Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021

You Know What I Like!

“Bad news travels at the speed of light; good news travels like molasses.” – Tracy Morgan

I recently heard an old song by someone called The Big Bopper. He died on the famous plane crash with Buddy Holly. It happened on February 3, 1959, and has been called “The Day the Music Died.” It was referred to in Don McLean’s classic American Pie. If you are not old enough to remember or have never heard of Buddy Holly, click here.

Anyway, The Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson) had a novelty song that became a big hit titled Chantilly Lace. In the song he says, over and over, “Oh, baby you know what I like.”

I told you all of that so that I could talk about this – a recent article by Dan Hood of Accounting Today – “Accountants need to explain themselves.” Dan was on a recent Zoom session the AICPA leaders conducted last week. They (the AICPA leaders) urged all of us in the meeting and all CPAs to communicate what is good about the CPA profession. Dan’s article will be helpful to you.

They didn’t need to convince me. I love the CPA profession. But, are you, people working in a busy CPA firm, actively talking about all the good things to LIKE about the CPA profession? Talk to your kids, talk to students, talk to your spouse, your aunts/uncles, and especially your clients about the great rewards of being a CPA.

Read Dan’s article and keep in mind, “Oh, baby, you know what I like!”

  • If anyone asks you what kind of music you play, tell him 'pop.' Don't tell him 'rock'n'roll' or they won't even let you in the hotel.
  • Buddy Holly

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

Your Current Challenge Certainly Isn’t New

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

I’m not sure where I got the quote, below, and I don’t know if it is really true. However, it seems to me that what this person said was probably true at the time.

Finding, hiring and retaining talent professionals is at the very top of the list today. The AICPA is concerned, state societies are concerned, practitioners are concerned and HR managers are exhausted.

Here’s the quote from 1961. It kind of puts things in perspective. The current talent challenge is nothing new and CPAs have been trying to solve it for 60 years!

“The public accounting profession can, in the years just ahead, expand its role in our economy to levels never before reached… The problems of the profession in meeting the demands of the future are centered in its ability to attract and keep within its ranks qualified professional personnel.”
 —John Jones, Georgia Society Magazine – 1961

  • If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.
  • Abraham Maslow

Monday, June 28th, 2021

Sabbaticals

“There is freedom waiting for you, on the breezes of the sky, and you ask, ‘What if I fall?’ Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” – Erin Hanson

It is Monday and you need to smile.

I was looking for some hand-outs I have on the topic of partner sabbaticals. It was a popular topic a few years ago but I haven’t heard much discussion about it lately. Maybe because partners (and others) have had a lot of time away from the office because of COVID (although they were still working).

I honestly don’t know who gave me this but here’s a sample sabbatical policy for CPA firm partners that will make you smile:

Sabbatical Program for CPA Firm Partners:

We take a vote to decide which partners we’d prefer not seeing around the office.

The remaining partners pool their funds and try to collect enough to send them as far away as possible for the longest period of time. The idea is that most of us will be retired by the time they return.

We find that the system works pretty well, the staff is happy and the office environment much more relaxed.

We’ve set up a system whereby partners can contribute to the fund through their cafeteria plan so they can send others away with pre-tax dollars.

  • Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by.
  • Robert Frost

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

Your Influence & Focus

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” – John Maynard Keynes

Summer is here and you have a mix of priorities on your work and life calendars. Usually, firms are doing performance feedback sessions and assessing what needs to be improved before the next busy season. You are also, personally, planning some stress-relieving vacation time.

As a managing partner, firm administrator, HR director, etc., I urge you not to lose sight of some important activities. Be sure to use your influence and focus on key firm issues. Here’s a listing for you to consider:

  • I'm open for possibilities. I'm open for choices. I always welcome new ideas. I'm always eager to learn. I'm never going to close my mind to learning
  • Cesar Millan

Monday, June 21st, 2021

The Great Resignation

“Your employer brand is your external experience, and your talent brand is the internal experience.” – Cassie Whitlock

Has your accounting firm started to experience the resignation crisis? It is happening to employers now and the prediction is that it will continue.

Last week, I wrote about how the talent pool for CPAs will be shrinking. Now, it seems, you will be facing the fact that your people can work for a firm, no matter where that firm is located. Firms in large cities are willing to pay large city salaries to remote staff that live in more affordable localities.

Per a recent article via Fast Company, Texan A&M University Associate Management Professor Anthony Klotz coined the phrase (the great resignation) during an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

The article also notes:

Employees are also seeking more rewarding work, adds Cassie Whitlock, head of human resources for the talent management software platform BambooHR. “Many have lost a sense of connection to the workplace,” she says. “Even if they’re getting time with their manager, we discovered they’re having fewer interactions, and the quality of those interactions is diminished. They’re not having a feeling of genuine connection. They feel less seen, recognized, and appreciated.”

Remember something I have written about often – people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Your managers have that first-hand contact with your staff both in person and remotely. It’s time again to help your managers to become very skilled at managing and engaging people.

Whitlock stresses something that CPA owners need to embrace:

“They (managers) spend the most time with employees, and they make or break an organization’s goals, objectives, and outcomes,” says Whitlock. “They carry the water. Invest in growing managers to make sure you have the quality and caliber you want.”

  • You need to be great at telling stories in your organization. How are you making a difference? And are you sharing those successes with team members to help them feel good about the goals and outcomes you’re driving?
  • Cassie Whitlock

Monday, June 14th, 2021

One Way Street

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” – Epictetus

Wise words from Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple when discussing living in the past – a past that one loved and enjoyed:

“I learned what I suppose I really knew already, that one can never go back, that one should not ever try to go back – that the essence of life is going forward. Life is really a One Way Street, isn’t it?”

Maybe you have “good old days” thoughts as you progress through this new normal that we are living – in our business lives and in our personal lives.

As you look back, life at your firm was progressing but was also stable, comfortable and understandable. All that has changed since March 2020.

Now, we must remember that we are on a One Way Street into the future. There is no place to turn around and go backward.

Going forward will be challenging but it will also be exciting and rewarding.

  • There's only one way to have a happy marriage and as soon as I learn what it is I'll get married again.
  • Clint Eastwood

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

Communicate Your Thoughts On Hybrid

“Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.” – Linus Pauling

So many firms right now are sticking their toe into the hybrid work schedule waters. Do we or don’t we? How will it look? How will we keep communication and culture strong? Maybe we just go to a four-day workweek. If everyone works whatever schedule they want, will it create chaos? Will client service suffer over the long term? What will we do about the administrative team?

Many decisions need to be made and I hope you can make them quickly. The most important things is to communicate to your team. Don’t leave them wondering all summer long what the firm will do in the Fall.

Here’s a message Tim Cook of Apple sent to the team last week:

In an email to staff, Apple CEO Tim Cook has told office employees that they are expected to return to their workspace three days a week starting in September. The iPhone maker said it wants most office workers to show up Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with the option to work remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays. “For all that we’ve been able to achieve while many of us have been separated, the truth is that there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other,” he wrote in the email. “Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.”

What goes through my mind is how will this building look empty for the long term.

  • For now, let me simply say that I look forward to seeing your faces.
  • Tim Cook

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

Your People Want to Tell You

“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.” – Sybil F. Stershic

Per Gallup, your people really want to tell you what they need and how they feel. So, it is up to you to ask them. In doing so, you can gain so much valuable information and receive guidance on how to proceed through the weeks and months ahead.

Great advice from Gallup:

  • Since no one can know how long a crisis will last or what the outcomes will be, the most sensible thing to do is address your employees’ current needs.
  • Gathering employee feedback sends a positive message in times of crisis.
  • Asking your workforce what they think and then taking no action after getting their answers is always the wrong move.
  • We live in counterintuitive times – – now is not the time to “go with your gut.”

Many accounting firms are now doing pulse surveys. A staff pulse survey is a short, quick survey that is sent out to employees on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly, etc.). This survey is essentially a check-in, providing a pulse check on topics such as employee satisfaction, job role, communication, relationships, and work environment.

Gallup says that garnering employee feedback through surveys or other channels benefits the organization and employees alike. Gallup has found that understanding and acting on employee feedback from engagement surveys is directly related to organizational resiliency. Teams perform better during tough times (i.e., recessions, disruptions) if they have:

  • clear expectations
  • the materials and equipment they need
  • the opportunity to do what they do best
  • coworkers across teams who are committed to quality

Here’s a link to the Gallup article.

  • Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.
  • Stephen R. Covey

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Don’t Delay!

“Ideas are useless unless used. The proof of their value is in their implementation. Until then, they are in limbo.” – Theodore Levitt

To be able to run an efficient and profitable accounting firm you need to do more than talk about the changes you need to make. Talking about change is an active exercise inside firms. Actually, implementing and executing the steps necessary for change is another topic altogether. This is where many firms settle on a plateau rather than to continue climbing the mountain.

In my early days in public accounting I worked for the founder of the firm, a person in what we now call the Veteran (or Mature) Generation. If we had an issue or challenge he would proceed with Ready, Aim, Fire. We would research solutions (ready), adopt them to fit our size firm (aim) and then implement (fire). He did not hesitate.

As the Baby Boomers took over leadership of firms or founded firms, many of them seemed to find implementation more difficult – for various reasons. Even today, I observe so many firms that have adopted: Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim……

In today’s rapidly changing environment in public accounting and especially in technology and in the nature of our workforce, practitioners (Gen-X and Millennial leaders) must be able to Fire, Fire, Fire if they want the firm to stay ahead of the competition.

In dealing with succession, many firms are still in the “aim, aim, aim, aim” mode.

  • Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.
  • Guy Kawasaki

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

What Do You Think?

“To think that in such a place I led such a life.”

I am in a reflective frame of mind this morning. My granddaughter graduated, summa cum laude, from Miami University (of Ohio) on Sunday. She is off to begin a new life adventure.

The above quote is an inscription on a statue sculpted by a Miami undergraduate. Miami uses the quote extensively and especially at graduation time. I imagine that any new graduate, at any university, could apply the quotation to themselves.

My reflective question for you is, could you apply this thought to your career at your CPA firm? I can.

I hope you can apply the thought not only to your firm but to your home, your neighborhood, and your city or town. As with the college experience, you must often move on and explore new opportunities, maybe in another firm, neighborhood, or town. Hopefully, with good memories. I have.

  • Take care of your memories for you cannot relive them.
  • Bob Dylan