Case study
Calculating the Reward of Deliberate Development

Frazier & Deeter CPA

Everyone who goes through this process has an epiphany. You learn to check your thinking. People were acting on assumptions as if they were facts. Through the Developmental Sprint®, you learn to assess your assumptions, test to determine if they’re real, see the problem from another person’s perspective, and figure out a better way forward. Often it isn’t your capabilities that are holding you back, it’s your thinking. Change your thinking and you move forward.

– Seth McDaniel, Managing Partner
RAISE COMPANY-WIDE PERFORMANCE

Situation

Frazier & Deeter is one of the nation’s fast-growing accounting and advisory firms, with associates across ten offices serving Global Fortune 1000 companies to growing private companies. Managing Partner Seth McDaniel was grappling with raising overall firm performance when he met TDE CEO Andy Fleming. The firm’s goals were to:

  • Grow future partners faster,
  • Instill leadership traits, and
  • Unlock the firm’s potential.
Plan for success

Creating the Program

Over a year and a half, Seth, Andy and the Frazier & Deeter team developed an innovative approach for integrating the Developmental Sprint® process into a professional services firm. The firm needed a program that was:

  • Sticky,” meaning it was simple enough for people to recall and repeat the process, and meaningful enough that they would want to do so;  
  • Self-maintainable, meaning the firm could learn, run and operate the framework on its own;
  • Relevant to team members with two years or twenty years of experience;
  • Impactful to the individual while bettering the business overall.

“At first, some of the partners weren’t sold on the concept because they were unsure of how it would benefit Frazier & Deeter. When they saw how our people leveraged Developmental Sprints® into leading teams of people, it enabled us to expand the program,” said Seth. “We focused on team members in critical roles – the lynchpins of financial growth within the company – and when those people were able to do their work, gain leadership skills, and get even better? The results were incredible.”

Raise up everyone

Developmental Sprints®

Developmental Sprints® to surface, address and change issues in individual performance, increase feelings of teamwork within the organization, and ensure resilience of the firm longer term.

Feedback to Action

LIve360+Developmental Sprint®

Live360s were started here at Frazier & Deeter. These encouraging, individual review sessions immediately roll into a Developmental Sprint® so that there is no lag between feedback and action.

COMPANY COMMITMENT

How it Works

On the individual and team level, Frazier & Deeter conducts Developmental Sprints® in 4-6 week units. Each developmental pod has two partners to act as mentors. As each participant goes through the Sprint process, they establish an improvement goal, identify self-limiting assumptions, define and conduct experiments in the context of regular work, and maintain peer-based accountability.

A form of the process, what TDE calls the Live360+Developmental Sprint®, has been especially helpful. Anyone at the firm can request to go through this process and some are designated for it based on level. Peers, superiors and subordinates provide structured feedback to the individual in an in-person, supportive, transparent way. The individual then immediately goes through a Developmental Sprint® to turn that “Live360” feedback into action and behavioral changes.

During the Developmental Sprint® process, Frazier & Deeter and TDE noticed themes common to certain roles or groups, what TDE calls Developmental Data. For instance, sales confidence was an issue among new and up-for-promotion managers. By pinpointing this issue, Frazier & Deeter was able to define a new way of thinking about sales (ie as investing in relationships vs. cold-calling), and create specialized training to help all associates think differently about developing relationships.

On the service line and firm level, Frazier & Deeter runs a form of a Developmental Sprint® to determine where the most revenue- and culture-meaningful changes can happen. Part of this commitment resulted in the creation of critical playbooks for each service line, which then instruct new associates and managers on account service, methodologies and accountabilities, among other areas. Frazier & Deeter has committed to rerunning the process at the service line and firm level every two years.

RECRUITING & RETENTION

Measuring Results

Since beginning its developmental journey, Frazier & Deeter has shifted company culture. The firm changed its brand promise to investing in relationships to make a difference®, providing a stronger framework for both client and internal focus. The impact on recruiting and retention has been tremendously valuable to a firm in an industry that intensely competes for talent.

On a firm level, Frazier & Deeter has seen incredible returns:

  • Recruiting – the Developmental Sprint® process is particularly attractive to potential Millennial and Female employees, who “really like to be helped and mentored. It is hard not to be a number at a big accounting firm. We want people, not numbers. Through this program, recruits see that because they see where we’re investing.”
  • Retention – “Only three people who participated in a Developmental Sprint® have left the firm in the five years we’ve been running this program, and none to other accounting firms.”

On a personal level, Seth has seen the people he mentors make great strides. “It is very rewarding. I mentored a woman who hated selling. Likeable, genuine, funny and accomplished, she viewed herself in the sales process as silly, rushed, uncomfortable, fake and a failure. No one would describe her as she was describing herself,” shares Seth. “We went through a Developmental Sprint®, and realized that she thought that every conversation had to end in a sale. So she was spending less time listening and thinking through the prospect’s problem, and more time thinking about what firm capability to share next. When we changed her thinking? She gained confidence – and came back with two new opportunities the next week.”