Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

Your Personal Efficiency

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

How efficient are you? Have you given it much thought? So often, we simply get into the habit of doing things a certain way and it becomes so comfortable that we don’t give a thought to exploring better ways of doing routine things.

Many years ago I took an extensive time management course. It lasted several weeks and was a foundational part of continual self-improvement for me.

Some of the tips/tactics were challenging and some were very simple, as stated, but quite challenging to carry out.

My favorite:  Never touch things twice.

Sounds simple, right? Back then, I had an “in-tray” on the corner of my desk. I would take things from the “In” tray, review them and decide to respond or procrastinate. I also had another stack, near the inbox where I put things to deal with later…. it kept growing and growing!

I adopted the one-touch method:  Act on it, delegate it or trash it. Honestly, it really helped. Sometimes I had to deal with dreaded things but it was better than having them hanging over my head like a dark cloud.

Give this method a try as you deal with paper items and now, mostly digital items.

Dr. Travis Bradberry, Coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, tells us that to be successful at this you have to master the tyranny of the urgent. The tyranny of the urgent refers to the tendency of little things that have to be done right now to get in the way of what really matters. The key is to delete or delegate or you will find yourself going for weeks without addressing the important stuff. Sound familiar?

Other tips from Bradberry:

  • No is a powerful word
  • Check email on a schedule
  • Avoid multitasking

  • The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time.
  • Mozart

Friday, October 15th, 2021

How To Talk To Clients – Flashback Friday

“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.” – Margaret Wheatley

First of all, happy October 15th!

This Friday I hope you have time to read my blog post. It stresses the importance of helping beginners on how to talk to clients.

Have a great weekend!

  • Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
  • Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

What Employees Want

“We can – and need to – focus on the right things now, so employees know the company is prepared to invest in their success.” – Sharlyn Lauby

According to a recent survey from Sharlyn Lauby (@HRBartender) the top two reasons employees would leave an organization are:

  • Increased opportunities for advancement.
  • Better compensation and benefits

This survey was not specifically for the CPA profession but I would guess that your current employees want the same thing. Lacking these two factors might cause some people to find other employment opportunities.

I was surprised that lack of flexibility was not one of the reasons people would leave but maybe because employers have, in general, embraced flexible work arrangements for almost everyone.

Do you know the reasons why your team members might leave your firm? Maybe it is time you did your own survey.

Young people entering the CPA profession today want to know what their career path would look like. Are you prepared to give them a clear picture of how that works at your firm? As to better compensation and benefits, I have found that most CPA firm employees are fairly satisfied in that area although I believe starting salaries should be enhanced as much as possible.

  • Money is usually attracted, not pursued.
  • Jim Rohn

Friday, October 8th, 2021

Who Drives You Nuts? Flashback Friday

“A thought that sometimes makes me hazy: Am I – or are the others crazy?” – Albert Einstein

In almost every CPA firm there are partners who drive people nuts. Even if you are a partner, there are other partners who drive you nuts. I guess it is just human nature.

Here is a Flashback Post that describes partners who might drive you nuts!

Have a good weekend!

  • I need a lover that won't drive me crazy, someone that knows the meaning of hey, hit the highway.
  • John Mellencamp

Friday, October 1st, 2021

What, Me Worry? – Flashback Friday

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” – Leo Buscaglia

It’s October 1st already! It’s Friday, time for a helpful flashback post.

Advice from Jim Rohn about not letting your worries turn into fears.

  • People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

CPA Exam Resources

“I’m forever testing myself. As a person and as an actor, I have no sense of competition.” – Michael Caine

Once the Fall due dates have passed, I imagine many of your valuable team members will be focusing more seriously on passing the prestigious CPA Exam.

I often get inquiries about the kind of employee benefits accounting firms should provide relating to the CPA Exam. My advice is always to be generous.

I became aware of a site that provides lots of great (free) information for those focusing on The Exam. I found it very helpful. It features the CPA Exam Requirements by individual states.

A message from CPAExam.com:

We offer free resources on our website which are available to those who are planning to take the CPA Exam. Aside from the free resources on the cpaexam.com website, they can also download the free ebook “28 Things You Need To Know About The Ethics Exam” here https://www.cpaexam.com/cpa-ethics-exam/

Our mission is to provide educational resources which are readily available with rich yet concise information and tips on how to pass the CPA Exam via digital and innovative learning, paving the way for their professional success and for them to lead meaningful lives.

As always, I strongly urge recent accounting graduates to focus on passing The Exam immediately after graduation. Some new hires I have known have already passed The Exam before they reported for their first job at an accounting firm. The sooner you take it the better chance you have at passing quickly. Once you have the CPA credential, you have a definite advantage in building a successful career in the business world.

Another reminder for the firm – be generous and supportive of your candidates.

  • Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.
  • Jack Canfield

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

New Survey About Remote Work

“Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.” – Brian Kristofek

Here are some interesting findings from a recent survey by flexjobs. The last segment about the importance of company culture should be something CPA firms should consider.

44% Know at Least One Person Who Has Quit or Plans to Quit Because of Employers Revoking Remote Work

New FlexJobs survey highlights the high-value employees place on remote work, mental health support, and company culture

Boulder, CO, September 13, 2021 – According to FlexJobs’ survey of over 4,600 respondents, 44 percent know at least one person that has quit or is planning to quit because their employers are requiring them to return to the office. 29 percent are actively looking for a new job because they want to work remotely, while 17 percent have quit a job because it did not offer remote work options.

“It’s a job seeker’s market right now, and workers are more empowered than ever to leave job situations that aren’t ideal, or leave companies that aren’t allowing them to work the way they want to,” said Sara Sutton, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “As our latest survey highlights, workers are placing an extremely high value on the option to work remotely, and they’re committed to finding companies that are embracing remote work as a long-term workplace model and have a healthy company culture to support it,” Sutton concluded.

Remote Work Matters:

  • 44% know at least one person that has quit or is planning to quit because their employers are requiring them to return to the office
  • 29% are currently looking for a new job because they want to work remotely
  • 17% have quit a job because it did not have remote work options
  • 21% would give up some vacation time, and nearly a quarter (24%) would take a 10-20% cut in pay in order to work remotely as much as they want
  • Post-pandemic, 58% prefer a fully remote job, and 39% want a hybrid arrangement that combines both office and remote work; only 3% report wanting to return to the office full-time
  • However, 42% report that post-pandemic, their employers will require them to be in the physical office; 27% will have hybrid work arrangements; 17% will be fully remote; the remaining 14% were unsure of their company’s plans

Other key insights from the survey:

Mental Health Matters:

  • 70% say a permanent remote job would have a huge improvement or positive impact on their mental health 
  • 81% of respondents said having better work-life balance is the #1 factor for wanting a job with a flexible work option
    • Other reasons for wanting a flexible job include commute stress (50%), family (47%), and exposure to illnesses (43%)
  • Lack of healthy work-life boundaries would cause 57% to not apply, not accept, or to quit a job
  • Nearly one in five (18%) said not offering mental health support was a big mistake their company made during the pandemic

Company Culture Matters:

  • Toxic culture would cause 73% of respondents to not apply, not accept, or to quit a job. Other reasons include:
    • Micromanaging boss (58%), lack of healthy work-life boundaries (57%), and not allowing remote work (55%) or flexible options (50%); the top reason was a low salary (79%)
  • Poor communication from leadership was the biggest mistake made by employers during the pandemic (30%). Other top-reported mistakes included: 
    • Not fully understanding the stress of work-life conflicts during the quarantine (25%)
    • Unrealistic expectations about productivity during quarantine (22%)
    • Poor management of workers overall (22%)
    • Being too rigid with schedules (17%) 

Read more here.

  • We have a culture where we are incredibly self critical, we don't get comfortable with our success
  • Mark Parker, CEO, Nike

Monday, September 13th, 2021

Leadership Development

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Once again it is time to remind you of the leadership development programs offered by Convergence Coaching. Too many firms have ignored the need for structured leadership development programs and thus limit their choices when considering firm succession.

Convergence’s flagship program:

Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP) – Kicking off with a remote web seminar on November 1, participants pay $6,500 for the year. This one-year “finishing school” for high-potential managers, senior managers, directors, new partners and key administrators includes a combination of one-on-one coaching, two 2-day workshops (in-person or can pivot to remote if needed), 2-hour web-based roundtables, online self-study and a special in-firm project. Participants join a cohort of up to 26 other leaders from firms around the country, learning both from facilitators and each other in this year-long program.

There are also other programs for up-and-comers in your firm:

  • Leadership Development Program for Seniors and Supervisors (Kicking off October 25)
  • Client Advisor Program (Will soon be scheduling 2022 dates)
  • Rainmaker Development Program (Will be scheduling 2022 dates)

Here’s a graphical view of the programs available:

  • A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be.
  • Rosalynn Carter

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

Dementors

“You control your own life. Your own will is extremely powerful.” – J. K. Rowling

I am assuming you are familiar with Harry Potter. I read all the books and watched all the movies. J. K. Rowling created a fascinating world. Let’s take a somewhat light-hearted look at how Dementors might apply inside your firm.

When you read the following meaning of Dementors, I wonder what it brings to mind.

Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. … If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself – soulless and evil.

I know I am weird, but it brings to my mind, some managers in CPA firms who seem to “suck the life out of people.” Thankfully, it doesn’t apply to all managers.

Some Managers are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the accounting firms that are stuck in the past and glory in the status quo. They drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. If they can, the Manager will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like themselves – uncaring and demanding.

J. K. Rowling has revealed that the inspiration for Dementors came from her bout with severe depression before her phenomenal success. She described the feeling as an “absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope.”

I have said all of that to remind you that, as firm owners, you must invest in the non-technical training and education of your managers. Managers need to be people developers. In some firms, they are simply highly-trained technicians charged with getting the most work out of subordinates. They don’t know how to build strong relationships and engage with the people they supervise.

I’ve been working in public accounting for decades. I have heard many stories about inadequate managers. And yes, they have been described as “sucking the life out of people.” I have also heard the same about some partners.

  • We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.
  • J. K. Rowling

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Build A Marketing Culture

“Doubt is a killer. You just have to know who you are and what you stand for.” -Jennifer Lopez

As baby boomers retire and many of them have already, the firm is usually faced with a shortage of rainmakers. Of course, their knowledge and experience with technical work are also missed.

Firms have spent many years and a lot of money developing technical experts. But, have they spent many years and lots of money developing rainmakers? The answer is no.

It is so important to instill the responsibility and expertise for bringing in new business in everyone working at the firm, especially the younger accountants. I have observed that firm leaders don’t begin early enough to develop future rainmakers. Here are some suggestions on how to build enthusiasm for marketing.

Marketing Education From Day One – As part of orientation, be sure your new hire spends some time with your marketing director (or firm administrator) to learn about firm marketing efforts. One marketing director gives the newbies a “tour” of the marketing closet, showing them the firm marketing collateral and giving them their business cards on the first day. Set a goal for them to distribute their business card to twenty people their first week at the firm. Assure them that they can give it to friends and even relatives, just for the practice. The marketing director has a lot to teach new hires.

Provide Opportunities to Practice – Organize a marketing skills lunch and learn for staff. At my firm, we even talked about the proper way to shake hands and had them practice with each other. Have them develop their elevator speech (how they quickly describe what they do and who they work for in an informative and brief way).

Establish Accountability – A simple, easy-to-use marketing activity report is an important tool for new staff. Sometimes, even managers need marketing education. The marketing activity report is submitted to the marketing director every month.

Leaders Setting The Example – Young people learn from observing others. Do all your partners frequently attend community and business events? Are your partners writing articles for the firm newsletter? Do you have some partners who blog, tweet, or do podcasts?

Always Have A Shadow – Partners and more experienced accountants should always offer to take a beginner along on a prospect meeting. When you have a lunch meeting with a current client, invite a beginner. You can flatter your important client by saying, “Today I have asked Ned Newbie to join us for lunch. He is new to the firm and just learning how CPAs work. I thought he could learn benefit from attending a lunch meeting with an important client like you.”

Building the enthusiasm for marketing doesn’t happen naturally for accountants. Don’t wait until a manager is being considered for partnership before they know that bringing in business is an expectation.

  • Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
  • Zig Ziglar