Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category
Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
“Don’t make excuses, make good. – Elbert Hubbard
Sometimes, I see a lot of finger-pointing going on inside CPA firms. “Mary told me to do it that way.” “The partner didn’t tell me it was due today.” “The client won’t return my calls.” – – and so on. You have all heard them or maybe even made several excuses yourself.
I read a term this week – – EFE – Excuses for Everything.
After working a CPA firm for thirty years, I can assure you that I have heard a lot of excuses!
Some excuses are self-imposed – “I don’t have enough experience.” “I’ve never prepared that type of return before.” “I need more time to study.”
Some excuses are truly finger-pointing – “Mary said it was okay if I left early every day this week.” “Joe says we always do it this way on non-profit audits.” “No one told me the client was leaving town.”
Rather than focusing on all of the why’s you can’t do something, how about stop making excuses and move into action.
I have observed that in some firms, a lot of time is wasted trying to find out who was at fault for some mistake or miscommunication. Forget who is at fault, fix the problem and move forward.
If YOU are at fault, admit it, apologize and move on. Don’t waste time on excuses. Banish EFEs from your firm.
Don't do what you'll have to find an excuse for.
Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” – Margaret Lee Runbeck
During the month of February, Richard Branson featured many posts on the topic of happiness. He even provided a happiness playlist.
Have you recently thought about how happy you really are? I recommend it.
Today, I want to talk about the happiness of your team. As a CPA firm leader, are you at all focused on what makes your team happy or are you just trying to keep up with what the competition is doing so you have a good chance at retaining people?
An accounting firm has a variety of roles and a variety of people filling those roles. It can be quite challenging trying to keep people happy.
That doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Make happiness the core of your workplace and begin by listening to your people. Often, some very small things can make them happy – it not always about more financial gain.
I have observed some amazing CPA firms during my many years working in the profession. They offer their people so much – a beautiful office, an outstanding menu of employee benefits, 10 or more paid holidays, four, five or more weeks PTO, competitive salaries, great technology, the chance to work with some really smart people, the opportunity to assist some very successful and innovative clients, recognition in the business community, free continuing education, flexibility and more. But, that’s not enough.
You need to try very hard to always think of new things to keep the team energized and happy. Maybe it’s a chair massage during busy season, a mini-golf outing, a bowling outing, a special catered dinner, theme dress-up days, seasonal parties, etc. Keep trying to surprise them!
The most important thing you can do to keep your team happy is to simply listen. They know what they want and it can be as simple as better communication from the partners or quicker turnaround on review.
This spring, you might want to ask them via an upward feedback survey.
If you recognize people on your team who are not happy at your firm, don’t hide from it – talk to them and if it is something you can’t remedy, help them find a position where they can find happiness in their work – no hard feelings.
You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.
Friday, February 24th, 2017
“From caring comes courage.” – Lao Tzu
It’s not what you think! This method comes from Jeff Kortes. He is an employee retention speaker, author and expert. Kortes has found that employers don’t give their employees enough C.R.A.P. and it is driving away valuable workers. Here’s the CRAP he’s talking about:
C – Caring
R – Respect
A – Appreciation
P – Praise
I became aware of Kortes this week, visited his blog site and thoroughly enjoyed his posts.
I know that in public accounting you are certainly challenged with attracting, developing and retaining people. Perhaps, the first thing you should do is develop a written employee retention strategic plan. Learn more about it, from Kortes here.
Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness.
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
“We won’t recognize the vast majority of CPA firms in five to 10 years.” – Barry Melancon
CPAs working in public accounting, get ready. I’m smiling as I type this because I have been warning, pleading, asking and begging you to “get ready” for about 25 years!
As reported via Accounting Today, Barry Melancon, President/CEO of the AICPA said recently, “The number of changes facing the accounting profession will leave most practices radically altered in the near future.”
Yes, you have been hearing that for years but this time it’s different because time is truly running out.
The businesses you serve are facing changes in a quicker time frame than ever before, why should you think CPA firms would be exempt? CPAs are supposed to be showing their clients the way into the future.
Erik Asgeirsson, President/CEO of CPA.com encourages accountants to dive deep into technology and pursue how it can help them deliver higher value to their clients.
Be sure to read the full article via Accounting Today. Be sure to note the graph that shows the percent of firms implementing cloud accounting in 2017.
People evolve and it's important to not stop evolving just because you've reached adulthood.
J. K. Simmons
Monday, February 20th, 2017
“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.” – John Foster Dulles
Do you shy away from challenging problems?
Certified Public Accountants are basically, nice people. They do not want to create contention or participate in confrontation. So, many challenging problems have a very long life-span inside accounting firms.
You have a renegade partner. They develop work-arounds to almost all of your processes and systems and rarely go along with the partner group’s initiatives. You even wonder what they are saying to clients.
You have a sacred cow employee. A person that apparently cannot be fired for continual poor performance. It’s someone who has been with the firm for decades and has evolved to the point where they have a very bad attitude. Even their work has become shoddy and they are beginning to drive people away from the firm.
The business world is quickly becoming digital and your firm is still not even paperless! You have a partner who absolutely refuses to move into the future. They must have everything in paper and they refuse to learn how to even review tax returns on-screen. Young, up-and-comers will soon find greener pastures.
Some partner groups are so afraid of confrontation that they pay a consultant thousands of dollars to come in and deal with the challenging problem.
Sure there is risk involved and it might feel very uncomfortable, but why not step-up to the plate and deal with your challenging problems? That’s what great leaders do.
(If you receive my blog via email, be sure to visit my website to read each days quote at the bottom of the page.)
One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment. If it doesn't turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Monday, February 13th, 2017
“Example is leadership.” – Albert Schweitzer
Your firm management group (includes partners, managers, and the firm administrator) works hard at defining and establishing the procedures that most efficiently enable the firm to provide excellent client service.
Your HR professional or firm administrator spends a significant amount of time and effort to update the firm handbook, the one that outlines the expected behaviors of all people working at the firm. It is approved by all partners.
You have job descriptions that document the duties of all levels of employees, including partners, at the firm.
At a staff meeting, the managing partner, speaking on behalf of all partners, explains a new policy or procedure and asks for everyone to get on board with implementation.
All of this can be summed up as “Do as I say.” Then….
A couple of partners and a manager short-cut some of the documented processes or procedures.
Several leaders openly disregard a certain topic in the personnel handbook.
As far as job descriptions, we often find partners doing manager work and managers doing senior work.
Several partners procrastinate on visibly implementing the “new” procedure.
All of this completes the familiar saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
This phrase should not be part of your firm culture. The leaders’ actions are obvious to the employees and probably an on-going topic of conversation or even ridicule. What can you do about it now? What more can you do after April 15? Think about it.
A person always doing his or her best becomes a natural leader, just by example.
Monday, February 6th, 2017
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” – Colin Powell
Today, I am thinking of what it really takes to be successful in the CPA profession. From my experience, a lot of it depends on the people you choose to work with and for.
But mostly, it can be summed up in four words: Work ethic and passion.
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are dong or learning to do.
Friday, February 3rd, 2017
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” – W. Edwards Deming
How are you doing with that “change” thing? I write about it over and over again and about how important it is to embrace change and keep pace with the changing world.
Today, I won’t write much but I want you to follow this link and read a great article by Jody Padar. To me, it’s a simple message: If you don’t change you will lose clients. Read it please and think about it over the weekend.
You must welcome change as the rule but not as the ruler.
Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
“The book you don’t read won’t help.” – Jim Rohn
Maybe your learning is too narrow.
CPAs must obtain Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits in order to continue being a CPA. It’s a rule.
Many CPAs just get the minimum and often accumulate their CPE credits in the easiest possible way. Technical CPE keeps you current and you get better at the technical topics, but that is not enough. Life-long learning is a must if you want a successful career.
Think about broadening your reading menu this year. History is full of great leaders who were avid readers. Read business books (not about tax and audit!). Read great literature.
If you want to get it done you have to set a goal. How about reading 12 books this year? I prefer you read 24, but 12 would be a good start.
Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.
Monday, January 30th, 2017
“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” – Stephen R. Covey
In an accounting firm, you need great partners and great managers.
Partners have the vision, they are the role models and they steer the firm in the direction of the strategic plan. Managers follow their example but have much more responsibility to get the work done. They supervise all of the staff members, teach them, encourage them and accomplish the various, identified goals.
Your firm needs great partners and you especially need great managers. In many firms, the firm administrator is an excellent example of a great manager, carrying out the wishes of the partners and working to keep the team focused on the work.
So, if you promise every young person joining your team that “they can be a partner someday,” are you telling the truth? Probably not. A firm full of partners with no managers and staff would not be building something for the long-term.
Per Gallup, great managers look inward. They look inside the firm, into each individual, into the differences in style, goals, needs and motivation of each person. Managers guide people toward the right way to release each person’s unique talents into performance.
Great leaders look outward. They look at the competition, out at the future, out at alternate routes to follow. They focus on broad patterns, finding connections, cracks, and then press home their advantage where the resistance is weakest. They must be visionaries, strategic thinkers, activators.
How is your leader and manager groups doing? Maybe it is time to realign, rethink and refocus on the proper roles for each. Both are valuable. Read the Gallup article here.
The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.