Monday, May 21st, 2018

Performance Feedback

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi

For many firms, it is the time of year when you begin your performance feedback sessions. Hopefully, you have modified and updated your methods over the last few years. While some firms have theoretically eliminated the annual performance review, it is certainly not dead yet.

If you use the same format year after year after year, your employees and those who are giving them feedback come to dread the entire process.

Sometimes partners are expected to give feedback to 7, 8, 9 or more people. That takes a lot of time. The bigger issue is, after all the preliminary information gathering is done, how you structure the actual feedback face-to-face meeting.

One step in the right direction is to have more performance conversations throughout the year and not put so much focus on the big, annual evaluation.

Another modification is to work with your partners and managers in learning how to provide more meaningful feedback. Historically, managers have focused on past performance rather than talking about the future. Managers have also tended to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths.

Work to identify each individual’s strengths. Then, build momentum and career progression on those strengths. Develop a system of more frequent conversations and down-play the dreaded annual review.

 

  • "If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves."
  • Thomas Edison

Friday, May 18th, 2018

How To Win Friends & Influence People

“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.” – Dale Carnegie

Maybe you have read it, the book by Dale CarnegieHow to Win Friends and Influence People. I have read it more than once. It was written long ago but still has power today.

I came across a small pamphlet by Carnegie reminding us of the principles from the book.

Here’s an excerpt:

Become a Friendlier Person:

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
  2. Give honest, sincere appreciation.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.
  4. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  5. Smile.
  6. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  8. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
  9. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Try using these on your clients AND your employees or co-workers. Make them part of who you are!

  • "Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday."
  • Dale Carnegie

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

The Partner Pledge

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi

I have talked with many firms about the use of a partner commitment statement. It is a list of things that a person commits to when they become an owner (partner) in a CPA firm. The first example I ever saw was from Sam Allred of Upstream Academy.

Over the years I have encouraged all firms to establish some guidelines for partners to follow. In so many firms, it is a sort of “now I am a partner so I can do whatever I want” culture. Progressive firms are setting the expectation for partners and I think it would be helpful to all partner groups.

Thanks to the CPAFMA discussion board, I recently read a sample Partner Pledge shared by Scott Chicoine, Firm Administrator for KerberRose, a prominent Wisconsin firm. They have kindly agreed to share their Partner Pledge with all of you. Thank-you, KerberRose!

kerberrosecclogo01

 

 

 

 

 

PARTNER COMMITMENT PLEDGE

Mission:
To Make our Clients and Employees Successful

Core Values:
• Honesty
• Integrity
• Respect
• Balanced Life
• Community Orientated

As a Partner of KerberRose, S.C., I understand that partnership is a privilege and not a right…this privilege must be continuously earned. I have a responsibility to KerberRose, the Partners, and the team members. As a Partner, I understand that I am on display for all to see and serve as a role model. My effort, attitude and desire will serve as a constant point of reference for employees. As such I pledge to:

-Commit to the Core Values of KerberRose in all interactions with all of The Firm’s Team Members
-Make myself more valuable every year and strive for continuous improvement
-Ensure the perpetuation of KerberRose through the transfer of knowledge and talents to future firm leaders
-Support firm efforts to develop and train future firm leadership
-Foster a culture that promotes inclusivity, family values, and opportunity for team members
-Continually engage with Team Members… be accessible, show them they are valued and help them to achieve their goals
-Be a great role model for success and judgment… be an inspiring Partner
-Make myself available for meetings with Firm Administrator and Managing -Partner to help monitor my personal goals and firm goals
-Delegate as appropriate, giving proper direction and setting reasonable expectations
-Commit to a unified and cohesive Partner group, but allow for creative thinking and challenging the status quo
-Commit to spirited involvement rather than grudging compliance
-Act in a modest manner and set ego aside
-Promote the full offering of available services to clients and prospects
-Ensure the services I offer are beneficial to clients
-Understand that we should provide clients exceptional service
-Always put the business interests of KerberRose ahead of my personal business interests
-Use my best efforts to meet or exceed my new business goals on an annual basis
-Use my best efforts to attain both chargeable and non-chargeable goals each year
-Establish non-chargeable hour goals that enhance the future of KerberRose
-Prepare billing timely and fairly
-Follow established collection policies and requirements of Partners
-Record my time daily
-Always give my best attitude, effort, and desire
-Make a lifelong commitment to learning

I, ________________________________have read, understand, and agree to do my best to approach my daily work in accordance with this KerberRose Partner Commitment Pledge.

 

  • "Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes... but no plans."
  • Peter Drucker

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Participate In The Rosenberg Survey

“Knowledge is power.” – Francis Bacon
I eagerly look forward to the release of the Rosenberg Survey each year. I use it extensively in my consulting work. Now is the time for your firm to fill out the survey and participate.
Here’s the information to that you can take part:
THE ROSENBERG SURVEY – SURVEY NOW OPEN
For two decades, The Rosenberg Survey has provided accounting firms with key benchmark statistics.
Did you know?
The Elite Firms from our 2017 survey (firms with income per partner > $500k) had the following metrics:
  • Ratio of staff to equity partner – 8.6 (vs. an average of 5.1 for firms with fees between $2-10 million)
  • Net fees per equity partner – $2,180,000 (vs. an average of $1.2 million for firms with fees between $2-10 million)
  • Charge hours for professional staff – 1,510 (vs. an average of 1,492 for firms with fees between $2-10 million)
Why is The Rosenberg Survey Valuable?
  • Customized comparison of like-sized firms in similar markets for participating firms.
  • Accurate and valid results reviewed by three CPAs.
  • Reliable year to year comparison with a return rate of 82% from previous year’s participants.
  • Robust pool of participants of nearly 350 firms makes our data relevant to firms of all sizes.
  • Clear cut data displayed by firm size for comparison.
 
The deadline to participate is July 16th. (Thank you to those firms that have participated thus far.)
  • "Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit."
  • William Pollard

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Maybe There Are Too Many Reruns

“I do not like to repeat successes, I like to go on to other things.” – Walt Disney

Interesting post by Bill Carlino of Transition Advisors last week about the value of the numerous conferences that are held each year targeted to those work in or with the CPA profession.

Already, and it is just mid-May, I have observed (via Twitter) numerous conferences and meetings focused on educating CPAs on many of the same, recurring topics I have listened to for years and years. In addition to the re-run experience, it is very expensive to attend these conferences. While CPA firm administrators, new to the profession, obtain huge educational value from their national practice management conference, many partners refuse to spend the money to send them.

Take a minute or two to read Carlino’s post. Great post, Bill!

  • "Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress, but I repeat myself."
  • Mark Twain

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Do You Like Working In Public Accounting?

“Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.” – Conan O’Brien

I was recently reading an article about things to consider when you feel unhappy at work. I applied the items to the CPA profession and from what I observe, I think most people working in public accounting do really like their work.

Do you like what you do for work? Most staffers tell me that they really enjoy the work. They love working with clients and feel satisfied that they are actually helping people with their financial challenges.

Do you feel like you have ownership at work? Firms have come such a long way in involving team members in firm decisions and initiatives. People are encouraged to contribute ideas and efforts to keep the firm on the leading edge of technology and work environments.

Are you encouraged to learn at work? This is definitely a yes if you are working in a CPA firm. You are encouraged and supported in passing the CPA exam and receive formal, firm-paid CPE annually plus the day-to-day learning that comes with client engagements.

Do you feel appreciated at work? If you don’t feel appreciated working at a CPA firm these days, maybe you are working for the wrong firm! I always almost beg young accountants, if they are not happy in public accounting, to try working at another firm before they drop out and go private.

Contemplate the pluses and minuses of working at your firm. I bet the pluses out-weigh the minuses. I also think, that if you stick it out and gain experience, the reward and satisfaction gets better and better as the years pass.

  • "If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier."
  • John Wooden

Friday, May 11th, 2018

The 5-Hour Rule – Friday Reading

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George Martin

Have you ever heard of the 5-hour rule? Supposedly, it is something practiced by some of the world’s most successful people. I’m not sure if that is actually true or not but the 5-hour rule sounds like a good plan to me.

You take 1 hour from each weekday and devote it to deliberate practice and learning. Things you can do with that one-hour per day might be:

  1. Read
  2. Think
  3. Experiment

Read the entire article and learn more about these three and more.

There you have it, some Friday reading!

  • "Reading is to the mind like exercise is to the body."
  • Joseph Addison

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Words of Wisdom from a Succession Planning Panel

“It is better to live rich than to die rich.” – Samuel Johnson

At the BDO Alliance conference, the Succession Planning panel was comprised of Marc Rosenberg, Jay Nisberg, Carl George and Bob Lewis. It’s important for you to keep tabs on current trends in the succession area and tweak your own plan as the years go by.

Daniel Hood, Editor of Accounting Today tweeted some great comments from the panel. I have selected a few for your contemplation.

  • Lewis: The first thing to do is look at the gaps – financial gap (can the successors support the retirees?), the talent gap (who can bring in work), the strategy gap (do you know where you want to be in 5 years?)
  • Nisberg: Too many Baby Boomers don’t see the people coming up behind them as having the same strengths they have. I assure you, they do – you just have to trust.
  • Rosenberg: Partners need to have a show-down meeting: When do they want to retire? What do they want from it? It’s a hugely emotional issue.
  • Nisberg: Vision is critical – highly successful firms have a vision that is the culmination of the will of the partners – where they want to go and how they want to get there.
  • Rosenberg: 80% of 1st generation CPA firms don’t make it to the second generation.
  • George: If you don’t put succession planning in partner goals and the compensation system, you will be stuck in the mud.
  • Lewis: It’s important that staff know there’s a succession in place.
  • George: A surprising number of firm leaders don’t understand the business of public accounting.
  • Lewis: In many firms, staff doesn’t understand firm revenue, the actual size of the firm. How can they operate in the dark?
  • George: Start teaching staff the business of public accounting on Day 1 – while you’re onboarding.
  • Rosenberg: Get everyone in the firm to understand how the firm works and how it makes money. That needs to happen at CPA firms. Partners are much too secretive.
  • Rosenberg: Staff doesn’t have a clue how much partners make – give them an idea because it’ll be higher than they expect.
  • Lewis: If a non-equity partner isn’t willing to convert to equity, then you don’t really have a partner.
  • Nisberg: I don’t understand why so many firms rush to M&A when there are so many other options.
  • George: I’m very happy to see more women than ever running firms — and they’re doing a great job.
  • "Golf is played by twenty million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun."
  • Jim Bishop

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

Profession Update via Melancon

“Attention is a limited resource, so pay attention to where you pay attention.” – Howard Rheingold

Barry Melancon spoke at the BDO Alliance conference this week. Daniel Hood, Editor of Accounting Today communicated many great points from Melancon via Twitter. Twitter is often a great way to learn things – I hope you have a Twitter account and follow @AccountingEdit (Dan Hood) and @CPAmanagement (me).

Here are some of Hoods tweets from Melancon’s presentation. This is IMPORTANT information so you can better lead your firm into the future.

  • For those of you who believe the profession can be insulated from change, that’s a false optimism.
  • Once AI, blockchain, etc. become accepted, they will completely redefine what we think a professional accountant is.
  • Technical skills are table stakes. Finance execs want tech skills, communications skills, and critical thinking/ judgment skills.
  • Technology and the law are changing what tax compliance means.
  • What the world wants now is a combination of tax compliance and tax planning. Tax reform gives us a great opportunity to reposition ourselves this way.
  • The number of U.S. accounting grads hired into public accounting dropped 20% in the last 2 years. But overall hiring at firms was flat – they’re hiring fewer accounting grads.
  • In 2017, a quarter of all CPA firm acquisitions were of non-CPA firms.
  • The digital age in transforming organizations from the traditional pyramid model to more of a diamond, with automation and outsourcing removing a lot of the entry-level staff.
  • We need to start thinking about ‘fat middle’ firms, with more skilled middle-level employees than entry-level staff.
  • In terms of new skill sets, we’re most concerned about mid-career people who need to unlearn what they’ve already learned.
  • The notion of measuring CPE by the hour has to go by the wayside – it’s not about the hours, it’s about the skills learned.
  • The profession can’t say ‘We’re fine.’ No one is, and we’re not exempt. Are we well-positioned for making the changes that go with not being fine? Yes — if we’re willing to change, if we’re willing to take risks, we are very well-positioned
  • "The quality of one's life depends on the quality of attention. Whatever you pay attention to will grow more important in your life."
  • Deepak Chopra

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Workplace Distractions

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” – Christopher Columbus

Udemy’s 2018 Workplace Distraction Report has been released and gives us some valuable information. You can download a full copy of the report here.

Highlights:

  • 70% agree that training can help people get better at blocking out distractions and achieving focus.
  • 36% of millennials/Gen A say they spend 2 or more hours per workday looking at their phones for personal activities.
  • 66% have never talked to a manager about their struggles with workplace distraction.

It is not just technology that distracts people. Chatty co-workers were reported as the number-one contributing factor to workplace distraction (80%).

Read more about the survey and talk about how to cure some office distractions at your firm.

  • "Happiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions."
  • Saul Bellow