Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

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

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

Optimism

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

I have observed that many CPAs are pessimists.

I have talked to many CPAs, usually managers, who are what I call Eeyores. In their mind, it is always something negative, bad or frustrating….. ” Oh, me, oh my, the sky is falling” type people.

Pessimism won’t get you very far. There is no time like the present to give the gift of optimism to yourself. You can do it – simply change your outlook and mindset. Don’t spoil the present with doom, gloom, worry, and despair.

You know if you are a pessimist. Others have most likely told you. Listen to them and learn. Become more hopeful because hopeful people always get more done. Become a recovering pessimist. It won’t be easy but you can do it.

  • Don't blame me if it rains.
  • A.A. Milne (Eeyore)

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Changed Forever

“The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” – Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea

Consultants and profession leaders have been continually prodding and pushing many CPAs toward significant change. Mostly, it has been by asking practitioners to take baby steps toward change. I have been talking about baby steps for years because most accountants have a great fear of quick, even if it is meaningful, change.

COVID-19 did what consultants and profession leaders couldn’t accomplish in decades. That is, forcing CPAs to suck it up and make immediate adjustment to their operation behaviors.

There is no going back now. The changes most firms made rather quickly will endure.

Gary Shamis, former managing partner of SSG, a large, progressive firm that got gobbled up by BDO has an interesting article via Accounting Today titled, Our Profession Has Changed Forever.

Three things that have changed:

  • The virtual practice
  • The client experience
  • Office real estate

Three things that have stalled:

  • Advisory services
  • M&A
  • Diversity & inclusion

Be sure to read the article to learn what he says about each.

  • Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.
  • Max McKeown

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

Be Prepared

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

If your are a CPA firm leader, you should always remember the Boy Scout motto:

Be Prepared – The Scout motto means that you are always ready to do what is necessary to help others. It also means you are ready, willing, and able to do what is necessary in any situation that comes along.

Peter Drucker told us – The manager will have to look at her task and ask, “What must I do to be prepared for danger, for opportunities, and above all for change?”

Recently, you have had to face danger and change yet not forget about opportunities. Some firms have done a commendable job of this because they were prepared. Some have struggled because they did not have strong enough technology and procedures.

Going forward it is a great time to make sure your firm is lean and can move fast as our new world of work evolves.

Employing the right talent is always an issue. As you have heard many times, you must have the right people on your bus and have them in the right seats. You must be able to trust your people.

Many of your people are skilled, experienced, and loyal. They can work remotely without someone looking over their shoulder. You can trust them. What are you going to do with the people you don’t trust?

  • For there to be betrayal, there would have to have been trust first.
  • Suzanne Collins

Monday, April 20th, 2020

It Will Never Be The Same

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

We are beginning to hear talk of moving our country, maybe state by state, back toward normal operations.

Disregard the word normal because what we knew as normal will not return for a very long time and probably never.

I bet you have heard the phrase “When the dust settles.”

When the dust settles we will get back to regular office hours. We will have most of our people working in the office. We will have staff meetings again. We will send people to conferences soon.

The thing is, the dust never should settle. You have been forced into significant change. Keep changing and don’t ever let the dust settle.

  • Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. They just don't let these feelings stop them.
  • T. Harv Eker

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

Surveillance

“When you hire AMAZING people and give them FREEDOM, they do amazing stuff.” – Seth Godin

As I do occasionally, I am offering you a complete blog post by Seth Godin. It struck me as something that accounting firm leaders will find helpful.

Over the years, I have observed many different ways that partners attempt to monitor the productiveness of their various team members. Some leaders even become obsessed with it. I hope you agree with No. 3:

The Panopticon

There are three ways to tell if people are hard at work in an office:

  1. the boss can watch them go to meetings. And they can watch each other in meetings as well.
  2. the boss can watch them sit at desks in an open office.
  3. we can make promises to each other and then keep them.

It seems as though only the third one is a useful, long-term way to allow us to do our best work together. The first two can help along the way, but if a meeting or an open office exists as a convoluted way to do surveillance, you’re probably wasting precious energy and trust.

And while transferring our work to home makes #1 even easier and #2 irrelevant, I’m still lobbying for #3.

  • Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost ALWAYS fails because it’s too late.
  • Seth Godin

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Snooze Is Not For You

“How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable.” – Seth Godin

I have been amazed that, even though I have been observing the Stay At Home order now for nearly three weeks, that time seems to fly by quickly. It has always been that way for me, even as a child I was never bored.

For my many CPA firm friends, I know that this busy season is moving quickly and even with the extended due dates, you are still focused on that April 15th date for many of your clients. Time is flying by! There isn’t time to hit the snooze button.

However, when you return to focusing on how to more efficiently and effectively manage your firm, you will most likely hit that snooze button.

Here’s an informative post from April last year. It’s Flashback Friday and time for you to remember that snooze is not for you!

  • Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.
  • Kevin Stirtz

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Continuous Testing For The CPA Exam

“Testing leads to failure, and failure leads to understanding.” – Burt Rutan

We are hearing a lot about testing, COVID-19 testing. But here is some good news about testing.

If you have been working in pubic accounting for a while you are aware that the CPA Exam has evolved and changed as society and resources have changed.

Beginning July 1, your firm’s candidates will not be confined to a designated time frame.

This from the Journal of Accountancy:

A new “continuous testing” model for CPA Exam candidates is scheduled to make its debut on July 1, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) announced Tuesday.

Under the continuous testing model, candidates will have the ability to take the exam year-round, without restriction, other than waiting to receive scores from previous attempts of the same section or when there is a major change to the exam.

Continuous testing will replace the existing CPA Exam testing window model, which limits candidates to testing during designated time frames in each quarter during the year.

NASBA is continuing to serve as a resource to the boards of accountancy as they advocate for the legislative changes needed to enable the transition. Of the 55 U.S. accountancy jurisdictions, just one (South Carolina) is expected to be unable to offer continuous testing before 2021.

Read the entire article here.

  • I'm forever testing myself. As a person and as an actor, I have no sense of competition.
  • Michael Caine