Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Act Upon Your Ideas

“Without hustle talent will only carry you so far.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

It is so exciting to go to a conference (or attend virtually) and obtain all kinds of ideas that spark your own ideas. You are invigorated, enthused, and committed to meeting with others on your team and sharing your ideas and intentions.

Then you get sidelined. The phone rings and a client or two or three need something and that seems more important than your idea. You will take care of these clients needs and then work more on that great idea.

Then you get sidelined. Your partners remind you that you have to get that selection of a new software finalized. You have to deal with performance feedback sessions and then you will work more on that great idea.

Someone else in thee firm talks about a great idea that is similar to yours. They work on getting others involved and soon that great ideas is becoming reality.

They found the time to get it done. You did not. They made it a top priority. You did not. You intended to do it but they made the time and succeeded.

Have you ever, in a meeting, a class or a training session, whispered a great comment to the person sitting next to you, and then they raise their hand and vocalize the great comment? It happened to some of us in high school or college. It happened to some of us in a staff meeting. It makes you feel sad and resentful.

Next time, raise your hand, speak up, and take action. You have the time, you just did not make it a top priority. Intending to get it done someday is no longer an option.

  • The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately.
  • Steve Harvey

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

COOs, Firm Administrators, Marketing & HR Directors

“That leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less”.  – John Maxwell

In the CPA firm world, if you are a support professional such as a firm administrator/practice manager, COO, HR director, marketing director, or chief information officer, you are not a partner in the firm.

Yet, you are a leader and although you might not have the power that goes along with being a partner, you have something that is just as powerful. You have influence. You gain influence by being a role model.

You can accomplish just as much, and probably more, with influence as the partners can with power. You use positive affirmation and encouragement to get people to do things and to buy-in to change.

You lead with influence by getting to know people. You are the one who knows everyone’s name, their spouse’s name, and even their kids’ names. You always have a positive attitude. You are a mentor to others, officially and unofficially. Recognizing people is something you continually do.

You also use your great power of influence in an upward manner. You might not be able TO MAKE partners change but you can apply constant, gentle, pressure to influence them to change. It works!

So, don’t worry about power. Utilize the influence you have and use it to your advantage and to move your firm and its people forward.

  • Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.
  • Albert Einstein

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

Women In Accounting

“If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.” – Margaret Thatcher

Here are some current stats about women in accounting from Catalyst research.

  • More than half of all accountants and auditors are women
  • Women are 61.7% of all accountants and auditors in the United States
  • Women are 50% of all full-time staff at CPA firms but make up just 27% of partners and principals.
  • The percentage of women on management committees is growing: 33% in 2019 compared to 19% in 2014.
  • Women make up nearly half of directors (41%) and senior managers (44%).

Read more here.

  • A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, July 6th, 2020

When The Dust Settles

“Normal is the wrong name often used for average.” – Henry S. Haskins

Maybe you have said it yourself. “When the dust settles we can get back to normal.”

We are living in different times. Our lives have been altered to a degree that we never imagined was possible.

Almost nothing is the same nor is it what we consider normal. We serve clients but we don’t see them in person, we don’t shake their hands and greet them in familiar ways.

The same goes for our team members. We have seen some people face-to-face every workday for twenty-five or thirty years. Now, we don’t see them daily or in person. We communicate via email and text and often by video. It’s just not the same.

It’s time we think differently. Don’t wish for the dust to settle and for things to get back to normal. Normal, for many of you working in the accounting profession, wasn’t working all that well anyway.

Try to keep things stirred up, evolving and changing. That is how you get better. Keep working with each other in different ways. Continue to serve clients in different ways. Many of these different ways are much better ways.

Don’t let the dust settle. Perhaps, in your firm, normal became too comfortable.

  • If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.
  • Maya Angelou

Monday, June 29th, 2020

Things That Don’t Matter

“It’s frustrating to keep doing things that don’t matter anymore.” – Dan Rockwell

It is amazing how many things have changed just during the last four months. March, April, May and June 2020.

You went into March just as you do for any March in tax season. Then things changed. Schools closed, universities moved all classes to online. Businesses and restaurants closed yet, work continued for accounting firms. They are essential.

You also sent your employees home and asked them to work remotely. You did it quickly and for many firms it was efficient and easy.

Now you are moving your team, in stages, back into the office. Not all will come back, they will continue to work remotely.

You have learned that it doesn’t matter anymore where people sit to do their work.

A big question you need to contemplate now is what have you always done that you no longer need to keep doing? Don’t force people back into behaviors, processes, and/or procedures that no longer seem logical.

  • I still catch myself feeling sad about things that don't matter anymore.
  • Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, June 26th, 2020

Flashback Friday – Procrastination

“If you are not passionate about what you mostly do, you better find another job.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

When you are driven by deadlines – like March 15, April 15 and this year July 15, it seems to allow many CPAs to put things off until the last minute. You even allow clients to facilitate your procrastination.

Read this flashback post – Fight it! – Procrastination.

  • In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

Retired Partners That Never Retire

“Retirement: That’s when you return from work one day and say, ‘Hi honey, I’m home forever.'” – Gene Perret

I don’t know why you call them retired partners if they are going to continue to work. I find it hard to understand why you pay them “retirement” payments and also pay them a salary to keep working.

I have always supported the practice of contracting with a partner who is being paid deferred comp to work for the firm (for a much-reduced salary) after they have transitioned their client responsibilities, for one year, if the firm actually needs them. The contract can be renewed annually. Again, with discussion and consideration among the partner group that the retired partner is actually needed.

Remember, to the outside world AND to young up-and-comers, the firm looks top heavy with partners. It is a disincentive for young people to wait years and years for a partner spot to open up.

Plus, I have observed that these “retirees” take up space, soak up administrative help, and never fully transition clients. If they are working less, they might also struggle with keeping up with the firm technology (thus relying on admin to help them).

The partner group should discuss this topic and develop a policy. If the group wants to keep them around that is, of course, their prerogative. Just make sure everyone understands how retirement works at your firm.

Marc Rosenberg calls them Double-Dippers. Read his interesting post on this topic.

  • Working people have a lot of bad habits, but the worst of those is work.
  • Clarence Darrow

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

It Takes More Than An Email

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

Accounting firms have been faced with introducing a lot of new technologies recently. Some of it has been in almost an emergency mode.

But think back to how a new technology task was rolled-out BEFORE you were faced with COVID. I have observed that the technology team in accounting firms and the accountants speak two different languages.

Maybe the new technology task is something simple like how to log-in and work remotely. The IT team carefully put together a lengthy and elaborate email to explain how to do it. Simple.

Because the accountants didn’t quite understand all of the detailed instructions in the email, they emailed back with questions. The tech team answered, another email and another answer…. another email (of course “to all”) and another answer.

After about five or six back-and-forths, most people will just quit reading the emails.

Anytime you are implementing a new policy or procedure, whether it is about technology or tax processing, it takes more than an email. Communicate in person. Invite small groups of people to be trained face-to-face. You can do this using Zoom for your remote workers.

When you are all back in the office and can meet in larger groups, have the person responsible for the new tech, tax, or office procedure lead the session and answer all questions. Again, it takes more than an email.

  • I was training to be an electrician. I suppose I got wired the wrong way round somewhere along the line.
  • Elvis Presley

Monday, June 1st, 2020

Oh, No! Another Meeting!

“Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer the meetings the better.” – Peter Drucker

I hate to admit it but I write about this topic very often. The trouble is, this problem never seems to go away or even improve.

Right now, rather than in-person meetings at the firm, people are becoming exhausted because of too many ZOOM meetings! I hear this from many people who are now working remotely.

This topic has been addressed, very humorously by Dilbert, on many occasions:

Boss: We’re having a meeting to discuss employee retention.

Dilbert: Tell them that employees quit because there are too many useless meetings.

Boss: We won’t be getting into reasons at the first meeting.

Seriously, does your firm have too many meetings? It is an on-going danger inside CPA firms because:

  • Partners want to be sure they are communicating with everyone.
  • Partners want to show their people that they care about their opinion.
  • Partners and managers think that what they discuss is of interest to everyone.
  • Partners have a strong “need to know” about way too many things!
  • Partners think they have to be in on every decision.

Some suggestions:

  • Don’t make most meetings mandatory.
  • Invite and involve fewer people.
  • Invite and involve the right people.
  • Be sure the technology works for everyone.
  • Always have an agenda.
  • Set an end time and stick to it.
  • Leave the meeting with Action Steps.

If you involve people in meetings that are important and they don’t talk or contribute. Don’t invite or involve them again.

The most recent story I heard is that one manager had so many ZOOM meetings that she had to actually conduct the meetings in a closet because it was so disturbing to the rest of her family because her spouse and even her children were also working online.

  • A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.
  • James T. Kirk

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

Do Some Planning

“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.” – Earl Nightengale

Many of you know and remember Rebecca Ryan. She spoke at many CPA management conferences a few years back and work with several firms focusing on planning for the next generation. She is a futurist and economist.

Ryan’s recent post, “What to tell your team when everyone’s freaked out” is something that I highly recommend you read.

As she notes, “A great antidote to being scared is to do some planning.” She talks about Assumptions, First Principles, Pivot plan, financial contingency plans, and shares some personal reflections from another tough time we went through (the Great Recession).

I think you will find her thoughts very helpful as you plan for the future of your firm and your people. Click here to read her post.

  • Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
  • Mary Oliver