Archive for the ‘performance evaluations’ Category

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

It Is Time To Review Your Performance Review

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” – Pablo Picasso

You have probably read the articles. Many accounting firms are eliminating the annual performance review.

I think this statement can be very misleading. What they are eliminating are the annual ranking and written feedback comments.

Employees still need feedback and managers still need to give feedback. However, the widely-used formal feedback process is way too time-consuming for partners and managers and dreaded by both managers and employees.

It will soon be performance feedback time (after busy season). Revisit your process now and identify ways to transform your “performance evaluation” process into an entire “performance management” system.

Here are some ideas:

Keep It Simple, Sweetheart.

Would Your Employees Cheer If You Eliminated Formal Performance Evaluations?

It is More Than Performance Review.

  • There is always stuff to work on. You are never there.
  • Tiger Woods

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

Friday, December 29th, 2017

Next Year

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost

How many times have you said those two words, “next year”?

Maybe to your kids, “You’ll be old enough to do that next year.”

Maybe to your spouse, “Honey, we’ll take that special vacation trip next year.”

Maybe to yourself, “I’m going to lose 25 pounds next year!”

How about inside your firm?

“We will work on it and become COMPLETELY paperless next year.”

“We can’t do it this year, but next year we will out-place those five clients that drive our staff nuts.”

“We promise to be more timely with our feedback process next year.”

“We will add a few more employee benefits next year.”

“We have to update our website next year.”

“We will look into all this new digital stuff like blockchain and artificial intelligence, next year.”

“I’ll pass the CPA exam next year.”

For all these “next years” relating to your firm: Monday is NEXT YEAR.

For NOW – have a happy and safe New Years’ weekend!

  • It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and the broken promises.
  • Chief Joseph

Monday, December 18th, 2017

Frustrated With The Annual Performance Review?

“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.” – Tom Peters

I am so pleased to be part of the lead article for the December issue of the Journal of Accountancy. The article is by Anna Reitman.

It is titled: Want to jettison the annual performance review? – Here’s how some organizations are making the change.

As I have often stated, in many CPA firms, the reviewers and those being reviewed have come to dread the annual ordeal. This article examines changes that firms have made, the pitfalls they have encountered, and the results of their efforts.

I hope you find it helpful if your firm is considering making a change. Contact me if you need help.

 

  • I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.
  • Elon Musk

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

We Just Can’t….

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins, author Good to Great

Read the above quotation again.

I have coached and consulted with lots of CPA firms. I have done presentations for thousands of CPAs. I often hear the same lament about a poor performer: “We can’t let her go, she’s been with us 20 years.” I have heard that statement applied to poor performers over and over again throughout my career.

Is she meeting the firm’s expectations for her specific job at the firm? “No, but…” I hear too many “No, buts…” when I ask questions about this person. “We just can’t let her go.”

I use the term “she” because it is usually a she (just from my experience). “She” is someone hired by the former managing partner. She is stuck in status quo. She hasn’t kept up with technology changes. She demotivates all those around her. She dodges difficult tasks. Sometimes it is an admin person. Sometimes it is a paraprofessional. Sometimes it is a very technical tax person. AND yes, sometimes it is a partner!

Take action:

  • Clearly communicate to this person that they are not meeting expectations.
  • Clearly define those expectations.
  • Work with them to outline a development plan and assure them of the firm’s support in the improvement process.
  • Set a target date for some improvement to occur.

They just might change, improve and succeed. Usually, they remain a poor performer or a mediocre performer, at best.

If your people are mediocre, the firm will remain mediocre.

Again, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins, author Good to Great.

  • Bad decisions made with good intentions, are still bad decisions.
  • Jim Collins

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Performance Management

“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” – Anthony D’Angelo

In the world of CPA firm management, we often talk about performance reviews, performance evaluations or performance feedback. In firms, it has many names. Some call it Career Advancement Process and similar titles.

While giving feedback is an important part of the process, it is much more than that. If your firm simply gathers information and relays that information about their performance to the individual you have only taken one step in the process.

Also consider including some upward feedback or some peer-to-peer feedback.

Be sure to include:

Self-evaluations – Most people are very insightful into their own performance.

Mutual agreed upon goals – – the team member identifies goals and so does management. Then they negotiate to determine the two or three most important ones.

Periodic checking on the progress of goals. Set fewer goals with shorter timeframes. I like to see one goal for every 4-month period.

Everyday coaching. Walk around, talk to people, give them spot-checks on their performance. MBWA (Manage By Wandering Around). Today’s workforce wants feedback immediately.

 

  • Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.
  • Margaret Mead

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Keep Fighting That Procrastination Habit

“Last year I joined a support group for procrastinators. We haven’t met yet.”

When I am speaking to CPA firm groups, I like to tell the story of the classic procrastination scenario inside of a busy CPA firm. It goes something like this:

It’s tax season, we can’t possibly take the time to update our performance feedback process. It’s April 16, we desperately need time to recover from tax season. I call this the after-tax-season coma that you are in for about two to four weeks. It’s late May, early June, we can’t possibly work on the performance system because it is time to begin this year’s reviews. Our process will last at least through July. It’s August, too many people are on vacation. It’s September, we have extensions. It’s October, we have extensions. It’s December, we have tax planning appointments. So, that means you have November to catch-up on all the initiatives and projects you have talked about for years.

Any of this sound familiar? Don’t procrastinate this year begin NOW. Take it in small steps and just keep moving forward with your initiatives even is you have a lot of various excuses not to.

  • A year from now you may wish you had started today.
  • Karen Lamb

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

The Value of a Partner

Aquila“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin

In a recent newsletter, August Aquila of Aquila Global Advisors, LLC, shared the Factors Determining the Partner’s Value.

Here’s an excerpt:

In an accounting firm, profitability is generally the result of the firm’s combined talents, business management skills, internal systems, and value proposition to its core clients. Therefore, many factors must be considered when determining the value of a partner to the firm, for example

  • What are the technical competencies of the partner?
  • Are the partner’s technical competencies up to date?
  • Are these competencies needed by the current client base?
  • Does the partner add value in other areas, such as leadership, mentoring, and so on?
  • Can he or she bring in business—the lifeblood of any organization?

Skills alone do not make a good partner. You must also look at the character of the partner, for example

  • Does the partner live the firm’s core values?
  • Do staff members want to work with the partner?
  • Is the partner ethical in his or her dealings with both staff members and clients?

Most firms are too small to have a partner justify his or her existence as solely an administrative, marketing, or human resources partner. Partners need to increase the economic value of the firm.

He goes on to explain that many firms do not conduct formal partner evaluations. They do not require partners to set goals.

Partners need feedback, including the managing partner, if they want to improve their performance….. or NEED to improve their performance.

  • Excellent firms don't believe in excellence - only in constant improvement and constant change.
  • Tom Peters

Friday, December 9th, 2016

The Importance With Setting A Good Example

Over the years I have observed that many accountants, as they move up the ladder inside growing CPA firms, actually believe that once they become a partner, they will have it made.

As a partner, they will be able to do what they want and will not have to experience those horrible performance evaluations and goal setting sessions.

Maybe this viewpoint applied in the “old” days and perhaps inside some firms it still appears that partners have the privilege of doing things their own way and not being held accountable for following firm processes and procedures.

Inside the best firms, this is no longer the case. Partners hold the weight of the entire firm, it’s clients, it’s people and their families on their shoulders.

maister

 

 

Inside the best firms, the managing partner coaches the other partners. They receive performance feedback, and they are expected to set goals and achieve them every year. In these firms, there are consequences for poor partner performance.

 

dynamosRemember, inside your firm, per David Maister, you have two types of partners.Which one are you?

If you are a partner, which one are you?

If you work for partners, you might be able to divide them into these two categories.

  • Things work out the best for those who make the best of how things work out.
  • John Wooden

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Approach Performance Feedback With A Growth Mindset

In case you haven’t heard GE (General Electric) is changing their performance feedback system. Many large companies are doing the same thing. The are looking at a fresh approach to feedback that is more continuous and helpful.

GE has been known for it’s “rank and yank” system made famous by long-time CEO Jack Welch. You rate and rank your employees from top to bottom and then get rid of the bottom players – year after year.

Gone are those days thanks to the Millennials. Now, employers are focusing on growth (career growth and helping people get there).

Companies are doing something I have been urging CPAs to do for several years now…. set-up shorter goal periods and have fewer goals, then change the dialogue to growth conversations that are not tied to compensation.

Millennials, because of technology, are accustomed to having continual feedback – it’s a fact of life for them and employers are getting wise to that fact.

For your firm, it might mean a culture change and a plan on how to implement that change. You have to help partners and managers make the transition from a competitive process to one that is identified by its emphasis on growth.

GE’s slogan…. “inspire connection and develop people.”

Not a bad thing to consider for your firm and your people.

Read more about the GE transition here.

  • The people who get on in the world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.
  • George Bernard Shaw