Monday, December 5th, 2022

Tough vs. Wimpy

“If there’s one thing I learned from Rodrick, it’s to set people’s expectations real low so you end up surprising them by practically doing nothing at all.”
― Jeff Kinney,  Diary of a Wimpy Kid

I have observed this often. Current CPA firm partners “grew up” in a taskmaster culture. The partners that supervised them were tough. Or, to put it nicely, they were challenging and hard to please. They set very high standards. They expected hard work and dedication to the firm and the profession.

Then, over time, those young CPAs became partner themselves. They didn’t want to continue the “tough” firm culture. So, the pendulum began to swing in the other direction. The firm became less aggressive, yet it continued to grow and prosper. The partners became what you might call wimpy. They avoided confrontation with staff and with each other. They became complacent.

I heard from a person at a successful firm recently that the firm is the “Yes” firm. They never say “No” to any request from an employee. Of course, this is because of the extreme labor shortage in the profession right now.

Does never saying “No” sound like a long-term plan? Maybe. But is it too much like the “everybody gets a trophy” culture that really isn’t how life works? Does it punish the all-stars for the comfort of the poor performers?

I am hoping that your firm fits somewhere between tough and wimpy.

  • "Mom is always saying I'm a smart kid, but that I just don't apply myself."
  • Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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