Letting Go of the Notion of Control

Control is an illusion.

We are accountants.  We deal with facts and figures.  We KNOW how to analyze complicated situations, distill them down to their critical parts, and present same in a usable format.  

We are in control.  

We foot, we trace, we tick and tie.  We explain, we document, we are masters of our information.

We are in control.

Sorry to burst that bubble (not sorry) - but we are not in control.  Here's what I mean:  We cannot control what Congress, our clients, our staff, or the world in general throws our way.  We can only control how we meet these encounters.

Steven Covey stated it more succinctly in his "7 Habits": we have "response-ability." 

Keep that in mind as I give you a different way of approaching how your staff make use of your computer systems.  Specifically, I'm talking about whether or not staff are allowed to "surf the web" and/or use social media during work hours.

The traditional approach is to prohibit anything non-work related.  Having been around for a while, I understand the roots of that mindset.  I have to tell you though, it doesn't really fit with where our industry is heading.  

This is where your humble author differs from Jennings.  During last year's Tech seminar, Bob shared his firm's computer usage policy with us.  Couched in terms of ensuring security, it makes sense.

However, there is something about the heavy handed-ness of it all that didn't seem to fit with the reality that we have at our firm.

At our firm, if there's down time; that is to say, if the crew has completed their assignment and are waiting on us to review their work and give them notes or new tasks, we actually encourage them to read the news.

We want a well-informed staff.  We subscribe to a video service that provides college level content on a variety of topics from public speaking, philosophy, to marketing.  We want our staff to focus on improving their minds and expanding their world views.

The point of this week's tip is this:  The internet is a tool.  It has its problems - which get a ton of "ink" (pixels), but it also has its benefits.  Never in the history of our species has such a wellspring of knowledge been available to pretty much everyone.  

Get out of the closed mindset and open up to the potential good of the 'Net', and of your staff.

We of course set some guidelines, such as:

1) Keep it professional - nothing "NSFW," in modern parlance
2) Do NOT download any tools, extensions, search bars, etc
3) Stick to reputable sites
4) Get your work done, then surf
5) You can surf in lieu of a smoking break - we're humans; we can't just bang out data entry for 8 hours straight; we need periodic breaks in between tasks.
6) If you use social media, remember your confidentiality restrictions; basically just don't mention work - anything related to the firm.
7) We encourage people to consider this axiom, "If you are what you eat, the same applies to your brain - feed it well."

We and our staff are "mind workers."  We make our living off of our ability to think and reason.  We are professionals.  We can use tools responsibly.  

We can't control our staff, and we shouldn't try to.  Rather, we share our vision with our staff and work to inspire them to aspire to our high standards.

If you've had trouble with recruitment and retention, you might want to consider this approach.


Tech TipsJonathan Rivlin