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Episode 9: Understanding The Job Description And KPIs Of A Senior Production Manager
“Most people leave their jobs because they're disengaged and they don't like their manager. The second reason they leave their job is that they're not in their flow.”
In this episode of The Wize Guys, Brenton Ward and Jamie Johns answer some listener questions and talk about what a Senior Product Manager and Senior Client Manager role entails, how to measure performance and how the two roles differ.
0:35 - Is hiring an offshore senior production manager worthwhile?
1:53 - A step-by-step guide to training a newly hired senior production manager
3:34 - The importance of having team daily huddles
5:54:- The roles and responsibilities of a senior production manager
7:52 - Find out some FREE tools and resources for your accounting practice recruitment process
8:49 - Tips for promoting finders and grinders
9:59 - Why do people usually leave their jobs
10:21 - Why you should identify your people’s personality
10:33 - What is a promotion path?
11:27 - The importance of understanding the flow
12:54 - Understanding the KPIs of a senior production manager
13:21 - How to measure productivity
14:17 - How to use Xero Practice Manager (XPM)
16:29 - How to apply the net promoter score
17:42 - How to manage people
“..if you put, say a finder in a grinder or minder's role forever, and they really want to be a finder, that's when you have the risk of losing them.” - Jamie Johns
“Why do people leave their jobs?’ They tend to leave their jobs because of 2 reasons. Most people leave their jobs because they're disengaged and they don't like their manager. The second reason they leave their job is that they're not in their flow. And when you're not in your flow, you're just not happy. And if you're not happy, you'll tend to leave.” - Jamie Johns
“So if you incorrectly promote people, you just set them up for a fall… it's important that people understand what their flow is. It's important for you as the leader to understand what their best and highest is.” - Jamie Johns
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Download the full transcript here.
“Most people leave their jobs because they're disengaged and they don't like their manager. The second reason they leave their job is that they're not in their flow.” - Jamie Johns
What are your thoughts on the senior production manager role being offshore?
Brenton Ward: Perfect question, because that was my next one.
Jamie Johns: The same thing, really applaud people that are happy to get our website now. And we've actually got the team poll in. Now there is a video actually on this Brenton. I can't remember what the video is, but so we've had Denita, who's been with us five years next month and she's our senior production manager and she's based in the Philippines. So there's a classic video in the Wize Vault where I interview Paul, who's the senior client manager. At the time just be mindful. I think we've called denature a team leader, but obviously that senior production manager.
Yes, that certainly can work. The senior production manager in the Philippines, she reviews the work of the other accounts and even the book paper as well. So again, it comes back to how good they are technically and all the things that Verde has already spoken about.
So yes, quite possible. I think we've actually got 2 senior production managers that have been with us for quite some time. 5 years is a long time in terms of educating and having that one-on-one time with their senior client manager over five years. You're certainly picking up a lot in that time.
Brenton Ward: Yeah. A question from Liz, and Jamie, we hired a senior production manager 5 weeks ago, and then they are ready to start training them up to do reviewing. Would there be any processes suggested process to training them up? And who has mentored reviews the job when it comes in and out and sends queries out?
Jamie Johns: A couple of questions Brenton. In terms of training the senior production manager, it should be the senior client manager. So hopefully, they've got 80% of the skills that you need. The senior client manager may only need to fill in 5-10. Hopefully a maximum of 20% of what they're missing. And part of that process Liz is you should make sure that the senior production manager has got their checklists in terms of when jobs are presented to the senior production manager, they should be aware of what they need to check.
Now that would include other working papers done in your firm done correctly. A lot of the time what you'll find is sometimes the junior staff want to get the job done quickly, they'll have it done and they'll pass it to the senior production manager. And a lot of the working papers may not be done or there might be shortcuts made. So it's important that you have your systems and processes in place around the checklist. Like even the simple BAS has these particular accounts being reconciled, even the integrated client account I reconciled. You've got to have your checklists. There's no doubt about that. There are actually some of those checklists losing the Wise Vault in there to look at it as well. And I can direct you to those.
The other part of that question was I think, what was it printing?
Brenton Ward: Who's meant to review the job and also send queries out? So you've covered the job review part, but then also sent queries out.
Jamie Johns: That's a good question.
Yeah. So if there are queries and ran the production side of it, what should happen is you should have your daily huddle, right? And then what are you stuck on should come up? And the senior production went on to say, well, you know what, I'm stuck on these three jobs because of X, Y, and Z. Then the senior production manager should have touched base with the senior client manager because often the senior client manager is communicating with the client or all the time and from time to time throughout the year, or they've bought a rental property, whatever. And so the senior client manager will often know the answer. Okay. But that should feel that should filter out via the daily huddle.
If the senior client manager doesn't know often what we will get to do, we will actually get the senior production manager to draft the email for the senior client manager or the assistant client manager to go to the client. So they'll do all the hackwork, they'll do 95% of it and draft the email and say ‘Dear Joe, you know, we need this X, Y, and Z, blah, blah, blah.’ They'll send that email to the client manager and they'll shoot it out. So again, you're going to get Liz to reach in some cases where Al senior production manager, even Denita, for example, we had here in Australia and she met some of the clients. She got to a point where she was so good that she would email the clients for the production work, not communication traffic, but for the production work. And she would CC the client manager on the queries. Again, that's lay reach and the client would just say, ‘Yes, well, this is what you need to do the job.’
Brenton Ward: Yeah. Liz has come back and said, great, thanks. So I think we've covered that.
One for Craig. I'm going to ask your question in a second and the same with yours as well, Chelsea, and just going to cover the job description. We'll get to those two questions.
So Jamie, take us through some of these final points and I'll premise this with the wave taking these points directly from the templates that we've got in the Wize Vault and Step No. 5. Everything we're speaking about today, everything that Jamie mentioned today is in Step No. 5 in the vault.
But talk to us a little bit about some of the points of the job description which we've covered a lot.
Jamie Johns: Yeah. So we've probably covered a lot of those things, and everyone can have a quick rate of themselves. What I'll probably cover is down there the last point is will not be required to see clients face to face. Occasionally we'll be asked to help them manage it.
What you want you often want the senior production manager because of the skills and knowledge. You might want them to help you as the senior client manager to prepare for an annual general meeting or a strategic meeting. You might even want them to help you with software selection. Sometimes the senior production manager will have a lot of knowledge around software as the capital of allies do. And even if you are doing some of that advisory type work or virtual CFO work, it's great to have the senior production manager helping prepare the figures.
For example, if you will have a monthly meeting or a quarterly catch-up in a board meeting environment, it's really good that the senior client manager can walk into that meeting and have all the figures done and be able to review them a day before the meeting. And even strategic tax planning and structuring advice. It's good to work as a team because often a fish can't see water and, it'd be good for the senior client manager or the assistant client manager to go to the senior production manager, ‘Hey, Joe, what do you think? You know, what do you think of this type of advice or structure?’ Often the senior production, and you're going to say, ‘Oh, well, we could do this. We could do a bucket company or something.’
So again, it's just working in that team and utilizing their knowledge, utilizing their skill to get the best outcome for the client.
Brenton Ward: One of the main things we wanted to point out with this is 2 very really helpful resources in the vault. One of which is a very detailed position description, which covers a lot of the things that we've discussed today, which you can use in that recruitment process and onboarding process of you seeing your production manager.
The second part of it is actually the performance appraisal & performance review template. And I can even vouch for this actually with the same production manager we have in the firm here who wanted to do a six-month review with her a couple of weeks ago, Jamie. And she just went straight to the Wize Vault, and download that template. And it actually formed the basis of such a good conversation and really made her feel valued in terms of the structure and the format of that performance review template. So highly recommend it. We've got one of those templates for each of the job roles in the ideal team structure. But if you want to have a closer look at that, definitely recommend it.
All right. Before we get to KPIs, just going to ask you a couple of the other questions that have come through from Craig, ‘What do you see as the next step for a senior production manager in terms of career progression?’
Jamie Johns: It's a great question I had that one before, too.
Look, the answer to that is if you've found someone who you've put into the role as a senior production manager, right? And they're really ambitious, they've probably got interpersonal skills that may or may not be there, but what can happen is you can find someone who is really ambitious and they know in their mind that they actually want to be a senior client manager. Now you've got to be careful of that because that type of person, if you don't promote that type of person, then you can lose them. And another way of saying it is, if you put, say a finder in a grinder or minders role forever, and they really want to be a finder, that's when you have the risk of losing them. So that's the first answer.
The next part of the answer is what the solution is. The question is ‘Why do people leave their jobs?’ They tend to leave their jobs because of 2 reasons. Most people leave their jobs because they're disengaged and they don't like their manager. The second reason they leave their job is that they're not in their flow. And when you're not in your flow, you're just not happy. And if you're not happy, you'll tend to leave. So if you can find the personality type in terms of the DNA that is happy in that role, then they won't want to be promoted to a senior client manager.
So if you think about the promotion path, ‘What is the promotion path?’ Well, if you could go to an assistant client manager, then you could go to a senior client manager. That's the career path, but that's not for everyone.
Ed often tells a story where he had a particular account. And I think he, I think he mentioned this brand in one of the other clinics, but they were a senior production manager or senior new recall. And they kept saying, ‘I want to be a senior client manager.’ Anyhow, they became a senior client manager and it found out the only reason now this is a really important point. The only reason that I wanted to be a sane client manager was because of the salary thought that their salary would be higher because of that role. It turns out she did that role and that particular person wasn't happy in that role because they just didn't have the DNA for it. So if you incorrectly promote people, you just set them up for a fall. And you'll notice that by the fact that they won't win clients, they won't be able to cater to clients and all the statistics around when your managers. You'll see the statistics come through. You'll see the stats come through.
So it's important that people understand what their flow is. It's important for you as the leader to understand what their best and highest is. And it may not always be a senior client manager. They must, they might be best suited to do a senior production manager. Cause that's working in their flow where they'll be most happy. They probably don't like working with a hundred different people. Some people hate people. But I don't like dealing with.
Brenton Ward: As you mentioned them, Ed's recalled that story a number of times in the past. In terms of that person being really unhappy in that senior client manager role, once they understood what the role entailed when he understood that the attachment to the want to be in that role was to increase salary. But then they had the conversation, ‘Well, how do we increase your salary being in that senior production manager role?’ And basically, we came to a conclusion that worked for both of them on that.
So, Greg, I would suggest given that Ed is not here, you might want to ask that question again in the Wize truck to get his version of that story. Again, I'd love to tell you.
So Jamie is an important one in keeping the senior production manager accountable to that role. What are the main KPIs we should be focused on? And if you can give a bit of a gauge as to what the benchmarks might look like.
Jamie Johns: Yeah. Well, in terms of productivity, obviously in the Wize philosophy whether you are a time billing model, whether you've got fixed price agreements, whatever it is, you still should do timesheets for internal management. There have been some firms that have joined us that I've spoken to. And I haven't kept timesheets. For example, we're not going to get into that. We're not going to get into that debate now, but certainly, you can't look at a productivity level without keeping timesheets.
So with the productivity percentage of a senior production manager, look leaning away from about 70%-85% around that guide. The reason is if you've got a full team of 700,000 and scaling to a million dollars, the senior production manager still has to manage that team. And that will still take time. It's different than if you're just sitting there yourself and just solely focused on a productive workday in and day out. You'll be actually helping guide, coordinating the work. So around 70-80% with their productivity percentage.
The other one that you can have a look at and we use as a shared app, we use XPM. So your time tracking system, we use XPN with linked with a different system from with some guys from New Zealand called link reporting. So you should look at your net billable hours after write-offs and that should then sort of tie in your capacity plan. If you've had a look at Step No. 7 everyone. In terms of the capacity plan, which shows you productivity charge out rates, which are then based on the gross profit. A factor of the person's salary, and so forth. Then you've got your capacity plan as the goal. And then you should have a look at your net billable hours. And we sign that billable after hours because anyone can load their time, and shape up. So a hundred percent, but that doesn't mean it's recoverable. So are you telling me I have a rod off, and it affects your gross profit?
The next point there is, you know, technically correct. You don't want the senior production manager to have really liable, sloppy technical skills because what's going to happen is all the, all that production traffic will hate the senior PR face. It just faces you don't want that. So they've got to have a level of technical proficiency, for sure. The other point there is they need to be able to manage people. So not it needs to be able to train and support the production team so that they've still got to have a level of ability to work with people in a team environment. But again, that's not for everyone. So you need to tease that out and make sure that they're doing that.
And this is the final one, there is really just preparing. Just being aware of directing the team to do the jobs in the budgeted hours and do the jobs in the timeframes. You can help guide and lead the production team around that with systems like Carbon Systems, for example. And budgeted hours. So if you can do the jobs and the budgeted hours and do it under that, then fantastic. So they're the type of things that should be measured. Yeah.
Brenton Ward: Yeah. And just, I guess, to touch on 4, they're just coming to mind as a metric that could be managed, there is a net promoter score of that person's team. I'm assuming Jamie.
Jamie Johns: Yeah. Internally, internally it is that's right. So another one is the net promoter score, which sort of reflects the overall. What we got to be clear is Brenton is the senior client manager is still responsible for the entire team. I've said it before on the Wize vault, there have been questions around this, ‘Is the senior production manager like doing the performance reviews of the accountants and bookkeepers?’ Well, the answer is no, but the senior client manager can certainly have the senior production managers seating in the interviews on the performance reprisals. Now whether quarterly six-monthly, a yearly, particularly with the production staff, the senior production manager can be there and help with the performance review. But someone who is a senior client manager is responsible for that our entire team and the net promoter score often reflects that entire team as well.
Brenton Ward: Perfect. So, Jamie, we've got two minutes to go. So I'm going to do some quick-fire questions for you. So be mindful of the time if you don't mind. But share in, you may have covered this one already from Chelsea, ‘Just in terms of the KPIs, as you're starting to scale, what are your recommendations between the billable hours to reviewing work of the senior production manager?’
Jamie Johns: Let’s say, with a senior bookkeeper or senior accountant there, productivity is more like about 90% Brenton. As soon as you put someone else in charge of someone else, we've been through all these, you've got to make allowance for that.
We've just had a new accountant that we hired and we had one particular person. We said, ‘Look, we need you. We need you to be the body, but also put you in charge of their learning and education development.’ So we knew there was going to be a lot of that. You can therefore reduce their productivity or leave it at the level, but make sure that as the senior client manager, you're aware of that factor because you don't want to come out hot and fast and not recognize the fact that they're managing someone.
So the answer to that is you certainly could drop their productivity Chels to allow, to allow for the fact that you to manage people. And when, when those people are being managed, it means that you don't have to do it.
Most of the grinding staff production staff, who aren't managing, you know, w L's are all set at around 90%, as soon as I moved to that management level, you need to look at dropping that.