Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

To Act is Hard

“To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.” ~ Goethe 

Read the above quote again.

Many CPAs working in public accounting will soon be participating in their firm’s annual partner, management or firm retreat.

You will THINK and explore many great ideas.

I urge you – act in accordance with your thinking.

  • You will never plow a field if you only turn it over in your mind.
  • Irish Proverb

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Performance Feedback

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi

For many firms, it is the time of year when you begin your performance feedback sessions. Hopefully, you have modified and updated your methods over the last few years. While some firms have theoretically eliminated the annual performance review, it is certainly not dead yet.

If you use the same format year after year after year, your employees and those who are giving them feedback come to dread the entire process.

Sometimes partners are expected to give feedback to 7, 8, 9 or more people. That takes a lot of time. The bigger issue is, after all the preliminary information gathering is done, how you structure the actual feedback face-to-face meeting.

One step in the right direction is to have more performance conversations throughout the year and not put so much focus on the big, annual evaluation.

Another modification is to work with your partners and managers in learning how to provide more meaningful feedback. Historically, managers have focused on past performance rather than talking about the future. Managers have also tended to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths.

Work to identify each individual’s strengths. Then, build momentum and career progression on those strengths. Develop a system of more frequent conversations and down-play the dreaded annual review.

 

  • If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.
  • Thomas Edison

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

The Partner Pledge

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi

I have talked with many firms about the use of a partner commitment statement. It is a list of things that a person commits to when they become an owner (partner) in a CPA firm. The first example I ever saw was from Sam Allred of Upstream Academy.

Over the years I have encouraged all firms to establish some guidelines for partners to follow. In so many firms, it is a sort of “now I am a partner so I can do whatever I want” culture. Progressive firms are setting the expectation for partners and I think it would be helpful to all partner groups.

Thanks to the CPAFMA discussion board, I recently read a sample Partner Pledge shared by Scott Chicoine, Firm Administrator for KerberRose, a prominent Wisconsin firm. They have kindly agreed to share their Partner Pledge with all of you. Thank-you, KerberRose!

kerberrosecclogo01

 

 

 

 

 

PARTNER COMMITMENT PLEDGE

Mission:
To Make our Clients and Employees Successful

Core Values:
• Honesty
• Integrity
• Respect
• Balanced Life
• Community Orientated

As a Partner of KerberRose, S.C., I understand that partnership is a privilege and not a right…this privilege must be continuously earned. I have a responsibility to KerberRose, the Partners, and the team members. As a Partner, I understand that I am on display for all to see and serve as a role model. My effort, attitude and desire will serve as a constant point of reference for employees. As such I pledge to:

-Commit to the Core Values of KerberRose in all interactions with all of The Firm’s Team Members
-Make myself more valuable every year and strive for continuous improvement
-Ensure the perpetuation of KerberRose through the transfer of knowledge and talents to future firm leaders
-Support firm efforts to develop and train future firm leadership
-Foster a culture that promotes inclusivity, family values, and opportunity for team members
-Continually engage with Team Members… be accessible, show them they are valued and help them to achieve their goals
-Be a great role model for success and judgment… be an inspiring Partner
-Make myself available for meetings with Firm Administrator and Managing -Partner to help monitor my personal goals and firm goals
-Delegate as appropriate, giving proper direction and setting reasonable expectations
-Commit to a unified and cohesive Partner group, but allow for creative thinking and challenging the status quo
-Commit to spirited involvement rather than grudging compliance
-Act in a modest manner and set ego aside
-Promote the full offering of available services to clients and prospects
-Ensure the services I offer are beneficial to clients
-Understand that we should provide clients exceptional service
-Always put the business interests of KerberRose ahead of my personal business interests
-Use my best efforts to meet or exceed my new business goals on an annual basis
-Use my best efforts to attain both chargeable and non-chargeable goals each year
-Establish non-chargeable hour goals that enhance the future of KerberRose
-Prepare billing timely and fairly
-Follow established collection policies and requirements of Partners
-Record my time daily
-Always give my best attitude, effort, and desire
-Make a lifelong commitment to learning

I, ________________________________have read, understand, and agree to do my best to approach my daily work in accordance with this KerberRose Partner Commitment Pledge.

 

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

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

Profession Update via Melancon

“Attention is a limited resource, so pay attention to where you pay attention.” – Howard Rheingold

Barry Melancon spoke at the BDO Alliance conference this week. Daniel Hood, Editor of Accounting Today communicated many great points from Melancon via Twitter. Twitter is often a great way to learn things – I hope you have a Twitter account and follow @AccountingEdit (Dan Hood) and @CPAmanagement (me).

Here are some of Hoods tweets from Melancon’s presentation. This is IMPORTANT information so you can better lead your firm into the future.

  • For those of you who believe the profession can be insulated from change, that’s a false optimism.
  • Once AI, blockchain, etc. become accepted, they will completely redefine what we think a professional accountant is.
  • Technical skills are table stakes. Finance execs want tech skills, communications skills, and critical thinking/ judgment skills.
  • Technology and the law are changing what tax compliance means.
  • What the world wants now is a combination of tax compliance and tax planning. Tax reform gives us a great opportunity to reposition ourselves this way.
  • The number of U.S. accounting grads hired into public accounting dropped 20% in the last 2 years. But overall hiring at firms was flat – they’re hiring fewer accounting grads.
  • In 2017, a quarter of all CPA firm acquisitions were of non-CPA firms.
  • The digital age in transforming organizations from the traditional pyramid model to more of a diamond, with automation and outsourcing removing a lot of the entry-level staff.
  • We need to start thinking about ‘fat middle’ firms, with more skilled middle-level employees than entry-level staff.
  • In terms of new skill sets, we’re most concerned about mid-career people who need to unlearn what they’ve already learned.
  • The notion of measuring CPE by the hour has to go by the wayside – it’s not about the hours, it’s about the skills learned.
  • The profession can’t say ‘We’re fine.’ No one is, and we’re not exempt. Are we well-positioned for making the changes that go with not being fine? Yes — if we’re willing to change, if we’re willing to take risks, we are very well-positioned
  • The quality of one's life depends on the quality of attention. Whatever you pay attention to will grow more important in your life.
  • Deepak Chopra

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Workplace Distractions

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” – Christopher Columbus

Udemy’s 2018 Workplace Distraction Report has been released and gives us some valuable information. You can download a full copy of the report here.

Highlights:

  • 70% agree that training can help people get better at blocking out distractions and achieving focus.
  • 36% of millennials/Gen A say they spend 2 or more hours per workday looking at their phones for personal activities.
  • 66% have never talked to a manager about their struggles with workplace distraction.

It is not just technology that distracts people. Chatty co-workers were reported as the number-one contributing factor to workplace distraction (80%).

Read more about the survey and talk about how to cure some office distractions at your firm.

  • Happiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions.
  • Saul Bellow

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

The Threat From Artificial Intelligence & More

“It’s beauty that captures your attention; personality that captures your heart.” – Oscar Wilde

I receive a newsletter from a long-time business friend, Norm Bobay of  HireMAX. Check them out if you have a need to use DISC for your firm.

This month’s newsletter has two articles that I think will be of interest to you – CPA firm citizens.

The first explains the threat many are feeling because of AI replacing their jobs. The second article – Leaders Excel With These Different Leadership Styles – is also insightful.

The leadership styles are:

  • Action-Oriented
  • Transformative
  • Encouraging
  • Empowerment
  • Reflective
  • Idealistic

Follow the link to the article and read more about these styles.

  • The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
  • Ernest Hemingway

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Merger & Acquisition

“I always say, complacency is the kiss of death.” – Shari Redstone

So many firms that I have known over my many years in public accounting have disappeared. Yes, they have merged-up or merged-in. As founders of many firms have moved into retirement they have chosen to merge rather than pass the firm along to others.

Many other firms I know have become the acquirers. With them, the original firm has also disappeared to be replaced by a new name that incorporates names of firms they have acquired (usually if those other firms are large enough that their name carries significant weight).

Then there are the doubters, the undecideds. They want to grow by acquiring other firms or they want to enjoy less stress from management responsibilities by being part of a larger firm. This group wavers and worries especially if it is their first venture into the M&A world. They are afraid of the risk and wonder if they will actually like being part of something bigger. They worry if they will like their new partners. My advice? Get over it and move ahead. Don’t delay too long or some wonderful opportunities might pass you by.

  • The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.
  • Benjamin E. Mays

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Urgency

“Progressive improvement beats delayed perfection.” – Mark Twain

The heat is off. That is the way many CPAs are feeling today (even though the IRS gave taxpayers one more day).

Many CPAs working in public accounting will be taking a few days off to recuperate. I call it the after-tax-season coma. They certainly deserve some down time but often it turns into a few days off followed by a few weeks of inactivity.

During busy season, most people working in an accounting firm feel a great sense of urgency and work flows like water out the door. After mid-April, that sense of urgency dissipates.

This year it is even more important to take action on firm management matters sooner rather than later. Big change is approaching and leaders need to make decisions and outline plans for how the firm will grow and evolve into a consulting organization.

Don’t lose that sense of urgency.

  • Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.
  • Jim Rohn

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Accountability

“Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame.” – Courtney Lynch

There are a lot of conversations in public accounting firm circles about accountability. Practitioners ask, “How do we hold people accountable?” They want to know exactly what to do and what to say.

In an accounting firm, it is almost always from the top down. As leaders, you want your people to be held accountable for their performance or lack thereof.

Keep in mind, accountability is a two-way street. If you are holding your people accountable for their performance, they should also be holding you accountable for your performance.

Is that happening at your firm? Do the members of your partner group hold each other accountable? Do you welcome upward feedback so that you are accountable to everyone in the firm?

  • Go into every interaction with those who work for you believing that you are as accountable to them for your performance as they are to you for their performance.
  • Jim Whitehurst

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

Strategy and Tactics

“Hope is not a strategy.” – Vince Lombardi

Sometimes, accountants get so wrapped up in tactics that they forget about strategy and vice versa. Distinguishing between tactics and strategy sometimes get very blurry inside CPA firms.

I don’t often include an entire blog post by Seth Godin in my own blog post. But, today is one of those days because I think it is very important for you, and your firm, to clearly understand tactics and strategy. Here it is:

Why even bother to think about strategy?

There’s confusion between tactics and strategy. It’s easy to get tied up in semantic knots as you work to figure out the distinction. It’s worth it, though, because strategy can save you when tactics fail.

If a tactic fails, you should consider abandoning it.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with your strategy. Your strategy is what you keep doing even after you walk away from a tactic.

A real estate broker could decide that her goal is to get more listings.

And her strategy is to achieve that by becoming the most trusted person in town.

There are then 100 tactics she can use to earn that trust. She can coordinate events, sponsor teams, host community meetings in her office, sponsor the local baseball team, be transparent about her earnings, hire countless summer interns at a fair wage, run seminars at the local library, etc. …

It doesn’t matter if one or two or five of the tactics aren’t home runs. They add up.

But if once, just once, she violates someone’s trust and expectations, the entire strategy goes out the window.

Tactics are disposable.

Strategy is for the long haul.

  • Strategy is about setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s not a matter of being better at what you do – it’s a matter of being different at what you do.
  • Michael Porter