Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Monday, September 16th, 2019

A Simple Thing

“When you meet people, show real appreciation, then genuine curiosity.” – Martha Beck

How do your clients, prospective clients, and other visitors feel when they walk into your office? Do they feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated?

Things that DO NOT promote a warm and fuzzy feeling:

  • An empty front desk
  • A sliding glass window that is closed
  • A bell to ring when you arrive
  • An outdated waiting area that looks like the 1970s
  • A receptionist that doesn’t offer to hang up their coat or get them a refreshment

I once knew a spectacular Director of First Impressions. She did some very simple things to make visitors say, “Wow!” For example, she checked the partners’ calendars every day to see if any visitors would be coming to the office to meet with partners the next day. She would make a sign and put it on her counter for each person, saying:

SUSAN SMITH

WELCOME TO

John Doe & Company

It might be a client, a prospective client, a vendor, an intern, a new hire or someone interviewing with the firm. Everyone saw a visible sign that they were important. The sign evolved into a digital message sign that sat on the reception counter.

There are a lot of little things you can do to show visitors/clients that you care.

 

  • Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
  • Robert Brault

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Brag About Your Team

“If you done it, it ain’t bragging.” – Walt Whitman

Normally, I would say it’s not good manners to brag. That is not always true.

In the accounting profession, I often find that people DO NOT brag enough!

I especially urge women to “toot your own horn” because men tend to do it much more often than women. Be proud of what you have accomplished.

When it comes to your team, let them know they are very valuable to the firm. One way you can do this is to have a brag book in your lobby.

I am sure you have received compliments from clients about your team members. Some clients even send a letter to the firm communicating their appreciation of the people they work with at your firm. Maybe they send a personal email to individual partners about the good work done by the team.

Make it a project to gather all these types of compliments (in writing), print them out and make a scrapbook to put in your lobby. Give it a fancy cover and title. You might be surprised how many people will look at it. Even co-workers don’t often hear about these kinds of compliments.

Another way is to have the video screen in your lobby scroll through pictures of the team with quotes extracted from communications from clients. Such as, “Joe, was such a pleasure to work with.”

Why not do both… paper and digital communication that you are so proud of your team and want to brag about them.

  • Bragging is not an attractive trait, but let's be hones. A man who catches a big fish doesn't go home through an alley.
  • Ann Landers

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Transparency

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

A couple of basics that your staff desires are inclusion and transparency. They want to know about and be included in what is discussed behind-closed-doors in the partner meetings.

To attract and keep top talent, you need to figure out how to inform and involve them.

Daniel Hood of Accounting Today recently wrote a very informative article – 10 Staff Questions Firms Should Answer Right Now.

Here are the 10 Questions – be sure to read the article to learn more about each one. These are IMPORTANT questions!

  1. How is the firm doing?
  2. What is the firm doing?
  3. What does this mean for me?
  4. What can I do here?
  5. Hoe do I do that
  6. What does a partner make?
  7. How long does it take to make partner?
  8. Will the firm be around in 10 years?
  9. What will it look like? Can I make a suggestion?
  • Speak the truth. Transparency breeds legitimacy.
  • John Maxwell

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Build Your Brand – Be Visible

“The power of visibility can never be underestimated.” – Margaret Cho

You have heard it over and over in recent years, you have to be visible on social media to attract and retain clients.

Yes, I agree with that. But, I ask more of you!

Don’t forget the old fashioned way. You must be visible in your business community – up close and personal.

Each person working at your CPA firm helps build a reputation for the FIRM. Remember those elevator speeches (describing what you do in 30 seconds)? Are you still teaching your newest team members how to do that? Remember, when someone asks you where you work you don’t say, “I work for an accounting firm.” You say, “I work for Acme CPA firm, the fastest-growing, most knowledgeable and progressive CPA firm in town! I am on the tax team.” Each person crafts their own story.

All your partners and managers should be involved in a charitable or community organization and eventually take a leadership position in that organization.

A basic visibility activity that partners sometimes forget – you eat lunch outside the office every day. Eat lunch with a client, a banker, an attorney or with another person from the firm. Dine at the most popular business lunch place in town where you will be seen by clients, bankers, and attorneys.

An on-going motto for the firm – “Let’s get visible!”

  • A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is invisible labor.
  • Victor Hugo

Friday, August 30th, 2019

Flashback Friday – Don’t Procrastinate.

“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin

It is comfortable to do it – to put things off. It not comfortable having to do something in a rush and at the last minute. Here’s this week’s flashback.

Fight Your Urge to Procrastinate.

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

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

They Like Working at The Firm BUT…..

“If you love your work, if you enjoy it, you’re already a success.” – Jack Canfield

Partners in many firms really try to provide a friendly and fun work environment. They care about providing value, offer competitive salaries and have 4-day workweeks in the summer, plus other perks.

These things are appreciated by staff. However, there are always a few things they would like to see improved:

  • Managers need to do a better job at delegating. Partners and managers are busy and staff are looking for work (this is an on-going theme I have blogged about several times).
  • Partners say they have an open-door policy but they really don’t welcome interruptions. Don’t tout it if you don’t mean it.
  • The partners are very competent but they struggle with understanding younger staff and their struggles. Things like commuting, two working parents, lack of on-going feedback on performance, etc.
  • They need to develop more work for after tax season. The firm needs to offer a wider range of services.
  • And, to me, the biggest issues in most firms – They need to improve communication, as a firm and as individuals.

There are many more positives and negatives but this is just a list that might be a wake-up call to leadership.

  • It is highly impossible for you to be successful at what you don't love. Do what you love and love what you do.
  • Israelmore Ayivor

Monday, August 19th, 2019

Lifelong Learning is a Must for CPAs

“As long as you’re learning, you’re not failing.” – Bob Ross

The quote from Bob Ross caused me to think about what learning really means inside an accounting firm.

So many, more experienced, CPAs continue to achieve their CPE (Continuing Professional Education) hours. But, are they really learning?

I have observed first-hand and have heard SO many stories second-hand about CPA partners rushing to obtain their CPE hours right before the deadline. Are they really learning anything in this “I’ve got to get it done” mode?

So much CPE is now online and many are taking advantage of it because it is cheaper. Some firms don’t allow younger accountants to travel out of state for CPE. Are they really learning anything new, anything that will challenge them and cause them to contemplate their current state of knowledge.

So much can be learned from interacting with peers from different firms. I hope life-long learning is one of your core values. I don’t want you to fail.

 

  • I'm still learning.
  • Michelangelo

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Don’t Let Day-to-Day Take Over Your Retreat

“Strategic thinking starts with the end in mind.” – Pearl Zhu

If you are planning your fall retreat, plan your agenda carefully.

So many things are going on inside the firm such as issues with people and their performance, a renegade partner or secondary office, the progress on technology upgrades, the lack of new business coming in the door and so on.

Don’t let all the daily noise cloud your retreat. Put one thing on the agenda – strategic planning – then do it.

What are the big-picture items you need to address? Things that affect the future of the firm and things that will force partners to think of the firm before themselves.

Explore and discover what your firm is truly all about (vision/mission/purpose), identify (or review) your core values, uncover what needs to be done to prepare your firm for the next generation or for an upward merger. If your firm is not growing steadily, that is a huge issue to discuss. All partners must generate new business. Discuss and document the expectations for every partner. Actually talk, face-to-face, about issues within the partner group that everyone has always swept under the carpet. Address that elephant in the room!

If you don’t have a solid strategic plan to share with your team you will soon experience turnover. Talented people can easily move on to a firm that is transparent, forward-thinking, growing and creating a culture where they can see, in advance, where their career is heading.

 

  • Be strategic about productivity. Do less exceptionally well, instead of doing more in an average way.
  • Laurie Buchanan, PhD

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

Putting On The Brakes

“Almost any decision is better than no decision – just keep moving.” – Danielle LaPorte

To actually implement a new idea, process, procedure or guideline inside your firm you have to build momentum.

You are taking some baby steps toward the new goal/idea and you are beginning to feel the momentum and support building and growing stronger.

Then someone (often just one person) complains, throws up red flags and questions your motives. You become fearful, not for any valid reason, and your momentum significantly declines and perhaps even stops altogether.

Suzanne Lucas, @RealEvilHRLady, shares her story about ziplining. Her fear and the act of putting on the brakes too soon left her stranded. She recognized how putting on the brakes too soon and losing momentum also often happens in the business world.

This summer is drawing to a close. Did you and your firm lose its momentum over the last couple of months? Did someone in your firm express doubt about a new initiative or service niche? Renew your drive and push ahead – build and sustain momentum.

  • Commitment is the ignitor of momentum.
  • Peg Wood

Friday, August 9th, 2019

Flashback Friday – You Didn’t Act

How many times have you contemplated the fact that you should have done something but you didn’t?

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” – William James

Click here to read this flashback post from 2017.

  • Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.
  • Leo Buscaglia