Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Monday, May 10th, 2021

How Is Your Firm Perceived?

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” – Aldous Huxley

Ever wonder how you are really perceived in your business community?

“Oh, yes… I know Smith, Jones & Company, they are the ___________ firm.”

Try this fun exercise with your entire team during a Lunch & Learn session or at a regular team meeting.

Use the above line.  Insert the name of your firm. Have each person write down a word or phrase that fills in the BLANK.

After everyone is done – share them and discuss them.  How is your firm really perceived?

It could be……

  • They are the auto-dealer firm.
  • They are the new firm.
  • They are the oldest firm in town.
  • They are the audit firm.
  • They are an estate planning firm.
  • They are the innovative firm.
  • They are the old school firm.
  • They are the big firm.
  • They are the small firm.
  • They are the cool firm.

You might find out some eye-opening perceptions about your firm.

  • We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
  • Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Take Care of Today

“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” – Walter Hagen

Working in a busy accounting firm you sometimes lose sight of today.

You worry about tomorrow, next week, next month, and even future years. How many returns did we complete today? Will the young, new hire have that return to me for review tomorrow? Are we keeping pace to have everything done by the due date? Is our 3-year strategic plan still viable? What will we talk about at this year’s retreat?

You also worry about the past. “Remember how bad last tax season was? We don’t want that to happen again!” You recall the poor job Mary did on that Jones job last year and wonder if you can trust her now. I find CPAs have long memories when it comes to someone’s poor performance.

Never forget to live in the present. Let go of living in the past or in the future and enjoy the present. Life is short. Quit worrying so much and enjoy this day. Remember Alfred E. Neuman’s words “What, me Worry?”

  • Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow. It only saps today of its joy.
  • Leo Buscaglia

Monday, April 12th, 2021

Change Your Image

“Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

An interesting article via FastCompany about Major League Baseball needing to attract younger fans. The average TV viewer for MLB is 57 years old. How old is your average client? Think about it.

An example of being stuck in the past (via FastCompany) is the Boston Red Sox. Their logo and colors (red, of course and a pair of socks) have been the same for years.

Nike’s new uniform for the team (it debuts on the field on April 17) features none of that old stuff. The new uniform is yellow/gold with “Boston” written in a modernist, light blue script. Check it out here. As for me (not being a Boston fan), I like it a lot. I notice the cap still has the traditional “B”.

Now, what about your firm? Look how Boston is written on the front of the uniform – very contemporary. Does your firm’s logo and website say:

  • We’re an old-fashioned firm.
  • We have been around for years.
  • We are traditional and conservative.
  • We do taxes.
  • We could be called Old School.

Are your colors dark blue or burgundy? If you have a partner named Green is your website color green?

There is lots of conversations going on right now about accountants needing to be more creative. Put refreshing your image on your to do list for 2021.

  • The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.
  • Steven Spielberg

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

Goals

“The only criterion for what makes a good goal is that the person working towards it must set it for themselves, voluntarily.” – Marcus Buckingham

CPA firms, usually on an annual basis, have each team member establish goals for the coming year. This happens after the annual performance feedback exercise. Many firms have now moved beyond the annual tradition and are providing feedback much more frequently: Semi-annually, quarterly or monthly. Of course, the best firms provide feedback continually and have even discontinued the annual or periodic formal feedback session.

The current workforce wants to know how they are doing much more often than periodically. It makes me think of taking small children on a drive to a family outing or to a visit with grandparents. They ask, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” about every five minutes. That is how your employees feel; they want to know.

A friend of mine has an online job. They have never met their supervisor face-to-face. There are guidelines and parameters and lots of communication with their supervisor. At the end of each day they get a report on how they did that day. Are you anywhere close to that?

Some firms continue to assign goals to individuals based on their performance. Progressive firms involve individuals in setting goals. The person drafts their own goals and the supervisor advises and approves. Be sure you encourage people to have fewer goals and shorter timeframes. Something like two goals per quarter. I have observed that if a person has six or eight annual goals most of them never get accomplished.

CPA managers and partners need to give more frequent feedback and guidance and listen to where the individual wants to go with their career. They want to know, “Am I there yet? Am I there yet?”

  • Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

Is Your Work Your Passion?

“Connecting to your passion is being you, but better.” – Garrison Wynn

I have always thoroughly enjoyed my job, working inside a growing CPA firm and working as a CPA management consultant. CPA firm management has been my passion for many years.

I have known several people over those years who did not enjoy their job. Yet, they remained working at the same place and in the same role for years and years because….. Because of what? Money? Security? I even had one person tell me they stayed because it was an easy commute.

I am not talking solely about people in the CPA profession. I have had acquaintances in other professions or businesses who shared with me that they loved what they did but hated the people they worked with. Some said they loved the people but hated their role.

The above quote says a lot to me. My passion for what I do drives me to be better. I am never content. I always want to know more, do more, learn more, share more and be more.

If you don’t have a strong passion for your work don’t keep doing it for decades. There is so much more out there that could be available to you. Take the leap forward and don’t look back.

If you do have a strong passion for working in a CPA firm, never be content. Keep learning more, doing more, embracing change and taking others long with you into the future.

I love this quote: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

  • Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. and the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
  • Steve Jobs

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

Being a Leader

“If you don’t want to be a thief then be on time.” – Steve Keating

Being on time is always important. For a CPA, being on time during tax season is even more important. Sure, you are busy. So are your clients and your employees. Never waste another person’s time by being late.

On March 11th my blog, Always Be On time, reminded you of the importance of punctuality.

This week, I read a blog post by Steve Keating titled, Being on Time Matters. Please read his blog post. If you are too busy now, bookmark it to read after April 15th. With the extended deadline, I hope you will have more breathing room after 4/15.

I enjoyed reading his story about being on time and its importance. I know you will benefit from it, too, if you want to be an exceptional leader at your firm.

  • When it comes to time there seems to be two major groups of people. Those who believe being on time matters and those who believe it matters that other people be on time.
  • Steve Keating

Friday, March 26th, 2021

Hiring Remote Workers – Flashback Friday

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins

So many CPA firms are looking for experienced team members. This group has always been elusive and continues to be so.

My advice has always been you must grow your own. Hire them out of college (from a pool of interns you have used) and invest significantly in their training and development. As they become experienced, ask them to stretch and take on more difficult work. Don’t let your current managers cling to work.

Here’s a flashback post – Be Open-Minded About Hiring Remote Workers. It references an HBR article that you should read.

  • Every business is having to transform today, no matter the size, it’s up to us to transform to meet those expectations.
  • Barry Melancon

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

Stay Afloat

“Sometimes getting smaller and faster can lead to opportunities and growth we would have missed by being too big and slow.” – Joey Havens, CPA

I always enjoy reading Joey Havens’ articles and posts. His recent article via the Journal of Accountancy, in my opinion, hits the nail on the head. It is titled, Don’t Let Dead Weight Sink Your Ship.

What is going on inside your firm that slows the firm down? What keeps you from being one of the fastest-growing firms? What causes you to lose talented people? What causes you to lose clients to your competitors?

I sometimes talk about partners in a boat. Some are rowing and some are throwing out anchors. A few partners are pulling a heavy wagon up a hill and there are a few who are constantly dragging their feet. These partners are so-called leaders who are not leading. Slowly your boat is sinking.

Then there are the clients who complain about your fees, always pay slowly after much effort is spent trying to collect, and clients who are rude and disrespectful to your team members. I bet you have clients that make you cringe when you see, on your mobile, that they are calling you. You probably do not answer their first call. Slowly, those clients are sinking your boat.

Do you have partners/managers who are not teaching, mentoring, coaching, and motivating? In fact, they are actually driving top talent away. Slowly, your boat is sinking.

Read Havens’ post!

  • Once you know the right thing, do you have the discipline to do the right thing and, equally important, to stop doing the wrong things?
  • Jim Collins

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

Remember When

“People do what people see. Too many leaders send people where they have never been themselves.” – John Maxwell

CPA firm partners, never, never forget what it is like to be the new kid on the block. Think back to your first day in public accounting. How did you feel?

Times have changed. What most of your team members, especially your new hires, are experiencing are things that you did not experience when you were new.

One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habit’s of Highly Effective People is: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

As leaders, make an effort to understand the specific work your various team members are expected to produce. Learn what is most challenging and where most team members struggle.

It is not the same work, done the same way, you did as a beginner twenty-five or more years ago.

As Stephen Covey says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

  • Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.
  • Stephen Covey

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

Does Your CPA Firm Need to Restart?

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk.” – Mark Zuckerberg

I have observed that many accounting firm really do need to hit the restart button.

Why don’t they? They are afraid, afraid of losing employees, afraid of losing partners and, generally, afraid of the unknown.

I recently read a great article via Accounting Today about Sensiba San Filippo, one of the largest CPA and business consulting firms in Northern California. Here’s an excerpt:

When you hear “firmwide reboot,” most people think about cutting costs, trimming staff aggressively, and cutting back on travel and client entertainment. SSF took a radically different approach: Essentially, they asked themselves: “Why are we really in business?”

Everyone at all levels of the firm had to address three fundamental questions:

1. If you were a client, what would you want in a CPA?
2. If you were just graduating from college, would you want to work at your firm?
3. If your parents walked into one of our offices, would they be proud of the way they saw people treat each other?

Those aren’t the kinds of questions you’ll find on the CPA Exam or in an MBA textbook, although maybe they should be.

Sensiba San Filippo drastically changed their partner compensation program among other things. They lost partners and employees who were not on board with the new vision. Most firms are afraid to take that risk. Are you?

Read the article here.

  • Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
  • T. S. Eliot