Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Friday, March 27th, 2020

Too Many At The Top

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

There are many CPA firm partners who are nearing retirement. They have always dreamed of passing their firm on to the next generation, dreamed of having it survive. Sorry to say, that is going to be an unfilled dream for many small to mid-size firms.

The reason? They are top-heavy. They are counting a few top performers to replace many, including some non-performing partners?

Read this post about the Upside Down Pyramid – it’s Flashback Friday!

Stay safe!

  • The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
  • William Shakespeare

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

The New Challenge of Leading People Remotely

“Being supportive is always important—but in times of crisis and separation, it’s critical.” – Dolly Daskal

In my office at work, many years ago, I had a magnetic sign stuck on the side of a metal file cabinet (remember those?) that said in big letters “Shit Happens.” It was where no one could see it but me! One of the partners gave it to me.

That pretty much described my focus back then. I was the firefighter, the policewoman, the physical Wikipedia and lots of challenges came my way. I welcomed the challenges but sometimes it was very frustrating (thus the sign). Things do just happen.

Now, as a leader in your firm (managing partner, HR director, Practice Manager, COO) lots of challenges have come your way (Big S— Has Happened).

If you are seeking help on how to do your management job in a remote environment Dolly Daskal has written an informative post.

Here are some tips:

  • You should be more supportive than ever.
  • You should be more present than ever.
  • You must keep people more informed than ever.
  • Be sure to show that you care more than ever.
  • You should bring more clarity than ever.
  • You should lead by example more than ever.

Daskal gives you more explanation for each of these tips in her post. Be sure to read the entire article.

  • It’s harder to show caring from a distance, but a time like this, when people are feeling anxious and isolated, is when a personal touch is most needed.
  • Dolly Daskal

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

Do You Have People Who Aren’t Self-Aware In Your Firm?

“I am dating a woman now who, evidently, is unaware of it.” – Gary Shandling

Research shows that although 95% of people think they are self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are.

In a recent article via HBR, you probably can find them in your office. It is my observation that you definitely find them in CPA firms!

These are people who have solid qualifications and are intelligent, yet they have no clue as to how they come across to their co-workers or employees. They are not only frustrating, but they can also cause increased stress and decreased motivation for others on the team.

Sometimes it is hard to identify that the real problem is lack of self-awareness. Some things to consider are that they don’t accept critical feedback, they lack empathy, they have an inflated opinion of their contributions and they are hurtful to others without realizing it.

Sometimes upward feedback surveys can bring the issues to the surface. In other cases, if you recognize it in others, you might have that crucial conversation with the person yourself.

Read the entire article. Plan to deal with these situations rather than sweep them under the carpet and risk driving top performers away from your firm.

 

  • There must be a happy medium somewhere between being totally informed and blissfully unaware.
  • Doug Larson

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Stay Positive

“I’ve decided to be happy because it is good for my health.” – Voltaire

It is a strange time for all of you working in public accounting. Of course, it is tax season. Client service must continue as usual. However, strange and unfamiliar circumstances have been layered on top of business as usual.

Many of you are working from home this week and for the unforeseeable future. In my state of Ohio, all schools will be closed at the end of today.

This new day and week will bring new challenges. However, I know that CPAs and all their team members will meet the challenges with style and grace. They will be creative, curious and dedicated.

Already, I have heard from many firms about how they are handling the challenges. I will post about some solutions that CPA firms are embracing tomorrow. It is a time of flexibility and creativity and I KNOW you are good at that.

I love to share quotes and it is time for some positive ones! Below are a few (via @SkipPrichard). Follow this link to read his entire post – 24 Quotes to help you relax when you are stressed.

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answers.” – William Burroughs

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mohandas Gandhi

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.” – Mark Black

  • Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Two Words

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

When I am meeting with team members (without the partners) in a CPA firm or during my sessions at CPA management conferences, I ask the group to quickly write down two words that describe their firm at that very moment.

Here are some examples of what I have received:

  • Organized – Chaos
  • Continually – Frustrated
  • Caring – Challenged
  • Dynamic – Dysfunction
  • Forward – Backward
  • Need – Help
  • Fiefdoms – Abound (one of my favorites)
  • Growing – Pains
  • Fun – Growing
  • No – Decisions
  • Under – Construction
  • And from a sole proprietor – For – Sale!

Two words I like to hear about firms:

  • Relentless – Perseverance
  • Eternally – Optimistic

As leaders, don’t you wonder what two words your team members would use to describe your firm to an outsider?

  • Comfort is the enemy of progress.
  • P. T. Barnum

Monday, March 9th, 2020

Complacency Is Your Biggest Enemy

“Safety and comfort come with complacency, and that’s never a good place to be working from.” – Elijah Wood

Experienced CPAs who have survived, long-term in public accounting work hard. However, they love the work, it’s not a penalty or a chore. They love their clients and helping them survive taxation and other financial challenges. They love helping clients build successful businesses that will provide for a comfortable retirement down the road.

After doing this for many years, they become a partner in a CPA firm and make a lot of money. They love the work and they make great money doing what they love. Life is good.

Sure, at times they do have people challenges… you know, employees and partners. Maybe even at home.

But, over the years they have become complacent. Often, almost unknowingly, they begin to strongly avoid change. They want to maintain the status quo. They are comfortable.

What are they missing? What more could they do for their people, their clients, and even their family?

If this sounds anything at all like you, here’s the question – – Are you comfortable or are you stuck?

  • One day everything will be well, that is our hope. Everything's fine today, that is our illusion.
  • Voltaire

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

Why Women Leave CPA Firms

“What is not acceptable is watching talent walk out the door.” – Joey Havens 

I recently read a great article via the Journal of Accountancy by Joey Havens, Why Women Leave Firms – And What We Can Do About It. 

He tells us two troubling stories about real-life situations for female CPAs in public accounting.

Havens notes: “I’m making the decision to get up from this gut punch and work even harder to make sure we shine the light on a better path forward. I commit to help elevate our profession until we are known as a place where every individual has an equitable playing field and opportunities to pursue their full potential and dreams.”

Then he goes on to give us some steps to take to prevent women from walking out the door!

  • Many of us in this profession are clinging so tightly to working the way we always have.
  • Joey Havwens

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

I Call It the Bad Apple

“To keep poor performers in place is to risk the future of the firm.” – Ron Baker

Recently, I read a great article by Ron Baker (you all know Ron Baker!).

His title for the article is Negative human capital and how it affects your firm. I simply call it The Bad Apple and have blogged about it several times. That being said, you MUST read Baker’s article.

Here’s an excerpt:

We do people no favors when we let them languish in a job they are not capable of performing well, or for which they have no heart. The philosophy, “hire slow and fire quick,” is sound advice. How do you know when it is time to let someone go? Ask yourself if you would hire this person again. Think how you would feel if this person came to you and said he or she was leaving to pursue another opportunity.

It is simply unacceptable to other team members to keep people in the firm who are not meeting expectations. The negative morale effects are significant, and will ripple throughout the company. Poor performers are not good role models, do not make good mentors, and may even be damaging customer relations. If the leaders don’t make these tough decisions regarding the most important form of intellectual capital in their firms, who will?

In my consulting work, I have observed that partners make excuses upon excuses for why they can’t let some go even when the entire staff would breathe a sigh of relief. Even when the person has caused repeated turnover because people cannot put up with their bullying.

It only takes 7 minutes to read the entire article.

  • We do people no favors when we let them languish in a job they are not capable of performing well, or for which they have no heart.
  • Ron Baker

Monday, February 24th, 2020

The Real Problem

From my experience, CPAs ignore the real problem. This came to mind when I read the following quote by Stephen R Covey:

“All the well-meaning advice in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans if we’re not even addressing the real problem.”

It also often comes to mind as I advise my valued clients. They hire me to get them on track, investigate and uncover troubling issues within the firm, make recommendations on how they can become future-ready, etc.

Very often, I give them advice that they don’t really want to hear. It is advice about once and for all addressing the real problem within their firm.

Many of them tell me that there is always “an elephant in the room” when they have their firm retreat and no one addresses it. Others are aware of a very troublesome employee or even a partner that no one wants to deal with. They are unwilling to outplace disruptive people. In other cases, their young people are sending them strong messages about a software, a procedure or a process that needs to be changed but the older partners simply will not listen.

To me, building a team of engaged, enlightened, energetic and passionate people who are willing to work as a team for the good of the firm is a foundational piece of the puzzle. This year, why don’t you finally address THE REAL PROBLEM.

  • Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them.
  • Charles DeMontesquieu

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Thoughts on Committees

“A committee is a thing which takes a week to do what one good man can do in an hour.” – Elbert Hubbard

“To get something done a committee should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are absent.” – Robert Copeland

If you are working in the CPA profession, I am sure you have been involved in committees. There are various firm committees and you also donate your time and talent to civic and charitable committees and boards.

This is just my opinion, so be forewarned. I don’t like to see TOO MANY committees inside a CPA firm and I do not like to see partners/owners on many, if any, committees.

Having a Tax Committee and an A&A Committee makes sense to me. It is a long-standing activity and I see the value. A partner is the chair of the committee – he or she is responsible for the well-being of the firm in these areas. They involve staff at all levels. It is a good way to give younger team members experience and a voice.

As firms grow, there will come a time when they need an executive committee and a partner compensation committee. Both of these are for larger firms where it is unproductive to have all partners involved in these issues. The membership of these committees rotate and are chaired by the managing partner.

Various committees to focus on the management of the firm are unnecessary. The managing partner and the firm administrator (COO, Practice Manager, etc.) are charged with efficient and effective firm management. You do not need other partners involved. Yes, informed, but not involved. This management team reports to the Board of Directors (the partner group, as a whole).

I have observed that some firms have an HR committee, a technology committee, a marketing committee and so on. They have partners serving on all these committees and it usually becomes a huge waste of time. Let the people charged with firm management, manage. The leaders of HR, technology and marketing report to the management team. Client service partners should be maintaining client relationships, bringing in business and mentoring younger, less experienced staff.

Do you ever become restless in a long-winded committee meeting because it goes on and on and no decisions actually get made? Don’t let this happen inside your firm.

 

  • If you want to kill any idea in the world, get a committee working on it.
  • Charles F. Kettering