Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

The Employee Experience

“Starbucks was founded around the experience and the environment of their stores. Starbucks was about a space with comfortable chairs, lots of power outlets, tables and desks at which we could work and the option to spend as much time in their stores as we wanted without any pressure to buy. The coffee was incidental.” – Simon Sinek

It seems we have evolved past employee engagement. It is now all about the complete employee experience. From a recent study via Deloitte:

Nearly 80 percent of executives rated employee experience very important (42 percent) or important (38 percent), but only 22 percent reported that their companies were excellent at building a differentiated employee experience. 

Large firms can leave most of this up to their HR departments. However, a vast majority of accounting firms really don’t have an HR department. It’s up to you – partners, managers, firm administrators and even the entire team to shape the employee experience.

Are you striving to have a “differentiated employee experience”?

  • An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.
  • Jack Welch

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

Monday, February 26th, 2018

It Is More Than Performance Review

“Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded; not dwelled upon and stored.” – Tim Fargo

You have read about them, the firms that have abolished the annual performance feedback session. I can understand why. In many firms, they have become a dreaded exercise, dreaded by the person being reviewed and also by the reviewer.

Something that you may have missed is that doing away with the actual face-to-face formal session does not mean you do not provide feedback. That meeting is only one part of a performance management system!

Performance feedback sets the stage for promotions and compensation adjustments, too. If you don’t have the traditional feedback system you must train your managers (and partners) to provide performance feedback on an on-going basis. If carried out properly, I think it is absolutely the best way to provide feedback – immediate and continual. It’s called managing people and CPA firms haven’t been very good at it in the past.

Here is an excellent article by Sharlyn Lauby, @HRBartender. Be sure to read item #3, about training managers!

  • Make feedback normal. Not a performance review.
  • Ed Batista

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

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Transformation!

“The good old days are now.” – Tom Clancy

There is a great article by Bill Sheridan via the Business Learning Institute titled, CPAs aren’t doomed … they’re transforming.

I continue to try to get the message across to CPAs in firms big and small … the good old days are gone! You must learn new skills and commit to personal change. Yes, you must transform yourself and your firm.

Here’s a paragraph (but be sure to read the entire article).

To paraphrase Daniel Burrus, your clients still need you; they just don’t need the old you. They don’t need you to manage data and fill out forms. They need your insight. They need you to anticipate the future and help them take advantage of it. They need you to be business advisors, not number crunchers.

 

  • Life is a moving, breathing thing. We have to be willing to constantly evolve. Perfection is constant transformation.
  • Nia Peeples

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

Monday, February 5th, 2018

There is No One to Replace You

“Leadership Tip: Develop leaders or your vision will die when you die.” – Dan Rockwell

On my mind today. CPA partners have been saying it for several years now, “There’s no one to replace me.”

When I hear it I cringe. When I hear it, I usually ask, “Whose fault is that?”

Have you really been that deficient in training and mentoring your employees? Or, are you telling yourself that there is no one qualified to replace you because you are going to merge up, get your pay-out and don’t want to feel guilty about disappointing some key employees?

  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
  • Will Durant

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Top Five Business Challenges

“What you are tomorrow begins with what you do today.” – Tim Fargo

Hinge Research Institute recently surveyed 801 professional services firms of varying sizes and was able to determine the top five business challenges facing these firms.

  1. Attracting & Developing New Business – 75% of respondents cited this as their top challenge.
  2. Finding & Keeping Good People – As boomers retire, it’s increasingly urgent for firms to secure strong talent.
  3. Leadership & Internal Change Issues – You need high visibility experts.
  4. Technology Issues – Technology can be a challenge and an opportunity.
  5. Commoditization of Services – What sets your firm apart from competitors offering similar solutions and great service?

Read the entire article. Do these apply to you? How are you addressing your own top business challenges? Rapid change in the profession makes procrastination very dangerous.

Check out some of the Guides offered by Hinge.

Tomorrow, I will give you my insights about No. 1 – Attracting & Developing New Business.

  • Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.
  • Sam Ewing

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

The 12 Questions

“The true genius of a great manager is his or her ability to individualize. A great manager is one who understands how to trip each person’s trigger.” – Marcus Buckingham

I haven’t written about the “12 Questions” in a very long time. It comes from a book titled, First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The book has been around a while but maybe it is time you read it again.

They contend that employees leave managers, not companies. I strongly believe that this is often the case in CPA firms.

Buckingham and Coffman offer 12 questions that can be used to measure the core elements needed to attract, develop and retain the next generation of CPA firm leaders.

Here are the 12 Questions:

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages both my personal and my career development?
  7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
  9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do I have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
  12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

One of my client firms, asks these 12 questions of their entire staff every year and tracks progress year-to-year. They share the tracking matrix with the entire staff at the annual State of The Firm meeting. Constant improvement is part of their firm culture.

I hope you are doing something like this at your firm. I also hope that you are taking the steps to make steady progress. Don’t ever ask for input from your team and then do nothing with that valuable information.

  • The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.
  • Peter Drucker

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Weed the Garden – Turnover

“Turnover is bad only if the good go.” – Patrick Lencioni

Most CPA firm leaders consider turnover is a very bad thing. That’s not necessarily true.

In their book, “Built to Last,” Jerry Porras and Jim Collins talk about the occurrence of strong cultures of great companies. One of the indications of a strong culture is the rapid departure of people who don’t fit. Ultimately, those people are best served by finding a company where they can fit, and thrive.

When you retain people who don’t fit, it creates an even bigger threat to your firm. It demotivates those who do fit. It creates a culture of mediocrity.

So many firms have become a “please everyone” culture, providing lots of nice, sometimes trivial benefits to everyone. Sure, poor performers want to stay.

But, a menu of benefits will not retain all-star performers. They want to work in a thriving, high-performance and rewarding culture.

Stick with mediocre performers and you will find it even more difficult to attract top talent.

  • The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.
  • Max DePree