Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Managing a Hybrid Environment

“Workers will fit into new personas, such as a homesteader, office dweller, and coffee shop traveler, and managers will need to properly manage distributed teams.” – Jeff Schwartz, Deloitte Consulting

By now, you have all realized that having a hybrid environment for your workforce will be needed going forward. Some firms have already made great strides and the need will increase once vaccines are available to everyone.

In a recent article via Fast Company, Stephanie Vozza directs us to a book written by Jeff Schwartz, founding partner of Deloitte Consulting’s Future of Work practice.

It is no longer work/life balance. Work and life have become fully integrated and being able to offer choices and manage hybrid workers is a necessity for partners and managers.

You will need to determine what works best for each individual worker and be flexible so that they can change their minds depending on personal situations.

Read the article here. It is only a four-minute read. You should also read Schwartz’s book, Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work.

  • Now as we think about what it means to go back to the office, we can’t use an old map to explore a new world.
  • Jeff Schwartz

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

What’s The Problem?

“If you complain about the same problems everyday… YOU are the problem.” – Brad Lea

Did you ever notice, inside your firm, that the same problems keep reappearing?

Perhaps it is a lack of training. Most likely, it is because that poor decisions or no decisions have been made.

Often the leadership group is in denial. Sometimes they think they have fixed the problem, yet it continues to cause frustration.

There seems to be many opinions as to why the problems continue to exist.

Are YOU the problem?

  • We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  • Albert Einstein

Monday, February 1st, 2021

The Partner Pyramid

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” – James M. Barrie

You are a leader in an accounting firm. You have worked very hard to reach the level of authority and responsibility that you now enjoy. You are now a partner. Congratulations, but beware! Things have changed.

Some CPAs, climbing the ladder of success, believe that becoming a partner means they are off the hook. They can control their own work lives. They will have many people working under their guidance to get the work done. They can relax a bit. They have reached the top of the pyramid. They can play more golf.

Wrong! Take a minute and a half to learn about the Partner Pyramid.

  • Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.
  • Ezra Taft Benson

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Think Big

“Go for great. Own your game. Be kind. Get big things done.” – Robin S. Sharma

Working in public accounting, you tend to be driven by due dates.

It is what motivates you. You focus on the little things that hinder the efficient flow of work through the office. You focus on what needs to get out this week or next week. You focus on the immediate challenge, whatever that might be.

When major due dates pass, you spend time recuperating and cleaning-up lots of small things that you have delayed until after the due date.

As for some major decisions that need to be made, you put those on the back burner until after the partner retreat, until the next major due date passes, or until you have enough time.

I have observed that you tend to pay too much attention to little things and too little attention to big things.

When will you ever have time? Some of those BIG things make you uncomfortable. You would rather by-pass confrontation.

Do you need to out-place certain clients, certain employees or even certain partners? Do you need to invest heavily in new technology? Do you need to finally address succession and admit that merging-up is your succession plan?

Don’t wait for summer to come to begin discussing these, and other, big issues with your management group. Pay continual attention to big things, make big decisions and keep moving forward each day, each week, and each month.

  • We forget the little things, so it's no wonder some of us screw up the big things.
  • Neil Cavuto

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Getting Better

“To learn about excellence you must study it.” – Marcus Buckingham

You want your firm to get better and better. You want it to gain more and more visibility and to continually build and enhance the firm reputation.

How do you and your firm get better? You learn from others.

Inside your firm, your team members continually learn and improve. This applies to new college graduates, the administrative team, your support professionals, and very experienced CPAs. All of these people learn so much from more experienced people.

Your firm also gets better by learning from other CPA firms that are growing, profitable, and over-all successful.

When I was new to CPA firm management, I attended all of the CPA firm management conferences that I could. There I met people from successful firms. These people would describe how they were doing this or that and if it was something I wanted to pursue, I got acquainted with the person from that successful firm. Over the years, I have made lifelong, personal friends from my contacts in other CPA firms.

When attending these events (in person or virtual now), reach out to others with more experience. CPA management conferences are filled with people who are willing to share their successes and help you and your firm get better.

One of the best resources is The CPA Firm Management Association. Join and learn. The members share their experiences and you can post questions on their discussion board and get immediate answers and advice.

So, to get better, reach out to others and also share your successes and failures with the others you meet. As today’s quote (above) says, “To learn about excellence you must study it.

  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
  • Aristotle

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

We’ll Get Back to Where We Were… Wrong!

‘You did that this year; why not last year or the year before?’ – Allan Koltin

I hear it said over and over. “When things get back to normal…”.

Most CPA firms have made great progress since March 2020. Even the AICPA is saying that firms have achieved needed change that they (the AICPA) thought would take five years. Firms did it in a few days and continually improved upon it throughout 2020. I am talking about enabling and embracing a remote workforce.

Some very small firms did not make this leap. They think it is a good thing that they still go into the office and operate in the old school way. I’m not sure that is a wise decision.

I agree with this observation by Allan Koltin:

“It’s not about bricks and mortar anymore,” he said. “I believe in three to five years, we will get rid of that space. The metric will drop down to 150 square feet per person. We will redesign offices for what we want them to be — a center for collaboration and training, a place to have meetings — and build it out accordingly. It’s a difficult conversation — some of you think that after the vaccine, we will come back to 2019.”

  • I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.
  • Lawrence Bossidy

Monday, January 4th, 2021

A Great CPA Firm

“A culture of greatness doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when a leader expects greatness and each person in the organization builds it, lives it, values it, reinforces it and fights for it.” – Jon Gordon

The above quotation from Jon Gordon, of course, made me think of the many CPA firms I know and have known over the many years I have been working with the CPA profession.

You can definitely tell if they have a culture of greatness and if their leaders nurture that culture.

As this year begins, think about the culture in your firm. Is it one of greatness? Is that greatness nurtured?

If not, be sure to identify your culture and go from there. If you have not sculpted your culture, it will form anyway and it might become a culture that you are not proud of.

Some cultures to avoid:

  • The lack of urgency culture.
  • The back-biting culture.
  • The sweat shop culture.
  • The old school culture.
  • The make fun of clients culture.
  • The “us” against “them” culture.

Hire for cultural fit and make your culture one of inclusion, life-long-learning, appreciation and pride.

Gallup offers a free culture development guide. Learn more about it here.

  • A company can't buy true emotional commitment from managers no matter how much it's willing to spend; this is something too valuable to have a price tag. And yet a company can't afford not to have it.
  • Stan Slap

Friday, December 11th, 2020

Losing Sight

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

You are working remotely most of the time. You see others and interact through technology like Zoom and Teams but it just isn’t the same.

You might be feeling rather isolated whether you are a new hire, an intern or even a partner.

Don’t let acceptance and procrastination get you in their grip.

As a team member, keep focused on your career progression. How are you going to get to the next level? How can you be more visible to firm leaders? Are you volunteering for challenging assignments? Are you helping others when the opportunity arises? Do you speak up in video meetings? Are you asking questions that will further your knowledge and move your career forward?

As a leader, have you lost sight of the firm’s strategic plan? Have you put many important initiatives on hold until “all of this is over”? Have you become too comfortable with the more laid-back culture that has overtaken your firm? Have you been so focused on the work and your direct reports that you have ignored relationships with your other partners?

It is easy to lose sight of your important goals when things change so rapidly. Renew your energy, passion and engagement and encourage others to do the same.

  • It can take years to mold a dream. It takes only a fraction of a second for it to be shattered.
  • Mary E. Pearson

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

Those Were The Days

“To reminisce with my old friends, a chance to share some memories, and play our songs again.” – Ricky Nelson

During 2020 we experienced great change. It doesn’t matter if you are working in a CPA firm or elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if you are retired or a child, change touched your life in a significant way.

It’s December. Hope is on the horizon in the form of a vaccine. Yet, you are suffering greatly from COVID fatigue.

I recently heard a song on SiriusXM that made me think of how we are all feeling – Those Were The Days by Mary Hopkin. Some of you might remember it.

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

It’s okay to think with fondness about how things used to be, but it is more important to contemplate how things are going to be in the future and how you will embrace a work life that will never be like it was in the past.

Listen to the song here.

  • I like to reminisce with people I don't know.
  • Steven Wright

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

The CPA Profession 2027

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

Today, I am sharing a press release from the Illinois CPA Society. I think it will definitely be of interest to those working in the CPA profession. They are providing seven predictions for the future titled, “CPA Profession 2027: Racing for Relevance.”

CHICAGO, Nov. 11, 2020– Unveiling seven provocative predictions for the future of the CPA profession, the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS)—one of the largest state CPA societies in the nation—has released its 2020 Insight Special Feature, “CPA Profession 2027: Racing for Relevance.”

The result of more than a year’s worth of strategic planning conversations and reviewing countless articles, interviews, reports, studies, and surveys—and conducting some of its own—“CPA Profession 2027” coalesces ICPAS’ findings from these authoritative, and sometimes disparate, sources into a powerful report detailing the underlying trends and challenges driving change in the CPA profession and how they may shape its future.

Inside “CPA Profession 2027,” ICPAS outlines how the CPA profession is facing a pace and type of change unlike any it has experienced before, where the rules of the race are literally being rewritten by technology. Key predictions include outlooks on how artificial intelligence and robotic process automation will forever change accounting, audit, finance, tax, and more;  the ways services are provided to companies and clients, and the ways companies and firms are staffed, will shift dramatically; and how implications of the global pandemic, along with rapidly changing company and client expectations, will demand CPAs change both mindset and skill set. The most provocative prediction of all is that the number of CPAs will decline in the years ahead as technology becomes more pervasive.

“While many strategic plans and reports look just one, two, or maybe three years out right now, we believe we cannot risk being shortsighted given the long-term implications of all that is changing around us,” says ICPAS President and CEO Todd Shapiro. “We understand the risks of making predictions. We acknowledge it’s unlikely each one plays out perfectly. But we firmly believe they’re directionally correct. Our hope is that the insights compiled here will rev up conversations that help us chart a roadmap for ensuring the sustainability, relevance, and growth of the CPA profession for many years to come.”

“CPA Profession 2027” is available now in PDF and digital formats at www.icpas.org/CPA2027, and print editions are available upon request. Shapiro welcomes feedback and is available for further comment.

  • The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt