Archive: AVN Insights

Fantastic Teams #7 – Be Grateful!


It’s so easy to fall in to the trap of accepting great work and effort from members of your team and forget to express your gratitude.  Often, I hear people say – ‘I thank them through their salary’.  A salary is simply an enabler for someone to be able to work for you.  It enables their bills to be paid and for them to have the lifestyle they want to outside of working with you.  They can get a salary from many places very easily if they wanted to.  Just because you’re paying a wage and even a bonus does not negate the need to express genuine, sincere and specific gratitude.

When I say genuine and sincere, I mean don’t simply say to someone on a regular basis that they’re doing a good job and thank them as this is clearly paying lip service to the need to show gratitude.  Make a conscious effort to look out for the great things that people do and then highlight these things to them.  This is what I mean by specific gratitude.

For example:  Laura, I’ve just heard that call you had with Mr Bloggs and I was reminded of how well you deal with those types of calls.  The way that you listened intently and then considered your responses very carefully which meant that Mr Bloggs was incredibly happy as the call finished.  Well done Laura and Thank you.

Obviously that was just an off-the-cuff example.  What’s important is to show gratitude immediately, don’t save things up until the next time you meet them and reel off a load of thanks.  Speed stuns.  Go pat someone on the back as quickly as you can. This is important.

Most of us strive for gratitude and appreciation in some way.  A small business owner will seek it from their customers, a team member will seek it from their employer.

When a team member isn’t receiving the level of gratitude and appreciation they want then they don’t go above and beyond.  They begin to do the bare minimum, they begin to look online for alternative jobs that will bring them the salary they need to live and the gratitude they need to thrive.

If you’d like some clarity, help or guidance with this let me know via the comments box.

If you’ve enjoyed this article please let me know by clicking like and as always, if you feel others would benefit from reading this then please do click share.

Shane Lukas – Author of Amazon #1 best seller What’s Next for Accountants; How to make the biggest threat facing the profession your biggest opportunity.

Article Source: Shane Lukas

Fantastic Teams #6 – Do YOU really understand?


How well do you really understand your team?

How much time do you invest in getting to know them?

What motivates every individual in your team?

Most often it’s assumed to be financial incentives but in fact, that’s not always the best motivator.

Do you understand what might be holding them back from giving their best?  What their aspirations truly are? What ideas they have that might help your business grow?

Research shows that a 20% improvement in team morale can have a 42% increase in financial performance in your business and yet so many employers take their team members for granted.

They believe their employees should be grateful to be employed and put heart and soul in to their jobs.  They issue their demands and expect mountains to be moved for them.  It just doesn’t happen does it.

There’s so much choice and opportunity these days that if someone chooses to work for you then you must be grateful for that.  You must show that appreciation and accept that their stay with you may be in the form of a stepping stone in their greater plan.  Make that stay valuable to both of you.

I’ve always found that the best way to engage your team is to spend quality 1 to 1 time with each of them.  This can take time but the rewards by far outweigh that.  When I spend quality time with each individual I discover…

  • How I can become a much better leader.
  • How well I’ve communicated the vision/mission and strategy to the team.
    • If the team didn’t get it, how can the customers and prospects be expected to?
  • What they value about the organisation.
  • What they believe its strengths and weaknesses are.
  • Fresh ideas to make the business better.
  • The inner aspirations they have about their long term career.
  • What’s really important to them.

This information is priceless.  For example…

As I eluded to above, it’s most often a misconception that the best way to motivate someone is via financial incentive.  What if, what someone really values, is spending quality time with their children whilst they’re growing up?  No additional amount of money is going to give them additional time in a 9am – 5pm working environment.  What if, by understanding this you agreed with that person that if they were to achieve a mutually agreed target of output for the day, they could leave early as long as quality and standards weren’t sacrificed.

That kind of incentive works for that individual, they know that if they put in the additional effort and produce more in less time they can leave earlier and spend more time with their children.  This compromise comes with a change of mindset. Employ for specific results and outcomes rather than hours worked.

I formalise this process with my team.  I allocate 90 minutes to each of them and aim to do this with each member of the team every six months.  I’ll confess that occasionally that frequency slips but it’s important to do this regularly.

In addition to the 90 minutes, I ask each of my team to complete a form full of thought provoking questions a week in advance.

This allows for each team member to cogitate when formulating their responses.  Then, when we get together, they’re not put on the spot.  For many, they need time to think and reflect, putting someone on the spot isn’t fair and also, you’re unlikely to get the best answer.  We simply go through the form together and in some cases I’ll dig deeper still to an answer they’ve given to really understand what’s behind it.

My form seeks to understand:

  • What they believe accountable for. Does this match what I believe?
  • How well they feel they’re treated and valued as a team member.
  • What learning they feel they should undertake to improve within their role.
  • How the business is doing and what could be done to improve it.
  • How their leader is leading them and what could be done to improve.
  • Their short and long term goals that they may not give sufficient thought without the prompt.

I see this process as a way to help develop the people I work with. Encouraging them to think about their aspirations helps to inspire them, gives them something to strive toward whether those aspirations can be achieved within my business or agreeing that my business is a stepping stone for them gives clarity on both sides.

You may fear encouraging your team to consider life away from your business but be realistic; if someone has a desire to do something beyond the remit of your business then surely it’s better to be aware and play a part in helping them achieve their longer term aspirations whilst they’re with you.  In addition, you can plan.  It’s better than having an environment where your team members are afraid to share these aspirations with you and then suddenly, out of the blue tell you they’ve found their dream job or they’ve made the decision to go it alone and now you’re left trying to fill a role with insufficient notice.

This process has allowed for new roles to be established within the business that play to peoples strengths and skills I didn’t realise they had.  As a result our employee turnover has been very low because people are able to expand and develop themselves within AVN.

From time to time we’ve helped our team members embark on the next chapter in their lives and because of this, our relationship has continued to be strong and even complimentary in our business connections.

Another fear of having these conversations is feeling exposed when asking for feedback about yourself as a leader.  Few people are natural born leaders and it’s good to keep an open mind.  You may not agree or want to adapt to everything that’s fed back.  But it’s useful to have the conversation.  Most often, it can be about communication either about the bigger picture or that you’re not providing enough detail on stuff you need doing OR it could be that you’re often moody or unapproachable too.  So having the conversations enables you to look for ways that you can improve as a leader – even if that simply means setting certain expectations.

There are lots of great reasons to have much more in-depth and candid conversations with your team. The benefits I find when running these Personal Development Reviews are plentiful.  We establish greater mutual respect, a better connection and in addition, increased loyalty and engagement in the business.

Remember this all important rule though.  Seek first to understand, then to be understood.  It’s easy to get on the defensive, to rationalise the way you work and operate. Dig deeper to find out why your team member feels they way they do.

Action to take.

Next time you’re in the office, go for a walk with a member of your team, invite them to give you open and honest feedback.  Ask them questions about how valuable they perceive their role to be in the business, how valued they feel they are, what’s important to them and dig a little deeper in to every response.

I’m happy to give you a copy of the form I use with accompanying guidance document.  Simply ping me an email at

If you’d like some clarity, help or guidance with this let me know via the comments box.

If you’ve enjoyed this article please let me know by clicking like and as always, if you feel others would benefit from reading this then please do click share.

Shane Lukas – Author of Amazon #1 best seller What’s Next for Accountants; How to make the biggest threat facing the profession your biggest opportunity.

Image courtesy of Matt Townsley –


Article Source: Shane Lukas

Fantastic Teams #5 – Passion needs patient zero


Everybody wants their teams to be more engaged and passionate about what they do but passion is contagious, it’s infectious. In order for it to spread, it has to be present in the first place.  It has to be present in you.

Are you, the leader/business owners truly engaged and passionate about what you do and what the business is striving to achieve.

It really doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, if you don’t have the passion you have a job.  This is unfulfilling, even if it pays well.  How can you expect to exude energy into your team if you don’t have it yourself?

So, are you truly passionate about what you’re doing?

I work with accountants, many of whom had exhausted their passion.  No longer did they enjoy producing compliance accounts for their clients.  This has become an under valued service, a commodity, it had become unfulfilling.

They began working with me and my business AVN where we re-ignited that passion by sharing with them how their skills with numbers can make a profound difference by simply making a change in how they utilise those skills.

People are most passionate when they’re making a difference.  Having a bigger impact than simply making a profit.  Changing lives in a positive way.

In your business are you changing lives in a positive way?  I expect that if you really thought about it, it is or it could be.

Perhaps it’s not always obvious, many focus on the main features of the function of the business whether it’s installing radiators as a plumber would, putting fires out as a fireman would or working with numbers as an accountant would.

But for every function, there’s a bigger picture.

  • A Plumber changes lives by providing comfort and warmth.
  • A Fireman allows a future to happen through the lives he or she saves.
  • An Accountant, using their skills with numbers can help businesses grow and develop and help the people behind those businesses get their lives back.

Do you really have clarity about the bigger impact your business can make?  If you do, does your team?

What’s the emotional impact that comes with what you deliver?

Take some time out, take a walk, go for a drive, get some solitude and really think about what you’re doing, what’s the bigger picture.  Is what you’re doing floating your boat?  Do you look forward to Friday or Monday?

In what way does or can your business affect lives?

If you’d like some help and guidance with this let me know via the comments box.

If you’ve enjoyed this article please let me know by clicking like and as always, if you feel others would benefit from reading this then click share.

Shane Lukas – Best selling author of What’s Next for Accountants; How to make the biggest threat facing the profession your biggest opportunity.

Article Source: Shane Lukas

Fantastic Team #4 – Whose fault is it anyway?


When things go wrong in your business are you quick to blame others?  Or do you take responsibility yourself?

In my blog about the Initiative Ladder (Fantastic Teams #1) I explained that mistakes must be allowed to happen – on the understanding that the team member who made the mistake is ready to take the responsibility to rectify any mistakes they make; with your support.

That’s relating to using initiative, to deal with the exceptions that typically send your team members in to you, telling you about a problem that you are expected to deal with.

Sometimes however things can go wrong in routine stuff too.

How do you react to this?

Do you chastise the person who erred? Do you continue to hold a grudge against that person, continually reflecting over the mistake they made that led to negative consequences?

How do you think that person felt?

And continues to feel?

Do you think it was deliberate?

What really went wrong?

Do you know?

Or do you just hold them responsible?

What if, instead of responding to something like this with anger and/or disciplinary procedure you work with the team member to identify what led to the mistake happening with a view to ensuring that it can’t ever happen again; either by that person or any other person filling the same or a similar role?

Was the problem down to training or are they generally proficient and something was simply missed?

Did they miss something in a series of checks?

Was it something that’s simply left to memory?  A process that has to be carried out and a part of it forgotten?

Work with your team member to find out the cause and find out how it can be avoided in the future.

Don’t simply leave it at taking the assurance from your team member that they’ll do better to remember everything next time.  That’s unfair and quite frankly, it’s abdication. Anything left to memory is likely to be forgotten at some point especially when there are many steps in a process.

Do you have a system in place that acts as a reminder of the steps that must be taken every time that particular routine job is completed?

A system that includes the ‘bells and whistles’ of additional customer wows that reflect your personality and uniqueness that when followed means those wows happen consistently, every single time.

If you do have systems, do you provide detailed training on every system that you have in place so that there’s no assumption that because a system exists, people can simply follow it?  if not, this too is a form of abdication.

Even if you have these things in place and a mistake occurred it’s important to understand what went wrong, was a step in the system mis-understood? Perhaps it needs re-wording.

Finally, was the system simply not followed?

If so, did you fail to convey the importance of following the systems? This is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of following the systems that are in place and to demonstrate the consequences of not following them.

It’s rare that a team member will deliberately sabotage.  Most people want to do a good job.  Putting a step by step system in place for each function of their job is the best way to ensure consistency and avert mistakes.

If you take a car for MOT, the mechanic, despite having performed MOTs countless times, completes a check list.  This acts as a reminder to ensure no stone was left unturned.

If you go to McDonalds, you’re asked the same questions every time, you’re presented with the same burger every time, the fries taste the same, never burned or undercooked.  The experience that you get from any McDonalds, anywhere in the world is exactly the same.  Because they use systems and the train people to understand them and follow.  Not just for making burgers but in management, marketing and every other function the business needs to be successful.

Having systems in place helps reduce mistakes happening.  Mistakes are inevitable and mistake must be accepted.  When you blame people they feel demotivated.  Investigate the cause.

If the cause of the problem is owing to the system not being followed then understand why.  Not every person enjoys following systems.  If this is the case, then perhaps you’ve employed the wrong person for the job.

So, before blaming others, look in the mirror.  What can you do to ensure that any mistake only occurs once.

If you’d like to get a free resource from me on how to put systems in place in to a business then send me a message either via the comments section below or via a direct message and I’ll happily send one to you.

As always, if you enjoyed this blog please let me know by clicking LIKE.  If you think others will benefit please SHARE it.


Article Source: Shane Lukas

Fantastic Teams #3 – Defining Leadership


When I made the decision to write this blog about the definition of leadership I had a flashback to my youth.  I was a Star Trek fan (well, I still am!) and I remembered an episode where Spock reminded Captain Kirk that he would lose faith and command of the crew if he were seen as vulnerable in any way and perceived as less than perfect.

Since all of these series are now available on Netflix I decided it was pertinent research to look up and watch the episode again.

Throughout the episode, all of the crew were looking to the captain for guidance, orders and decision making.  No recommendations were sought but plenty of dilemmas were brought his way and he was expected to know the answers and give the orders.

The episode was created in the 1960’s and although was intended to represent a perfect future including a perfect hierarchy of command chain, it represented an outdated ideology, even in the military this method of leadership is realised to be ineffective.  And yet it’s still applied in many businesses.

I’m certainly not infallible and I don’t profess to be in any way. I don’t know everything there is to know and If I tried to then I’d be making my strengths weaker by making my weaknesses stronger and this would be a mistake.  Between my team, we make stuff happen together, we all have different strengths and we play to them.

My definition of Leadership: Sharing a vision that inspires others and then creating the environment where everybody in your team can become the best they can be at playing their part in helping that vision become a reality.

I would suggest that a leader is more like a gardener.  A gardener will develop an idea of what they want their garden to look like and the experience they want visitors to have.  They put in the plants and flowers that will help their vision come true.  And then that gardener waters and feeds the plants, keeps the weeds out that could damage the plants or would prevent the vision becoming a reality.  Always continuing to ensure that the environment for each plant and flower is just right so that the plant can flourish and become the best that it can be.

People are the same, people need to be in the right environment where they’re encouraged and are free to become the best they can be.  Where a genuine interest is taken in them. Where their needs are met.

If they’re not enthusiastic about your vision then they simply aren’t right for your team – find the people who are inspired by your vision.  Use the initiative ladder concept I referred to in Fantastic Teams blog #1 Get your team to step up and allow to them to make the decisions that ultimately fit with your values and beliefs.

Just as with flowers and plants, if people aren’t performing, there’s a very high chance it’s down to the leader who hasn’t created a performance environment.

3 things that really help create the right environment, Equality, Camaraderie and a Sense of Achievement.  Here’s a brief insight to each.


Equality can apply in many ways, fair reward, fair conditions, fair attention from you. In this case I’ll focus on the latter, who do you give most of your time to?  We often take for granted the great performers in the business, internally pleased that they’re just getting on with doing a great job and forget to tell them and show them the gratitude they deserve.  Conversely, we often spend more time with the people who simply aren’t right for the business, trying to get them onboard. Trying to get them to do better.  This demoralises the better performers. Great leaders hire slow and fire fast.  I’ve been guilty of spending too much time trying to bring someone on when in my heart I knew within a few days that I’d hired the wrong person. It’s harsh but hiring the wrong people is like planting weeds in the garden, they’ll stifle and negatively affect the other team members and the overall vision.


A lack of camaraderie can also inhibit performance.  Create a buzz, set goals that everyone is involved in.  Be careful not to set goals that ‘tunnel vision’ the team on the result of the goal and at the expense of everything else.  Carefully consider your goals, set milestones and create camaraderie in achieving them. Celebrate every win – together.

Sense of achievement.

Help each member of your team develop a sense of achievement.  Is their workload realistic? Do they finish the day feeling like they’ve achieved stuff or finish the day 3/4 through a list of jobs that were unreasonable in the first place? This can lead to worry and stress and an ever increasing catch-up list. I often find that my team members take too much on themselves. I have to convince them to reduce the list to just the most important stuff in order to feel they’re achieving what they need to.  Stuff can creep in to workloads that’s all important.  Deciding the most important and feeling comfortable about eliminating items can be difficult to do alone.

Spend good quality time with all of your team.  Understand them as individuals, learn their strengths and their motivations. (it’s most often not financial).  Work with them to play to their strengths and create the environment that motivates them.

All of this contributes to creating a high performance environment that will inevitably take the business toward your vision.  Your job as leader is to be the gardener who works to ensure the environment is the best you can make it.

Go be a gardener.

Article Source: Shane Lukas

Fantastic Teams #2 Kill the staff…



I’ve always hated the word ‘staff’.

It immediately infers an ‘us’ the employer/manager and ‘them’ the employed.  It puts people in their place. it’s derogatory, it dates back to a time of command and control and it’s not conducive to developing a team of people who all feel a sense of ownership to the purpose of the business.

Let me share a couple of very recent examples of the difference between staff and team.

An example of staff: Last night I joined some of my friends at the local 10 pin bowling centre, as a friend was getting a round of drinks in at the bar a group of people came in through the main entrance; presumably wishing to have a game of 10 pin bowling.  The bar-man grumbled almost furiously to my friend about it.  After all, he’d just tidied the empty bowling lanes and now someone else has the audacity to come.  Clearly this barman made no connection to people coming in and buying stuff = him getting paid!  He is a member of staff, he has his duties, one is serving drinks, another is tidying the bowling alleys for the evening. He now has to put additional effort in before the end of the evening and he’s not happy about it and he has no problem letting other customers know how unhappy he is about it too.

An example of team:  Earlier that same day – Friday, Tracy Clow an AVN Team member was in the process of organising an upcoming event that we’re running which included evening meals.  As it’s a 2 day event we use the local pub for 1 of the days and the local hotel for another.  The hotel is more expensive but it makes for a change in environment.  On this occasion the pub couldn’t accommodate us meaning that the hotel would need to for both days.  Tracy decided to nip across the road to the hotel and see the manager, she successfully negotiated him down on the price of the meals for us and the drinks then came back and shared her success with me.  Tracy has no accountabilities around this, organising these events doesn’t fall within her typical remit, had she had the ‘staff’ mentality she would simply have booked the hotel for 2 nights.  But she didn’t, Tracy treats the business like it’s her own and looks out the businesses best interests as do the rest of the team.  She also ensured in her negotiations that although the price was discounted, the customer experience of our delegates would remain outstanding.

Moving from Staff to Team isn’t just about changing a word but it’s a really good starting point.  I know that to many it seems very alien to suddenly start using the word team in place of staff but it doesn’t take long before it feels natural.

Making this change is a necessary step in the process.  It begins to change the mindset. ‘Team’ means something very different to ‘staff’ and so in order to use the word in our language, our behaviour has to, and begins to reflect its definition.

It’s always been considered a swear word within AVN and although it seems odd to a new employee, it doesn’t take long before they understand the difference.

Make the ‘staff’ word a swear word in your business and kill the culture it represents.  As this series progresses I’ll continue to share different concepts that help develop a true team culture.

If you need to catch up and start from the beginning of my series you can do that by going to my blog site at

If you’ve found this useful please let me know by clicking like.  if you know others in business that would find this useful please do share it now.

Article Source: Shane Lukas

Fantastic Teams #1 – Get your team to step up

Shane Lukas, AVN
AVN Practice Growth Experts

What do I mean by stepping up? Let’s look at a scenario and forgive me, it’s a negative scenario but it’s a common one…

A scenario

Lets say a customer has reported a problem; they have a complaint.

An employee of yours takes the call, makes a note of the problem and tells the customer they’ll get you to call them back to deal with it.  Sound familiar?

That employee then comes to see you and explains the problem, you might well have been deep in concentration working on something really important, but this customer complaint has to take priority so you give it your attention.

As you listen to the problem, you feel the onus is on you to come up with the solution and because your employee has told the customer you’ll call them back, the problem has become yours to deal with.

Your employee leaves and resumes their daily routine whilst yet another problem has landed on your shoulders.  You’re now fighting yet another metaphorical fire.  But you’re the boss, the oracle of knowledge in your business and you have all the answers.  Right?

Is that really the case? Could that employee have dealt with it? If only they’d taken the time to think through the solution and dealt with the problem in a way that you’d feel happy about?  So why don’t they?

The problem

Well, largely the problem is that many people have been ‘trained’ to not think for themselves; many employers are control freaks and/or power hungry.

In both cases they feel that unless they make the decisions things will go wrong.  This quells the energy and enthusiasm of people almost the moment they get their first job and the mindset sticks – they’re paid to do as they’re told, not to think!  They’ll take the problem to their boss, keep their heads down and do what’s expected of them and little more.

This is sad because the spark of human ingenuity is suppressed, the whole is not greater than the sum of it’s parts and too much relies on you.  Let’s change this.

A better way

I’m privileged to work with amazing people who deal with problems that come in quickly, effectively and in many cases, ingeniously.  It’s not just about dealing with problems of course, they bring and implement great ideas to prevent problems happening in the first place. They bring and implement great ideas for making the business better.  And I get to focus on the important stuff that I need to that also makes my business stronger rather than be continually interrupted and reacting to day to day operational stuff that crops up.

I have a team of people that feel empowered to express themselves in the business and because of this they feel valued and have a deep sense of worth.  And rightly so.

I didn’t recruit this team from the ‘Super heroes recruitment centre’  These are ordinary people who do extraordinary stuff and you can develop your team in the same way.

Stepping up in visual context

steps of initiative
The steps to take your employees through to reignite their initiative that in turn will help you grow your business

Let me put stepping up in to visual context. This diagram of ‘steps’ illustrates the stages where people can be at in using their own initiative. Many people reside on the lower or next rung up.  Either they’re ‘Go for’s’ – They’ll simply wait to be told what to do; “Go for this”, “go do that”.  Or they get on with their day to day stuff but anything  outside of that remit, they’ll bring the problem to you.  We call this ‘Ask’ because they’re not thinking for themselves.

The next rung up is entitled ‘Recommend’ this is the equivalent of ‘Bring me a solution, not a problem’.  This is the first target rung.  I set an expectation that I’m not expecting the perfect solution to be presented every time.  Just take a few moments to think about what would be the best course of action to remedy the problem or to make a situation better and then bring that to me.  I explain this ladder and set expectation that ‘Recommend’ is the minimum level I expect of everyone who works at AVN when I recruit people.

It’s also the maximum level until I believe they’re ready.  I explain later.

This is about breaking habits.  For many, it’s a habit to come and ask rather than think first.  Also fear of bringing a recommendation that’s not right can prohibit people.  It’s your job to encourage and remind; every time someone brings a problem to you, ask the question:  “What do you recommend?”.  If their immediate response is “I don’t know!” then have patience, ask the question, “If you did know, what would it be?”.  Reassure them that there’s no such thing as a bad recommendation. Be patient and wait.

Whatever response they give, work with them on it.

First of all, provide positive encouragement, it’s great they’ve put forward a recommendation.

If you feel that the recommendation isn’t quite right, question yourself first, why isn’t it.  What would the outcome be of that recommendation, is it simply that the method is different to what you might do or might it have negative connotations?  If it’s simply a different method but the outcome gets the right result then as long as it fits with your values and how you want your business to be perceived then let them run with it.  If it doesn’t fit with your values then explain why and keep it positive and work with them to develop the recommendation so that it fits.

If you foresee negative connotations then give them the scenario…”I wonder what would happen if…”

Work with your employee to come up with the right recommendation, not by telling them; but by asking thought provoking questions that help them come to a better solution themselves.

This takes patience, there’s no magic wand solution to building a great team overnight but the rewards and benefits of taking the extra time now to develop your team now are worth it.

The more your team bring recommendations forward and you work with them to shape the recommendations to fit with the way you want your business to be perceived the more the recommendations will be presented in that way.

Be the support

Of course, in every situation, don’t take the solution and run with it yourself, your employee has developed the solution so let them run with it.  Give them the assurance that you’ll support them and that you trust them to run with it. If things go wrong, support them and encourage them, don’t take it off of them.

Time to trust

The next rung up is ‘Do it and report immediately’.  Sooner or later, members of your team will be bringing recommendations that – most of the time – fit.  It’s time to now to take that trust to the next level.  This is a one to one conversation as each member of your team reaches this stage.

Tell them that their judgement and recommendations are spot on.  Let them know that you feel they’re ready to go to the next level now.

Encourage them to trust their own judgement because you do and to deal with situations themselves.  Ask them to come and see you afterwards to let you know what happened and what they did about it.

This is important.

You have to allow for mistakes to happen.  No one is perfect and what might seem like a good idea can go wrong.  If something does go wrong, you must not chastise.  Doing so will put that employee right back to the bottom rung.  Be there for support but don’t take the problem back.

Encourage the employee to take the responsibility to resolve the situation and support them every step of the way. This will make them stronger.

At this stage in the ladder you may have to remind people who come to you with the recommendation that you trust their judgement to get on and do it.

Provide genuine praise

Always provide the praise, it’s too easy to simply begin to take for granted that members of your team are dealing with these situations and forget to appreciate them.  Everyone likes/wants and needs to feel appreciated and a “thank you!”, a “well done!”, a “you’re doing a great job!” expressed genuinely, goes a long way.

Time to reduce your interruptions 

At the appropriate time, encourage your team members to move to the next step ‘Do it and report routinely’ and simply report on a weekly or monthly basis in a team meeting.  This way, you get uninterrupted time to focus on the stuff you need to focus on that’s improving your business.

Don’t let fear stop you

I’ve shared this concept with many business owners and sometimes they’ve expressed their concern that if they develop their team members too much they’ll probably end up leaving and starting their own business in competition rather than continuing as an employee.

That may of course happen, but in my experience it’s incredibly rare.  Most people leave a business because they feel undervalued.  Starting a business is not a walk in the park and is a very daunting notion.  Creating an environment where people can express their creativity, can make decisions and feel supported and appreciated will improve loyalty and a feeling of ownership and commitment to the success of the business.

Action to take.

Talk to each member of your team about the initiative ladder.  Explain to them the impact it has on you every time a problem is brought your way.  Explain that you want to help them to develop themselves and how doing so will free up your time in the long run to make the business stronger which will benefit everyone.

Get in to the habit of asking for a recommendation rather than listening to the problem.

If you’ve found this useful, let me know by clicking like, if you feel others would benefit, share it.

Article Source: Shane Lukas

Fantastic Teams, and how to create them


Team AVN 

What does a great team look like in business?  

Well, I’m sure many will have differing opinions about that.  In my opinion it’s a group of people who are 100% committed to the cause of the business, who selflessly act in the best interests of the business even if at the expense of their own working conditions and who collaborate to get the best results.

I’m privileged to say that I work with such a team of people at AVN.  

The benefits of working with such a team…

  • No internal politics
  • ‘Management’ is unnecessary 
  • Stuff gets done
  • The business grows
  • The environment is productive
  • Customers are wowed

What a great team acts like…

  • Every individual is innovative and takes ownership of ideas to make them happen.
  • The won’t hesitate to argue and put up a fight for something they believe in.
  • They give good honest candid feedback to the business owner – no holds barred.
  • We’re all in it together – no us and them attitude.
  • Everyone acts like they own the business and own it’s mission.

The problems…

Problem 1.  Reversing the damage that previous employers have done to people when they employ.  Most employers suppress the initiative of their employees because a) often they like to feel that they’re the ones with all the power and want to feel that people are only doing what the employer tells them to do or b) they’re control freaks and simply can’t let go.

Problem 2.  Recruiting for skills rather than attitude.  Skills can be taught and developed, attitude is based upon values, beliefs and a ‘buy in’ to the companies mission.  For someone on a mission, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Problem 3.  Incorrectly persevering with the people who just aren’t right for the business.  It’s wasted effort and it means neglecting the right people in your business who then feel unappreciated and move on, leaving you with the… crap!

How that culture is developed..

I don’t believe you need to be a natural born leader of people to develop a great team culture of people who are behind you every step of the way.  A great team culture is developed by following systems that work.  Systems that help you recruit the right people, systems that help you bring out the best in people, systems that create time for you to spend with each and every individual within your team to understand them and fully appreciate them as individuals and their strengths.

What those systems are…

Over the period of the coming weeks I’m going to post a blog here about everything we do here at AVN that develop and maintain a great team culture.  Each blog will be short and succinct and give you something that you can go and implement immediately in your practice.  Remember though, these are systems I’ll be sharing and that means stuff that should be implemented regularly and form part of the norm in the business, not simply something to try once when the moon is a deep shade of blue.

Do this now…

Go out and buy a pack of thank you cards, enough for every single member of your team and write something unique about each of them to them.  Write about why you value them, what specifically they bring to the business and how much you value them.  You will likely find that for some people, this is an easy exercise, the words just flow.  For others it’s really difficult to think what to put.  I would suggest that either these people aren’t right for your business or you haven’t taken the time to understand them.  Give those thank you cards out.  It doesn’t have to be for a special occasion.

Get these bloggs…

This blog was intended to set the scene for my upcoming series of postings on exactly what to do to develop a fantastic team culture.  To ensure that you don’t miss any of them click the follow button and you’ll be informed every time I release a new posting.

Also, please don’t be shy, if you have any thoughts about this and any future blog posting please do comment below.  I’d love to get your thoughts and discuss with you whether you agree or disagree and if you’re experiencing specific challenges then I’ll be happy to give suggestions.


Article Source: Shane Lukas

Accountant discovers an extra day per week


What would you do with an extra day per week?

The conventional journey of a start up accountant is usually one that starts from the spare bedroom.  As the client base grows and the revenue comes in that situation progresses to rented office space in order to give the practice a more professional feel for clients and prospects.

I recently met with Rennie Evans of Prospero.  An accountant who’s gone through that journey and made full circle.  He built his empire of an accountancy firm with his large office and hefty overheads based in the centre of Manchester which often took 2 – 3 hours of commuting owing to traffic each day.

Driving in itself contributes toward stress and that’s before even reaching the office.

3 years ago Rennie’s landlord gave him notice to vacate which left Rennie with a decision to make, relocate? or do what he’d been toying with for a while, set up a virtual office; he and his team would simply work from home.

He took the decision to work from home, but why the virtual office?

If you’ve been a homebased accountant you’ve probably suffered the late night or weekend drop-ins by clients giving you their books and records and running a few queries by you – while your dinner gradually cools or your kids patiently await your return since you were playing a game with them at the time.  You’ve probably been on the receiving end of phone calls that extend way out of hours too.

So, Rennie agreed with his former landlord that he could continue to use that address for his business and they would forward on the post.  They continue to take the calls and they put them through to his or his team’s mobile phones seamlessly.

He meets his clients at their premises or, if he needs office space he can rent a variety of sized rooms by the hour at his former office.

His clients are aware, there’s no secrecy.

He works from his house, he gets to take his dogs for a walk in the morning and appreciate the countryside where he lives.  He works from the comfort of his own house which means his commute to his office is a few seconds.

If you consider our average awake time is about 16 hours Rennie has created an extra day per week in the time he’s saved not commuting.

He’s saving the cost of the premises he was renting, the cost of the virtual office is less than a 7th of the previous cost.

He no longer requires two cars either, he and his wife book the car out on a first come first served basis.

What would you do with an extra day?

I’m sure there are questions in your head, click here to watch my interview where Rennie explains how he’s made this work so well…


Article Source: Shane Lukas



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