Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

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

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Your Staffing Model

“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.” – George Carlin

I have been thinking that maybe CPA firms would be busier than ever in 2020. But, maybe I have been thinking wrong.

I read this morning that Friedman, a well-known Top 100 firm laid-off 50 people on March 26. You can read all about it here via goingconcern.  A recent survey found that 41% of accountants believe job cuts will happen at their firm because of COVID-19.

The article makes it sound like Friedman did not handle the situation very professionally. One person’s comment:

The person knew something was up when they were locked out of their computer on Thursday morning. So they called IT.

“They immediately slammed the phone down. I guess they knew I was on the fired list,” the person said.

What about your firm? Do you have a people plan ready for moving forward in 2020 after the tax crunch is over? I still believe that there will be so much work that needs to be done helping clients understand all the new rules and guidelines and also, helping them with budgeting and planning how they will survive into the future.

 

  • When I was 16, I worked in a pet store. And they fired me because they had three snakes in there, and one day I braided them.
  • Steven Wright

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