Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Friday, December 4th, 2020

Dress Code – It’s Still Business

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” – Edith Head

Lighten up, it’s Friday. The following comes from Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady)

It seems a Judge in Florida was fed up with how attorneys appeared for hearings (via Zoom). The following was added to the Bar Association’s website as a pop-up message.

One comment that needs sharing and that is the judges would appreciate it if the lawyers and their clients keep in mind these Zoom hearings are just that: hearings. They are not casual phone conversations. It is remarkable how many ATTORNEYS appear inappropriately on camera. We’ve seen many lawyers in casual shirts and blouses, with no concern for ill-grooming, in bedrooms with the master bed in the background, etc. One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers. And putting on a beach cover-up won’t cover up you’re poolside in a bathing suit. So, please, if you don’t mind, let’s treat court hearings as court hearings, whether Zooming or not.

Per Lucas: “Work is still work. yes, this is an abnormal situation. Yes, you should be forgiving of employees with childcare issues, or space issues, but it’s still work.

Today is Friday, maybe you can consider it casual Friday. Remember those days? They seem so long ago. Stay safe and enjoy your weekend.

Read the entire article here.

Just for fun – The 80 Greatest Fashion Quotes of All Time via Harper’s Bazaar for your weekend reading!

  • Trendy is the last stage before tacky.
  • Karl Lagerfeld

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

Press On

There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.– Calvin Coolidge

In my presentations and on this blog, I often talk about the value of perseverance.

The following quote from Calvin Coolidge about persistence says it wonderfully.

When you are facing challenges inside your firm, when all the partners aren’t on the same page, keep telling yourself: Press on.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.” –Calvin Coolidge

  • You don't have to explain something you haven't said.
  • Calvin Coolidge

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

Build On Strengths

“When virtues are pointed out first, flaws seem less insurmountable.” – Judith Martin

Recently, I read a tweet posted by Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak). He said, “Why take the wind out of someone’s sails with unnecessary corrections and criticisms? Using criticism to motivate is futile.”

In accounting firms, there is a history of criticizing people, especially beginners. More experienced CPAs believed that people learned from their mistakes and it was up to them to frequently and directly point out those mistakes. They were/are called Review Notes.

Keep in mind, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

Horror stories exist where the newbies at the firm compare experiences about how many review notes, on a single engagement, they received from Old Frank the seasoned tax partner. They were received in writing and without any human connection or conversation.

Yes, people learn from their mistakes but do you talk to them? Do you mention any of the things they did right?

I also hear stories where this is no longer the case. Progressive firms work with team members to identify their strengths and focus on building them up in those areas.

Have a face-to-face (via video) conversation about their challenges and concerns. Listen to their questions and comments.

No one can be good at everything. That’s why you have a team. If everyone was alike you would have a firm that has plateaued.

  • The trouble with most of us is that we'd rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.
  • Norman Vincent Peale

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

Expend The Effort

“Don’t let the sun go down without saying thank you to someone, and without admitting to yourself that absolutely no one gets this far alone.” Stephen King

For years I have talked about the value of writing (by hand) a personal note or thank-you to individuals on your team.

Last week I received a handwritten note from a CPA. I did a presentation for a group he chairs. It is a small firm networking group and they met in Key West.

I did not go there. I did it via video from my home office and enjoyed my time with them discussing various practice management topics.

Douglas H. Chaffins of Chaffins, Batdorf & Austell in Georgia sent the note. It made me smile and pleased me so much. It’s been a long time since I received a handwritten thank-you note! How about you?

Read more about the power of this small task below. Expend the extra effort to send one to someone. Make their day!

Client Service – A Simple Thank-you Can Be Powerful

“Wow! You Are Doing Great.” – – Tell Them

  • We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.
  • John F. Kennedy

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

Stealing Your People

“Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal.” – T. S. Eliot

It’s been going on for decades. There are people who get paid to help you steal people from your competitors.

Most of them are incentivized recruiters who use all types of methods to find experienced accountants who might be dissatisfied with their current employment status.

Recently, I heard a discussion among practice managers (firm administrators), that one firm did not feature their team members on their website because it made it easier for head-hunters to find people to contact and entice them away. Others agreed that it was a good idea.

I do not agree. I believe there are more benefits to featuring your team on your website than dangers. Featuring them is saying that you are proud of them and that they are qualified professionals taking care of your clients. It is also a boost for your administrative team. Your new hires (recent college graduates) are thrilled to be able to tell their relatives and friends that they should check out your website and see their picture.

If you are losing people to recruiters, it is your fault.

  • Maybe your culture isn’t clearly defined and protected.
  • Maybe you have an abusive partner/manager or two.
  • Maybe everyone is not living up to the firm’s published core values.
  • Maybe you aren’t keeping pace with salaries for your different levels of experience.
  • Maybe the communication within your firm is poor. It’s the one I hear the most about!
  • And maybe, as leaders, you simply are not saying, “Thank you for your efforts,” enough.

If you are losing good people, look in the mirror.

  • He who steals a little steals with the same wish as he who steals much, but with less power.
  • Plato

Monday, November 9th, 2020

Don’t Be So Cheap

“Spend at least 10% of your budget on the best professional advice available before you spend a nickel on anything.” – Harvey Mackay

Accountants are often known for being frugal. Your employees might think you (as a group of owners) are actually very cheap.

Here’s the difference – – Cheap people are driven by saving money regardless of the cost; frugal people are driven by maximizing total value, including the value of their time. … Being cheap is about spending less; being frugal is about prioritizing your spending so that you can have more of the things you really care about.

I don’t know how many times I have heard an experienced, competent firm administrator, practice manager, HR director, or marketing director say, “I won’t be able to attend the conference (event, webinar, meeting) because the partners won’t spend the money.”

On the other hand, I have heard those same people, the ones who did attend the conference (event, webinar, meeting) say, “I learned so much and brought so many great ideas back to the firm that the partners said I should attend every year.”

That’s why Harvey Mackay’s quote, above, is so appropriate for those leading CPA firms.

  • Never have a partner retreat without a paid facilitator – someone very familiar with the CPA profession.
  • Don’t hesitate to hire outside mentors and coaches for your partners, firm administrators, marketing directors, etc. Hire them for your partners, too.

Just last week, a client said to me after a fairly brief phone session, “You have given us several valuable nuggets during our conversation! We will act upon them!”

How much are you budgeting for outside, professional advisors?

  • If the price is very cheap then it's almost certainly a fake.
  • David Russell

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

Good Example

“Every time you have to speak, you are auditioning for leadership.” – James Humes

You are operating mostly in an online culture. Your people don’t see you walk down the hall to get a cup of coffee. They don’t see you greet clients in the lobby. They don’t see you leave for a Chamber of Commerce meeting. You don’t stop by their office/desk for a quick chat.

Just because they can’t see you easily, it doesn’t mean you should not continue to set a good example. Keep them informed of what you are doing and follow all the procedures and policies they are asked to follow.

Click here for the Friday Flashback Post about a partner’s simple mission.

  • We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
  • Kurt Vonnegut

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Could November Be Bail-Out Month?

“One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat.” – Napoleon Hill

The October due date has passed. It has been quite a year! Are your team members completely burnt-out? Will they almost immediately be thinking it’s time to move on?

Already, I have heard about firms losing people. As a firm leader, you should always have a plan on how to retain top talent. I hope you are rewarding your team for the unusual demands they faced so far during 2020.

Research has shown that public accounting loses a lot of good people (and many females) when they believe public accounting will not accommodate their personal and career choices. Women want to start a family so they think they must leave public accounting. Don’t let your young talent make this assumption.

Progressive firms embraced flexibility as a formal part of their culture long before COVID. Now, more and more firms are doing the same

Communicate to your team: If there comes a time in your life whether you are male or female, when you need or want less (or more), a reduced schedule, more regular hours, less travel, more travel, less responsibility, or really want to accelerate your advancement in the firm – talk to us!

  • Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts.
  • Jim Morrison

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

There Is No Time To Rest

“Last year I joined a support group for procrastinators. We haven’t met yet.”

CPAs have a reputation for procrastination. It has been a very busy year and November is just around the corner. Don’t slack off now! There is so much more to do so that your firm can fully adapt to the new normal.

Here’s my story of the classic procrastination scenario inside a busy CPA firm. It goes something like this:

It’s tax season, we can’t possibly take the time to update our performance feedback process. It’s April 16, we desperately need time to recover from tax season. I call this the after-tax-season coma that you are in for about two to four weeks. It’s late May, early June, we can’t possibly work on the performance system because it is time to begin this year’s reviews. Our process will last at least through July. It’s August, too many people are on vacation. It’s September, we have extensions. It’s October, we have extensions. It’s December, we have tax planning appointments. 

So, that means you may have some time in November to catch-up on all the initiatives and projects you have talked about for months or even years.

Any of this sound familiar? As 2021 approaches, commit to avoiding procrastination. Take it in small steps and just keep moving forward with your initiatives even is you have a lot of various excuses not to.

  • You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

A Title Doesn’t Make You a Leader

“Leadership is personal, not positional.” -Skip Prichard

There is a young staff accountant who is always pleasant, polite, positive, and punctual. He sets a great example for his peers.

There is the senior accountant who seems to be the one staff person who cares about the first-year accountants and goes out of her way to make them feel welcome, gives good feedback and does not make them feel stupid!

There is the Director of First Impressions. She is always smiling. She makes callers and visitors feel special when they call or visit the firm. She offers them refreshments and is a skilled conversationalist. Her positive personality affects everyone working at the firm.

These people are not partners or managers. They are not classified as leaders, yet they are definitely demonstrating their leadership abilities.

  • To establish yourself in the world a person must do all they can to appear already established.
  • Francois de La Rochefoucauld