Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

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

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

New Rules of Work

“Disruption requires us to think differently about work.” – Sharlyn Lauby

I’m sure you have noticed, finding, hiring, and retaining talented people has become more and more difficult. The AICPA PCPS 2019 Top Issues names Finding Qualified Staff as the top issue in every firm size category (except sole proprietors).

In the accounting profession, everyone is talking about disruption and the need to change how things have been done in the past. The work and the workforce has changed and it requires us to think differently about work.

Sharlyn Lauby (@hrbartender) has written an excellent post: The 7 New Rules of Work – Workforce Readiness In the Digital Age. I urge you to read it and share it with all the partners and HR leaders in your firm.

The rules she describes come from a keynote she heard by Polly LaBarre, author of the New York Times best-seller “Mavericks at Work: Why The Most Original Minds in Business Win.”

It is important to create rules that apply all the time and to let those rules drive company culture.

The rules are:

  1. Everyone has power
  2. Nobody is smarter than everyone
  3. All ideas are heard
  4. Challenging ideas is acceptable and encouraged
  5. Passion is the most powerful currency
  6. People design their own jobs
  7. Values rule decision-making and accountability

Please read the article. It gives good advice to managers and HR leaders about these seven rules. Staying current on trends in hiring and retaining will help you win the talent wars in the CPA profession.

  • Company values should already be the guiding principles of the organization.
  • Sharlyn Lauby

Monday, November 25th, 2019

Private Offices

“The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” – Mark Twain

I have always thought that putting beginners in a cube environment helped them learn faster. They could overhear when someone else had a question and received an excellent answer. And with millennials, it seemed they liked to collaborate extensively.

As with everything, times have changed. Recent studies tell us that employees reported the highest satisfaction with their personal workspace when it was inside a private office.

Even if you have a very trendy office space involving the open concept, it seems the trendiest office space pales in comparison to an office.

Read more about it via Fast Company here. – The article is titled, Want a happy employee? Give them an office. When I worked in a firm I know I sure enjoyed my private office, don’t you?

  • Whether I'm at the office, at home, or on the road, I always have a stack of books I'm looking forward to reading.
  • Bill Gates

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

Flashback Friday – Thinking of Being Thankful

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” -William Arthur Ward

With the upcoming holiday next week, I thought this flashback post from last November would be a good one to end this week with and to take into next week.

Public accounting firms are great places to work. Think about some of the things you are thankful for about your career in public accounting.

Click here.

  • Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.
  • Doris Day

Monday, November 18th, 2019

If Mom Says No – Ask Dad

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

Beware of the age-old behavior that kids use – They want something and they ask their mother. Then, if Mom vetoes the activity, they go behind her back and ask their father (without telling him they already asked Mom). Maybe, just maybe, Dad will say yes and they are very happy and proceed to move ahead.

This occurs in accounting firms. An employee wants to do something a certain way. The partner on the project says, “No, do it according to the firm procedures.” The employee seeks out a different partner, perhaps one they work for more often, and whines about having to do the client project a certain way when they can do it faster “the old way.” The second partner, not wanting to get into a big discussion, just says “Do it however you think is best.”

Owners should be united in many ways even in how work is processed. Of course, they should discuss the processes, modify if necessary but then commit to the processes they helped establish.

Partner unity (in all things) is important in becoming a one-firm firm rather than a group sole-practitioners under one roof. I call those firms silo firms. You can be a silo firm and make decent money but don’t call yourself a one-firm firm if you really aren’t one.

 

 

  • Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
  • Vince Lombardi

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

Tone It Down

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” – Zig Ziglar

You are in a firm meeting. It could be a partner meeting, a staff meeting, a committee meeting or an admin meeting. Someone complains (gripes.. bitches…) and another person joins in and soon there are several on the bandwagon.

Think about it. It probably happens all too frequently. In some cases, the person running the meeting (a manager, partner, firm administrator) actually joins in. They feel like they are sympathizing and showing support for the concerns.

If you are leading a meeting that suddenly turns into a gripe session, don’t join in. Tone it down! You might think you are building camaraderie but you are actually undermining your own credibility.

Take immediate steps to turn these bitch sessions into productive, problem-solving meetings. You might simply say, “Wait a minute, I hear the problem. Let’s talk about solutions.” Enlist the entire group into voicing possible solutions.

  • Everyone has to make their own decisions. I still believe in that. You just have to be able to accept the consequences without complaining.
  • Grace Jones