Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Friday, March 9th, 2018

It’s Friday – A Brief Message

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Believe it or not, because it is a very busy time of year for most of my readers, I am striving to keep my daily blog posts shorter. It is because I want you to read them!

My husband recently mentioned a phrase (or slogan) that was used when he was in the Army. While most of the things he tells me they said in the Army are not appropriate for me to repeat, this one actually seemed to apply to some accounting firms. He calls it the Six Ps:

Prior planning prevents piss poor performance.

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

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Want To Be More Profitable?

“A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.” – Joseph Joubert

Per Paul Epperlein of ADP:  Organizations with high employee engagement experience 22% higher profitability.

This is a big statement that applies to your firm. Do you really have employee engagement? You might think you do because you offer free coffee and soft drinks. You offer 9 or more holidays. You have an attractive lunch room with lots of amenities. You have a relaxed dress code and many other little things that make a big difference.

But… also per Epperlein: 60% of people leave their job due to a lack of relationship with their front line manager.

People like to feel connected to the people they work for. They want to feel like they are noticed, included and cared about by their boss.

How good are your firm’s partners and managers at building and nurturing caring relationships with your people? You might want to focus on that more this year. Make it a performance expectation.

  • The simple act of caring is heroic.
  • Edward Albert

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

In Public Accounting There Are Always Extra Hours

 “I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true–hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.” – Ray Bradbury

Soon it will be March. In CPA firms, that usually means even longer hours must be worked now until April 16, to properly serve the clients.

It’s crunch time and if you are working in public accounting you should not be surprised. When you majored in accounting and then joined a CPA firm, you knew there would be a busy season.

In progressive firms, busy season now, unlike the old days, is much more flexible. Team members are able to work those extra hours whenever and wherever. It doesn’t mean sitting in a cubicle for 60 hours per week.

After April 15, it becomes a 40 hour per week job. We used to always be concerned about how to find enough work for team members as the rest of the year unfolded. Most firms have solved that problem and now we seem to have a second busy season during September and October.

Yes, if you work in public accounting there will almost always be extra hours at peak times but you are working most of those extra hours when it is winter. Hopefully, that makes it a little better.

Firm partners, be sure you have an adequate scheduling system so that certain people are not completely overloaded. Firm administrators, be sure you are providing some enjoyable distractions during those dark, dreary, cold, often snowy winter months.

  • Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work
  • Peter Drucker

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

It’s Great To Work In Public Accounting

Maybe you haven’t thought about it lately. Maybe it never crosses your mind January through April, but working in public accounting is pretty cool.

You work your entire career with a group of professionals, people dedicated to helping others. After all, CPAs are the most trusted advisor to small business owners across the nation.

The people that surround you are intelligent, well-educated and dedicated to giving back to their local communities. Some of the clients you get to work with are the movers and shakers in the business community.

You learn something new almost every day and you become more knowledgeable and professional with each passing year.

I noticed this hard-working young man yesterday, a chilly winter day, and it came to mind how fortunate I was (and you are) to work in public accounting.

fullsizeoutput_41ee

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Being Positive Can Be a Boost To Your Health

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

It’s that time of year inside busy accounting firms. Everyone is focused and working very hard. Some are also working long hours and even the best clients sometimes cause frustration, not to mention the frustrations emitting from your co-workers and bosses.

Let it go! Be a positive person, in thought and deed.

I have always been an optimist and a positive thinker. I never think that things can go wrong or that something terrible will happen. Of course, there are times when things do go wrong and terrible things happen! But, you simply deal with it and move on with life. I know, it sounds easy but it’s not!

Helen Sanders, chief editor at Health Ambition has written a very helpful article to put you in a positive mood and understand the benefits – 9 Positive Thinking Tips: the Power of Positivity On Your Health. 

Every time you find yourself in a new situation, what are your first thoughts?

  • Are you the kind of person that thinks, “Oh God, this is horrible!”
  • Are you the kind of person that thinks, “Awesome, something new!”

Honestly, in my consulting work with accountants over many years, I see more of the first type of person!

Let’s say you’ve just found yourself stuck at the office on a Saturday, doing extra paperwork:

  • A negative person will grumble about their boss having it out for them, and how they always get stuck with the bad job.
  • A positive person will just get the work done because it’s “something that has to be done, and I’m the one doing it”.

I would like to see you fall into the second category in this scenario. Set a good example. Positive people can make a real difference in your firm!

Read her article and you will learn about the physical symptoms of negativity and also the benefits of positive thinking.

  • If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.
  • Zig Ziglar

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Enable Your Firm To Grow

Katie“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

I enjoyed attending the CPAFMA Ohio Chapter meeting last week in Columbus. Katie Tolin of CPA Growth Guides enlightened the attendees about the importance of product development, something missing from most CPA firms.

Here are some bullet points from Tolin’s remarks. I hope you find them very thought-provoking!

  • For a CPA firm to grow, they need 3 things: marketing, business development, and product management.
  • In most firms, product management is missing – you need all three.
  • Accounting is a mature profession and compliance work has hit its peak.
  • We are in a sea of sameness. Starbucks elevated the cup of coffee. How have we changed the tax return? About the only thing is e-filing, now everyone does it.
  • Technology is speeding things up and that kills billing by the hour.
  • We have mature products and a mature industry, how do we innovate? It can’t only be about new products (services), we need to innovate things we already do.
  • You must always challenge the status quo. Make it part of your culture.
  • Employees need to be empowered to please clients. You need two things, happy clients and happy employees.
  • Katie Tolin

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Don’t Discount Older Workers

“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” – Aldous Huxley

This is a reprint of an article I received and was given permission to use. I think it is important. Accounting firms are always looking for talented people but most hesitate to even consider an older person.

3 Reasons Why Hiring Older Employees Is A Smart Decision

In the 2015 movie The Intern, Robert DeNiro starred as a 70-year-old widower who returns to the workforce as an under-appreciated and seemingly out-of-step intern working for a young boss played by Anne Hathaway.

Initially, Hathaway’s character can’t quite relate to this baby boomer who ditched retirement out of boredom, but by the film’s finale, she comes to appreciate his skills and experience.

In real life, you’re unlikely to encounter many septuagenarian interns, but it’s not unusual for people to re-enter the labor market or launch new careers when they are well into what was once considered retirement age.

And that can be good for businesses that are willing to take advantage of all those decades of hard-earned experience, says Andrew Simon, a partner in Simon Associate Management Consultants (www.simonassociates.net) who himself is in his 70s.

“Starting a new career after 60 is not for everyone,” Simon says. “But it can be rewarding for those with energy and commitment levels that are high, and who are willing to learn new skills and keep up with the constantly evolving technology.”

The question is whether businesses will balk at hiring workers who, in many cases, are old enough to be the parents of the people supervising them. Sure there are downsides, Simon says, but the upsides can be tremendous when it’s the right fit for the right person.

He says a few things businesses should keep in mind as they weigh whether to hire older workers include:

  • Experience counts. Baby boomers come to the table with a whole set of experiences, including 30 or 40 years of interpersonal people skills that make them more adept at dealing with unique situations or different types of people. “On the flip side,” Simon says, “some of them could lack the technical skills that we take for granted in today’s workforce. So, be careful what you are asking them to do.”
  • Self-motivation. The odds are older employees will be self-motivated. “If these potential workers would like to join an organization or start a new career after 60, they probably like the idea of work,” Simon says. “They need to do something every day. Perhaps they view their job as intellectually stimulating.” You do need to make sure of their motivation, though, he says. If they’re just working for a paycheck, that might not cut it.
  • Different age groups have their own behaviors. Baby boomers often have a very different set of values than millennials. “Different things motivate them,” Simon says. “The culture of an organization is very important and can be tricky. You want to make sure these older workers have an opportunity to thrive in your new environment.” While it’s best to avoid stereotyping the generations too much, in general, baby boomers tend to be productive, loyal to the company, willing to put in long hours to get the job done and prefer to have conversations in person.

“Companies that pass on hiring older workers risk missing out on people who could become some of their most valuable employees,” Simon says. “Age shouldn’t be the issue. Instead, as with any hire, the issue is what skills and experiences each of these people can bring to the workforce.”

About Andrew Simon

Andrew Simon, a partner in Simon Associate Management Consultants (www.simonassociates.net), has had a 50-year career as a senior executive. He founded and ran Questar Assessment Inc., the fifth largest K-12 summative assessment company in the U.S. As a serial entrepreneur, Simon also developed and ran businesses in real estate development and did start-ups inside larger corporations, such as Citibank, Bankers Trust, Norcliff-Thayer and Lederle Labs. Earlier in his career, he was part of a team that launched L’Oréal into the consumer products arena. Simon also is a trained and certified Innovation Games® facilitator and has conducted more than 50 client engagements using Innovation Games methods.

 

 

  • I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.
  • Francis Bacon

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Be Bold

“Be original; don’t be scared of being bold!” – Ed Sheeran

Sometimes, I have observed that accountants are actually afraid to be bold. Don’t be!

Do things differently, treat your team differently, treat your clients differently and maybe it would be beneficial if YOU acted differently.

Many people believe that all accounting firms are pretty much alike. I have observed that fact over the years. I have also observed that there are some, a small number, that really are different.

I have also observed that there are some firms where there is one VERY bold partner. Well, almost too bold. That person lords over the partner group and the team and everyone seems to fall in line because they are afraid to be bold in return.

One of the questions I have heard over and over again is, “What are other firms doing?” This year, don’t follow the pack. Begin by giving your firm a “facelift.”

  • Is your office modern?
  • Is your logo trendy and modern?
  • Are you offering services that other firms are not?
  • Do you focus on something besides chargeable hours?
  • Are you making the client experience awesome?
  • Are you making the employee experience awesome?
  • Are you operating in the digital world – no more paper, no more fancy, expensive covers, client-friendly portals, lots of social media activity to benefit clients and prospects?
  • Is your website cool?

Read the Ed Sheeran quote, above, again. BE BOLD.

  • Originality implies being bold enough to go beyond accepted norms.
  • Anthony Storr

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Do It Right

“I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.” – Lou Holtz

When I first joined a CPA firm and learned the many steps of proofing and reviewing to make sure the job was right, an old saying kept going through my mind.

“Do it right the first time.”

I have heard it many times from others. When I began writing this blog post, I wasn’t sure where it originated so, of course, I Googled it:

Do It Right The First Time (DRIFT) is a theory from managerial accounting that relates to just-in-time (JIT) inventory where a company only receives goods as they are needed to cut down on inventory costs and production management. The idea behind DRIFT is that management wants all of the processes that make up the JIT philosophy to be done correctly and efficiently, so there are no delays in the production process.

Before coming to the CPA profession, my work experiences were always focused on doing it right; proofing my own work before it left my desk. I soon learned that wasn’t how it was done in CPA firms. Proofers and reviewers always found mistakes!

When your team members are given a task that they are definitely qualified to complete, I hope you expect them to do it right the first time. I hope you, personally, strive to do it right the first time.

 

  • With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.
  • Zig Ziglar

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Different – Bold – Fast!

Lisa Simpson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” – Mario Andretti

Thank-you to Lisa Simpson, Associate Director – Firm Services AICPA for posting this picture from the AICPA Digital CPA Conference back in December.

If there is any other advice for CPA practitioners right now, it pales in comparison to these three statements.

Many of my clients are smaller firms. I think “Move fast” especially applies to them.

That doesn’t let the larger firms off the hook. My larger, multi-partner firms need to also take these three statements to heart.

I see “Think different” happening in many firms right now. But, being bold and moving quickly are lagging behind.

Adopt these three statements as your firm’s internal motto, a motto that will take your firm into the future. Make posters and put them up around the office. Make a screensaver using these three. Discuss the three statements at each partner meeting.

Most importantly, ask your team members:

  • Are we thinking differently enough?
  • Are we making bold decisions and taking bold steps?
  • How can you help us move faster?
  • Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.
  • Mark Zukerberg