Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Holding Everyone Back

“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” – Franz Kafka

I have seen it many, many times. You have seen it inside your own firm. Certain people simply opt-out of learning new processes, procedures and new technology. They do things the way they have always done them.

I used to recommend that you ignore them, work around them and take the majority of your people forward. Don’t let one person sink the whole ship. I don’t want you to make it easy for these non-compliant people. If they can’t keep up, don’t make another person do the work for them.

This often happens with older partners and especially with owners who have supposedly retired but continue to work at the firm. They will definitely have difficulty keeping up with the firm technology and usually expect an admin person or some other staff to “take care of them.”

All this came to mind because of a recent tweet by my good friend, Dustin Hostetler (@Flowtivity). Here’s his tweet and I agree!

Firms are not maximizing their technology investment until all team members are embracing the technology. Having workarounds for certain individuals because they don’t know how to use it (or won’t learn) to perform their function of the process holds everyone back.

  • The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today!
  • Nolan Bushnell

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, January 6th, 2020

Less Talk, More Doing

“Power should be reserved for weightlifting and boats, and leadership really involves responsibility.” – Herb Kelleher

January is here. Now you have an excuse for procrastinating on many things that need to be done inside your firm. Things that will help you keep pace with current trends in the CPA profession.

You have clients to serve – audits to perform, taxes to prepare – that’s a big part of what you do, especially January through April 15.

For many, the strategic plan, that you talked about last summer goes on hold for a large portion of the year. I suggest you follow Herb Kelleher’s advice:

Kelleher

 

  • You don't hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.
  • Herb Kelleher

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

Monday, December 16th, 2019

Have We Become Afraid of Hard Work?

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon

I enjoy reading airline magazines. I find they contain interesting news items and articles about a variety of topics.

I remember reading an opening editorial a few years ago, written by the then CEO of Delta. He made a statement that CPA firms could certainly utilize: “At Delta, we take great pride in our culture of hard work, creativity, teamwork, and a simple commitment to get the job done right.”

Did you notice the two words – hard work? The CEO communicates it clearly – they are not ashamed of their culture of hard work. They take pride in it.

It seems, in recent years, we have become almost afraid of communicating with our employees that public accounting is hard work. If you work hard you can become very successful.

Do you communicate that to your people? Are you proud of your culture of hard work?

  • A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.
  • Colin Powell

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Field Trips

“Research in education has shown that we remember field trips long into adulthood. I remember visiting the post office in second grade and looking at the sorting machine. I have vivid memories of that when I don’t even remember the name of the teacher who took me.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Many people working in an accounting firm never have an opportunity to visit a client site. With technology playing a much larger role in compliance work, team members who used to do what we call fieldwork don’t even do that as much as in the past.

Why not choose one of your best clients, a small manufacturer, a candy maker, even a winery and ask if you can bring your entire team for a tour of their business. Of course, if you are a large firm you will have to work out taking smaller groups to different client sites.

One of the basics of business networking I learned many years ago was to begin a conversation with a business owner, simply ask them, “Tell me about your business.” They love their business. It’s their baby and they enjoy talking about it.

You know your clients well and can easily identify the ones who would love to show visitors around and talk about their business.

I have talked to several firm leaders who have already tried this and it is appreciated by the client and the team.

amazonI recently toured an Amazon Fulfillment Center near Louisville, KY. What an eye-opening and interesting experience. It had four floors and the square footage was the size of 28 football fields!

  • Only now have I finally realized that my life has been an unending field trip. And I have tried hard not to be a tourist. But to be an adventurer, a traveler, an explorer, a learner, and a pilgrim.
  • Robert Fulghum

Friday, December 6th, 2019

First Impressions Do Count

“A good first impression can work wonders.” – J. K. Rowling

When we think of first impressions, we naturally think about how we come across to clients, prospects and other professionals in our business network. We worry about how our firm appears to outsiders. Is our brand positive and strong?

First impressions also make a huge difference when we make a new hire. When a new employee arrives, what is their first impression? How effective is your onboarding program?

I STILL hear horror stories.

  • It is apparent to the new hire that the front desk person has no clue who they are.
  • There is a scramble to find where they will actually sit.
  • And, the one I hear most often, there is no computer available and ready for them.

Hopefully, your firm has a New Hire IT Checklist that has been completed and it is part of your Onboarding Manual.

  • I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.
  • Lemony Snicket

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

Communication & Inclusiveness

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”  – Jack Welch

To develop an enthusiastic and loyal team it is important to communicate and be inclusive. Firm leaders should be doing this every day.

Many firms take the opportunity to do this on a higher level at least once a year with a full firm retreat, state of the firm event or similarly named gathering. I had the wonderful opportunity yesterday to be part of Kirsch CPA Group’s full firm event in Hamilton, Ohio.

IMG_0878The three partners, John Kirsch, Chad Williams, and Pete Abner each talked to the team about firm performance, future focus and the unveiling of a new training program that will provide each team member with a full-fledged career development plan that is backed up with extensive educational opportunities.

Recruiting and retaining isn’t enough. Now it is about attracting and developing. You want talented accountants to seek out your firm because your brand is a strong magnet for people who want to advance their careers in public accounting.

  • Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.
  • Brian Tracy

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

They Are So Much More Than A Receptionist

“I’m just a friendly person; that runs in my family.” -Dolly Parton

The person who greets your client and other visitors is so much more than a receptionist. It is such an important role, especially if you, like many firms, have an office where people feel comfortable just stopping by.

Many firms are now titling their receptionist the Director of First Impressions and that is exactly what they are. Visitors to your office, whether they are a client, a prospective client, a delivery person, an interviewee or a person making a sales call, will talk about your firm. Make sure they are saying, “Wow, what a friendly place!”

Little things make the biggest difference in this area. Does your DOFI offer refreshments? Do they hang up the client’s jacket/coat in a cedar-lined closet? Do they have a menu prepared that lists the types of beverages you have available? Do they engage in small talk in an informative, entertaining and helpful manner?

They are truly an ambassador for your firm. It is not a job that should be looked down upon by other people on the admin team.

If you have an all-star in this role, I hope you are paying them a premium. I know a firm that once won a huge client partly because they liked the way they were treated when their executive team visited the firm’s office.

Read this interesting and helpful article by Jeffrey Gitomer called Receptionist Selling.

  • We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.
  • Jeff Bezos

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

Three Little Words – But Not “Those” 3 Little Words

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

Don’t you love to hear those three little words?

Sure you do, everyone wants to hear “I love you.” I hope you hear them and say them daily. But wait, that’s not the “three little words” I’m talking about.

The three little words I’m referring to are three you do not want to hear. You probably hide from them and deny them.

I hear the following comment often from CPA firm managing partners, “We don’t have a succession plan. There is just no one at our firm who can take over from me and do what I do.”  I ask them, “Whose fault is that?” And, the answer is three little words – Baby It’s You.

If you are the managing partner at a firm (or a sole proprietor), you are in charge. The future of the firm is in your hands.

  • If your people are not good managers, relationship builders or passionate about the firm
  • If your managers are not coaching less experienced team members
  • If your team spends too much time on the web and social media for personal reasons during the day
  • If they put too much time in a job because they don’t have a budget
  • If they make you cringe some days because of the way they are dressed

The responsibility for all of these kinds of issues comes back to the leader – Baby, it’s you.

  • The task of the leader is to gt his people from where they are to where they have not been.
  • Henry Kissinger