Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Foot-dragging

“If I see something sagging, bagging or dragging I’ll get it nipped, tucked or sucked.” – Dolly Parton

Does your firm have a foot-dragging problem?

foot-drag·ging
/ˈfo͝otˌdraɡiNG/
noun
  1. reluctance or deliberate delay concerning a decision or action.
    “bureaucratic foot-dragging has continued to delay the project”

You come back from a conference with a great idea. Or perhaps you read about a good idea on this blog. It is not something that is too complicated but it is not something the firm has tried before.

Some partners are excited but a few pooh-pooh the idea, so it never gains enough momentum to survive. Staff watch, shake their heads and smile at another avoidance of change.

Maybe your firm has one or two partners who are passionate and one or two who are completely happy with the status quo. The passionate partners are pulling the heavy wagon of change up the steep hill and the other partners are dragging their feet.

The foot-draggers don’t even have to help pull. All they have to do is pick up their feet!

  • Delay is the deadliest form of denial.
  • C. Northcote Parkinson

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Listen to the Ideas of Others

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”  – John Steinbeck

The managing partner knows a lot and maybe even thinks he/she knows more than others.

The partner group knows a lot and maybe even think they know exactly what needs to be done at the firm.

The managers know a lot and maybe even think they are always right.

The accounting team knows a lot and maybe even more than the partners!

The admin team knows a lot and often has even more insight than anyone else.

Build a culture where people are very comfortable sharing their ideas and what they know without the threat of being discounted or even ridiculed. Sometimes the “higher-ups” ignore and discount ideas and sometimes the “lower-downs” do the same. It goes both ways.

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

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Inside An Accounting Firm – Find Happiness

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…. not for another hour, but this hour.” – Walt Whitman

I think about accounting firms a lot. I talk with so many of you who are faced with challenges and even worry about how you will move forward into the enchanting future that awaits the accounting profession.

Because it is Thanksgiving week here in the USA, it is a good time to count your blessings. Count the ways you have found happiness working in the accounting profession. CPA firms are wonderful places to work!

Try some of these ideas to maintain and increase your happiness at work:

Live and let live – – Don’t micromanage. Don’t gossip and worry about what other employees are doing.

Be giving of yourself to others – – put some structure around your mentoring activities. Mentoring happens naturally inside CPA firms – enhance it and help others.

Sundays should be holidays – – When I began my career in a CPA firm, no one at our firm EVER worked on a Sunday. It had nothing to do with religion, specifically, it was just that our founder believed that everyone needed a day of rest, a time to recharge. The more hours you work in a week the bigger chance you will make errors or poor decisions.

Stop being negative – – I see this all the time.  I continually say to people working in CPA firms – STOP WHINING!  Public accounting is an honorable, prestigious career, you work with intelligent people, you work in beautiful offices, you make friends with other top-quality professionals, you get to see businesses grow and prosper (with your help), you become admired by others in the business community for your expertise – – focus on the positive!

  • Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out of it alive.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Treating People With “Ignore”

“Over and over I marvel at the blessings of my life: Each year has grown better than the last.” – Lawrence Welk

Do you have one of those people (usually a partner) in your firm that treats people with “ignore”?

They come in the front door in the morning and don’t say a word or make eye contact with anyone else. They hurriedly walk to their office.

They come into the break room first thing in the morning to get a cup of coffee, quickly pour it and exit without acknowledging the presence of several others in the room.

They rarely, if ever, even say good morning to anyone.

The rarely, if ever, say thank-you when a team member provides something for them or passes an assignment along to them for review.

If these descriptions sound like you, wake-up! Be aware! Show people you appreciate them and care about them.

If this is someone you know, do what I always do – “kill them with kindness!” Smile at them and always say “Good morning.” Ask, “How are you today?” Ask if there is anything you can help them with. Tell them a brief, amusing story about something happening within the firm.

Sometimes, their distant behavior might be caused by more serious things, things you are not aware of. Be kind and count your blessings, especially this week.

  • When you are grateful - when you can see what you have - you unlock blessings to flow in your life.
  • Suze Orman

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Leaders Aren’t Parents

“There’s nothing that makes you more insane than family. Or more happy. Or more exasperated. Or more… secure.” – Jim Butcher

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I follow @leadershipfreak (Dan Rockwell) and often retweet him and read his blog.

A while back he did a blog post on the topic of businesses saying that they “are like families.” He asks the question, “Is your organization/leadership like a family or like a sports team?”  I hear the family description used by many public accounting firms.

It is important that you keep in mind that your employees are not your family. My main concern with this whole topic is the fact that you find it very difficult to fire a family member. You stand by them and protect them no matter what the behavior. So, if you have a poor performer you do not deal with it very well. You even retain people who are, in no stretch of the imagination, expertly performing the duties expected of their role in the firm.

As Leadershipfreak notes:

Family style organizations find it difficult to bring up tough issues and wait too long to address poor performance. Feelings run the show. The issues you can’t discuss limit potential and hinder growth.

Read his thought-provoking post here and see if you can relate it to your accounting firm.

  • Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.
  • David Ogden Stiers

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

How Do You Feel About Smells?

“Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells.” – J. Paul Getty

I read Real Simple magazine. I like things to be really simple.

On the last page of the November issue, they featured “Thank-you notes I dream of receiving.” The imagined notes were light-hearted but meaningful. One example of a thank-you note made me think of CPA offices.

Have you ever walked into your firm’s lobby to the welcoming smell of burnt popcorn? Perhaps, the smell of something even worse? First impressions matter. How your co-workers feel about your eating habits matter.

Be kind and considerate to each other.

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  • A cynic is a an who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.
  • H. L. Mencken

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Get The Right Clients On The bus

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell

I have read all the books that David Maister wrote. Many, many of the things he wrote and spoke about hit so close to home for me when I was working in a busy CPA firm. One of his concepts is memorable for me.

Why do you work for clients you don’t like? As Maister says, you work for clients you don’t enjoy dealing with, but they pay you a lot of money. It becomes “you give me money, and I will do what you want. That sounds a lot like prostitution.”

Every firm is looking for talented employees. Some of my clients won’t even outplace poor performers because they need “bodies.” Scary and short-sighted.

What if you had the very best clients? What if you had clients who always paid on time without reminders? What if you had clients who were all interesting, successful and pleasant? What if all your clients appreciated what you do and realized the value you brought to them?

If you get the right clients on the bus, maybe you would attract more talent. If you get the right clients on the bus, maybe some of your top performers wouldn’t leave the firm.

Getting the right clients can’t be left to chance. You must choose only to serve the clients that fit your Type A profile. Be sure to develop systems where you only serve Type A clients. What does your Type A client look like? Not sure? Work with your partners to define it and outplace client that don’t fit. If you don’t do this, you will continue to attract and attempt to serve the wrong clients. You will end up serving clients you don’t even like.

  • It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.
  • Jim Rohn

Monday, November 5th, 2018

2018 Anytime, Anywhere Work™ Survey Results Summary

CoverLast week, ConvergenceCoaching, LLC released their 2018 Anytime, Anywhere Work™ Survey.

Today’s talent wants to integrate work and life. As a result, leaders must continually find ways to innovate workplace flexibility.

The goal of the survey is to collect data on CPA firm adoption of flexible work programs and the experiences firms have had with these initiatives.

Firm leaders need to thoughtfully contemplate how enhancing a more flexible workplace can be a huge benefit to the future of the firm.

Jeff Phillips, CEO of Accountingfly tell us, “On Accountingfly, we see incredible talent response to remote accounting jobs, which receive at least 8 times the number of applicants than in-office positions. The demand for remote careers in accounting is clear, and it’s such an obvious solution to the talent issues facing CPA firms.”

Download the survey summary here.

  • Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Greeting Your Clients and Other Visitors

“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.” – Jerry Gregoire

First impressions do matter.

When a visitor arrives at your office and walks into your lobby, do they think, “Wow”? Or, do they wonder…. “Where is everybody?”

Do they see a warm and welcoming, space that sends a message of professionalism and attention to detail?

Do they encounter a smiling Director of First Impressions who seems to be delighted that they have arrived?

Do they see a sign on the counter that says, “Welcome to the Firm – Name of person” on their first visit to the firm?

Are they offered a menu that lists all of the refreshments available to them?

Or, does the firm still have an old school feel when you enter the lobby?

Is there is a very small sliding window that separates you from the person that is supposed to greet you?

Is there no one there to immediately greet you?

Do the furnishings look dated?

Are the magazines old?

And the most depressing of all these things, is there one of those service bells on the counter that is used to summon someone?

  • Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.
  • Kevin Stirtz

Monday, October 29th, 2018

Office Halloween Fun

“Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.” – From Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Over the years, at my firm, we had some wonderful, fun times at Halloween. Bringing in team members children to trick or treat at each office or desk, organizing the best costume contest and having refreshments in the late afternoon.

I know that many CPA firms do similar things and have a lot of fun. However, this year, and going forward, you must be careful and set some guidelines. I’m sure you have all read and heard about the high-profile news person who lost her job over a comment about Halloween costumes. As with so many things, these days, you must be cautious when it comes to almost any topic.

Here are some guidelines from Huffington Post:

Pick a theme – For example, dress like one of your favorite cartoon characters.

Avoid Controversial Costumes – such as dressing like a particular politician.

Don’t Forget It Is a Workday – Will your costume make it uncomfortable to perform some of your routine duties?

No Pressure – Not everyone in your office may enjoy Halloween. No one HAS to dress in a costume.

Decorate Tastefully – Avoid toy weapons and any blood, guts and gore aspects of decorating.

Go Easy on the Alcohol – that is if you serve it at all. Some tasty punch might be more appropriate.

Here’s an article via Inc. by Suzanne Lucas, @RealEvilHRLady about last week’s incident.

  • Villainy wears many masks, none so dangerous as the mask of virtue.
  • Ichabod Crane, Sleepy Hallow