Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Monday, June 24th, 2019

Wastes To Look At In Your Firm

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” – Harvey Mackay

Last week I read the tweet below from @AccountingEdit (Dan Hood). He was attending the Rainmaker Superconference in Atlanta. So much is said in just these few words. Read these few words and apply them to your CPA firm.

Wastes to look for (in your firm and at your clients):

Defects: In which areas are things not right the 1st time?

Waiting: Where can time taken be reduced?

Over-engineering: Do too much for money charged

Process: There’s no process or a flawed process

  • I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.
  • William Shakespeare

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Many Firms Are Adding An Extra Holiday – July 5th

“Holidays – any holiday – are such a great opportunity to focus on bringing the family together.” – Lidia Bastianich

Many firms do actually close their office on Fridays during the summer months. I was curious about how many additional firms were going to close this year on Friday, July 5th and treat their team to a four-day weekend.

I surveyed firms of all sizes all across the country. Replies came from Ohio, Vermont, Georgia, Connecticut, Oregon, Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois, California, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Dakota.

The majority of firms are closing. Several are assuming most people will take a PTO day. To me, this means someone must be in the office for calls and visitors. Some have very creative ways of handling “bonus” days and a few are very generous (allowing 2 extra days off or more).
60% of those responding are closing, 30% are not and 10% are closing but it will be charged to PTO. One firm closes for the entire week because “it is our slowest week of the year.” Another firm allows one floating holiday for each summer month (June, July, August) and assumes most people will use July 5th as their floater. And, one larger firm has unlimited PTO and assumes most people will request July 5 but the office will be open. A western firm notes that they always close the day after July 4th no matter what day it falls because most of their team will be out late watching fireworks and celebrating.
I hope this information will be helpful to you in planning for the future. This year December 23rd is a Monday (and most firms now have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as holidays). You have time to decide how you will handle that quiet business day. Being generous is never a bad thing.
  • Liberty is the breath of life to nations.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Friday, June 7th, 2019

Flashback Friday – Does Your Firm Have a Motto or Tagline?

“It has been a motto of mine my whole life – just be yourself.” – Patrick Kane

Most firms have them. Many firms have them prominently displayed on their website. I am referring to the firm motto or tagline. Most are rather boring.

Read more here.

  • Concentration is my motto - first honesty, then industry, then concentration.
  • Andrew Carnegie

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

The People Around You

You are working in a firm. Take a look at the leadership group.

You are the leaders in a firm. Take a look at the people you have hired.

Sometimes the following applies for a while but not for the long term. If you feel like you might be in a cage, do something about it.

I saw the following on Facebook. Also, ask yourself, “Am I in the right circles with my social media?”

CircleCage

  • Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions.
  • Will Smith

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Motivate Your Team

I read a recent tweet from Jon Gordon and I just had to share it with all of you.

“The greatest way to motivate is not through big speeches, bold strategy meetings or loud screaming sessions. The greatest way to motivate is through one on one meetings that enhance communication, develop connection and strengthen commitment one team member at a time.”

Enhancing communication and motivating your team are two of the biggest issues I encounter as I talk with firms around the country. It is important in big firms and small firms.

A motivated, inspired team makes all the difference.

 

  • Creating the kind of workplace that is actually fit for human life goes way beyond mere happiness.
  • Moe Carrick

Friday, May 24th, 2019

A Lesson For CPA Firm Partners/Managers

You are the managing partner of a CPA firm. You are the PIC (partner-in-charge) of audit, tax, consulting or an office of the firm. You are a COO or Practice Manager. What do your employees call you? Don’t you ever wonder what they call you behind your back? Do they say you are a good boss?

You might think Steve Jobs was a fearless leader yet he’s described as egotistical and abrasive. Not exactly in line with the title: Good Boss

Jim Henson, on the other hand, by all reports was a Good Boss (his employees did call him “fearless leader”).

  • His former employees say working for him was the best job they ever had.
  • His son, Brian Henson, says: He taught me to identify a person’s talent, nurture that talent, and encourage them to look to themselves for a solution.
  • His agent says Henson rarely spoke above a whisper.
  • His wife says he was so patient that she sometimes wanted to kick him!
  • He was a good listener, accepted ideas from others and used them.
  • If he thought something hadn’t been done well, he would never say that. He would say, “Hey, I wonder if we just should try…….”

A good boss, like a good teacher, empowers their employees. This is easy to say and very hard to actually do. Most of us have egos that get in the way.

 

As for Henson, no one ever saw him angry. Far from lazy, he worked harder than anyone in his company. He rarely slept. He was not fearful. Never afraid to try something new.

Instead of miserly. Henson was generous, going well over budget in order to give others the time and space to create.

I routinely encounter accounting firm leaders who are miserly (only spend CPE dollars on technical education, won’t send their firm administrator to a conference that could bring huge pay-back to the firm, won’t spend any education/training dollars on their administrative team and support team, etc.).

Read this full article about Henson on Fast Company. It contains so much information to absorb and contemplate. How do you stack up?

  • Life is like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.
  • Jim Henson

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Get Rid of Drama!

This is a sad statement for me to make, however, when I noticed this comment by the author, Jon Gordon I thought of CPAs and their firms. Here is his tweet:

“Complaining is like throwing up. Afterward, you feel better but then everyone around you feels sick.”

How much complaining goes on inside your firm? I have heard from many, well…. most of my clients that there is entirely too much drama inside the firm. Someone always seems to be complaining about someone else.

I have frequently observed a strange reaction from a partner group. They decide on a new policy, procedure or event. Then they hear that one person has complained about their decision. They quickly react and often reverse or modify their decision. Don’t do it!

Keep another famous quote in mind:

You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all of the time” (Poet John Lydgate as made famous by Abraham Lincoln).

When you make decisions always keep in mind… “for the good of the firm”.

  • I can't tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.
  • Ed Sheeran

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