Archive for the ‘Managers’ Category

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Staff Development

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” – Albert Einstein

Most firms have some sort of coaching program for team members who are in their early years as a staff associate. The transition from campus life to professional work life can be rather overwhelming.

Some firms have buddies, coaches, mentors, sponsors and maybe other levels of on-going staff development activities for everyone at the firm. I believe that partners still need to have a mentor.

While all of that is going on, there is often an experienced person inside the firm, usually a long-time manager, who takes it upon themselves to be a real source of knowledge and support to the younger, less-experienced staff associates.

Often, this person goes unrecognized and maybe the firm does not even allow them some slack in their workload while they informally coach the younger workers.

Sharon_TrabbicThat’s why I love a comment made by Sharon Trabbic, PAFM, Chief Operating Officer of the William Vaughan Company, CPAs in Maumee, Ohio.

“Our coaching program is very similar to other firms. We ask for the coaches and protégés to connect formally four times a year and informally as often as they need to. We have one senior manger that is an excellent coach for staff members and she coaches 9 people. That role is almost as important to the firm as her client work.”

 

  • Confidence comes from discipline and training.
  • Robert Kiyosaki

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Managers, Are You Ready?

“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” – Peter Drucker

Being a manager in a CPA firm is often a thankless experience.

You are caught between the partners and the staff. You seem to be responsible for so many tasks and activities relating to both. Plus, you are responsible for your own productivity. On top of that, the partners want you to help market the firm and bring in new business.

You can only do all of this if you are performing as a true manager and not simply being a worker-bee producing billable work.

As next busy season approaches, are you ready to manage or will you simply be a firefighter putting out fires in reactionary mode, day after day?

Here are some steps to help you be a manager – that means getting things done through other people.

Work on your delegation skills. When a task comes you way, ask yourself, can someone at a lower billing rate do this task? Is there a team member with space on their schedule? Even if it might be difficult for them, let them try. Just because a partner delegates to you, it doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself. YOU have to just be sure it gets done properly.

Do not participate in upward delegation. When a team member has difficulty completing an assignment, for a variety of reasons, don’t take the work back! After assigning the task, check with them every day to see what progress they are making and be available to answer questions. As the deadline approaches, you will know where they stand and might even be able to allow them more time.

Train, communicate, coach and delegate continually. That is how people improve in a CPA firm. They learn by doing and even re-doing. Provide helpful and insightful review notes so they learn from their mistakes. Give them verbal feedback daily. Don’t save up feedback for a formal performance review.

Hold them accountable. How do you do this? By simply asking questions – “Are you having any difficulties with the Jones assignment?” “Are you going to be able to hit the established completion date coming up in three days?” “Do you have any questions for me?”

Being a manager involves so much more than these few things. You must help direct reports establish goals and achieve them. You must encourage them to hit their goals and review their progress frequently. You must be a constant source of encouragement to others. You must also work on your own goals and be a life-long learner.

 

  • Success in management requires learning as fast as the world is changing.
  • Warren Bennis

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

I’ve Been in Meetings All Day

IMG_4125I hear it all the time when I talk to people in the CPA profession.

Sorry I didn’t get back with you…

Sorry, I didn’t get to work on that initiative….

Sorry I missed our call…

—-“I’ve been in meetings all day!”

I love this line from Seth Godin’s blog post today“A $30,000 software package is actually $3,000 worth of software plus $27,000 worth of meetings.”

He talks about “crisp” meetings and what they are. “The crisp meeting is one of a series. It’s driven by purpose and intent. It’s guided by questions.” He lists the questions. Be sure to take a couple minutes to read his post.

Then – “If it’s not going to be a crisp meeting, the professional is well-advised to not even attend.”

I have observed, in CPA firms, that leaders keep the accounting staff well-focused on billable work. Sometimes they don’t have enough meetings with the entire staff.

It’s the management and supervisory staff that seem to waste a huge amount of time in meetings… partner meetings, manager meetings, scheduling meetings, marketing committee meetings, HR committee meetings, technology committee meeting and so on. Develop a management structure, a CEO and a COO, maybe an executive committee. Have fewer committees and fewer meetings with fewer people.

  • The biggest difference between great work and pretty-good work are the meetings that accompanied it.
  • Seth Godin

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Flashback Friday – What About You?

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” – Robert Fulghum

Here’s this week’s flashback: As a Leader You Worry About Others – But Don’t Forget About Yourself!

As a servant leader, you think of others first. You worry about the firm, your worry about your people. Don’t forget to focus on yourself. In the post, featured above, there is a sample of a Personal SWOT Analysis form for you to use.

Have a great weekend. Hope you observed the eclipse this week. One of my clients closed their office for the day – they were in the totality path. Hope others did too!

  • Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.
  • Leo Buscaglia

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Providing Leadership Training Is A Must

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

There are a lot of good leadership training programs out there for managers and new partners in the CPA profession. Today, I want to make you aware of a great one from ConvergenceCoaching, LLC.

It is a future leaders development program called theTransformational Leadership ProgramTM.  The typical participant is a manager, senior manager or newer partner and the one-year program focuses on leadership behavior and mindset first, then management skills and knowledge of the profession, too.  Convergence runs “public” programs where any firm can send their up-and-comers and they also offer private versions of the program for specific firms and/or associations.

The program is unique from others in that they help participants understand the power of their mindset and the “internal dialogue” we all have that holds us back, or causes us to say or do things we shouldn’t.  It is only after participants understand themselves better that they can then help them develop new leadership, management and practice development skills.  And, participants are personally coached by a ConvergenceCoaching, LLC coach and their accountability to the program, their commitment to change and grow and their leaps forward are greater than in an education-only program.

There is a program beginning in mid-September and information about that program can be found at:

http://www.convergencecoaching.com/what-we-do/transformational-leadership-program/

Testimonials on the program can be found at:  http://www.convergencecoaching.com/who-we-serve/testimonials/

  • An army of a thousand is easy to find but ah how difficult to find a general.
  • Chinese Proverb

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Adulthood Pushed Back

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” – John Maxwell

Several years ago, Rebecca Ryan warned the CPA profession that the twenty-somethings that CPAs were accustomed to managing had changed, dramatically. She noted that adulthood markers were happening during their thirties rather than in their twenties.

Just this week I found additional information on this topic that I want to share with you.

Think about it. Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) graduated from college, got a job, got married and had kids when they were in their twenties. Gen-X (born 1965 to 1976) pretty much followed this same tradition.

Millennials are different. A report from the U.S. Census Bureau compares how people born between 1941 and 1957 were living as young adults in the 1970s and how people the same age lived in 2016.

Researchers established four milestones of adulthood: 1) Moving out of your parents’ house, 2) Getting married, 3) Having a child and 4) Getting a job.

  • Younger generations are delaying marriage.
  • One in 3 people ages 18 to 34 (24 million young adults) live with their parents. In 1975, it was one in 5.
  • Women ages 25 to 34 who were out of the labor force to take care of their home and family dropped from 43% to 14% between 1975 and 2016.

So, remember many of those twenty-somethings working at your firm have not actually moved into the adult world. Keep that in mind as you mentor, nurture and supervise them.

  • You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.
  • Walt Disney

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Start Networking Now

“If you’re trying to be successful, networking is the difference between mediocre and big.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

Sure, accounting firms are getting a lot of new business via social media. Many new clients now come directly from your website. I love to see CPAs using Twitter and Instagram. There are some great blogs out there authored by CPAs.

Here comes the but. But, personal networking is still an extremely important part of career-building for CPAs working in public accounting. If you are just beginning our CPA career – begin networking now. If you have many years of experience and really haven’t been expected to bring in business up to now – begin networking now. If you are a partner who rarely brings in business – begin networking now.

I am a fan of Jeffrey Gitomer and all his writings about sales and other things. He says, “Networking is life skills and social skills combined with sales skills. It is business leisure conducted before and after work – as proposed to business frantic, which is conducted from 9 to 5 (the exception being lunch)

Here’s Gitomer’s principles of networking:

  • to get known by those who count
  • to get more prospects
  • to make more contacts
  • to make more sales
  • to build relationships
  • to make a career advancement (or just get a job)
  • to build your reputation (and be seen and known as consistent)What do you need to be a successful networker?
  • A GREAT 30-second commercial that engages and asks questions that qualify the prospect, and gets to the next step in the sales cycle if there’s an interest.
  • Your willingness to dedicate the time it takes to do it and be excellent at it.
  • A plan of where and when.To maximize your networking effectiveness, you must follow one simple rule:
    Go where your customers and prospects go, or are likely to be.

Gitomer’s recent post gives you the 21.5 BEST places to network. Be sure to read it and begin networking!

  • Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.
  • Mother Teresa

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Silence Is Often Not Golden

“Organizations are destroyed by behaviors that should be confronted but are condoned by silence.” – Dan Rockwell @leadershipfreak

I have often operated by that old phrase, “Silence Is Golden”. There were just times when it was very appropriate, in my opinion, to say nothing. For instance, when someone was very angry.

I have also often operated by another old phrase, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.  That advice came from my mother and maybe from Thumper.

Communication is a difficult subject and a constant struggle inside many busy accounting firms.

However, never forget – You owe people feedback. You owe your partners feedback. You even owe your bosses feedback.

You should be comfortable speaking up immediately when you notice someone doing something wrong. Many “bosses” in CPA firms seem to have missed this message.

  • A partner notices that Judy is not following firm procedures, yet the partner saves up constructive feedback until there is a performance evaluation meeting or exercise.
  • Joe is new and struggling with some tax preparation issues. The manager is aware but is silent and instead writes 57 review notes.
  • Most of the partners notice “things” that should be addressed with a staff person or an admin team member and rather than address it on the spot, they ask the firm administrator… “Can you talk to Sally?”
  • Ted, tax partner, is what we call a “wild card”. The partners are even concerned about how he might be advising clients. Nothing is said.

Yes, you can bring a lot of negativity into the work place by saying too much, talking too much and whining too much. However, there are many times when inappropriate behaviors need to be addressed.

 

 

  • Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud.
  • Hermann Hesse

Friday, February 24th, 2017

Be Sure to Give Your Employees C.R.A.P.

Kortes“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.
  • Harold Kushner

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Leaders & Managers – You Need Both

“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.
  • Casey Stengel