Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Team or Not?

For years, I have talked about CPA firm “teams”. I usually use “team member” rather than staff. I have contended that if you talk consistently about a team, maybe you will actually become one.

I recently read the following quotation by Simon Sinek:

“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.” – Simon Sinek

It made me think about it in a completely different way. I believe a lot needs to be done to develop a strong level of trust within many accounting firms. I have observed that staff do not trust partners and vice versa.

Firm leaders, continue to work on trust within your firm. The best way to start is by setting a good example. Revisit The Four Agreements.

  • Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
  • William Shakespeare

Monday, April 15th, 2019

What Are The Minimum Hours You Expect Staff To Work?

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

The number of hours you expect your team members to work, throughout the year, is something that should be clearly communicated. Some firms expect significantly increased hours during February, March and half of April and also during the Fall busy season. More and more firms are adopting a four-day workweek during the summer months.

Kimberly Hawkins of Thomas, Head & Greisen (Anchorage AK), allowed me to share how their “Seasonal Schedule” works. I think it is rather creative and very reasonable compared to most CPA firms.

At the bottom of this page is more information from Kim about how they handle holidays, PTO days, etc.

We have what we call a seasonal schedule. Our work weeks range from 50 hours during tax season, to 32 hours during the summer and late fall. During our 32 hour work weeks, staff schedule a day off, which is typically a Monday or a Friday. This is our schedule for this year:

Seasonal Schedule 2018-2019-Minimum hours we would like someone to work due to the seasonal nature of our business:

Wk # Begin Date End Date Std Hrs
1        10/1/2018 10/6/2018           50
2        10/7/2018 10/13/2018         50
3        10/14/2018 10/20/2018       40
4        10/21/2018 10/27/2018       32
5        10/28/2018 11/3/2018         32
6        11/4/2018 11/10/2018         32
7        11/11/2018 11/17/2018       32
8        11/18/2018 11/24/2018       32
9        11/25/2018 12/1/2018         32
10       12/2/2018 12/8/2018          32
11       12/9/2018 12/15/2018        32
12       12/16/2018 12/22/2018      32
13       12/23/2018 12/29/2018      32
14       12/30/2018 1/5/2019          32
15       1/6/2019 1/12/2019            40
16       1/13/2019 1/19/2019          40
17       1/20/2019 1/26/2019          40
18       1/27/2019 2/2/2019            45
19       2/3/2019 2/9/2019              45
20       2/10/2019 2/16/2019          50
21       2/17/2019 2/23/2019          50
22       2/24/2019 3/2/2019            50
23       3/3/2019 3/9/2019              50
24       3/10/2019 3/16/2019          50
25       3/17/2019 3/23/2019          50
26       3/24/2019 3/30/2019          50
27       3/31/2019 4/6/2019            50
28       4/7/2019 4/13/2019            50
29       4/14/2019 4/20/2019          40
30       4/21/2019 4/27/2019          40
31        4/28/2019 5/4/2019           40
32       5/5/2019 5/11/2019            40
33       5/12/2019 5/18/2019          40
34       5/19/2019 5/25/2019          40
35       5/26/2019 6/1/2019            40
36       6/2/2019 6/8/2019              32
37       6/9/2019 6/15/2019            32
38       6/16/2019 6/22/2019          32
39       6/23/2019 6/29/2019          32
40       6/30/2019 7/6/2019            32
41       7/7/2019 7/13/2019            32
42       7/14/2019 7/20/2019          32
43       7/21/2019 7/27/2019          32
44       7/28/2019 8/3/2019            32
45       8/4/2019 8/10/2019            32
46       8/11/2019 8/17/2019          40
47       8/18/2019 8/24/2019          45
48       8/25/2019 8/31/2019          50
49       9/1/2019 9/7/2019              50
50       9/8/2019 9/14/2019            50
51       9/15/2019 9/21/2019          40
52       9/22/2019 9/28/2019          45
53       9/29/2019 9/30/2019            8
Year End Total                             2080

If a holiday is on a Monday and that is the day staff take their Seasonal Day, they can choose another day in the same week (Sunday – Saturday).  Staff can only have one Seasonal Day in a week.  I’ve also attached our Seasonal Variance Schedule.  If staff work on different projects, for example, 990’s, they may choose to take their Seasonal Days in different weeks, with approval.  Our staff takes PTO by days, so if they are on vacation during a 32- hour week, they only have to release 32 hours of PTO.  Once staff has selected their day off we add them to our vacation calendar and also to ProStaff.  ProStaff pushes an appointment to our Outlook calendars, blocking off our Seasonal Days.  We add this to the vacation calendar so we can easily see at a glance everyone out of the office that day.  Our staff also update their status in PM showing they are taking a Seasonal Day.

  • If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Who Are You Traveling With?

“As soon as I saw you, I knew a grand adventure was about to happen.” – Winnie The Pooh

I read two quotes yesterday made me think about CPAs and CPA firms:

“In life, it’s not where you go..it’s who you travel with.” – Charles Schulz

“Sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people.” – Elizabeth Green

During the past couple of months, you have been spending a lot of time with your team members, ALL the people who work in your firm or office.

How do these two quotes apply to you? Are you accomplishing extraordinary things?

Even tax season can be fun and meaningful when you are traveling through it with the right people.

  • I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.
  • Mark Twain

Monday, April 8th, 2019

Podcast – Issues Facing CPA Firms Today

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo

Thanks so much to Brannon Poe of Poe Group Advisors for talking with me about CPA firm management and for featuring our conversation on his recent podcast.

Brannon-PoeBrannon began facilitating successful accounting practice transitions in 2003 and pioneered a consulting-based approach to transitioning accounting firms, which culminated in Poe Group Advisors’ unique process – The Seamless Succession™.

I know it is a busy week but bookmark the podcast and listen while you are commuting or next week, when you are recuperating from tax season.

  • Yesterday I was clever, so I changed the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
  • Rumi

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Procrastination

“My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.” – Charles Dickens

From an article via Fast Company:

Chronic procrastination has even been linked to higher rates of depression, substance abuse, phobias. and other issues, as Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University and author of Still Procrastinating: The No-Regrets Guide to Getting It Done, told Stephanie Vozza in a previous Fast Company piece. If you’re in the habit of putting off important tasks until the last minute, you may be able to overcome procrastination by looking at–and dealing with–the root causes.

Just something to think about…..

  • A year from now you may wish you had started today.
  • Karen Lamb

Monday, April 1st, 2019

Busy Week = Short Blog Posts. Topic: Drama

“All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.” – Sean O’Casey

If you provide tax services, this might be your busiest week of the year. That is why I am going to keep my daily blog posts very brief this week.

When I ask CPAs if they have any drama in their office I usually get a big chuckle. I don’t think I have ever found a firm without some drama among their team members.

Set a goal, for after tax season, to decrease the drama in your office. It usually comes from a lack of conversations. There are elephants in the room (and in the firm) and no one wants to talk about them.

Never avoid difficult conversations.

  • Don't waste words on people who deserve your silence. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing at all.
  • Mandy Hale

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Courtesy Policy

“Politeness is the art of choosing among your thoughts.” – Madame De Stael

You have had an extremely busy week. You are spending SO many hours with your co-workers. You are probably working this weekend and long hours next week. It is natural to become aggravated, at times, with those around you.

I read this small excerpt in an article:

Politeness is the cornerstone of any civilized society. In essence, it is respect for other people’s feelings. This respect is reflected in both thought and action . . . in considering other people’s points of view and behaving in sensitive ways. Unfortunately, in many areas of life, politeness seems to be outdated.

Maybe your firm needs a Courtesy Policy to help remind people that civility is alive and well in your firm and in the CPA Profession. Here’s a sample:

Sample Firm Courtesy Policy

  • If you have a problem with someone, talk about the problem only with them and in private.
  • Use positive conversation.
  • Blame a system, not a person.
  • Apologize and make restitution if someone is upset by your actions.
  • When you talk about a person who is not present, speak as if they are listening to your conversation. Use the person’s name in each sentence in which you refer to them.
  • Speak very politely using a person’s name – – “please” and “thank-you” as a minimum.
  • Greet and farewell everyone by name and with eye contact.
  • Tell the truth.

 

  • The toughest thing about being a celebrity, I suppose, is being polite when I don't want to be.
  • Eric Clapton

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Morning Person Or Not

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

I am a morning person. I like to get up early (5:00a) and start the day by reading and drinking a cup of coffee. Then I work most of the morning at a fairly ambitious pace. I have always felt I do my best work in the morning.

It’s not for everyone. Many people are definitely not morning people. That’s the joy of embracing flexible schedules for all your team members.

When I was working in a firm, I would be the first one there at 6:00a, that is when I was most productive. I had a partner who would often work until 2:00a. He was the most productive after 7:00p.

Many firms now provide core hours that they expect people to be available. Outside those core hours, people can work whenever and wherever. Some firms don’t even specify core hours any longer. Are you allowing people to work at their most productive time?

  • If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.
  • Bruce Lee

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Forward Thinking

“Embrace your uniqueness. Time is much too short to be living someone else’s life.” – Kobi Yamada

Did you know that Aprio is the only top 100 firm with a non-traditional name? Read more about Aprio and why they changed their name here.

I have known people at the firm for more than 20 years and have always been impressed with their forward-thinking actions. Look over their homepage and notice how they focus on “advisory” first. They are an “advisory, assurance, tax and private client services” firm.

Under “About Aprio” they say: As a premier, CPA-led business advisory firm.. etc.

How are you positioning your firm? If you call yourself advisors more often maybe you will become more advisory focused. The larger CPA firms have already evolved to being CPA-led firms meaning a large percentage of their employees are not CPAs. How are you planning for that evolution? Have you ever thought about it?

I have observed that most firms have fairly boring taglines. Here’s Aprio’s tagline: “Passionate for what’s next.” That seems to say a lot.

 

  • Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.
  • Margaret Mead

Friday, March 15th, 2019

Are You The Ritz Carlton of Accounting Firms?

“We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”  – Ritz Carlton Motto

Right now you are very, very busy. Everyone is the firm is very busy. Are you too busy to take the extra steps necessary to become known as the Ritz Carlton of accounting firms in your market?

Have you ever stayed at a Ritz Carlton? Here’s a site that will give you some info on the Ritz Carlton Gold Standards:

  • The Credo
  • Motto
  • The Three Steps of Service
  • Service Values
  • The 6thDiamond
  • The Employee Promise.

As you read them, you will see how they can apply to a client service business like a CPA firm.

It’s still early into 2019. How will you make your firm the gold standard when it comes to client service?

It’s Friday – time to smile.

  • A hot dog at the game beats roast beef at the Ritz.
  • Humphrey Bogart