Friday, August 18th, 2017

Flashback Friday – Goals

“Elegance is the only beauty that never fades.” – Audrey Hepburn

Here’s a post from 2015 – Check-in With Your Team – How Are They Doing With Their Goals?

I hope everyone in your firm, including admin and partners, are making progress in 2017 on their self-improvement goals!

  • "They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays."
  • Ted Williams

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Using Fear as a Motivator

“Everything I’ve ever done was out of fear of being mediocre.” – Chet Adkins

There are plenty of people who argue the pros and cons of using fear as a motivator. While I can’t imagine building an organization via motivation by fear, we are hearing a lot about it in the workplace these days.

I believe, in the CPA firm world, we see very little management by fear. Not, that it never existed. I have been around long enough to remember when it did. However, it has become a thing of the past in well-run firms. We have been able to attract and keep people who have the passion for public accounting, the work they do for clients and the pride they feel in being part of a winning team – all the things I hope to bring to you, on a regular basis, with this newsletter.

As I work with accounting firms around the country, I see both sides of the coin.  Many employees want to see a little more discipline and structure in their firm.  They feel the partners let things slide and do not address issues of poor performance.  A dose of fear for some employees would be an improvement.  A lack of discipline culture can be very demotivating.

On the other side of the coin, team members in other firms tell me that partners are always looking over their shoulder and providing feedback in a very critical style.  Each partner wants things done in a different manner.  The fear from employees comes from dreading the extensive, critical review notes issued by those in charge.

Striking the right balance of discipline, structure, coaching and recognition will go a long way to inspiring employees to work a little harder, demonstrate teamwork and even be more creative and helpful to clients.

  • "One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do."
  • Henry Ford

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Performance Management

“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” – Anthony D’Angelo

In the world of CPA firm management, we often talk about performance reviews, performance evaluations or performance feedback. In firms, it has many names. Some call it Career Advancement Process and similar titles.

While giving feedback is an important part of the process, it is much more than that. If your firm simply gathers information and relays that information about their performance to the individual you have only taken one step in the process.

Also consider including some upward feedback or some peer-to-peer feedback.

Be sure to include:

Self-evaluations – Most people are very insightful into their own performance.

Mutual agreed upon goals – – the team member identifies goals and so does management. Then they negotiate to determine the two or three most important ones.

Periodic checking on the progress of goals. Set fewer goals with shorter timeframes. I like to see one goal for every 4-month period.

Everyday coaching. Walk around, talk to people, give them spot-checks on their performance. MBWA (Manage By Wandering Around). Today’s workforce wants feedback immediately.

 

  • "Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have."
  • Margaret Mead

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

The Importance of Your Ownership Structure

Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” – Hugh Prather

Firm governance is a very important issue and many CPA partner groups have not taken the time and made the effort to clearly define what firm governance means to their firm. Is is not a simple task. There are many topics that need to be addressed when documenting governance.

Brannon-PoeBrannon Poe of Poe Group Advisors, in a recent blog post, addresses the issue of veto power within an ownership group. Veto power in the wrong hands can literally make change, and therefore growth, impossible

If anyone can Veto anything, at any time, it an paralyze a firm.

Make sure your governance and ownership structure will help facilitate change.

Read more via Poe’s post here.

  • "They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."
  • Andy Warhol

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Focus On The Valuable Ones

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

Often, we find ourselves giving too much attention to people who do not matter.

You might be considering focusing on a new specialty niche. You get all wrapped up in something new and might just forget about the old, faithful clients you’ve had for years.

You do really care about your long-time clients but the intrigue of the hunt for new clients might temporarily over-shadow the tried and true.

I always say, don’t kill the golden goose. Take special care of your long-time loyal clients and help them become more and more successful.

 

  • "A person who deserves my loyalty receives it."
  • Joyce Maynard

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Flashback Friday – Amazing Things Can Happen

“If people knew how hard I worked to achieve my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.” – Michelangelo

If you work hard, amazing things can happen. This Friday I am sharing a post about hard work and success from February, 2015.

Click here for Amazing Things Can Happen.

  • "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it."
  • Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

The 10 Most Profitable Industries

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” – Jim Rohn

It’s no surprise to CPA firm owners, but accounting and bookkeeping firms (along with real estate leasing companies and legal services) top the list of the most profitable industries over the last 12 months.

It’s nothing new, accounting has been at the top for several years, but I think sometimes CPA firm owners don’t think much about it, probably because they are used to the profit margins.

The information comes from Sageworks in its annual ranking of the most profitable industries in the U.S.

Most CPAs truly love the work they do. Sure, it involves some long hours, commitment and dedication to client service but being extremely profitable sure is a nice reward.

Share this information inside your firm. Perhaps it will inspire talented, young CPAs to go down the future partner track. Some partners don’t want to share this information because the staff will want bigger salaries. Maybe it is time to have that conversation inside your firm.

most-profitable-2017

 

  • "Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1."
  • Warren Buffett

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Summer Reading for Women in Accounting

“Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.” – Sheryl Sandberg

The dog days of summer have arrived. If you work in a CPA firm, male or female, I hope you have made it a point to do more reading this summer. If not, there is still time.

Here are some great books for females in the business world to read. I also recommend that male CPAs who are managing females make it a point to read some of these books. Try “Why Must There Be Dragons” first – it is enlightening and entertaining for both sexes. In this story, males are dogs and females are cats.

NJ Women Summit

  • "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Warm & Fuzzy

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many accounting firm owners/shareholders, in years gone by believed they were doing the right things.

  • We can get by with two monitors, no one needs three.
  • We need to stick with our professional dress code, our clients care.
  • Not everyone needs access to remote connectivity.
  • We don’t need to send more than one person to that management conference, they can come back and inform us all about what they learned.
  • We can just send one person to that leadership training, they can teach it at the firm.
  • It will be okay if we delay working on that succession plan until next year.
  • We don’t need to spend very much on Christmas gifts for the staff, they really don’t appreciate it anyway.
  • It is too hard to keep track of everyone’s birthdays, we don’t need to send a card to each person’s home.
  • It will hurt production if we close the office on Fridays in the summer.

Many partners called all of these things and other nice, little things they were expected to do for staff, “warm & fuzzy” stuff.

In the past, some of these did apply but they sure don’t now. Never be afraid to admit that you were wrong and make important changes that will guide your firm into the future.

  • "We would all like a reputation for generosity and we'd all like to buy it cheap."
  • Mignon McLaughlin

Monday, August 7th, 2017

Observations on Change

“Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.” – Shaquille O’Neal

I have been urging CPAs to change for years. You might think I would get discouraged. Well, I sometimes do. That doesn’t mean I will quit reminding, urging and even nagging you about this important topic.

KoltinI recently looked back to see what I have written about change. Here’s something I featured in August 2008 – 9 years ago!  It was Allan Koltin’s “Dozen Observations on Change.” The sad part is they all still apply.

  1. Sometimes partners don’t want to change, but will say they do.
  2. Sometimes partners don’t want to change, and won’t change!
  3. Sometimes partners want to change, but can’t.
  4. Sometimes partners want to change and can (this is where electric shock may need to be applied).
  5. Sometimes partners want to change, but don’t know how to change.
  6. Sometimes partners can’t change due to conflicting goals/demands.
  7. Sometimes partners will change just enough to get you off their back!
  8. Sometimes partners will change, but only if another partner also changes.
  9. Sometimes partners will initially change, but are only doing it to ultimately prove you wrong.
  10. Sometimes partners won’t change, so don’t waste your time trying to change them.
  11. Sometimes partners will support the change, as long as they don’t actually have to change.
  12. Don’t forget that the value of information is not in what you know. It is in what you know that sometimes the other person doesn’t know that you know.
While some of these bring a smile to our faces, I know that we have all seen these behaviors first-hand.
  • "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
  • John Quincy Adams