Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Friday, September 25th, 2020

It Is All About Trust

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

If the owner group at your CPA firm has doubts if they have the right person as MP, stop complaining, wondering, and second-guessing the person in the role. Trust them and give them authority or select a different managing partner.

It is Flashback Friday. Read this brief blog post about trusting your leader.

  • All the world is made up of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.
  • J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

A Manager’s Life

“The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.” – Warren Bennis

How are your managers coping with life during COVID? Have you wondered or even asked them recently?

Of course, firm leaders have been concerned about their entire team and how working remotely has impacted production. But how has it specifically challenged your managers?

Recently, I heard from a Manager at a very large firm express the challenges of his role. Meetings! He said that all day long it is meetings, Zoom meetings and other meetings (conference calls) and then he has to work until 9:00 p.m. to get his work done.

Now is the time to plan how working remotely will work more efficiently and effectively going into the future. A remote workforce will be part of your culture probably forever. Establish a task force, if you haven’t already, to determine how you can make it more palatable for everyone.

  • If you are not in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?
  • T. S. Eliot

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

Your Office Space

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” – Oscar Wilde

I recently read where Sikich is planning to permanently shift its workspace model to one centered on remote work.

If you don’t know them, Sikich LLP, is a leading professional services firm specializing in accounting, advisory, technology and managed services. Founded in 1982, Sikich now ranks within the country’s top 30 largest Certified Public Accounting firms.

The Chicago-based firm plans to shrink the size of its office space and allow its more than 1,000 professionals to work from home indefinitely.

Over the next several years, the company will replace its 14 current US offices with 30 micro offices that employees can use when not working from home or at client sites. The days of shelling out for giant office spaces – such as the company’s massive 120,000 square foot office space in Naperville, Illinois – are, however, likely numbered.

Their CEO noted that they were already planning this transformation before the pandemic struck. About one-third of their workforce was already working remotely.

What’s the plan for your office? Do you really need a large, impressive office to impress your clients? How will you provide more remote options without losing the important, personal relationships that develop when everyone is working together in the same work space? Now is the time to think about all this and develop your plan. Your employees are wondering what the future holds.

Read the article here.

  • There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.
  • Victor Hugo

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

A Zoom Agreement

“I don’t do meetings.” – Karl Lagerfeld

Here’s a post from Seth Godin that I just had to share. Zoom meetings are an important communication tool but I bet you have been on some that are disorganized and tiresome. Maybe this will help guide your meetings:


If you promise not to check your email while we’re talking, we promise to not waste your time.

If you agree to look me in the eye and try to absorb the gist of what I’m saying, I agree to be crisp, cogent and on point.

If you are clear about which meetings are a waste of time for you to attend, we can be sure to have them without you.

If you can egg me on and bring enthusiasm to the interaction, I can lean into the work and reflect back even more energy than you’re contributing.

The purpose of a meeting is not to fill the allocated slot on the Google calendar invite. The purpose is to communicate an idea and the emotions that go with it, and to find out what’s missing via engaged conversation.

If we can’t do that, let’s not meet.

Multi-tasking isn’t productive, respectful or healthy.

  • If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings.'
  • Dave Barry

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

The Power of Thank You

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick

Over the years, I have written several posts about the power of saying thank you.

While I definitely prefer a handwritten note, a thank-you, whether handwritten or by email, is something very special, and often, rare.

One time, I received an email from a friend, a very experienced, professional and effective firm administrator, telling me about a special thank-you she received. It inspired the following “story.”

Anna loved being a firm administrator. She was actually one of the first professional firm administrators in the CPA profession and one of the first members of the CPA Firm Management Association. During her tenure at two CPA firms, while she loved her firms and was very devoted, she received little recognition and appreciation. (Firm Administrators – does this sound like you?)

Rather than continuing in this mode, Anna decided to give another firm a chance before she abandoned the CPA profession. This was a very difficult decision. On her first anniversary at the new firm, here is the email that went out to the entire organization.

From: Managing Partner
To: Everyone at John Doe Firm
Subject: Happy Anniversary to Anna from the Management Committee!

Anna has been here for a year. Hooray for Anna! Things are sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much better with her here. Thank you, Anna!! And, yes, we love to drive you nuts, but that is just because we love you so much.

Have you read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (the college professor who died of pancreatic cancer)? I highly recommend it. In Chapter 41, he tells of the power of a thank-you

  • If you can read this, thank a teacher.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020


“I sustain myself with the love of family.” – Maya Angelou

School districts across the country are opening up. There is no consistency. From state-to-state and even district-to-district schedules are varying. Some are part-time in-person classes mixed with online learning. Some schools will be full-time online for many weeks.

This does present huge problems to working adults. The kids needs a parent to help guide them through the online learning maze.

Has hour firm explored the benefits you can provide to help your valued staff deal with this new reality. You need them and their family need them. PwC has increased/modified their benefit package per an informative article via Accounting Today.

They are offering:

  • Protected time
  • Reduced schedules
  • Compressed workweek
  • Flex-time
  • Sabbatical
  • Backup care reimbursement
  • Tutoring services

Read the article to learn more about each offering. Hopefully, it will give you some ideas about what to do for your team and their families.

  • Family is a life jacket in the stormy sea of life.
  • J. K. Rowling

Monday, August 17th, 2020


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin

For so many years, CPAs in public practice have been set in their ways. I can’t say that CPAs do not adapt to change because they have always adapted to software changes and governmental changes (tax laws/audit standards).

When it comes to how the work gets done, the mindset has been, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Staff is working if they are in their seats in the office or out on an audit assignment. Each partner could rule their own roost, so to speak. If you were on a job for Partner #1 you did it this way. If you were on a job with Partner #3 you did it that way.

During the last decade, progressive firms have moved away from those old mindsets. They adapted to the new workforce. It all began with Gen-X wanting to work differently (not remotely). Next, it was driven home by the huge wave of Millennials who not only wanted to complete the work differently, they didn’t want to deal with paper and they wanted to work from places other than the firm’s office.

Then came 2020 and COVID. Progressive firms moved seamlessly to the remote work environment. The majority of firms struggled but there was no choice but to move to a remote workforce. They adapted.

The admin team was put at risk because someone had to be in the office to scan papers into the system so the remote workers could work. Now, you need to get your clients to submit all paperwork digitally. They need to adapt.

The need to adapt will not go away. Make your plan for the future be: Adapt and then move on. Adapt and then move on Adapt and then move on. It is a never-ending journey.

  • Ships never reach their intended destination apart from adapting as they go.
  • Dan Rockwell @leadershipfreak

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Getting Started

“I learned a long time ago that there is something worse than missing the goal, and that’s not pulling the trigger.” – Mia Hamm

Think back to when you were a child. Part of growing up is exploring your world. A child sees a creek and wades in to cross it. A child sees a tree and doesn’t hesitate to climb it. There is no fear of failure.

Accountants have a reputation for being careful, cautious, and conservative. As a leader, do you always begin cautiously, avoiding risk at all costs? Does indecision prohibit you from action?

We are living in a bold new world. As the old saying goes, “he who hesitates is lost.”

We are going into fall. It is a time for reflection and, more importantly, a time to take action to prepare your firm for 2021. Modify that accountant reputation – – Be careful, cautious, conservative and yet, decisive and bold

  • Eighty percent of success is just showing up.
  • Woody Allen

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Putting Out Fires – Flashback Friday

“Really, most of us just focus on what’s in front of us. We’re too busy putting out the fires of everyday life.” – Aidan Quinn

This week’s flashback is focused on a recurring challenge that faces managing partners and, especially, firm administrators.

Have a great weekend.

  • You get to decide where your time goes. You can either spend it moving forward, or you can spend it putting out fires. You decide. And if you don't decide, others will decide for you.
  • Tony Morgan

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

2020 Turnover

“Turnover can be one of the most expensive problems at a company.” – Shawn Achor

As usual, within the CPA profession, there is no one answer to a management question. Recently, on the topic of turnover, I am hearing lots of stories.

We are all reading about firms, especially the larger firms, who are taking the opportunity related to COVID to downsize their workforce to save money and to get rid of people not meeting the firm’s expectations.

On the other side of this story, I am hearing directly from some practitioners that they have been able to hire some experienced (and skilled) CPAs who are in the job market right now for various reasons.

Recently, one firm shared with me that they have had no turnover and another firm reported that they have experienced several departures.

Here are just a few reasons people leave:

  • CPAs of all ages have no difficulty obtaining another job.
  • In many firms, team members are awaiting salary increases and other perks that were cut-back during COVID.
  • Some are tired of the long hours with few rewards and recognition.
  • Your clients are also looking for good people and they know you have them.
  • Many accounting firms are not embracing the new workforce, the partners exclude them rather than include them. Communication is an issue.
  • The pay is better elsewhere.

Some reasons people stay:

  • Firms have generously rewarded their entire team because they went above and beyond during an unusual and challenging busy season.
  • The transition to work-from-home (WFH) was easy because the firm was already completely paperless and the firm was very supportive in meeting the needs of establishing a home office.
  • Communication from the partners has actually improved in recent months. Team members are well-informed even when remote.
  • WFH will be an on-going option for many team members.
  • Team members are thanked and recognized for their contributions.

Another good reason to retain top talent – Some studies (such as SHRM) predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. For a manager making $40,000 a year, that’s $20,000 to $30,000 in recruiting and training expenses.

  • The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.
  • Max Depree