Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Monday, January 20th, 2020

Retaining Top Talent

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs

It is very difficult to find and hire talented accountants and administrative personnel. Accounting firms have been struggling for years with this topic and it only seems to be getting more challenging. So, once you do hire a qualified person, how do you keep them?

I recently read a good article via HBR titled, Why People Quit Their Jobs.

In the CPA profession, we have heard for years that the reason people leave their jobs is the fact that they have a poor manager (boss).

Research now tells us that there is more to it than just a bad manager. Technology has enabled companies to better track reasons people leave jobs. A lot of it is personal reasons. Another interesting aspect is that large companies are tracking what employees are doing that might indicate they are unhappy with their current job like how much time they spend on LinkedIn.

It seems that comparing themselves to their peer group – both business peers and personal friends causes people to consider their current job status.

Take a few minutes to read the article, I think you will find it helpful in your quest to retain top talent.

  • Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions and a healthy dose of curiosity. What do you think is the most important factor when building your team? For us, it’s personality.
  • Richard Branson

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

The “Save the Day” Person

“Some heroes save the day. Other heroes keep the day from needing to be saved.” – from a Mark Sanborn tweet

When I read the above quote, I thought of CPA firm administrators. They are the unsung heroes inside so many successful and profitable accounting firms.

Top-notch firm administrators/practice managers keep the wheels turning, eliminate the hurdles and often “take a bullet” for the sake of the firm and the team.

The best part is, as noted in the above quotation, they keep the day from needing to be saved.

How much are you investing in your “Save the Day” person? Are you spending money to send them to the right conferences? Are you, as partners, standing firmly behind them as they take those daily bullets? Are you investing in their professional growth by providing a coach?

A successful firm administrator shields the partners from the daily grind.

  • Stones in the road? I save every single one, and one day I'll build a castle.
  • Fernando Pesssoa

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Achieving Your Goals

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

I recently received my copy of the hireMAX Spotlight newsletter. I have enjoyed a long business friendship with the president and founder, Norm Bobay. hireMAX provides employee selection and development programs.

The newsletter article titled, 7 Steps To Achieve Your Business Goals, describes how Navy SEALs achieve their goals. There is a lot of good advice for CPAs who want to become more successful.

When most of us think about Navy SEALs, we think of their bravery and toughness. They take on dangerous missions and seem to achieve the impossible.

In the book The Navy SEAL Art of War by Rob Roy, he talks about how Navy SEALs accomplish these amazing feats. He explains that it’s more about the process than the ability. He lays out these seven steps that you can use to tackle your scariest goals.

  1. Always ask clarifying questions. SEALs ask very specific questions to understand their mission clearly. You need to ask yourself the Who, Why, What, When, Where, and How questions about your goal. Use each of these questions to better clarify your objective. You don’t want to go into a mission misinformed about what the objective of it was. The same thing is important when you go after achieving a goal.
  1. Inventory all of your available resources. This includes knowing what you have now and what’s coming down the road. Note your tangible resources such as technology and money. Don’t forget to include the intangible resources such as your network and your skills. Consider every resource available to you that can help you reach your goal.
  1. Clearly set up roles and responsibilities. If your goal involves help from your team, make sure they know their role and responsibility in achieving it.
  1. Maintain hyper-focus on your goal. Leaders don’t make excuses and they don’t let circumstances cause them to need an excuse.
  1. Think through all possible contingencies and outcomes. Be prepared to work around any problems that may arise. A failure to plan is a planned failure. 
  1. Train every day. SEALs train a lot. They practice over and over again until they’re stress-proof. You need to do the same. The more you train, the faster you’ll be. Training can help you quickly evade problems that arise. 
  1. The last step is to celebrate! Scratch that. This step is definitely not on the Navy Seals list. It’s great that you reached your goal but now you need an after-action review. Navy SEAL’s debrief after every mission. You need to do something similar. Look back to see if there are areas you can improve on when you go after your next goal. Rehash the mistakes you made and learn from them to do better next time.

Leaders can learn from Navy SEALs and utilize their processes in the business world. Implement the seven steps above and you’ll be on your way to achieving your next goal.

 

  • The only easy day was yesterday.
  • ..a Navy SEALs motto

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Good Advice For An Actor & Good Advice For An Accountant

“Showing up on time is one of the greatest liberating acts you can give yourself in a movie.” – Tom Hanks

I’m sure, by now, you have probably read about Tom Hank’s acceptance speech for the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award.

He told the story of his first professional job as an intern at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival. He and his fellow interns showed up to rehearsals a little late after doing a little too much partying the previous night. The director wasn’t having it.

“He screamed at us,” said Hanks. “You know what your job is?” the director asked. “You have got to show up on time, and you have to know the text, and you have to have a head full of ideas. Otherwise, I can’t do my job.”

Good advice for an accountant of any age as they strive to build their career in public accounting.

  • Show up on time.
  • Know the text.
  • Have a head full of ideas.

Show up on time – Are others unable to do their work because of you? Are people waiting on you to answer questions so they can continue to efficiently serve the client? If you have an appointment or a scheduled phone call, what does the other person think of you if you keep them waiting?

Know the text – Have you listened and learned? Do you know exactly what you are supposed to do and when? Are you prepared? Do you ask questions so that there are no misunderstandings? When you have questions, do you also suggest solutions?

Have a head full of ideas – Think about how this can move your career forward. Never sink into complacency.  Read, learn and experiment. “It’s the way we have always done it,” is not in your vocabulary.

  • If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great.
  • Tom Hanks

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

Punctuality

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” – William Shakespeare

I admire punctuality. To me, it shows character and caring.

Here’s a true story. A CPA merged her practice up into a larger firm. She always practiced punctuality when dealing with clients and employees. She was looking forward to a scheduled meeting with her new partners. They realized she had some serious topics to discuss. She arrived at the conference room five minutes before the meeting time. She sat for 20 minutes before the two partners showed up. She felt it was a sign of disrespect. Thus, it set a tone for the meeting.

How do you feel when you have to wait for an appointment? I know it should be expected at a doctor’s office but it is still irritating.

Do you ever make your clients wait on you? Do you schedule a phone session with a client and call them 10 minutes late?

I hope you are never late for an individual employee performance feedback meeting. It tells them they are not important.

Being on time can be accomplished – make it a resolution for 2020 and stick to it.

  • I'm late, I'm late! For a very important date! No time to say 'hello, goodbye,' I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!
  • The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland

Monday, December 30th, 2019

Think About The Good Stuff

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson

As the year draws to a close, I hope you take some time to think about all the good things that have happened at your accounting firm this year and the things that made you smile and laugh. Often, we focus too much on mistakes and all of the negative drama that happens in the workplace.

  • How often has someone stepped in and helped you without asking?
  • How often has a mistake created a reason to simply laugh out loud?
  • Wasn’t the sack race at the firm picnic a hoot?
  • How did the team look in their Halloween costumes?
  • Didn’t that group of women from your firm have a great time at that Habitat for Humanity project?
  • Wasn’t it nice when that law firm provided donuts for the entire team?
  • Didn’t that particular manager do a great job of training everyone on that new software?
  • Wasn’t it amazing how hard those two young partners worked to land that huge client?
  • How did you feel when that special client sent a referral your way?
  • Life is not just about the good things or not just about the bad things. It is both. It all depends where you focus your attention.
  • Ann Marie Aguilar

Friday, December 27th, 2019

What People Think About Their Manager (Boss)

“Management’s job is to convey leadership’s message in a compelling and inspiring way. Not just in meetings, but also by example.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

Here is some feedback from employees regarding what matters most to them in relation to their manager (or leader). It will serve as some food for thought if you are a leader in your accounting firm.

“Practicing humility, that is, serving your people rather than insisting that they serve you.”

“A willingness to get into the trenches. In college, I worked for a deli. When we were very busy, my boss would get behind the counter and ask, “OK, what do you need me to do?”

“The best leaders have the ability to express kindness. My last two managers (one in a huge company and one in a small company) took the time to get to know me as a person and find out what motivated me.”

“Leaders need to be consistent in their principles. When you are unpredictable and make declarations based on whims, you paralyze the people beneath you.” 

“A leader should separate friendships from professional relationships. I loved one manager because she asked for input from every person on staff instead of playing favorites. She didn’t always give the easiest jobs to her “friends.”

“I like a person who has the ability to help people with opposing viewpoints find common ground.” 

What kind of leader/manager will you be as you begin your journey through 2020?

  • Many people hear your words, but they feel your attitude.
  • John Maxwell

Thursday, December 26th, 2019

A B C

“Being cool is when you win, you don’t get too happy; and when you lose, you don’t get too mad.” – Ice T

You are responsible for the management of a CPA firm.

It is a challenging role and can often be very stressful.

Don’t ever let them see you rattled. If you are nervous, everyone will be nervous. If you look tired, everyone will be tired. If you are angry, everyone will notice and feel the negative vibes.

That’s why I am suggesting three little words that will be your leadership mantra for 2020 and beyond.

Just remember A – B – C.

ALWAYS BE COOL!

  • If you've gotta think about being cool, you ain't cool.
  • Keith Richards

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

Stress Can Be Your Friend

“Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort.” – Kelly McGonigal

This is an important topic. Working in a CPA firm, we have always looked upon stress as a fact of life and as a bad thing.

I urge you to take 15 minutes over the holidays to listen to this TED talk by Kelly McGonigal, PhD. She is a research psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University. Part scientist, part storyteller, she translates the complexities of neuroscience into inspirational yet practical advice that helps people lead healthier, happier, more creative, abundant lives.

If you have teenagers at home, share it with them.

  • Let yourself notice whether the upsetting thought is an old, familiar tune - that's your first clue that it is not critically important information you need to believe.
  • Kelly McGonigal

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Listen to Learn What Clients Need

“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” – Howard Schultz

We have heard it over and over again from speakers at conferences and read it over and over again in CPA marketing publications. It is seven times easier to sell services to current clients than it is to obtain a brand new client. Client loyalty is priceless.

As with many activities inside a firm, you need a system, a process, a questionnaire or a checklist. You need some type of tool to help your accountants actually explore the future needs of current clients.

Some firms call it the Additional Services Checklist.  Others may call it The Expanded Services Questionnaire or The Enhanced Opportunity Checklist.  No matter what you name it, it is a sales tool that your team can use to find out how the firm can truly better and fully serve your clients. Once they have the checklist/questionnaire, they can simply listen more intently when they are talking with a client or working in the client’s office.

The goal is to bring extra value to your clients.  CPAs call it value-added as if their normal services don’t have much value. In these changing times, compliance services are looked upon as only a way to discover advisory services that the client needs.

Do all of your team members, even the most recent college recruits:

  • Know what to look and listen for while they are at the client’s location?
  • Been educated/informed about all of the firm’s service offerings?
  • Know what to do if they recognize an opportunity and who to refer it to inside your firm?

If you answered “no” to any of these, take action.  Host a lunch & learn in early January and talk about all the value-added services your firm offers. Provide the entire team, including the admin team, with a listing of questions/items to apply to the clients and give them the name of the partner to seek out for guidance if they identify an area where your firm can bring more value to the client.  Just having this simple questionnaire or checklist seems to give everyone more confidence.

During the lunch and learn, experienced partners and managers can speak-up and give practical advice to the less-experienced team members.

  • Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.
  • Steve Jobs