When was the last time you made a conscious effort to develop your team’s professional skills?
As a leader, you know that getting the best out of your team is a huge part of your job. Putting the time, effort and thought into making sure they’re working with the latest skills and knowledge is super important to reach that goal.
Developing individuals in your team on a case-by-case basis is one strategy that may work and is sometimes necessary when there are skills or experience gaps between members, or when one team member shows potential in a certain area. But whole-team development is also very valuable and offers benefits that individual development may not.
So if you lead a team of tax stars and you’re looking for the next big way to help them grow, keep reading.
When you approach professional development as a team-wide project, it means everyone gets the chance to build up their skills to the same level. No one is left feeling they have missed out on new knowledge, or having to take time out of their schedule to report back on their learnings to the rest of the team.
In a profession as fast-moving as tax, where there is always new legislation, guidance or thinking to wrap your head around, regularly updating your entire team’s knowledge is vital to assisting clients or your organisation effectively.
Professional development is not just about having the latest technical knowledge. Most of the time, it also has an element of team building, networking or other collaborative and communicative skills that can be beneficial for creating a team that gels and works well together.
Even simply spending the day at a conference together, chatting outside a strictly ‘workplace’ environment, can help build relationships within your team – which is especially important now, with many of us now working from home at least part of the time.
Contrary to popular belief outside practitioners, tax is not just a numbers game – it requires critical and creative thinking to reach the best outcome for all involved. Engaging your entire team in professional development is a great way to get those creative minds whirring.
For example, if your team has all attended a seminar about the latest ATO guidance, they are now primed and ready to discuss the implications for your organisation or clients, with the knowledge fresh in their minds.
Last but certainly not least, investing in your team’s development is a wonderful way to acknowledge and reward all their hard work. Often, our best work is a team effort, so a whole-team reward is appropriate. Bonus points if you choose to take the team along to a professional development event with a cocktail hour included!
And as an added benefit, by using continued development as a reward, you’re not only furthering your team’s knowledge, skills and career, you’re benefiting your clients and organisation at the same time.
How to do it: There are many education options, depending on the level, interests and needs of your team. At the Institute, we have a range of higher education programs and single subjects. You might choose to put your team through a program to sure up their fundamental tax knowledge and client advice skills or select a single subject to help them brush up on a particular area of interest for your clients.
Major benefits: This is a structured, recognised way to upskill your team and get them thinking about their role in a deeper, more focused way. They’ll wind up with development that will be easily recognised and understood by clients and others in your organisation.
Good for: Education can be right for tax practitioners at any stage in their career. From a whole-team perspective, this might be best suited to younger teams who will benefit from a structured, methodical approach to topics and ideas.
How to do it: First of all, when we say a personal brand, we mean helping your team to build themselves into subject matter experts or build their reputation for excellence in areas like client communication or thought leadership. There are many ways to do this, most of which need to be driven to a relatively large extent by your team members themselves. These include speaking at professional events, publishing articles and thought leadership or even posting regularly to social media.
You may choose to have each team member develop their own brand, or develop your team brand – for example, you might be the go-to team for all things superannuation.
Major benefits: This method rewards your team’s professional drive and passion by allowing them to build their career (while also building your team’s or organisation’s reputation.) Brand-building is often done in a volunteer capacity, outside the day-to-day, so by making time for this as part of your team schedule, you’ll show how invested you are in their growth and ambitions.
Good for: More seasoned or established teams, looking to build recognition inside and outside your organisation. Also a great option for long-term employees who will build your organisation’s reputation alongside their own.
How to do it: Easy! Check out our list of upcoming events and see which ones suit your team. Remember that many of our events are happening both online and in-person, so you aren’t limited by location (unless your heart is set on a networking dinner!). Many of our events offer team discounts, so you can take the whole team without stretching the budget.
Major benefits: We all know the benefits of getting out of the day-to-day at a professional conference or event. Not only is it an opportunity to learn the latest thinking from profession leaders, but your team gets the chance to foster relationships with each other, network with others around the profession and be reinvigorated about their work.
Good for: Everyone! When we organise events at The Tax Institute, we make a concerted effort to ensure there’s something for everyone, at all levels and from all corners of the tax profession. A big event with a wide program allows your team to pick and choose their interests, while more focused programs might be right for teams with a specific specialty.