Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Managers Must Give Honest Feedback

“Dealing with employee issues can be difficult but not dealing with them can be worse.” – Paul Foster

A person should be promoted to Manager when they are beginning to manage other people. Then, they must hone their skills on exactly how to manage other people.

I find that in CPA firms, people are promoted to manager because:

  • They have longevity with the firm.
  • They are great technicians and producers.
  • The partners are afraid that if they don’t promote them to Manager they will quit.

One of the most important things a Manager does is provide HONEST and timely feedback. Today’s workforce is demanding that they DO receive feedback on a continual basis – you can’t save it up for an annual performance review or even semi-annual or quarterly.  

Here is something I learned long ago when I was promoted and became the boss of my peers. Because of poor performance, we had to fire an administrative person. The MP always did the firing back then. He asked me to sit in. The person became angry and it was not an easy session. (My first firing and I remember it well.)  After it was over, he said to me, “You will never be an effective boss until you have had to fire someone.”

That first “firing” inspired me to never let anyone be surprised about being outplaced. One of the last outplacements I did, the young man came into my office and said, “I know why I’m here. I’m being let go, right?” 

If your managers are struggling with giving meaningful feedback, have them read, It’s Okay To Be The Boss by Bruce Tulgan. Get them each a copy, make reading it an assignment, and then meet with them for a discussion about what they read.

  • The day firing becomes easy is the day to fire yourself.
  • Tom Peters

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

Steady On

“Frantic work is never your best work.” – Dan Rockwell

I enjoy reading tweets and blog posts by @LeadershipFreak (Dan Rockwell). His recent one, A Dairy Farmer’s Path to Success, has many good lessons for accountants. I especially liked the following excerpt:

Steady on:

I asked a farmer how he was doing and he said, “Steady on.”

You never see a farmer running around like a chicken with its head cut off. (Apologies to chickens.)

Days are long on the farm, so you pace yourself. Medium speed allows you to work all day.

Frantic work is never your best work.

Read the blog post from Dan to learn more success tips from dairy farmers.

  • The future isn’t predictable. Instead, it’s created by informed decisions, bold action, and agile responses.
  • Dan Rockwell

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

Keeping It Simple

“How difficult it is to be simple.” – Vincent Van Gogh

CPA leaders working in public accounting have a bothersome skill. I have observed on many occasions that they have the ability to complicated almost anything. Maybe it is their inquisitive nature. Rather than just try something, test something to see if it works, they research, investigate, question an idea over and over and usually end up NOT trying something new.

They have high expectations for the team members but don’t often clearly (and simply) communicate them.

Here is some simple advice intended for a high school marching band as they depart on a road trip. I hope you can see how it could be used to communicate with your own team members. It also applies to your partner group.

  • You've got to change incentives for good behavior as opposed to just disincentivizing bad behavior.
  • Gavin Newsom

Wednesday, July 7th, 2021

Engage Your Employees – Don’t Lose Them

“You give loyalty, you’ll get it back. You give love, you’ll get it back.” – Tommy Lasorda

Now, more than ever, it is so important to engage your team members. As you all know, finding, hiring, and retaining people has become even more of a concern for public accounting firms.

Some firms are holding their partners accountable for engaging and retaining valued team members. Firm management is asking each partner these three questions. Leaders need followers. Many people working in public accounting say they stay with the firm because they are loyal to a particular partner. Who are those partners at your firm and why do they deserve such loyalty?

  • A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down.
  • Robert Benchley

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021

You Know What I Like!

“Bad news travels at the speed of light; good news travels like molasses.” – Tracy Morgan

I recently heard an old song by someone called The Big Bopper. He died on the famous plane crash with Buddy Holly. It happened on February 3, 1959, and has been called “The Day the Music Died.” It was referred to in Don McLean’s classic American Pie. If you are not old enough to remember or have never heard of Buddy Holly, click here.

Anyway, The Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson) had a novelty song that became a big hit titled Chantilly Lace. In the song he says, over and over, “Oh, baby you know what I like.”

I told you all of that so that I could talk about this – a recent article by Dan Hood of Accounting Today – “Accountants need to explain themselves.” Dan was on a recent Zoom session the AICPA leaders conducted last week. They (the AICPA leaders) urged all of us in the meeting and all CPAs to communicate what is good about the CPA profession. Dan’s article will be helpful to you.

They didn’t need to convince me. I love the CPA profession. But, are you, people working in a busy CPA firm, actively talking about all the good things to LIKE about the CPA profession? Talk to your kids, talk to students, talk to your spouse, your aunts/uncles, and especially your clients about the great rewards of being a CPA.

Read Dan’s article and keep in mind, “Oh, baby, you know what I like!”

  • If anyone asks you what kind of music you play, tell him 'pop.' Don't tell him 'rock'n'roll' or they won't even let you in the hotel.
  • Buddy Holly

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

A Long Weekend – Time For Contemplation

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” – Aristotle

Beginning today and through the long weekend. I hope you take some time to think and reflect.

Every day, in your leadership position, you create works of art. It might be a simple process, a procedure, valuable insight for a client, a smile for a co-worker, or a helping hand for your team.
Remember leadership is not a position, it is a state of mind – anyone can be a leader.

I like this one:

“It is about leaving a mark that I existed:
I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated.
I was happy. I was sad. I was in love.
I was afraid. I was hopeful.
I had an idea and I had a good purpose
and that’s why I made works of art.
– – Felix Gonzalez-Torres

  • Contemplation is the root of awareness and creativity.
  • Sandra Chantry

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

Improve Your Productivity & Focus

If you want to be more productive, you need to become master of your minutes.” – Crystal Paine

Have you heard of the Pomodoro method? According to an article I read, it has helped millions of people to become more productive and improve their time management skills.

Plus, according to a very efficient friend of mine who has worked in the CPA profession for years, it has really worked for her.

Also from the web: The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros.

It reminds me of a method practiced by my former marketing director. She would have a pressing task and would be down to a deadline. She would say, “I’m going to play Beat the Clock.” That meant she would completely focus for one hour (usually typing or researching something) and get what she could done in one hour. I have tried it at various times and it worked for me. Sometimes you just agonize over things too long!

  • Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.
  • Paul J. Meyer

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

High Regard

“People who end up as ‘first’ don’t actually set out to be first. They set out to do something they love.” – Condoleezza Rice

I am reading The Pioneers by David McCullough. I love historical books and McCullough has provided many.

Living in Ohio, The Pioneers is of interest to me cause it is about the first settlers that crossed the Ohio River and settled what they then called the Ohio country. It was really part of a larger area called the Northwest Territory where the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan would thrive.

Manasseh Cutler, a 45-year old pastor from Ipswich Hamlet, a tiny Massachusetts village led the “Ohio Cause” seeking to be able to buy land and settle in this beautiful and plentiful country.

At that time, Congress met in New York. The Constitutional Convention was still meeting. There was, as yet, no President, and Cutler had to bargain with Congress directly to get permission about the Ohio settlements.

Cutler described meetings with many influential people, including James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton. Eventually, he met with William Duer, secretary of the Board of Treasury.

I am early on in the book but a certain passage brought CPAs to mind. What do your clients think of you? What kind of person do they think you really are? What do your employees think of you, honestly? What would they write about you?

Cutler’s description of Duer:

“He is a gentleman of the most sprightly abilities and has a soul filled with the warmest benevolence and generosity. He is made both for business and the enjoyment of life.”

Of course, for some of you, replace “he” and “gentlemen” with the feminine reference. Then, as a CPA, would people say something similar about you?

Interestingly, there is more to Duer’s story.

  • What does it take to be the first female anything? It takes grit, and it takes grace.
  • Meryl Streep

Friday, June 18th, 2021

The Big Things

“Your comfort zone is a place where you keep yourself in a self-illusion and nothing can grow there, but your potentiality can grow only when you can think and grow out of that zone.” – Rashedur Ryan Rahman

Do you get caught up in so many little things that you always procrastinate on the big things? Don’t do it. It’s summer – focus on the BIG things. Here’s a Friday Flashback post about thinking big.

  • No one plows the field just by thinking about it.
  • Ljupka Cvetanova

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

Firm Administrators – Be Calm

“One leads by calm.” – a French maxim

I don’t need to say this to you, but life inside a busy, growing CPA firm can be hectic and stressful. There are always looming due dates, other “hot” jobs, and various tasks to handle for the partner group.

Your team can always sense when you are NOT calm. They know when you are worrying or even when you are depressed. They are naturally influenced by you. Be sure your entire partner group is fully aware of how closely they are being watched by staff.

Maybe it is a good time to take advantage of some of the apps that help you practice mindfulness and meditation. There is one called Calm that is very popular.

There are many great quotations about being calm:

“Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence so that’s very important for good health.” – Dalai Lama

“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.” – Dan Millman

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom

My advice to CPA firm leaders: Without calm, you won’t last as a leader.

I watch a lot of British mysteries, etc. It seems like every time someone has to solve a problem they say, “I’m going to take a walk to clear my head.” Maybe you should be taking more walks. Even my Apple watch reminds me to “Breathe” and I often stop and do it!

  • Step outside for a while - calm your mind. It is better to hug a tree than to bang your head against a wall continually.
  • Rasheed Ogunlaru