Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category
Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
As I have worked with accountants over many years, I have truly come to realize that meeting and talking to people can be difficult, awkward and yes, even scary. All that is foreign to me because I love people and I love to talk (those of you who know me are smiling… maybe laughing… right now).
So, you may be an introvert but that doesn’t mean you can’t begin to enjoy meeting and talking with people. The huge chamber networking events are sometimes scary for experienced networkers, so don’t feel like you have to begin there. Make the networking you do fit your style.
I attended Accountants’ Bootcamp many years ago. We learned many great things there…. but one thing I liked was a way to help accountants feel comfortable with a form of networking.
Have your partners (maybe the ones who aren’t so comfortable in big groups) invite a banker, an attorney, an insurance person, a client and maybe two potential clients and form a breakfast group to simply discuss business issues relevant to your community. Set the ground rules – - this is not a meeting to “sell” to each other, it is more like a self-help group. Referral sources and business owners are likely to participate because YOU are the CPA and YOU know a lot that can help them!
Host it every month or every other month, in your office, serve a continental breakfast (or late after noon snack) and talk in round-table format for an hour or so. Ask each other questions about business issues and get to know each other personally. The members of the group will quickly begin looking forward to the meetings and begin to rely on each other’s opinions.
Don’t limit it to just partners. Have your up-and-comers host their own networking groups. Many CPAs across the country are doing exactly this or something very similar. It works!
Also, read this article on the HBR Blog network titled: Networking for Introverts. It’s all about doing this where you are comfortable not stressed-out.
Talk to someone about themselves and they will listen for hours.
Friday, September 12th, 2014
I am often in discussions about specific partner performance, manager success and the over-whelming workload of many partners, firm administrators and others working inside busy accounting firms. One topic reappears over and over again.
In my survey work for firm leaders, a comment I am sure to hear regarding almost everyone receiving upward-feedback is: They need to delegate more.
It is a very common problem. Perhaps it is because accountants and those surrounding them become perfectionists and believe no one can “do it” as well, as fast, as thoroughly as they can do it, personally.
It is the down-fall of many on the road to career success.
I may have a resource for you. I receive newsletters from an organization called Mind Tools. They have lots of great tools and resources for team management, leadership skills, time management, project management and so on……
They are offering a new workbook called: How to Delegate
Three little words…. but not something easy to do.
Three little words…. that could solve the succession challenges.
No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.
Monday, September 8th, 2014
I’ve said it, have you? – - It’s my passion!
CPA firm management is something that I get excited about, want to learn more about, never tire of reading about…. always trying to improve.
Does your CPA firm and the profession of public accounting make you feel the same way? Sometimes, at first, we are truly excited and then as time goes on we seem to lose the magic.
If you ever feel like you are losing your passion for your work. If you feel like you are trying SO hard to make others in your firm feel the passion, read this post by Leadership Freak: 3 Ways To Bring The Dead To Life.
Do your team members seem to be going through the motions like the walking dead? Do they have empty eyes and hanging hands?
The post gives you 5 reasons why passion dies, how you kill passion and how to ignite passion.
I think you will enjoy the blog post and hopefully it will inspire some action steps for you to take.
Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
Monday, September 8th, 2014
Yes, I admit it. Every year I wonder….. will I make it again? Am I working hard enough, am I helping enough people, am I answering enough questions, am I working with enough firms, am I speaking often enough, is my writing (blogging) on target and relevant?
Again, for 2014 I am honored and delighted to be named to Accounting Today’s prestigious listing. I am so fortunate to be among the individuals on the list. I was first named to the list in 2005. That was a year before I started blogging, in 2006, times certainly have changed.
I owe so much to my colleagues in the CPA management world, to the members of the AICPA, AAA and so many state societies and CPA firm associations – they give me a forum, a voice and I am grateful. Of course, a special thanks to Dan Hood and the editors of Accounting Today.
My reports tell me that this blog and my tweets are my best tools for reaching all of you. I also get a lot of great feedback on my monthly newsletter. If you don’t get it, sign-up here.
My advice for today – to all of you….. You have potential that you probably are not completely aware of. Keep your passion burning and never give up. As a young lady, I never dreamed I would speak in front of hundreds of people, and be influential in such a highly-regarded profession as public accounting. Keep your dreams alive.
It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
Sir Edmund Hillary
Thursday, September 4th, 2014
Many top tech CEOs want employees with liberal arts degrees, according to a recent article on FastCompany.
I’ve heard CPA partners say, from time to time, “Hire me someone with ambition and passion and we can teach them accounting.”
While I have heard this first-hand, second-hand and third-hard, people doing the hiring at CPA firms don’t do this. They look at grades, extra activities and sometimes professors recommendations. Firms want to hire people who can crank-out the accounting and tax work for many years and then, all of a sudden, be able to motivate people, inspire people, attract successful, high-profile clients… they want someone to wave a magic wand and make them business strategists, rainmakers and leaders.
Some of the tech companies have come to realize that you need a broader view on life. PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel studied philosophy at Stanford. Steve Jobs mused that for technology to be truly brilliant, it must be coupled with artistry. Danielle Sheer, a VP at Carbonite (cloud backup service) studied existential philosophy at George Washington University.
Tech CEOs see the value in people who possess creativity, critical thinking and don’t believe there is just one answer for anything.
I always recommend that firms do not always send the same people to the college campus to interview prospective new hires. Mix it up every other year or so. Why? Because people tend to hire people who are similar to themselves.
If you are leading a CPA firm, if you have some say in who is hired – read the article. Contemplate your options.
Great vision without great people is irrelevant.
Friday, August 29th, 2014
After this weekend, accounting firms will roll into mini-busy-season, dealing with all of those corporate extensions that have lagged since spring.
When you arrive at the office on Tuesday, take note of the people you hang-out with at work. Maybe even the people who sit nearby.
It’s almost like school. If you sit with the goof-offs, you become like them and adopt an “I don’t care” attitude. You just get-by with doing the minimum required.
If you are surrounded by people who keep focused, work quickly, are friendly yet don’t waste time, they are probably the ones going home at 5:30 rather than burning the midnight oil to hit the deadline. They are also the ones getting the best assignments.
Choosing who you want to be at work also flows downward to those watching you. What do they see? Who do they want to be around?
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them
Monday, August 25th, 2014
It’s almost September. We are entering the third trimester of yearly CPA firm life.
- First Trimester – Busy season (the I don’t delegate very well season)
- Second Trimester – Recover season (performance reviews, vacations and CPE season)
- Third Trimester – Gear-up season (end extension season and get ready for busy season)
Somewhere during these seasons you set some goals for yourself. For partners it is usually on a calendar year and for employees it is probably on a “performance” year – May thru April.
I rarely talk to a firm where goal-setting is not part of everyone’s performance plan. The challenge I notice is not the ability to set goals, it’s the ability to achieve them. One of the “seasons” noted above always gets in the way. The usual excuse is “I’m too busy.”
Want to explore your goal-setting approach. Visit Mindtools and take their short goal-setting quiz to learn about some of the obstacles that can get in your way.
If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.
Friday, August 22nd, 2014
Whether you are an actual owner, principal, firm administrator, marketing director, HR director or a talented up-and-comer inside your CPA firm, the fact that you are following this blog means that you deeply care, and worry about the firm, the client and your team members. But what about YOU, personally?
Many of us in CPA firm management are servant leaders; we think of others first. That is what makes us good at what we do. I firmly believe that we should all put the good of the firm above any one person or group of people. If the firm does well, we all do well.
That being said, I also believe that YOU must not forget about each individual and their career success. Most progressive CPA firms have worked through a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats), crafted a vision statement and documented beliefs to live by.
Have you, as a leader in your firm, done this personally? This is something I sometimes use in my individual coaching sessions and you can do it for yourself. Give it a try and see what develops. You might identify and clarify a path to where YOU are going and how you are going to get there.
Each person, no matter what their level inside a CPA firm, that continually improves their performance helps the firm to continually move forward and become more successful and an engaging place to work.
If you need a sample form (matrix) to use, just let me know.
If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn't need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is education to turn him around.
Thursday, August 21st, 2014
Now is the time to take care of your talented CPAs.
As usual, I am hearing some scary stories about the lack of communication inside accounting firms.
In the summer months and into the fall, many firms are in the midst of performance evaluation/feedback sessions and salary increases.
Notice I said “summer months and into the fall” meaning that it takes WAY TOO LONG in most firms for this process to play-out. It’s time to speed-up this process.
I am reading a lot about doing away with the formal annual performance reviews and holding managers accountable for on-going feedback, mentoring and coaching of employees. Please note that this isn’t happening in many CPA firms. The reason: partners and managers have not been well-trained nor held accountable for the performance of people they supervise.
The real story often goes like this:
- In May, several supervisors/managers/partners are asked to rate specific employees.
- Most of these “evaluators” have to be reminded and nagged so that the information is actually accumulated.
- In June, performance meetings are to be scheduled and the feedback presented to the individual employees.
- Some meetings get scheduled, then postponed.
- Some meetings don’t get scheduled at all (waiting on the bosses to review everything, etc.)
- Before you know it Fall has arrived.
Meanwhile, the employees talk among themselves, wondering about the feedback. Rarely does any team member speak-up and ask the partners (bosses) what’s going on… why the delay?
Meanwhile, the bosses (partners/managers) are too busy to get to the evaluations and never explain why they are delayed or when they will actually happen.
Employees shy away from speaking-up. Partners shy away from speaking-out.
After the CPA employee suffers in silence for too long or too often – they leave the firm.
Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering.
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
Jeremy Dillard, CPA recently presented on “Networking and Sales Best Practices” at the recent AICPA EDGE Conference in New Orleans. He offered some practical advice and his article was published this week via the AICPA.
I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment about the many misconceptions CPAs have about networking, such as it should be tackled only when billable work isn’t pressing and never during busy season. A networking plan should consider each of the following groups:
Follow the link, above, to read more about each of these groups.
I contend that growing a book of business begins with a simple question – How many people do you know?
I also like Dillard’s “best sales practices.”
Know – Referral sources need to know (understand) your expertise and what differentiates you. Use LinkedIn!
Like – You need your referral sources to like you because you are counting on them for introductions. Clients must like you and staff/co-workers must like you. Make yourself likable by simply being helpful.
Trust – Earn their trust (keep your word, it’s as simple as that).
Refer – If you receive a referral, you owe a referral. If you refer, you should expect one in return – it’s how the game is played.
Thanks to Mr. Dillard for sharing his insight and experiences. Here’s a link to Dillard’s website:
Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.