Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

Addicted to Work

“You shouldn’t have superhuman expectations.” – Mary Blair-Loy

Frequently, it appears to me that some experienced CPAs are addicted to their work.

I think this is a big issue when it comes to succession planning. Sure, the firm’s policy says they must “retire” at age 65. They must relinquish their stock and they do. But many of these “retirees” want to keep working, keep their office, keep their relationships with special clients and not stay at home or pursue other interests.

Most do not have other interests. They believe their career is their life, it defines them. Being a partner at the firm feeds their ego or makes them feel important. Without being affiliated with the firm they feel they have no identity.

There is a great article on this topic on the HBR site. You feel challenged by your work; you’re engaged by it; you’re learning new things; and you have the opportunity to shape other people’s careers. It is extremely rewarding but when you give all your attention to work, you eventually pay a steep price. 

Working long hours, taking few vacations and never truly being “off” (due to digital devices) is harmful to your relationships, your health and your productivity. It is also a bad example to set for your employees. No wonder many younger CPAs have no desire to become an owner.

Read the entire article here. It gives you some tips to overcome your addiction. Take an honest look at yourself, whether you are a retiring partner or a constantly busy accountant of any age working in a CPA firm.

  • There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
  • Colin Powell

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Strengthen The Connection Between Current & Emerging Leaders

I am so pleased to be part of a new book published by The CPA Consultants’ Alliance. 

Accounting firms all over North America are in a quandary and challenged about how to move forward. Current partners simply don’t see the leadership skills they expect in their firm’s up-and-coming staff and worry about their retirement prospects. While at the same time, emerging leaders are frustrated with a lack of training from above and have no desire to live the hectic life of their older compatriots.

To address these and other succession-related issues, The CPA Consultants’ Alliance (CPACA), a working group of thought leaders united in their efforts to further leadership within the CPA profession has published a new book aimed at helping the CPA profession close the divide between current and emerging leaders.

CPACA members wrote the book, entitled BRIDGING THE GAP: Strengthening the Connection between Current and Emerging Leaders in the CPA Profession as a collaboration.

“This book represents cooperation among leading experts to bring understanding of this complex and important issue to CPA professionals,” said Sarah Dobek, President of Inovautus Consulting and current President of the CPACA.

“I’m proud of what this book represents,” she said. “Not only is it a timely and valuable resource for the profession, it’s been a great learning experience for the CPACA members broadening all our perspectives to make us more informed and better resources for the firms we serve.”

Members of the CPACA collaborated for a year on the content for the book—each bringing a different perspective to the topic and authoring a chapter addressing leadership issues.

The book features 14 chapters worth of insights and examples. In addition, each chapter contains discussion questions to help open conversations among current and emerging leaders in firms to build greater understanding and a common vision for the future. The book is available from Amazon in both Kindle and soft cover form.

  • Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.
  • Warren Bennis

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

The Importance of Your CPA Firm Employee Handbook

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde

Your employee handbook is important to firm leaders AND it is important to CPA firm employees.

Most mid- to large size CPA firms have an employee handbook in place. Many smaller firms also have one in place, too. However, I find that firms without a full-time firm administrator or HR professional haven’t updated, or even read, their employee handbook in ages.

Recently, I reviewed an employee handbook used by one of my newer clients. I opened the pdf copy and immediately recognized something about 20 years old and probably straight out of the old MAP Handbook. It was dated to say the least.

Here’s the point of this post: Employers need to have their policies and procedures documented in writing and have it easily accessible (online) to all employees. Employees need to actually read the entire employee handbook and sign-off.

The trouble is that new employees are over-whelmed when first joining the firm, meeting new co-workers and getting up-to-speed on their duties as soon as possible. Often the reading of the employee handbook gets put on the back burner. They may even sign-off without actually reading the handbook. After all, some handbooks can be 20 to 40 pages long!

Eventually, the firm administrator, MP or HR person will be faced with a situation where an employee has violated a policy. During the ensuing conversation, the employee admits they have not read the handbook.

I recommend that during orientation, one hour be set aside for the new employee to have uninterrupted time to read the firm’s employee handbook.

 

  • Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.
  • Gertrude Stein

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

International Education

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius

It has been my observation that even the smallest of CPA firms not only have interactions with international businesses on behalf of their clients but are also doing work directly for international clients.

Do your youngest team members know the basics about the international cultures of the people they may need to talk to on the phone, or meet in person? Do your experienced team members know? Does your partner group even know?

Maybe you won’t ever meet them in person but you may have frequent video conferences with them. What should you say and not say? What part of your body language might be offensive to a different culture?

My point today? Get some training for ALL you people on dealing with people internationally. You can probably find someone locally. Seek out help from your local Chamber of Commerce.

 

  • One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.
  • Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Friday, May 6th, 2016

Dress Code For Casual Attire In A CPA Firm

“My first impressions of people are invariably right.” – Oscar Wilde

It seems that in many firms we really don’t have dress codes any longer. We have everything from shirt/tie to denim jeans every day.

9491182077_e9b8f2d0bf_bEven with jeans, there seem to be quite a few “qualifiers” surrounding when and when not to wear them.

Also, casual dress guidelines seem to be more challenging for females, especially when warm weather abounds.

A good friend of mine, a principal in a CPA firm, shared her firm’s guideline for defining “casual” dress in their firm. They made it very simple and straightforward. They call it “The 4 B’s” – – –

No bare Back – No bare Butts – No bare Bellies – No bare Boobs

Simple, direct and it sure made me smile. Have a great weekend!

Photo: Flickr, Ben Eekhof

  • The way you dress is the billboard that tells perceptive people how you feel about yourself.
  • Barbara Walters

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

As You Advance – Be Sure To Ask For Feedback

Thanks to the Ohio Society of CPAs for once again featuring a conversation with me on their Spotlight Video Series.

This time we talk about the fact that as you advance in your career and become a partner in your accounting firm, you probably won’t get as much feedback as you did as a staff person or a manager.

It’s up to you to seek out feedback, make people comfortable talking to you. Make yourself approachable.

  • Communication - the human connection - is the key to personal and career success.
  • Paul J. Meyer

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Drip, Drip, Drip

“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting it off.” – Olin Miller

Seth Godin did a post this week that made me think of my advice to you. He says: The Tidal Wave Is Overrated. “Yes, it can lead to wholesale destruction, but it’s the incessant (but much smaller) daily tidal force that moves all boats, worldwide.”

You and your firm will not get to where you are going all at once. It’s like an entertainment personality that becomes an star over-night when in reality they have been working at it for 15 or 20 years, through disappointment after disappointment.

Changing your firm will not happen over-night. But you have to take that first baby step. the challenge for accountants is actually taking that very first step. They know what to do but procrastination or complacency sets in.

Godin says you can worry about creating a tsunami, but it’s the drip, drip, drip that will change everything in the long run.

You KNOW what to do…. your challenge is to SIMPLY BEGIN.

  • When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that in itself is a choice.
  • William James

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Opportunity To Fuel Your Professional Growth From The Ohio Society of CPAs

“A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

I am working with the Ohio Society of CPAs on an upcoming program. It’s called the Business Excellence Symposium and is being held May 11th in Westlake, OH (Cleveland suburb).

I’m excited by the work OSCPA is undertaking to advance business across Ohio by helping CPAs and finance and accounting professionals be positioned to meet today’s business challenges head on to drive growth. The topic selection, and the expertise brought forth is really on-point for the greatest challenges facing our businesses, large or small.

Attend and gain strategies and insights from national leaders in the business and accounting community:

  • Create a culture that top talent can’t pass up – with tips from the leadership coach for The Ohio State University’s football program.
  • Maximize staff resources and harness the power of diversity.
  • Unlock growth strategies that leverage your specific skill sets as an accounting professional.
  • Develop practices to deliver better solutions to organizational challenges.
  • Learn about harnessing business growth potential via a panel discussion with me and Katie Tolin, CPA Growth Guides

All in all, it looks like it’s going to be a great event, you can see the details here. Also, if you can’t make the trip, note there is a live webcasted option.

This is a perfect symposium (and affordable) to send several of your millennial accountants.
If you decide to attend, you can use my personal invitation to get a 20% “friends of BES” discount.  Simply send an email to oscpa@ohiocpa.com saying you learned about the Symposium from me and you would like to attend.

 

  • I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.
  • Eartha Kitt

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Hear It From Them

“Live your life and ignore your age.” – Norman Vincent Peale

I’ve done many presentations about and written extensively about generations in the workplace. I am convinced that ALL generations better understanding each other, and not putting each other in “boxes” because of their age, can solve most if not all of the misunderstandings inside the firm.

That being said, I do probably focus more on the Millennials. This week, I read an article on the Forbes site by Paul Armstrong. It was directed to marketers and listed three things they need to know so they can better understand the Millennial customer.

10363724_10154114657826535_4176653492470208085_nYou can read the short article and take what you need because the Millennials working in your accounting firm ARE your customers.

The second of the three things was the most important to me because it stressed the fact that we need to hear directly from Millennials so we can better understand what they want and how they feel.

I’ve been guilty. I stand before an audience and tell them what Millennials are like, how they behave (in general) and what they want. I do get much of this directly from Millennials and a lot of it from research, articles, etc. What you really need is to hear it directly from them.

Here’s a quote by an IBM executive from the article:  “I still don’t get how middle aged men on stage can tell us what Millennials want.  Surely we should hear this from real Millennials?”

Rather than listening to us older, non-Millennial male and female consultants tell you what Millennials want, why not ask them yourselves?

Host some roundtable discussions at your firm. Put an older partner at each table with several Millennials and begin gathering information. Ask specific questions and just listen.

You can always survey your Millennials first and then use the results for some lively roundtable discussions.

One of the first things that caused me to focus on Millennials was a statement from a Millennial panel at a conference several years ago. The young man said: “I have an 18-month old daughter at home. Bath time is important to me. At my current firm, I can go home for dinner and bath time and then work for several hours after she goes to bed. That’s why I joined this firm.”

Photo: Lumsden McCormick Facebook

  • Young people are in a condition like permanent intoxication, because youth is sweet and they are growing.
  • Aristotle

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

More About Flexibility

“The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” – Tom Peters

Yesterday, I blogged about flexibility. Since it is such a popular topic, I wanted to continue to provide information to you today.

Isaac O’Bannon, Managing Editor of CPA Practice Advisor, in a recent post tells us that many firms really do offer flexibility. If your firm does not, it’s time to learn more about it and begin making some changes.

Here’s O’Bannon’s take on the rules:

As long as you comply with RULE #1: Get the job done. It is also recommended that you comply with RULE #2: Be damn good at your job, consistently. Oh, and RULE #3: Be responsive to your boss, your clients, and anyone else you do business with or for- so that it’s just like you were in the office.

Here’s some firms that made Fortune’s list of the 50 Best Workplaces for Flexibility. #1 was Ryan, an international tax firm. Other accounting firms on the list:  PwC at #12, Plante Moran at #27 and DeLeon & Stang at #30.

  • You absolutely must have the discipline not to hire until you find the right people.
  • Jim Collins