Friday, February 26th, 2021

Personal Connection – Flashback Friday

“Communication – the human connection – if the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer

If you want to enhance employee engagement, it is important to develop human connections. You can offer all kinds of employee benefits but don’t forget the importance of personal relationships.

Accountants are not usually the out-going, people-oriented types. They, of course, are better at relationships with their clients, it’s part of the job. They sometimes seem cool, distant and removed from the lives of their own employees.

This post from 2019 provides more and it still applies to these times of remote workers.

Enjoy your week-end.

  • "I have always believed that personal relationships are vital in business and that people should be directly accountable for their actions."
  • Richard Branson

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Managing a Hybrid Environment

“Workers will fit into new personas, such as a homesteader, office dweller, and coffee shop traveler, and managers will need to properly manage distributed teams.” – Jeff Schwartz, Deloitte Consulting

By now, you have all realized that having a hybrid environment for your workforce will be needed going forward. Some firms have already made great strides and the need will increase once vaccines are available to everyone.

In a recent article via Fast Company, Stephanie Vozza directs us to a book written by Jeff Schwartz, founding partner of Deloitte Consulting’s Future of Work practice.

It is no longer work/life balance. Work and life have become fully integrated and being able to offer choices and manage hybrid workers is a necessity for partners and managers.

You will need to determine what works best for each individual worker and be flexible so that they can change their minds depending on personal situations.

Read the article here. It is only a four-minute read. You should also read Schwartz’s book, Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work.

  • "Now as we think about what it means to go back to the office, we can’t use an old map to explore a new world. "
  • Jeff Schwartz

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Interruptions

“We must stop regarding unpleasant or unexpected things as interruptions of real life. The truth is that interruptions are real life.” – C. S. Lewis

It never seems to end, the constant parade of people outside the door of the managing partner or firm administrator, often standing in line just to ask a quick question. During COVID times, people are seeking a quick Zoom meeting with you. And then, there is the dreaded, huge number of emails in your inbox.

Do you sometimes think this is crazy and it must be something you are doing wrong? I used to think the same thing. However, over the years I’ve developed a new perspective on this “take a number” circus that surrounds a great many firm administrators (or managing partners).

Some of the highest level CEOs in the country have the same challenges with an “open door” for those that depend on them for guidance and they are operating daily with constant interruptions. Just like a CEO of a large company, your people depend on YOU.

Firm administrators, you have built your reputation inside the firm as the “go-to person.” The successful, smooth, day-to-day operation of the firm must constantly be nourished. You have the responsibility of nourishing it via your administrative and support team. It might be a quick 10-minute conversation with the Technology Manager, a 5-minute chat with the firm’s Controller, or even an unscheduled one-hour meeting with the Marketing Director. These interruptions that might drive some managers crazy are the lifeblood of your day.

We all have good intentions of MBWA (managing by wandering around), but how often do we actually work it into our busy schedules? If people aren’t coming to your office – – go find them!

If you are working remotely, don’t wait for people to come to you. Randomly, check-in on people who report to you. It can be done quickly. Ask them, “What do you think?” “How can I help.”

  • "Do one thing every day that scares you."
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

It Is Inside Every CPA Firm

“Solve drama. Don’t create it.” – Dan Rockwell, @Leadershipfreak

When doing presentations to CPA audiences, I will often ask, “You don’t have any drama inside your firm, do you?” Sad to say, this would get a big laugh from the audience.

What does that say about your firm?

Stay on track to a successful career by following these six rules for keeping your work-life drama-free.

Rule #1: If You Did it When You Were 15, Don’t Do it Now. – It is easy to catch yourself doing things that are more worthy of high school hallways than the office.

Rule #2: Save the Venting for Outside the Office. – Resist the urge to talk about your co-workers and boss while you are in the office.

Rule #3: When in Doubt, Wait to Reply. – An email can set you off! Don’t reply immediately. Wait. Think.

Rule #4: Know When It’s Time to Talk it Out. – To avoid unnecessary drama, you have to realize the point at which it’s better to simply talk to someone, in person.

Rule #5: Have (and Use) a Go-to Escape Phrase. – To avoid getting roped in to a drama situation, be prepared with a go-to-escape phrase. (“I can’t help you with that.” “I’ve got a deadline, I need to get back to work.”)

Rule #6: Never Assume Negative Intent. – To avoid drama, simply work under the assumption that your co-workers and manager are there to help you, support you, and challenge you to do even better work.

These rules come from an article by Katie Douthwaite Wolf, “6 Basic Rules You Need to Follow if You Truly Want to Avoid Office Drama”.

Read the entire article to learn much more about each rule. You might even change it into a No Drama policy to officially adopt for your firm.

  • "Don't waste words o people who deserve your silence. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing at all."
  • Mandy Hale

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Do They Like You?

“People prefer to say yes to those that they like.” Robert Cialdini 

I hear stories, all kinds of stories.

Working and interacting with hundreds of accounting firms over the last thirty years I, of course, hear stories. I hear, from the partners, what a great firm they have, how progressive they are, and how they do so much for their people. I do believe most of this.

I hear from the professional support team and the accounting staff how, while it is a good firm, they struggle with getting questions answered, getting changes approved and dealing with some of the partners. I do believe most of this.

The question for you to ponder today, as a shareholder, is influenced by the above quotation. Do your people actually like you?

If you are friendly, smile often, show caring/concern for individual team members, and are approachable, they will like you. They will work harder for you and strive to meet your expectations. They will respect you.

I remember when I was new to a CPA firm. One CPA partner would occasionally ask how I was doing and would ALWAYS say thank-you when I completed various tasks for him. That partner’s tasks always ranked higher on my to-do list than the other three partners.

The old English proverb, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, means that it is much easier to get what you want by being polite rather than by being rude and insolent.

  • "Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate."
  • Albert Schweitzer

Friday, February 19th, 2021

A Business – Not A Committee

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” – Jimi Hendrix

As firms grow, things must change. Every shareholder cannot be involved in every decision.

Here’s my Friday Flashback Post – Run Your Firm Like a Business.

  • "Muddle is the extra unknown personality in any committee."
  • Anthony Sampson

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Strengths

“It’s good to strengthen weakness but better to strengthen your strengths. You hired them for their strengths. Why focus on their weaknesses?” – Dan Rockwell @LeadershipFreak

You hire them because they have an accounting degree, they received good grades and they interviewed well.

You teach and train them to perform the basic duties of an accountant working in public accounting. You provide lots of feedback on what they did wrong along the way.

Of course, they still have some areas where they need to improve. Now, it is time to downplay their weaknesses (no one is perfect) and devote time, energy, and dollars to building on their strengths.

Communication – Maybe they are a poor communicator but they can investigate and solve the most challenging tax issues. Maybe they are a great communicator but they dread having their nose to the grindstone for eight hours.

Problem-solving – Maybe they love the challenge to think outside the box and discover answers to specific challenges. Maybe, when they encounter a problem, they prefer to immediately seek the advice of their manager or other experienced person.

Some no-brainers in an accounting firm – Someone just has a knack for preparing corporate tax returns and another can quickly and accurately work their way throw a long list of individual tax returns. Someone seems simply loves working in the tax area and dreads being drafted to be on an audit team.

Discover each individual’s strengths by enlisting their help and then put people with different strengths on the same engagement team. Most engagement teams need a planner and a doer, etc.

Here’s a good article via Forbes that will help you begin focusing on each of your team members’ strengths.

  • "Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle."
  • Napoleon Hill

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

What’s The Problem?

“If you complain about the same problems everyday… YOU are the problem.” – Brad Lea

Did you ever notice, inside your firm, that the same problems keep reappearing?

Perhaps it is a lack of training. Most likely, it is because that poor decisions or no decisions have been made.

Often the leadership group is in denial. Sometimes they think they have fixed the problem, yet it continues to cause frustration.

There seems to be many opinions as to why the problems continue to exist.

Are YOU the problem?

  • "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. "
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

Just Keep Ascending

“Wake up wild one! Your mind is a cageless bird waiting to fly to uncharted lands. Like the phoenix, you’ll rise again with renewed vigor, clarity, compassion and insight.” – Melody Lee

I read the following on Jon Gordon’s Instagram site. It applies to you and your accounting firm. Just keep soaring.

“The only bird that dares to peck an eagle is the crow. The crow sits on the eagles back and bites his neck. The eagle does not respond, nor fight with the crow; it does not spend time or energy on the crow instead he just opens its wings and begins to rise higher in the heavens. The higher the flight, the harder it is for the crow to breathe and eventually the crow falls off due to a lack of oxygen.

Learn from the eagle and don’t fight the crows, just keep ascending. They might be along for the ride but they’ll soon fall off. Do not allow yourself to succumb to the distractions….keep your focus on the things above and continue rising!!”

Source: Original Author Unknown

  • "Keep going, because there is nothing worse in this world than to stop. Simply keep flying."
  • Vidhya Thakkar

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Misconceptions

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little; it’s that they know so many things that just aren’t so.” – Mark Twain

I was recently reading an article from National Geographic that explained how our mental maps of the world are probably wrong. I discovered that mine was! There are many common geographic misconceptions. For example, you might think that South America is directly south of North America.

Here’s an excerpt:

For instance, we all know that South America is south of North America, of course. But you may be surprised by the fact that virtually the entire South American continent is east of Florida. There are lots of possible reasons for geographical misconceptions like this one, says cartographer John Nelson. Mental maps are necessarily simplifications, and Nelson suspects the misplaced Americas may be partly a result of their names. After all, it’s not called Southeast America.

How does all this relate to managing your CPA firm? I believe there are many misconceptions flourishing inside accounting firms. Many of these misconceptions are quite large and often resistant to correction.

  • Partners don’t care about people they just want to make a lot of money.
  • Staff don’t care about the firm, they just want to put in 8 hours and then go home.
  • Non-CPAs working at the firm are not as smart as the CPAs.
  • The partners are stingy.
  • The staff are careless.
  • Our firm is the best one in our market.
  • Our firm is the worst one in our market.

I corrected my misconceptions about how countries and continents are aligned and how they appear on maps by education myself, by exploring and reading.

How are you going to battle the misconceptions swirling around inside your firm?

  • "If you see a blatant error misconception about yourself, you really want to set it straight."
  • Jimmy Wales