Archive for April, 2007

Monday, April 30th, 2007

After Busy Season Debriefing

Webster says debriefing means: to carefully review after completion.

I hope that you have already gone through this annual exercise immediately after April 17th. Last week, at our firm, we brought together the main tax people – partners, managers and admin – to discuss the major challenges experienced during tax season and develop an action plan for addressing them.

Because everyone was there, from all of our offices, we quickly solved many issues. You could do this via teleconference or video teleconference if you have more than one office.

We also do our annual ATS (after tax season) survey of the entire team. This also provides great insight and gives you the foundation for a plan. If you do a survey – please be sure to take action upon the suggestions!

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” – – Benjamin Disraeli

Friday, April 27th, 2007

How Much CPE Do You Provide?

It’s that time of year when CPE planning comes into the spotlight. I often get questions on how much CPE do you REALLY provide for the various levels inside the firm?

While most firms advertise in their personnel materials that “40 hours per year” are provided and paid for, many firms provide much more than that. We provide lots of informal training in Lunch and Learn format that often does not even hit the CPE records.

As a benchmark – here’s our averages for 2006:

Entry level 46 hours
Senior level 56 hours
Manager 62 hours
Director (partner) 60 hours
Total firm average 57 hours

“Highly developed spirits often encounter resistance from mediocre minds.” – – Albert Einstein

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

A New Beginning – A New Cycle

I have always considered the “year” for CPA firms to begin on April 16th. A brand new cycle begins. I warn our new team members that it truly takes a full-year to see all of the wonderful facets of a CPA firm.

Although it is a little late – Happy New Year! What a wonderful time for a new beginning and the natural time for all of the important “inside” activities at your firm.

If you have a minute – share a comment on a major management task you are planning for this “management busy season.”

I picked up a book over the week-end (one I had left partially read last fall) and spotted something that spoke to me. The book is Change the Way You See Everything – – through asset-based thinking.

The difference between a person who is vitally engaged in life and someone who is merely going through the motions is a vision fueled by passion. Side effects of this kind of vision may include:
*enthusiastic mood
*confident posture
*that look of being “up to something”
*an optimistic, energetic presence
*unbridled conviction
*undeniable magnestism

My wish for you for this New Year is to have a vision fueled by passion!

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” – – John Maxwell

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Holiday!

Today is an official holiday at Brady Ware. All offices, all divisions are closed to celebrate our favorite holiday of the year (well, almost favorite). – – – The First Friday after April 15th!

I hope all of you are observing this day, too and giving your team a well-deserved, long week-end.

Next week the work begins! Do you have debriefing meetings set with tax admin and tax leaders to learn from mistakes and other bumps in the road that happened this year?

Have these meetings with the auditors, too and involve everyone is making it better for next season and for the busy summer ahead.

“Nothing says holidays, like a cheese log.” – – Ellen DeGeneres

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

EXIT INTERVIEWS WITH INTERNS

Sadly, the end of busy season in our firm means the end of internships. We LOVE our interns and we will miss them. They have such great attitudes and are such an asset during our busiest time.

Our major challenge, as leaders charged with bringing the best and the brightest to the firm, is to “provide what we promise.” Our HR person and the rest of us who interview them and entice them to join our team usually don’t really have that much control over their actual experience with our firm. We must rely on our team, managers and directors to carry the torch. This year our team came through with flying colors and we are so proud of them. They provided the learning experience that we promise on campus.

How do we know this? By conducting exit interviews with each intern. They never cease to amaze us with their feedback and their ability to make suggestions that are really right on target. We just completed these interviews for this year and are feeling really good right now – Brady Ware walks the talk!

We use our regular exit conference form and our HR Manager meets with them personally and takes notes on the form as they talk. He will then summarize the comments and give feedback to our entire team.

People say conversation is a lost art; how often I have wished it were.” – – Edward R. Murrow

Monday, April 16th, 2007

THIS IS A DAY FOR WOW!

If you have heard me speak, you know that I am a huge believer in the power of WOW! I often use small WOW cards to jot down a brief note of appreciation to team members when they do something that needs to be noticed.

Survey after survey tells us that RECOGNITION for a job well done is one of the biggest motivators of employees. A very simple thing that we can do in 30 seconds.

I personally jot a small note and place the WOW card on the person’s keyboard so they see it when they arrive in the morning. I’ve also made an electronic version of my own design when I need to recognize a team member in another office.

I get the small recognition cards from Baudville – they are called Pocket Praise. Remember, the little things make the biggest difference.

“It was like being in the eye of a hurricane. You’d wake up in a concert and think, Wow, how did I get here?” – – John Lennon

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

WE LOVE THE NUMBERS

Here we are again, working the “last Saturday” before the April due date. We have all the usual hassles, stressed-out people, some short-tempers, clients bringing in info and still expecting their return and so on. My observation is it is still the “ending of tax season” as I have observed for 29 years. It can be summed up thus: We have a lot to do and we get it done.

Here’s some stats from the IRS through April 6 this year:

88.6 million returns filed
61.3 million e-filed returns
73.6 million refunds issued
$174 billion refunded
$2,366 = average refund check amount

These numbers came from a site I found called: Don’t Mess With Taxes
You might want to check it out or send it along to your tax gurus.

The famous quote from Albert Einstein seems appropriate today:
“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Top Ten Signs Your Accountant Is Nuts

Letterman is running his top ten contest this week on his website relating to the above. Be sure to submit your entry.

View Clark Nuber’s video audition for reading the Top Ten on the Letterman show. It will sure make you smile and be very familiar to many of us! Good job – Clark Nuber friends!

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, everybody loves them. But I thought this was interesting on the box, “Konsult Kardiologist”. – – David Letterman

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

The Ten Hottest

Many cities across the country are served by local business newspapers that are a part one company branded under Bizjournals. I am sure most of you are reading your local version.

Their weekly update that is sent by e-mail lists the Ten Hottest Cities for college grads and the Ten Hot Employment fields for grads. Guess what? Accounting is number one. The number one city is Las Vegas.

For the story on employment fields Click here. Be sure to click on the link on the opening page for the 10 hottest job markets.

“The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.” – – Oscar Wilde

“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.” – – Drew Carey

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Send This To Your Leaders Today or Tomorrow to Encourage Them to Recognize People

Below is a sample e-mail memo that you could send to your LEADERS during these last crunch days. You don’t have to use these particular words… but maybe they trigger thoughts that would be perfect for the leaders in your firm.

Surveys tell us that people crave feedback, recognition, encouragement – perhaps the leaders in your firm can send the team some “love.”

Here’s the sample wording:

For most of our team members, this is the peak time for productivity. It’s been going on for a few months and they (like most of you) are growing weary. Now is the time they NEED positive support and encouragement.

As John Maxwell says: “Too many leaders expect their people to encourage themselves. But most people require outside encouragement to propel them forward, it is vital to their growth and helps them reach their potential.

Praise a person every time you see improvement and personalize your encouragement anytime you can. Remember what motivates one person may leave another person cold. Find out what works with each team member and use it.

UCLA Coach John Wooden told players who scored to give a smile, wink or nod to the player who gave them a good pass. “What if he’s not looking?” asked a team member. Wooden replied, “I guarantee he’ll look.” Everyone values encouragement and looks for it.”

During the next few days (and longer) – be sure to look for opportunities to give encouragement. And, just in case you are bummed-out, remember. Silence is golden.

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

(or in our world – “How do I love thee? Let me check my Excel sheet and count the number of returns you have prepared/reviewed this year.”)