Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Monday, December 6th, 2021

Purpose

“Profit isn’t a purpose, it’s a result. Purpose is the reason we do the thing that makes the profit.” – Simon Sinek

Surveys tell us that a large percentage of employees don’t feel fully connected to their firm’s purpose, they don’t see the value they create and that their jobs don’t allow them to fully leverage their strengths.

Every CPA firm started for a reason. Every CPA firm continues to operate and move forward for a reason. That reason results in profit.

Many firms are confused about the difference between a mission statement and a purpose statement. The first step to understanding a purpose statement is to distinguish it from a mission statement because each plays a different role in your business plan.

Here’s an explanation from a blog post by WGU.edu that I think will help you understand the difference:

Mission Statement vs. Purpose Statement

A purpose statement is a single statement that defines the reason your company exists—beyond simply making a profit. It also illustrates how your product or service positively impacts the people you serve. Once your purpose is established, you’ll need a series of goals to drive that purpose. That’s where the mission statement comes in.

First and foremost, a mission statement is actionable. It explains the path you need to take to reach your purpose. So, while a purpose statement is focused on the future, a mission statement is rooted in the present.

Unlike a company mission, your company purpose isn’t something that can be completed or checked off a list. A purpose statement illustrates the ongoing pursuit to push your company forward.

It is important to define your CPA firm’s purpose and share it with your entire workforce. Too many partners attend a partner retreat and then do not share the action steps from that meeting in a way that motivates and connects team members to the firm’s purpose, vision, and core values.

Here’s the Lego purpose statement: “To inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.”

I hope you can define your purpose so clearly and briefly.

  • Nothing will divert me from my purpose.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, December 2nd, 2021

Changing Your Thinking

“My hope is that when someone has that call to action, they realize that everybody can do something, even if that’s just changing their own thinking. Women have to change the way they think, too. Not just men.”~ Ambassador Melanne Verveer

I think the above quote has a lot of meaning for those working in public accounting.

When I do my communication presentation for CPAs, one of my favorite topics is male/female communication. There is a lot of focus on helping men understand female communication styles and preferences and not quite so much on asking women to better understand male communication.

In the CPA profession, we have asked men to change in many ways so that women can more easily progress in their careers. These men have met the challenge and become amazing supporters of welcoming more females into the former, all-male partner group.

I have observed that some women are almost hostile to “the old boy club.” Hostility gets you nowhere, no matter what the mission.

Men and women in the CPA profession BOTH changing their thinking has moved many progressive firms more quickly forward. It is about respect, trust, camaraderie, and friendship. It doesn’t matter if your are a male or a female.

  • Building trust begins with an appreciation and understanding of trust, but it also requires practice and practices.
  • Robert C. Solomon

Monday, November 22nd, 2021

Great Meetings

“Once you’ve got 7 people in a decision-making group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.” – Dan Rockwell LeadershipFreak

Dan Rockwell gives us 3 Words That Make Meeting Great. Those 3 words are Specific. Shorter. Smaller. Follow the link to read more about these three words.

I like the two words that apply to CPAs – Decide and Deliver. Too often, in partner meetings, decisions are put on hold. If a decision is finally made, it often fails because of a lack of implementation.

If someone in your meeting leaves without anything to do they shouldn’t be in the meeting in the first place. Always leave a meeting with an action plan.

Rockwell also gives us the following:

5 Things to stop doing in meetings:

  1. Complaining. Problem-solving isn’t complaining. The difference between complaining and leadership is solution-seeking.
  2. Interrupting. The person leading the meeting should interrupt interrupters.
  3. Blathering on and on.
  4. Chasing rabbits.
  5. Neglecting action items and accountability. Ask, “Who does what by when?”
  • Two or three action items is enough for most meetings.
  • Dan Rockwell

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

They Are Watching You

“By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.” – Robert Frost

If you are a partner or a firm administrator in a CPA firm, you are a leader (a boss). Never forget that everyone is watching you. I’m sure you have seen some of those cute videos via social media where the parent performs some simple act and the baby (not even a year old) will mimic them almost immediately.

That’s what your team members will do.

If you always give people compliments and encouragement they will do the same. If you are short-tempered and reserved, they will eventually take on these characteristics.

More importantly, if you work 12 hours a day (as the above quote mentions), they will assume they must also work 12 hours a day. Soon, they will realize that public accounting is not for them. This is why so many firms have succession issues – no one to replace partners as they retire.

If you are keeping up with all the news about resignations and the talent shortages now and the lack of students seeking a career in public accounting in the future, you know that this is happening right now.

Be careful of the example you are setting and remember they are watching you with a magnifying glass because YOU are the boss.

  • I wish I were brave, although I try. I work too hard and don't play enough. Too much work ethic, not enough 'fun'.
  • Danielle Steel

Monday, November 15th, 2021

Hang On To Your Team

“That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” – Simone de Beauvoir

Over the weekend, I read the latest news from the Associated Press. – – Americans quit their jobs at a record pace for the second straight month in September, while businesses and other employers posted a near-record number of available jobs.

Employees have become empowered and are quitting to take the higher pay that is being offered by employers who are desperate for workers.

I have observed, that some CPA firms are not doing what is necessary to retain the best and the brightest (or even the average) employee.

Some firms are still paying interns $15.00 or $16.00 per hour. I asked some more progressive CPA firms what they are paying for interns for 2022 and learned they are paying $20 to $28 per hour. Of course, geographic location makes a difference but none were paying less than $20.

The more progressive firms have already given significant salary increases and stay bonuses. If you have not done this, these firms will be attracting YOUR people. I have no proof, but I am hearing that the largest accounting firms are giving a signing bonus of $75,000 for a Manager and $100,000 for a Senior Manager.

Firms are also taking steps to outplace troublesome and nonprofitable clients because they want to maintain awesome client service to their best clients. They can’t do that if they do not have the man/woman power.

Now is not a time for CPA firm shareholders to be greedy. You have to give your team lots of little things (perks), but you also have to give them money.

Read the AP article here.

  • You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

Review Your Holiday Benefit

“A holiday is an opportunity to journey within. It is also a chance to chill, to relax. It is when I switch on my rest mode.” – Prabhas

Accounting Today recently released their list of the 2021 Best Firms for Young Accountants.

Each year, Accounting Today and Best Companies Group recognize the 100 Best Firms to Work For in the U.S. — and then they pick the 10 Best Firms for Young Accountants from among those, based on the responses of their younger staff to a comprehensive employee survey. Click here to meet the ten firms.

As I browsed the list, something stood out to me. Only four of the ten best firms offered ten paid holidays. Four offered eight and two offered nine. I thought this was rather unusual. In my network of firms I believe ten paid holidays is very common:

  1. New Year’s Day
  2. First Friday after April 15
  3. Memorial Day
  4. Independence Day
  5. Labor Day
  6. Thanksgiving
  7. Day after Thanksgiving
  8. Christmas Eve
  9. Christmas Day
  10. One floating holiday

The floating holiday is often used to make a four-day weekend if July 4th falls on a Thursday, for example. Some firms give it as an employee’s birthday or any day of their choice.

Think about what your firm offers and see if you are in line with what is expected from future employees.

  • I look my best when I'm totally free, on holiday, walking on the beach.
  • Rosamund Pike

Friday, November 5th, 2021

Flashback Friday – Managing Remote Workers

“Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.” – Fred Hoyle

We have been doing it for nearly twenty-one months now, trying to successfully manage a remote workforce.
It looks like the challenge will lessen somewhat as many of your team members come back to the office because they actually enjoy working in the office. You still have those who demand and appreciate the option of working from home.
Here’s a flashback post from last December that addresses the possibility of having an actual “Head of Remote Work”.
  • Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the every day things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon.
  • Booker T. Washington

Thursday, November 4th, 2021

Committees

“A committee can make a decision that is dumber than any of its members.” – David Coblitz

I have observed that most CPA firms have too many committees.

Have you ever served on a committee? I’m sure you have. My experience is that at committee meetings there is a lot of discussions, sometimes debates, and even arguments. After the meeting, not much gets accomplished, and then time goes by and it’s time for the next committee meeting.

If you have a mid-size firm (say, 25-50 people), you have a Managing Partner and a Firm Administrator. Most internal operational issues are handled by the firm administrator with oversight by the MP, while always keeping the other partners informed. Having a committee of partners for anything other than a partner compensation committee is a waste of valuable time, time that could be used to serve clients or bring in new business.

I do believe that a CPA firm should have a Tax Committee and an A&A Committee. Each committee is headed by one partner and comprised of tax or A&A managers, even some seniors and the firm administrator. The other management or operational areas, such as HR, facilities, firm financial, marketing, etc. are handled by the MP and FA (with admin assistance). Once the firm grows, you add an HR Director, Marketing Director, and so on. These support professionals work under the guidance of the MP and FA. The annual salary increase exercise is handled by the MP and FA and approved by the partner group.

If you have a special need for a certain project, such as rolling out new software, establish a task force comprised of people at different levels in the firm. When the project is done, the task force ceases to exist.

Keep in mind if too many people are “in charge”, not much happens. Someone needs to be accountable. Of course, the size of the firm, rate of growth, and geographic location all influence these topics.

Bottom line, if you have a firm administrator/practice manager, empower them and hold them accountable.

  • A camel is a horse designed by a committee.
  • Alec Issigonis

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

Is This Person a Good Fit?

“Everybody knows that fit matters but what most people do is hire based on other criteria and then either regret or fire based on a lack of fit, down the road.” – Bruce Tulgan

Often, when CPA firms are hiring, they place great focus on the candidate’s skill set. Did they have good grades? Have they passed the Exam? Are they familiar with the software products we use? Do they seem to be a good communicator. What kind of work experience do they have? Do they seem to have a great attitude?

In these challenging hiring times, you are so anxious to find a body, any halfway intelligent body, that you hire too quickly and regret it later.

Bruce Tulgan, in a recent blog post, titled, Finding Fit When Hiring or Promoting From Within tells us:

Fit is crucial to success.

Fit is intangible, hard to evaluate, and hard to measure. And with talent in such great demand versus supply, it is very hard to convince hiring managers to take the time and invest the scrutiny to do a deep dive evaluation of ‘fit’ before making the hire or promotion. This is even though fit is ultimately the biggest overall factor in success of a new hire or internal promotion.

While you are seeking people to fit your firm culture, you should also be aware of making promotions inside your firm. CPAs often promote people to the manager position just because they are good technicians. Many good technicians do not possess adequate people skills. A manager needs people skills! They are not a good fit for a manager position. The same thought applies to naming a new partner. Do they fit the partner role? Can they mentor young people, excel at client relationships, and bring in new business, or are they just an exceptional technician?

I know a very successful firm that puts candidates through a very rigorous hiring process. Many people at the firm, at all levels, talk with them before they are hired. The firm is very honest with the candidate about the hard work and sometimes long hours that they will be facing. Thus, they have developed a culture where people that don’t “fit” don’t get hired.

If you have hired people lately and they just haven’t worked out, keep in mind how much turnover costs you. Interview and promote for fit.

Read Tulgan’s blog post, it contains a lot of great information that you may want to put into practice.

  • Just because someone is intelligent, capable, and highly-skilled in their current role doesn’t necessarily mean they will find the same level of success elsewhere.
  • Bruce Tulgan

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Culture Must Be Nurtured

“A culture is not invented. A culture constantly evolves..which is why it must be nurtured.” – Simon Sinek

I read the above quote by Simon Sinek and knew I had to write about CPA firm culture again. As you know, I have written about it many, many times. I have written about a marketing culture, a learning culture, an inclusive culture, a flexible culture, and more!

As Sinek notes, a work culture constantly evolves. If you don’t pay attention to your culture, make it a priority and nurture it, it will form on its own and might not be something you intended or are proud of.

You can use the search box on my website to find all the posts I have written about culture.

  • 'How was you day?' is a question that matters a lot more than it seems.
  • Seth Godin