Something I've been really struggling with in the past four years is getting good staff. My first ever hire worked out very well, he was late twenties and couldn't get a start anywhere because he was considered too old for a trainee and had come from working as a manger in retail. He worked well, got the work done and flew through the exams and left shortly after.
My experience with hiring staff since has been extremely frustrating. I just cannot seem to get the balance right, maybe the problem is me or I make too many assumptions but I find that any staff that I have hired since are missing a large amount of general common sense or "cop on". For example, I have one trainee that I've shown how to do a VAT return for a client four times and each time it's like they've done it for the first time. Then I get constant questions from others about things which they don't need to ask me like tax deadlines, or "when does this have to be filed in companies house?".
I've tried hiring trainees thinking that I could train them up (education is better than re-education), I've hired qualified accountants who turn out to be glorified bookkeepers who can't turn out a set of statutory accounts. Again, maybe I'm making assumptions but there seems to be an expecation now that you need to provide training for everything. For example, we use confirmation.com for some bank confirmations. I have a trainee who after one year and several bank requests later keeps asking "what do I do with this again?". Again, maybe the problem is me but in my opinion a bank confirmation is a very basic task, how many times do you need to do this before you get the hang of it? Name, account number, year end, sign, send. Where is the difficulty?
When I was training, we were given a job to do and effectively told to go off and get it done. Now, I give jobs to qualifieds and they can't reconcile the reserves brought forward because of the audit adjustments last year even though they have the journals so the questions are piling up before they've even started.
Is it me, is it a case that I need to change and accept that people need to be spoonfed and put in controls and procedures around that? But then if I'm hiring and paying for qualified accountants, do I not have a legitimate expectation that there is a minimum standard that an accountant should be able to work to without their hand held through the whole process?