Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Good Intentions…. No Implementation

“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

I write about implementation often, it is one of my favorite, and sometimes frustrating, topics.

Summer conference season is upon us. You (a CPA firm leader), will go to a conference to gather new ideas and learn about current trends in the CPA profession. While at the conference, you begin to actually get excited about some of the ideas and begin to visualize how the ideas could work in your firm.

You gather more ideas, make numerous notes, meet some very interesting people and begin to really get a sense of renewal, optimism, and think: “We can do this at our firm!”

What happens when you return to your office? Many leaders immediately get BUSY with the day-to-day fire-fighting and soon the notes you took and the excitement you felt begin to fade. You think to yourself, “I’ll bring it up at our next partner/management meeting.”

Don’t allow yourself to become demotivated. Try some of these practical steps….. Wait! Don’t “try.” DO THESE THINGS:

  • Summarize your notes, identify the best and most critical ideas that your firm could use.
  • Meet with the key management leaders and explain the ideas verbally to them.
  • Send the summary to every parter and other internal management leaders and specifically ask them to read the summary. Let them know you will be talking to them individually about the points.
  • Give them one week and then begin making brief visits to each partner.
  • Share your excitement and stress the points that you believe are critical to the firm.
  • After this is done, ask that the points be put on the next partner meeting agenda and push for at least one or two to be approved.
  • Make an Action Plan (specific steps) that needs to happen and assign the steps to specific individuals.
  • Then take action! You can’t do it alone, enlist others to help you.
  • Have you got a problem? Do what you can where you are with what you've got.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

The Skills That Are Needed

“Excellence is not a skill, it’s an attitude.” – Ralph Marston

Many of us rest upon our current skills – we know a lot and that has gotten us to where we are. That’s all fine and good but you can never stop learning and improving your knowledge base if you are working in the CPA profession.

Recently, Barry Melancon, CEO of the AICPA, shared the Top 10 Skills that will be need in 2020. CPA firm leaders and their teams must prepare for the future beginning now! (Thanks to @J_Maiman for the photo.)

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  • It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.
  • Wilbur Wright

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Always Strive For Personal Development

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

Working inside a busy CPA firm you strive for improvement. Improvement for the firm, improvement for a particular department, improvement for a process, and improvement for those you supervise (and even your peers).

Don’t forget that YOU also need to improve. You need to always maintain a personal development plan. The work on self-improvement is never done – it’s on-going.

I get a lot of questions about structuring personal development plans for team members at accounting firms. It’s usually a case where someone is not meeting expectations. But, that’s not the only situation where personal development plans are a benefit.

samIn a recent Boomer Consulting newsletter, Samantha Zerr, Boomer’s Operations Accountant, shares her story about personal development. It was a journey in moving from a job she wasn’t a good match for to a future role that matched her abilities and enthusiasm.

Here’s Samantha’s advice on a personal development plan.

Personal Development Plan

What areas do you need to develop to be future ready? Whether it is in leadership, management, or communication, the steps I took can be applied:

  1. Identify what you do now, and what you will need to be able to do in the future to have the career path you want and help your firm be successful
  2. Identify the skills you need to develop to prepare for your future role – getting feedback from your peers, mentors and coaches can help ensure you’re on the right path.
  3. Identify resources to develop those skills. These might be courses, leadership development programs, or peer communities.
  4. Personal development doesn’t happen by accident. Finding a mentor and coach to give hands-on, one-on-one guidance and creating a plan of action is one of the most important steps you can take to develop yourself for the future.

Read her entire article here.

 

  • A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Can This Be A CPA Firm?

“We are trying to change this old culture to try to sustain our profession for the future.” – Bernie Ackerman, CPA

Quite a few years ago I met Bernie Ackerman and his son, Jason at an AICPA conference. For several years, we would meet-up and talk about their firm, current topics, other firms and the profession, in general.

BernieBernie and Jason have always been, to me, a great two-generational team that had a firm grasp on what they could do to take their firm, BNA, into the future.

Recently, they were featured in the Journal of Accountancy for the very innovative things they were doing. The title: BNA: A Completely Flat Hierarchy.

As the article notes, you might think they were a tech start-up because staffers set their own working hours and never touch a time sheet. All employees get their own offices, starting on day one. There is no path to partner because there are no partners!

While their practices are very unusual in the profession, they are Jasonpaying off in term of recruitment. Jason Ackerman reports that they receive 10 to 15 resumes a week, even when they are not hiring!

Follow the links above to read the article and to visit their website.

I hope this inspires you to create a great culture and a future for your firm.

 

  • The best way to predict your future is to create it.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Monday, May 15th, 2017

About Your Clients

“Success comes from doing what you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, how can it be called success?” – David Maister

Hopefully, tax season is a distant memory and you are on your way to achieving your strategic goals for 2017.

Stop a minute and think about the clients you served from January through April and those that are on extension.

Some of those clients you probably wish you didn’t have.

Here are three important questions (from David Maister, that you should apply to your clients):

About your clients:

I like these people and their sector interests me.

I can tolerate them.

I wish I didn’t have to deal with people like this!

Those that fall into the last category…. you know what you should do with them. Why not do it in 2017?

  • More than any other factor, it is the people we have to deal with that determine the quality of our work lives.
  • David Maister

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Are You Without A Sail?

SethGodinOccasionally, I read a blog post by Seth Godin that I feel I must share with all of you.

Here’s his recent post. Think about it and your firm.

Without a sail

A sailboat without a sail might float. 

For a long time, in fact.

But without a sail, it can’t go anywhere, can’t fulfill its function.

Floating is insufficient.

  • In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.
  • Deepak Chopra

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Delay and Millennials – Not A Good Combination

“Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.” – Charles M. Schulz

Think about it. Millennials have always had technology at their finger tips. The oldest Millennials are 37 years old this year. They are not kids and many are your employees and your clients.

As consumers, they do not expect delays. They are used to having access almost immediately to any kind of information via their mobile device. When making purchases, they are used to having their information (profile) “out there” so they don’t even have to spend time entering specific billing and shipping information. It is not just Millennials, we are all now used to speed when shopping on line.

The younger generation is also used to obtaining answers by looking at FAQ pages rather than calling a customer service rep. According to a Desk.com study, 80% of Millennials find calling customer service highly inconvenient.

Consider how this information relates to your accounting firm.

Your Clients:

Much of your current and most of your future client base expect information quicker. They do not want to wait until you can return their phone call – 4 hours later.

How user friendly and interactive is your website? Do you have a FAQ page to help people learn about and understand CPA services?

Your Employees:

Do your employees have to wait on performance feedback? I often hear about firms that have delayed the feedback scheduled for June until November or December!

Do your employees have to wait, maybe a week or more, on review notes that guide them as they work on client engagements?

Do your employees have to wait days to talk to a partner (the partner is out of the office, on the phone, in meetings, etc.)?

Do your employees have to wait YEARS to be promoted? Telling a new college grad that it might take 10 years to become a partner could be quite a shock.

As a partner group, do you table a decision until the next partner meeting… then the next partner meeting… and then the next partner meeting?

Beginning now, explore ways to speed things up at your firm…. or, you will find your firm lagging behind in many areas.

  • The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.
  • Mary Kay Ash

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Older People Might Not Be As Outdated As Young People Think

“When an elder dies, it’s like a library has burned down.” – Old Saying

I recently read a very interesting article on the HBR site: I Joined Airbnb at 52, and Here’s What I Learned About Age, Wisdom, and the Tech Industry by Chip Conley.

Just think about the vast knowledge and experience the accounting profession has among those often pushed-out-the-door Boomers. Here are just a few excerpts from the article. I hope they inspire you to read the entire article.

–I’ll offer you some emotional intelligence for your digital intelligence.

–Many young people can read the face of their iPhone better than the face of the person sitting next to them.

–I was surrounded by folks who were tech-savvy — but were perhaps unaware that being “emo-savvy” could be just the thing to help them grow into great leaders. I realized that we expect young digital-era leaders to miraculously embody relationship wisdoms, with very little training, that we elders had twice as long to learn.

–Boomers and Millennials have a lot to offer, and learn from, each other. Enter the “Modern Elder,” who serves and learns, as both mentor and intern, and relishes being both student and sage.

  • Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Create Turnover – Keep People Moving!

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” – George S. Patton

Think about it. Your firm turns people over on a regular basis. I don’t mean that you have people resigning from the firm. I mean they change jobs inside the firm.

They go from intern to staff. From staff to senior. From senior to manager and so on. The best thing you can do is to clearly define the roles in your firm so that people don’t have to leave the firm to get a new challenge or to enjoy a new opportunity.

A warning, you need to be sure there really is a difference between what a staff person does compared to a senior, and so on. In many firms, I find partners doing manager work, managers doing senior work and seniors and staff looking for work.

This summer, explore the options and do your research. Then better define the duties of each level. Once they can proficiently perform the duties of a staff accountant, they can take on a completely new job as a senior accountant.

Spread the word among clients, the business community and on the college campus that there is a clear, well-defined career path in public accounting at your accounting firm and team members don’t have to change employers, lose seniority, start over accruing benefits to achieve it.

  • Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don't leave jobs; they leave managers.
  • Travis Bradberry

Monday, May 1st, 2017

One of My Favorite Topics – Implementation

“A good idea is about 10% – implementation, hard work and luck is 90%.” – Guy Kawasaki

I have blogged about it often. Why? Because there is such a need for CPAs to do what they intend to do!

I like two word phrases and I use them to describe CPAs when they return to their firm after a management conference or after the partner group returns from the annual planning retreat. Do these two, two-word phrases describe you?

Good Intentions
No Implementation

gary-adamson-598x747Last week Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory published an article via Accounting Today titled, Strategic Planning Lives or Dies With Implementation.

Here are his Five Keys to Achieving Strategic Goals:

  1. Limit the plan to 3 or 4 key objectives
  2. Select a champion
  3. Set reasonable schedules
  4. Include staff members
  5. Balance day-to-day responsibilities with plan goals

Take a few minutes to read the entire article.

  • Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.
  • Albert Schweitzer