Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Holding Everyone Back

“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” – Franz Kafka

I have seen it many, many times. You have seen it inside your own firm. Certain people simply opt-out of learning new processes, procedures and new technology. They do things the way they have always done them.

I used to recommend that you ignore them, work around them and take the majority of your people forward. Don’t let one person sink the whole ship. I don’t want you to make it easy for these non-compliant people. If they can’t keep up, don’t make another person do the work for them.

This often happens with older partners and especially with owners who have supposedly retired but continue to work at the firm. They will definitely have difficulty keeping up with the firm technology and usually expect an admin person or some other staff to “take care of them.”

All this came to mind because of a recent tweet by my good friend, Dustin Hostetler (@Flowtivity). Here’s his tweet and I agree!

Firms are not maximizing their technology investment until all team members are embracing the technology. Having workarounds for certain individuals because they don’t know how to use it (or won’t learn) to perform their function of the process holds everyone back.

  • "The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today!"
  • Nolan Bushnell

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

Reading For Tax Professionals

“Am I unhappy at my job?” – Tony Nitti

Whether you are a tax professional, another accountant or an admin professional working inside a public accounting firm I hope you will take the time to read this Forbes article written by Tony Nitti.

It is titled, The Five New Year’s Resolutions Every Tax Pro Should Make.

I know! You are busy. You are always busy. Find the time to read.

  • "You don't have to love your career every day."
  • Tony Nitti

Monday, January 20th, 2020

Retaining Top Talent

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs

It is very difficult to find and hire talented accountants and administrative personnel. Accounting firms have been struggling for years with this topic and it only seems to be getting more challenging. So, once you do hire a qualified person, how do you keep them?

I recently read a good article via HBR titled, Why People Quit Their Jobs.

In the CPA profession, we have heard for years that the reason people leave their jobs is the fact that they have a poor manager (boss).

Research now tells us that there is more to it than just a bad manager. Technology has enabled companies to better track reasons people leave jobs. A lot of it is personal reasons. Another interesting aspect is that large companies are tracking what employees are doing that might indicate they are unhappy with their current job like how much time they spend on LinkedIn.

It seems that comparing themselves to their peer group – both business peers and personal friends causes people to consider their current job status.

Take a few minutes to read the article, I think you will find it helpful in your quest to retain top talent.

  • "Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions and a healthy dose of curiosity. What do you think is the most important factor when building your team? For us, it’s personality."
  • Richard Branson

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

Rainmakers Retiring

“What differentiates sellers today is their ability to bring fresh ideas.” – Jill Konrath

In many CPA firms, the most successful rainmakers are still in the baby boomer category. Yet, as we all know, baby boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day.

Who will replace your top rainmaker(s)? This is a valid concern in many accounting firms. But, times are changing and so is the role of the CPA firm rainmaker.

In an informative article via Accounting Today, written by Lee Frederiksen, he notes that the rainmaker model is beginning to dry up!

Attracting new clients used to be based on the personalities of certain partners. These partners were out and about in the business community and made contacts that led to new business.

Now, a prospective client has checked out the firm, it’s leaders and the services they provide before anyone at the firm has actually met them. Future clients are searching for the firm with the right expertise to solve their specific business challenges. Hopefully, your firm possesses the services and expertise they are looking for and they can find it on your website.

Be sure to read the entire article.

  • "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."
  • Walt Disney

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

The “Save the Day” Person

“Some heroes save the day. Other heroes keep the day from needing to be saved.” – from a Mark Sanborn tweet

When I read the above quote, I thought of CPA firm administrators. They are the unsung heroes inside so many successful and profitable accounting firms.

Top-notch firm administrators/practice managers keep the wheels turning, eliminate the hurdles and often “take a bullet” for the sake of the firm and the team.

The best part is, as noted in the above quotation, they keep the day from needing to be saved.

How much are you investing in your “Save the Day” person? Are you spending money to send them to the right conferences? Are you, as partners, standing firmly behind them as they take those daily bullets? Are you investing in their professional growth by providing a coach?

A successful firm administrator shields the partners from the daily grind.

  • "Stones in the road? I save every single one, and one day I'll build a castle."
  • Fernando Pesssoa

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Achieving Your Goals

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

I recently received my copy of the hireMAX Spotlight newsletter. I have enjoyed a long business friendship with the president and founder, Norm Bobay. hireMAX provides employee selection and development programs.

The newsletter article titled, 7 Steps To Achieve Your Business Goals, describes how Navy SEALs achieve their goals. There is a lot of good advice for CPAs who want to become more successful.

When most of us think about Navy SEALs, we think of their bravery and toughness. They take on dangerous missions and seem to achieve the impossible.

In the book The Navy SEAL Art of War by Rob Roy, he talks about how Navy SEALs accomplish these amazing feats. He explains that it’s more about the process than the ability. He lays out these seven steps that you can use to tackle your scariest goals.

  1. Always ask clarifying questions. SEALs ask very specific questions to understand their mission clearly. You need to ask yourself the Who, Why, What, When, Where, and How questions about your goal. Use each of these questions to better clarify your objective. You don’t want to go into a mission misinformed about what the objective of it was. The same thing is important when you go after achieving a goal.
  1. Inventory all of your available resources. This includes knowing what you have now and what’s coming down the road. Note your tangible resources such as technology and money. Don’t forget to include the intangible resources such as your network and your skills. Consider every resource available to you that can help you reach your goal.
  1. Clearly set up roles and responsibilities. If your goal involves help from your team, make sure they know their role and responsibility in achieving it.
  1. Maintain hyper-focus on your goal. Leaders don’t make excuses and they don’t let circumstances cause them to need an excuse.
  1. Think through all possible contingencies and outcomes. Be prepared to work around any problems that may arise. A failure to plan is a planned failure. 
  1. Train every day. SEALs train a lot. They practice over and over again until they’re stress-proof. You need to do the same. The more you train, the faster you’ll be. Training can help you quickly evade problems that arise. 
  1. The last step is to celebrate! Scratch that. This step is definitely not on the Navy Seals list. It’s great that you reached your goal but now you need an after-action review. Navy SEAL’s debrief after every mission. You need to do something similar. Look back to see if there are areas you can improve on when you go after your next goal. Rehash the mistakes you made and learn from them to do better next time.

Leaders can learn from Navy SEALs and utilize their processes in the business world. Implement the seven steps above and you’ll be on your way to achieving your next goal.

 

  • "The only easy day was yesterday."
  • ..a Navy SEALs motto

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Keeping Your Clients Informed

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” – Carl Sagan

Recently, I wrote about doing unexpected and helpful things for your clients. I am always surprised by the number of CPAs I talk to who do not send a newsletter to their clients. I always think of that old saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” It applies to CPAs.

Use your newsletter software to also send important reminders to your clients. These reminders are certainly unexpected and helpful.

Here’s a great example from Snyder & Company in Lancaster, Ohio that I received last week:

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  • "Friendship, like love, is destroyed by long absence, though it may be increased by short intermissions."
  • Samuel Johnson

Friday, January 10th, 2020

Lighten-Up – It’s Friday

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  • "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy."
  • John Adams

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Good Advice For An Actor & Good Advice For An Accountant

“Showing up on time is one of the greatest liberating acts you can give yourself in a movie.” – Tom Hanks

I’m sure, by now, you have probably read about Tom Hank’s acceptance speech for the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award.

He told the story of his first professional job as an intern at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival. He and his fellow interns showed up to rehearsals a little late after doing a little too much partying the previous night. The director wasn’t having it.

“He screamed at us,” said Hanks. “You know what your job is?” the director asked. “You have got to show up on time, and you have to know the text, and you have to have a head full of ideas. Otherwise, I can’t do my job.”

Good advice for an accountant of any age as they strive to build their career in public accounting.

  • Show up on time.
  • Know the text.
  • Have a head full of ideas.

Show up on time – Are others unable to do their work because of you? Are people waiting on you to answer questions so they can continue to efficiently serve the client? If you have an appointment or a scheduled phone call, what does the other person think of you if you keep them waiting?

Know the text – Have you listened and learned? Do you know exactly what you are supposed to do and when? Are you prepared? Do you ask questions so that there are no misunderstandings? When you have questions, do you also suggest solutions?

Have a head full of ideas – Think about how this can move your career forward. Never sink into complacency.  Read, learn and experiment. “It’s the way we have always done it,” is not in your vocabulary.

  • "If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great."
  • Tom Hanks

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

Punctuality

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” – William Shakespeare

I admire punctuality. To me, it shows character and caring.

Here’s a true story. A CPA merged her practice up into a larger firm. She always practiced punctuality when dealing with clients and employees. She was looking forward to a scheduled meeting with her new partners. They realized she had some serious topics to discuss. She arrived at the conference room five minutes before the meeting time. She sat for 20 minutes before the two partners showed up. She felt it was a sign of disrespect. Thus, it set a tone for the meeting.

How do you feel when you have to wait for an appointment? I know it should be expected at a doctor’s office but it is still irritating.

Do you ever make your clients wait on you? Do you schedule a phone session with a client and call them 10 minutes late?

I hope you are never late for an individual employee performance feedback meeting. It tells them they are not important.

Being on time can be accomplished – make it a resolution for 2020 and stick to it.

  • "I'm late, I'm late! For a very important date! No time to say 'hello, goodbye,' I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!"
  • The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland