

11:34 - How capacity planning helps in measuring performance

18:34 - Being in control VS being controlling

23:35 - Benefits of conducting regular team meetings

29:10 - How to start your withdrawal journey from the business

32:58 - Tips for training people effectively

36:30 - How to put parameters in delegating work


Quotations:


“The 80-20 rule basically says that 20% of activities give you 80% of your problems. So for me, it's about planning. If you spend more time planning then you spend less time reacting.” - Ed Chan 


“...obviously hiring people and finding people the right people is one of the hardest parts of the job.” - Brenton Ward 


“So the key for me in scaling is about developing and just keeping those relationships developed.” - Jamie Johns


“The important thing is to schedule the work… There's a difference between being in control and being controlling. Being in control is just being ahead, and planning ahead. Being ahead of problems that occur and preventing problems from occurring.” - Ed Chan


“Time is still one of the biggest constraints in growing our business.” - Brenton Ward


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Download the full transcript here.

You've gotta find the right people, you put the right training in and you can tell that they're the right people because you can see them progressing. You teach them once, you teach 'em twice, and they get it.

Brenton Ward: Ed. Jamie, welcome guys. How are you guys doing? 

Ed Chan: Very good, thanks, Brenton. And Jamie, it's nice weather in Sydney for all of you who were not enjoying about 20 degrees. 

Brenton Ward: Got some fresh there in Ballarat. 

Jamie Johns: Always nice and cold here, Brenton. 10 degrees in Windy. 

Brenton Ward: It was funny, I was talking to my friend. It must have been on the weekend of the weekend before and he was chopping firewood and I was sitting on the beach. It was the exact same temperature in both places. 

Guys, we wanted to have a bit of conversation because it's a good time to stop and reflect on where the business is at and what we've done over the last 12 months. So I wouldn't mind starting with you and getting some opening comments and some commentary just around staying focused and staying the course because we're 12 months down the track when another financial year is over. But for a lot of us, we'll be sitting there going, where's that year gone now? Certainly, the last 12 months have been like no other 12 months we've experienced in many years past. 

Tell a little bit about your last months maybe, and give us a bit of an into your reflections on Chan and Nayer. But really I wouldn't mind hearing from you on some thoughts about staying in the course and getting back to that focus of building a business that runs without you.

Ed Chan: I guess it's like anything. It's all about the 80-20 rule. 

The 80-20 rule basically says that 20% of activities give you 80% of your problems. So for me, it's about planning. If you spend more time planning then you spend less time reacting. By now we've had several sessions on the time to do your staff reviews, readdress your charge-out rates, and work out your staff capacity for some of them over the next 12 months. It's gonna be a way for annual leave and whatever. So your capacity for the next 12 months and you start scheduling in the work. You start working out which clients you bring in which month of the year. 

So if you get on top of the planning and implementation, then what happens is that you end up systematizing 80% of it so that you only have to manage the last 20%. And if you have to manage the last 20%, it's easy. It's just when you gotta manage a hundred percent that it's just chaotic. Not letting distractions getaway is about that planning. Otherwise, if you don't plan, you're just reacting, and if you just let clients bring the work in whenever they feel like it, then it's just creating chaos in your organization. Get on top of it. Start planning it. Then you've got control of it. There's a difference between you're in a boat with an engine and you turn the engine on and you direct the boat versus being in a sailing boat and the wind just takes you wherever the wind is your clients. They just take you wherever and they just create chaos in your organization. 

Brenton Ward: Just to that, Jamie wouldn't mind getting some thoughts from you in terms of a little bit of reflection over the last 12 months. 

You are certainly a hundred percent focused on building Sky and there are always things that pop up. So how do you find yourself kinda remaining focused and remaining have the energy in that style of working a hundred percent on the growth of Sky as opposed to being dragged back into the operations? 

Jamie Johns: One is the amount of work in his historical sense, knowing that the work that I've put into work on the business and then consolidating on the next year.

So in terms of all the relationships that I've built over the last few years around the teams, around the senior client managers, and then almost being to the point where I'm excited about the next 12 months. Then consolidating all that work and just continually staying focused on quadrant II from seven habits. That's for me, the absolutely critical thing. 

I was just saying to the managers today in the last couple of days that my role as the leader and the CEO is to nurture half a dozen key relationships for the firm to go forward. That takes focus on that quadrant II which is not urgent, but it's extremely important. 

Consolidating and all that is like our annual planning day. Now out of our annual planning day, we identified three hires, an assistant client manager and two senior, offshore accountants. So within a space of literally two or three weeks already hired two people and are onto the third one as we speak.

Brenton Ward: I just wanna touch on that. Because I mean, obviously hiring people and finding people the right people is one of the hardest parts of the job. You mentioned a good few times, certainly in conversations on the clinics, but also chats that we have. You've got people to line up in the chamber if you like, from conversations that you just sort of keep in touch with over years and years before that opportunity arises. So can you tell us a bit about your strategy there? 

Jamie Johns: Yeah, that's a good point because when you can say it very quickly, but although I've been working on those relationships for two years, So that's a classic point of quad II because if anyone picks up the seven habits right now, they'll see in that quadrant that it says developing relationships. 

So what I do, and I've done for a long time is every CV that comes in by my desk, I keep a database of it. So I develop a very simple database of CVs that come over my desk. I get my admin assistant, I just flick them to her and put them in the database. I can sort them by experience, and location very, very quickly in Excel. So it's very simple. 

For example, occasionally you have consulting firms and I think everyone gets these emails outta the blue. We get consulting firms that say, ‘I have a great hire here and obviously a consulting firm will charge you a fee.’ Some of those people that come through on that are database and what I do is I'll take the time to interview them. It might only take 20 minutes of my day. But for example, the assistant client manager was hired. I literally met that chat 18 months ago and have had probably three meetings with him before we even hired him. So just to catch up for coffee, develop relationships, and even with the offshore staff. I met them two, or three years ago just via staying in contact on Facebook Messenger. So the key for me in scaling is about developing and just keeping those relationships developed. And when you need someone, it's very easy to go to your database and find the right people. 

Brenton Ward: Absolutely. 

Ed, any commentary on that? 

Ed Chan: I do a similar thing. You should be constantly looking keeping your ears and eyes out for good people. Often people say to me, ‘I can't find staff.’ Then I say, ‘Well, how hard have you been looking?’ They might have just put one ad in or something and they give up. But it's a continuous process. 

When you get to my level and I guess Jamie's level now, I'm looking for good people. If I surround really good people, my life is really easy. So if I had bad people around me, then my life is an absolute nightmare. So ultimately, looking for good people and I drive my wife nuts cuz we can go to a restaurant then the waitress comes out and she serves us. I say to my wife, ‘She's got a good attitude. I'd hire her to work for me.’ 

I know how important they are. I know how important good people are. So I'm constantly on the lookout.

Brenton Ward: Always on the lookout. 

And Ed, you've mentioned a couple of times in the past, and I'm going a little bit off topic here, but I think it's important because it's gonna tie into the next question that I ask you. But you've even mentioned in the past, people when they need to hire, they only look to start hiring when that need arises, as opposed to having these little things and these mechanisms in place where you are identifying people that might be suitable at some point in the future. You might have an ad that just runs in the background constantly on seek rather than putting it up at a certain point in time when you need that person. So it's these little systems that really help when the time comes to get that next person in the right seat. 

Ed Chan: Yeah. But more importantly, I guess if you've got a plan and if you've got a blueprint of what your team is. Then it's very, very clear that you are hiring. So instead of reacting, you are hiring in anticipation. Put the blueprint in. You can see where the gap is in your team structure. It's not just about hiring heaps and heaps and heaps of people. It's not just throwing bodies at the problem, it's about the right person in the right seat, on the right bus. And that comes back to your ideal team structure. Then once you've got your blueprint, you just build that blueprint. It's a bit like an architect's plan. You don't build a house without one. You don't just start digging holes in the backyard and laying bricks everywhere. You have an architect's plan and then you build a house to the architect's plan. That's just the same as, in the ideal team structure. 

So, if you go into the vault, there's the ideal team structure that you need to build your business and scale. Without that ideal team, you can't scale. It's all in the planning. Plan, plan, and plan. There's the old saying with the carpenter, ‘You measure twice and cut once.’ In our game, you've gotta plan it, plan it and plan it. Spend more time planning it than executing it. 

Brenton Ward: I wouldn't mind digging a little bit deeper on that one with you, Amy, because of what Ed's just touched on there in terms of the ideal team structure. Obviously, it's something that we talk about constantly and we're beating it into every Wize member. What they are saying is, ‘You haven't done your job until your staff mocks you for saying something the same time over and over again.’ But we say the same thing about our Tribe members unless they're mocking us for saying the same things over and over again, ‘We haven't done our job properly.’ 

But coming back to the ideal team structure, I think we shouldn't overlook what you just said in terms of your annual planning day. Now, rather than you saying, ‘We came out that annual planning day and we need to hire a couple more people.’ You said, ‘We come outta that planning day and we need to hire an assistant client manager and two senior accountants,’ very specific to that ideal team structure. I mean, that's taken you guys a lot to get to that position where you can just clearly identify that. But can you talk to us a little bit about how you guys did come to that determination that those are the three roles you needed? 

Jamie Johns: Yeah, it's like whenever Ed and I these days are consulting and talking to different firms and it comes down to quite a few factors. But one of the biggest factors is the fee size of the firm or the fee size of the team. I always come back to what Ed taught me. ‘It's all about the traffic.’ So, soon as the team hits 600k and then upwards, there's just pressure. Every accountant, particularly this year with CoVid-19 and whichever country put out. The stimulus packages accounts have just been so busy. Like so flat-out servicing clients and generating more fees. 

Now, while some of that might be once-off, there are firms that are continually winning new clients, serving their clients and their fees are increasing. When that happens, it increases the traffic flow, Brenton. In terms of that traffic flow, it increases the communication traffic, which is the emails, phone calls, appointments, and text messages. So it just comes down to a very basic thing that we've got 480 minutes in every day. As soon as your fees increase, that traffic will increase. You simply do not have the time as a firm owner or a senior client manager to keep just lumping that traffic on and doing it by brute force. I have met people. We might be one of those people who's done it by brute force for years and done 50, 60, or 80 hours a week ~ week in, week out for years. And just sort of hit the ceiling and hit the roof. 

So with the Wize Mentoring and with what I've learned from Ed is that to get through that ceiling, to get through that barrier, then it's having the confidence. That I'm finding and working with firms is having the confidence to do that next hire, to do that balance sheet play, to invest in the balance sheet and not solely look at the P and L. Yes, you will take a hit in the P and L in the short term, but unless you have the confidence to make that next hire using your capacity planner monitoring the KPIs, then you're not gonna grow. Because again, you can't make a day any longer than it is. 

Brenton Ward: That's right. I think you hit the nail on the head there. In terms of you've got the tools and the systems in place to be able to back yourselves and making those decisions so you're not just shooting from the hip and going, ‘We'll take a hit on the P & L and it might work out.’ You clearly focused on the sheet play and have the tools and the systems to back up that decision. 

Jamie Johns: The other key part of it is to have these meetings. A lot of the time if you're not the leader and not self-aware, you'll just go all the way till today to the 30th of June or whatever your year-end is. You won't schedule a time to even look at the capacity to actually sit down and learn how to do it.

Brenton Ward: Just touching on that, Jamie. If you wouldn't mind, I think we covered this pretty well in the May clinic, I think Carla. But Carla's just had a question on the agenda of the annual planning day and the structure that you guys went through. So would you mind briefly touching on the agenda that you guys went through on your planning day? And Ed if you've got any comments to add to that once Jamie's given a bit of structure around it? 

Jamie Johns: Yeah. I think I went in here at 8:30 in the morning in our boardroom and I wrote about six or seven points on the whiteboard for the agenda. The first one was our June board meeting. So we got to look at 11 months worth of figures up until the end of May. With more or less knew how the results were gonna fall out at the end. 

So first of all, we looked at, we literally looked at 11-12 months worth of figures. Then what we did was we basically went through every team. We sat and went through every team and how each person was going. Whether we thought there would be any salary adjustment at all because we're still yet to do the next month. If any annual reviews and whether there was an adjustment there, what the managers thought about each individual team member. From that, we redid all the charge-out rates, Brenton. So we went through and reviewed each one of them based on whether there was any salary adjustment. From that, we went into the capacity planner and went through every team ~ which team had capacity, which team was over on a capacity, and what the gross profit forecast was on every team. Because obviously, you keep a track of what your actual fees are and then also what fees you'd won and lost and where that's gonna play out next year. Then from that, the final item, once we'd done all our capacity planning was then put together a whole full year's cash forecast for the entire firm right down from obvious revenue, cost of goods, overheads, and our forecasted a bit for the year. A process of that, getting 90% of that done, that cash forecast. Then fine-tuning that as things fall into place in the July board meeting. That'll be 99% fine-tuned by then. 

Brenton Ward: So they're really no stone left on the turn there. That's for sure. I mean, as Ed said at the start of the meeting if you're gonna do it right, you plan. Plan for the year and then certainly plan for the year. 

Ed, I'd say that's a fairly robust agenda, but would you suggest any other areas be focused on if needed, or pretty much covered everything off there?

Ed Chan: Just to answer your question. Yeah, that's pretty much it. I don't work at that level anymore. So our office should be doing all that.

The important thing is to schedule the work. So schedule asking the clients to bring the work in a particular month of the year and not just let them bring it in whenever they feel like it. Otherwise, they'll drag you into their nightmare and you control not to give control away. Getting control isn't being controlled. 

There's a difference between being in control and being controlling. Being in control is just being ahead, and planning ahead. Being ahead of problems that occur and preventing problems from occurring. That's all in the planning because there isn't anything in accountancy practice now. 80% of everything that's in accountancy practice, you'll know what's gonna happen. If you have it systematized and you've got that under control, you've got the capacity there, enough people in the right seat doing the right work. So you get the balance right between the communication activity and the production activity. Then the last 20% is very easy to manage because you can't systematize a hundred percent of it. That's impossible. Otherwise, we are just robots. But you wanna be able to be personable, you gotta want personal service. You have to systemize 80% of it. Otherwise, if you're drowning, you can't be personable to anybody if you're drowning. So you need to systematize it so you can breathe and you can be personable. Then you can give personal service and that's all in the planning and I just stress that enough. 

I guess the other thing that is just going on from what Jamie is saying is that we all have a limited amount of time. We all have the same amount of time in the day. ‘How do some people achieve so much in their lifetime and others achieve so little?’ The answer to that question is that they spend their time in the right areas. What do I mean by that? So you can come to work every day and prepare your tax returns, right? Well if you do that, I call that working in your P and L. When you're 65, you're still working in your P and L or you can come to work to build a business that prepares the tax return. And what that means is that you're building people, you're training people, you're training your team, you're putting systems in place, you're educating your clients, your planning the workflow, you are encouraging and leading your team. That's the right kind of work. That's the balance sheet work. So if you want to achieve more than what you're achieving today, do the right kind of work. Don't just come to work and work. Be very deliberate in the kind of work you're doing. 

Dr. Steven's quadrant B work, that's important but not urgent. So an example of important and not urgent is when you have to train your staff, it's important to train your staff but it's not urgent to do that. So often people who work in quadrant A, which is urgent and important. That's where you're putting fires out all the time. Their attitude to that is, ‘Oh, I don't have time to train that person. By the time I've trained that person, I could have just done it myself.’ So that's P and L thinking, that's putting the fire out and then just waiting for the next fire to start. Then you put that fire out and you're constantly firefighting. So quad B is prevention, preventing the fires f from starting up.  So it's so important that when you go to work, you spend your time in the right kind of doing the right kind of work, not the wrong kind of work. I can’t stress enough that study. 

Brenton Ward: Yeah. That's certainly something that we want to touch on. I wouldn't mind getting your feedback on Jamie, because you've obviously been through this experience and I think it's about going back to basics with some of those things guys. 

Time is still one of the biggest constraints in growing our business. It's because we just can't break through that barrier of figuring out where to divert it. We can't make more of it. So we have to free up the time that we're currently spending on certain things in order to best use it. Or we hire good people and delegate properly to those people in order to again free up our time. 

So Jamie, I always like the story of you telling us when Ed and you obviously knew of the principles of A, B, C, D, or 1, 2, 3, 4. Working in quad two is where we want to be. But can you retell the story about how you positioned yourself to continually focus on working more in 2? Pretty sure to remind you if I'm sure you know the story, if you don't, I'll tell you.

Jamie Johns: You might have to prompt me, but essentially the best way that you can and what I found was to list all the tasks that you do in a month and a year. In the early days when I did it, it probably had a list of 50 or 60 items every board meeting. I would review what I'd moved out of urgent and important over across to not urgent, but important. Every month I would look at that and I would feel pretty bad if I didn't take anything out of quad I. 

So you gotta have self-awareness because when you go to work every day, it's so hard and it's so easy just to do the tax return yourself and say to yourself, ‘Oh, it's quicker if I do it myself,’ or I can make you'll say to yourself, ‘I can make more money doing it myself,’ or ‘It's quicker.’ And you've gotta stop yourself there because that's the very thinking that will stop you from moving forward and achieving your goals. For me, it was all about literally how much I could delegate and how fast I could do it.

I do I think I know what you're referring to, I just do recall one time when you sort of has an epitome. I guess I still remember I pulled up at home at the front of my house and I said to Ed, ‘Why can't I withdraw from this business that's driving me crazy? How do I get my time back?’ I was quite sort of upset with myself and Ed said, ‘Look, you've gotta do it in a staged approach. You've gotta remove yourself from divisions seven to six. The owner has to withdraw themselves within your profit-making capacity because depending on what fee levels you've got or where you're at in terms of your turnover if you just like switch your productivity down to zero tomorrow. Well, you're not gonna have any money. So you've gotta do it in a staged approach, withdraw from divisions 7, 6, 5, and so on as the fees increase. ‘How do you do that?’ You do that with your capacity plan. You do that with your cash forecasting. The way that you successfully do that is with planning. If you plan ahead it de-risks things, you can see things coming. The worst thing is when you get a surprise or a shock or you can't see something coming in your business and it makes it riskier and then you don't have as much confidence if you don't plan either. 

I think it's so underrated the value of planning because it has multiple effects on the outcomes of what you're trying to do. It's like every discipline that you have, including the daily huddle meetings, and the weekly meetings that I know a lot of firms are starting to do. Like even down to the detail in the weekly meetings with their team looking at, ‘Okay, what have we built so far this month versus what's our budget? How are we gonna get there? How do we get those last few jobs out so that we can meet the budget?’ Keep that finger on the pulse, develop that momentum and that winning culture. That's what you wanna do. And that's the heartbeat. It's that four sorts of critical meetings that in my experience are the glue that holds the firm together towards reaching its goals, the owners reaching the goals as well and lifting everyone in the process. Happier clients, happier team members, shareholders, and suppliers. 

Brenton Ward: Certainly a much more methodical approach to it. I think coming back to what you're saying about withdrawing from those divisions. When looking at the business and being in the thick of it, fish can't see water, everything looks like it needs attention, and it's hard to actually sit there and step back and go. ‘Well, these are the things I'm gonna proactively withdraw,’ which we've attempted to assist in that journey and saying, ‘Well, the first thing you should be withdrawing from is division seven, six, and then so on up the scale of the org chart.’ But I wouldn't mind and I understand that the last couple of months have been exceptional circumstances. Everyone's been busy no matter what role you're in. Certainly, if you had holes in the ship and if you had gaps in your systems in the last couple of months, those have only been more painful for you. But I wouldn't mind just honing in and getting back to the basics. For someone who's listening in saying, ‘I'm so incredibly busy still, even though I'm trying to work on this business and trying to build it so it runs without me, but I'm still so incredibly busy.’ What are some of the things we can call out now and say as of today to stop doing these things? 

Ed Chan: Oh, hundred percent. I mean, it's a lot of it is self-inflicted. Because when you talk to people and they feel that they've gotta do everything and they feel that it can only be done properly. They do it. If anybody else does it, then they can't do it as well as themselves. Well get over it, right? That's the first thing. 

Otherwise, you'll just keep wallowing in your difficulties. I mean, there are so many things in there in your business that somebody else can do. I mean, the first thing is to stop doing administrative work. Then the people then the response I get is, ‘Oh, but only I can do it that as well.’ I said, ‘No, you just don't need to be a perfectionist.’ Now what we want is momentum, so get somebody else to do it, even if it's not a hundred done, a hundred percent well. So there's a saying that it's better that it's done 80% and done by somebody else than for it to be done hundred percent and done by you, right? 

So you just start with everything and start with administration. Start with that and move everything off your plate. Anybody that's reasonably competent can do administration. That's the first thing. Then, if you don't build a strong foundation, then the CoVid-19 experience that we've had in the past just highlights, just heightens your weak foundation. Like I put a little bit of weight on that foundation. If it's weak, it just collapses. If you had a weak foundation to begin and like something like a CoVid-19 comes along, then the whole thing's gonna collapse on you. So there are so many reasons why you should strengthen your foundation apart from being able to cope with more work, but also to give you the capacity to grow and to scale. It all has to do with your mindset ~ how you think, go to work, and do the right kind of work. So the way to think about what is right and what is the wrong kind of work is from a very simplistic point of view, that if the work is repetitive, it needs to be done over and over and over and over and over and again or train somebody else to do it. 

Now, in the early days when you're so busy, look I was working a hundred hours a week and where was I gonna find an hour to train somebody to do it? But guess what I did? I found an hour to train someone and the first thing I did was stop some of the admin work I was doing and accept that it doesn't have to be done a hundred percent well. So if it's done 80% and done by somebody else, that's the first thing. It's all self-inflicted. Is this just thinking if it's an activity that needs to be done over and over, over again, like preparing a tax return, right? That has to be done over and over and over and over again. Like chasing debts, you gotta chase them over and over and over. Train somebody else to do it, like producing a checklist. I produced a checklist initially, but then once I produced it, then somebody else just kept it running and just kept updating it every year. So you've gotta think like that. You've gotta discipline yourself to do so otherwise. If you don't change your business ain't gonna change the way the owner thinks.

Brenton Ward: Guys, just touching on one of the things you mentioned there, Ed. Training people, we say train people a lot. It's one of the most important aspects of withdrawing ourselves and growing the business. But then the very definition of training someone, people get stuck on how you actually train someone effectively. It's certainly something that kind of pushes a lot of people outside their comfort zone because if we're sitting very heavily in that technician role, which a lot of us are, even as the owners of the business, may not necessarily like to do the training role or engage in that sort of that role itself. So any comments on kind of stepping outside that comfort zone or any ideas or suggestions on how to train effectively?

Ed Chan: Well, from my experience the challenge hasn't been getting the owner to do it. The challenge has been getting one of the client managers to do it, to train somebody else. So just starting at the very basics obviously from the owner, just getting somebody else to take them through how to do the return. Often people learn best by doing the work, and often you can give them a lecture or sit them down like at school. But it just goes in one ear and out the other. The best way for a lot of people to learn is on the job, ‘Here's a job to do. I need you to come up with a whole lot of questions and I'm gonna be next to you answering those questions and micro-training you so that later.’ So I don't have to micromanage you. 

If I don't micro-train you in exactly the way that I'd want it done, then, later on, you'll have to micromanage that person. Nobody likes being micromanaged. So you may as well do the work upfront and micro-train them. Just train them. Doing the way that you want it done. It takes a little bit of time, but some people learn very quickly while others take a little bit longer to learn. 

But the other issue is that you've gotta also find a rock for our industry. Some accountants shouldn't work in a public practice environment. They should work in a commercial environment or they should work in public service because they're just too slow. In our industry, you gotta do it quickly because the clients won't pay you two hours to do something that normally takes an hour to do, right? So you've gotta find the right people. You put the right training in and you can tell that they're the right people because you can see them progressing. You teach them once, you teach them twice and they get it. Then they move on and you can see them progress over the days and the weeks and the months they're with you. You've gotta be fairly hands-on. So you can't just abdicate. 

There is a difference between delegating it to someone and abdicating it to someone. Often, I see abdication. They just throw work at somebody because they're so busy and they go off and see a client or take a phone call. The person doesn't know what he or she's doing. Then the reaction is, ‘Oh, the staff is just hopeless.’ And so you've gotta do the right kind of things work, and that is to train the people properly. 

Jamie Johns: Yeah. Just the point there too is like when you delegate work, give people parameters around that. Don't just say, ‘Oh, I need this done.’ So when you delegate, follow the correct steps in the delegation. ‘Well, this is how long it should take. This is when we need it. These are the people that you need to see to get it done and the tools to get it done.’ You wanna follow with proper delegation because you can cause chaos yourself if you just ask other people to do something without any parameters whatsoever, without any priorities. So it's important to delegate correctly. 

Brenton Ward: Yeah. I think it's also just something we've been talking about literally in the last 24 hours. Jamie is instilling the ability for your staff to kind of develop their knowledge and develop their leadership skills as much as they possibly can and have that ingrained in the culture of the firm on a day-to-day basis. 

Jamie Johns: It gotta lead that learning. If you like, from managers to mentors is a good way to put it. In the modern firm, we've got managers, the senior client managers are really mentors in their own right and they can have up to five or seven people on a team. So that team needs to be cohesive, it needs to be flexible, it needs to know what its objectives are, and needs to be led by a good leader on that team. Who's really, at the end of the day, that team's mentor? 

From the top down, you've gotta build into the firm that innovative culture of learning. It's great if you can build in so much time in their calendar a week just to develop their leadership skills so that team can keep innovating, and keep improving because it's so easy to get caught in the trap. Even the people on the team say, ‘Oh, it's quicker to do it myself.’ Because at the end of the day, what's gonna kick goals and what's gonna move the firm forward is interdependence, not dependence, not interdependence, but what you want is teamwork. 

I always come back to the sport, anyone who's played a team sport will know what it's like to win a grand final whatever it takes a team effort to do it. You cannot, and not pass the ball to someone else and try and the ball and win the granny. It takes teamwork and that's being patient and teaching someone else how to do something. Having that mental resilience that they might ask you five times how to do something. 

I remember on my journey, sometimes I'd get might get a bit emotional or, Why is it taking so long?’ Often Ed would say, ‘Well, you gotta be patient. Jamie, is it better that you do everything at a hundred percent or the rest of the people do it at 80% and you finish the 20%? Which one do you want, Jamie?’ Then I'll pull my head in and keep going. 

Brenton Ward: Yeah, I think what you've said there also emphasizes that point of how important it is to get that team structure right. Because the people training the team members within that team structure have to have the skill and the personality profile to do that properly.  It's just those pieces of the puzzle clicking together.

Guys have a fantastic afternoon and we'll talk to you very soon.


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The importance of developing relationships
Reasons why you need to create a blueprint for recruitment
How capacity planning helps in measuring performance
Being in control VS being controlling
Benefits of conducting regular team meetings
How to start your withdrawal journey from the business
Tips for training people effectively
How to put parameters in delegating work