Essential Actions for New Managing Partners

In August, we held a live Managing Partner Q&A event. One MP asked, “As a new managing partner, what would be the first thing that I should focus on or do that might make the transition easier.”

The transition period into any new role is imperative in setting the course for your tenure, in your own eyes as well as the team reporting to you.

Here are a few tips we offered:

  1. The best way to achieve any task is to do your homework and invest in your own leadership skills, to that end, we’d recommend
    • Peer networking
      • Go to MAP conferences – AICPA Prac+Tech/ENGAGE, state-society offerings
      • Join a roundtable group
    • Practice management learning
      • Subscribe to and read key CPA industry journals such as AccountingToday and IPA
      • Study practice management, read Rosenberg’s books
    • Benchmark the firm using a leading MAP survey such as The Rosenberg MAP Survey.
    • Engage an executive coach to support your goals as MP and provide accountability.
  2. Delegate a meaningful amount of clients to others ASAP (if you haven’t already) to have more time freed up for managing the firm.
  3. Interview/survey staff and see what they think are the top priorities and problems, rank them most important to least important.
  4. If you don’t already have a management team in place (COO/FA, IT director, marketing director, HR director, dept heads…not necessarily all of these, depending on firm size), create one.  From the get-go, you will not have the time to be a great MP and manage the firm’s administration. Depending on your firm’s size, you may not be able to hire full-time personnel for these positions, but do what you can to get some of the administrative burden off your plate and that of other partners so you can all do more partner-level work.
  5. Secure a few early wins. Choose two or three small but meaningful changes or projects you feel have a high likelihood of success in your first 90 days. Take them on and show your firm that you intend to make positive changes like these throughout your tenure as MP. E.g. has the firm been wanting to implement a staff policy change like flexible or core hours? Make it happen. Has marketing been wanting to update the website but not given the resources? Set a budget and let them get the job done.
  6. After you’ve been on the job for 3-6 months and gotten a feel for the job:
    • Convene a partner retreat to devise a strategic plan.  Conclude with a shortlist of high impact goals
    • Create a managing partner job description including authorities the MP has and decisions he/she can make that do not require a vote.
    • Create a document that describes what is expected of all partners in the firm.  Communicate these expectations and hold partners accountable.
    • At the conclusion of all the above, meet with each partner to create their own individual goals, including yours as MP.

Even if you’re beyond your first 90 days, but still in your first year or so of the Managing Partner role, there are still plenty of opportunities to demonstrate your leadership effectiveness. Proactively taking your firm from where it was to the next level in growth, practice management and people development is the essence of the MP role.

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