Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Friday, August 26th, 2022

Plant Seeds Early – Flashback Friday

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abraham Lincoln

Be sure you are talking about all of the positive things about being a CPA. Forget about dwelling on the long hours. Read this flashback about planting seeds early.

  • You don't have to be a great start, but you have to start to be great.
  • Zig Ziglaf

Wednesday, August 24th, 2022

Quiet Quitting

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” – Stephen Covey

You have heard and read about various descriptions of what is happening in the world of work.

The Great Resignation where, according to some surveys, in 2021, 48 million people left their current positions for what they thought were greener pastures. They received better pay, benefits, and work/life balance. Some wanted to gain new skills, and some resigned to just stay at home to raise a family or simply retire.

Then came the boomerang employees. Many realized they were better off in their previous job and returned. Maybe you had some of those.

Now, something you are facing is Quiet Quitting. It is when employees quit going above and beyond what they are paid to do. The lines between home and work disappeared, and people suffered from burnout. Quiet quitters are still doing their jobs, but they have set boundaries.

Do some Googling and research Quiet Quitting. Assess the situations in your firm and take action to prevent the need for Quiet Quitting.

You can read a good article about it on the Skimm.

  • Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management.
  • Betsy Jacobson

Thursday, August 18th, 2022

The Personal Touch

“What made me sign with the Cardinals? Because they used salesmanship, the personal touch.” – Stan Musial

The stereotype is that accountants are in the number business, green eyeshades, etc. Nothing is farther from the truth. CPAs are in the people business. Of course, they have extreme knowledge and experience when it comes to financial affairs. To use that knowledge, they have to be able to build relationships with people, people from varying backgrounds.

CPAs spend many years building a successful firm, a firm where clients are made to feel special, where they can come with questions, and where they can obtain support and understanding. The most successful CPAs never lose sight of the importance of the personal touch.

As we move into more and more automation, keep the personal touch in mind. When your clients call you, do they always get your voice mail (even when you are actually available for their call)?

All this came to mind when I recently read on the CPAFMA discussion board about firms moving to an automated phone answering system rather than having a person answer the phone.

When firms first used direct inward dial and assigned private numbers to each individual, some clients were given the personal number by the individual. Usually, it was given only to certain clients. Many clients still preferred to call the main number. I know, at our firm, people called because they enjoyed talking to our Director of First Impressions.

Now, of course, mobile numbers are given to clients, so the volume of people calling the main number has decreased. I still urge you to think about the personal touch if you are thinking about using an automated answering system.

Read this interesting article by Harvey MacKay – Your Business Depends On Your Personal Touch.

  • 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

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022

Responsible

“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” – David McCullough

Who is responsible at your firm?

If you work for a sole practitioner, you know who is responsible.

If you work in a small to mid-size firm or even a fairly large firm, you probably know the person or people responsible for the firm’s welfare.

With all of the vast mergers going on across the country, very large firms merging up into giant firms that have offices nationwide, do you know who is responsible? I mean, do you know them personally? If you are a partner, you might know the leader/CEO, but if you are working in one of their non-headquarters offices, I doubt if you know them or have even met them.

That is why I think the following quote is appropriate for you to keep in mind.

“It is extremely dangerous, very possibly disastrous, to assume that because people are in positions of responsibility, they are therefore behaving responsibly.” – David McCullough, in his book The Johnstown Flood.

  • Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.
  • David McCullough

Monday, August 15th, 2022

It takes time

“Some quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress.” – Jeff Olson

Seth Godin makes a good point in a recent post. The point: Some things take time. Here’s an excerpt:

Both The Shawshank Redemption and The Big Lebowski bombed. If “bombed” means that during the first few weeks, no one went to a theater to see them. Since then, tens of millions of people have seen and talked about these movies.

But the events that change our culture often happen over time, distributed across parts of the population too small to notice.

Godin notes, “Drip by drip makes a wave.”

If you need to make some significant changes inside your CPA and you are getting a lot of push-back from some of the partners, you need to take baby steps. Sudden and abrupt change is not something CPAs embrace wholeheartedly.

Another similar phrase I use when making changes inside CPA firms is “constant gentle pressure.” Taking baby steps and applying constant gentle pressure will move the firm forward. Plus, once some forward motion is obtained, change seems to flow more freely and rapidly.

  • Focus on progress not perfection.
  • Bill Phillips

Thursday, August 11th, 2022

Talking Points

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” – Maya Angelou

  • The partners have just returned from their retreat. Everyone is wondering what significant decisions were made if any. What new initiatives were agreed upon? Has the strategic plan been updated?
  • A new performance evaluation system has been researched, studied, modified, and will soon be unveiled to the staff.
  • Betty, a long-time manager with the firm, has decided to take a position with a competing firm across town.
  • Some new software has been selected. Everyone in the firm will need to know about it and will be expected to use it. What training will be offered? When will it go into effect?

When something happens or changes are made at the firm and the partners and other leaders have been involved in the decision or activity, and it has now been announced to the team, there will be questions. Certain people will go to certain partners and want to know all about it and what is “really” going on.

That is the time to have your talking points ready and distributed to all partners (and other leaders if they are involved). You want everyone to get the same message.

Often, in firms, Joe Tax Partner, Diane Audit Partner, Frank Long Time Partner, and Terry the Managing Partner will have different ways of communicating with team members individually when they are asked probing questions. A brief list of talking points will take a lot of pressure off the partners and help spread the message in a positive, consistent, and informative way.

  • Consistency is always the best teacher.
  • Stephon Marbury

Friday, August 5th, 2022

Simplify vs. Complicate

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

Here’s a Friday flashback post from 2013 that still applies today. Thoreau said: Simplify! Simplify!

CPAs tend to: Complicate! Complicate!

Have a great weekend!

  • This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
  • Dalai Lama

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

Parameters

“I write the music; produce it, and the band plays within the parameters that I set.” – Sting

CPA firms have become VERY flexible and allow employees to do just about anything they want to do regarding how and where they work.

What your team members really need is simply some guidance and boundaries. Communicate to them! Help everyone understand expectations by setting some parameters.

If you do not communicate and leave them to their own devices, life at your firm could become chaotic. One mentor told me long ago: “Most people don’t do what we tell them to. They do what we let them get away with.”

I like to call it setting some boundaries. Of course, with today’s workforce, we must allow a great deal of freedom. But I also think we need to let them know there is a line they do not cross.

It goes back to the fact that young people entering your firm want to know what is expected of them. They want to know what their career path looks like and how they can advance as quickly as possible. Be sure you have defined career paths so you can talk to new hires during their orientation.

Many firms have been adopting remote work policies. These policies set some parameters for working remotely. I hope you have yours in writing by now.

  • I don't control the movies that are offered to me, but I make choices based on certain parameters.
  • Andy Garcia

Monday, August 1st, 2022

Are Partners Earning Their Pay?

“If you are in the world of business, that means you are in the business of making money.” – Stephen A. Smith

How do you decide if Joe Partner should get a bigger salary increase (or bonus) than Jim Partner?

To me, partner compensation should be just like compensation for your staff. If they do more and learn more, they are more valuable than those who do the same thing repeatedly, year after year. You might even have some partners who have more or less retired in place.

Why do CPA firms annually give people (partners and team members) more than a cost-of-living pay increase when they do nothing new or additional from the year before?

  • Did they attend CPE sessions that result in new ideas for the firm?
  • Do they continually learn new things or methods?
  • Did they attend more networking events?
  • Did they write an article (or more articles) for the business newspaper or the firm newsletter?
  • Did they lead a special firm initiative and guide it to success?
  • Did they bring new business to the firm?
  • Did they bring top talent to the firm?
  • Did they retain top talent at the firm?

To me, it’s simple: Pay for performance.

  • A tough lesson in life that one has to learn is that not everybody wishes you well.
  • Dan Rather

Thursday, July 28th, 2022

Disconnect

“Disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other.” – Rosemary Wixom

WilkinGuttenplan is a great firm. I am honored to know Ed Guttenplan personally and am always impressed with the progressive way he manages the firm.

They have been named a New Jersey Best Place to Work, Best Firms to Work For by Accounting Today, and Best of the Best Firms by Inside Public Accounting.

To cultivate a healthy work-life balance, the firm will be providing Days of Disconnect – July 29 – August 1. See the announcement below. What are you doing for your people?

To our valued clients and members of our community,

WG takes pride in cultivating a healthy work-life balance and in an effort to acknowledge the hard work and dedication exemplified by our employees, we will be providing our staff with a well-deserved break to fully disconnect and recharge. We will be closing our offices from July 29th through August 1st. We will resume regular business hours on Tuesday, August 2nd. Staff will not be available during this time, however, if an emergency occurs, please reach out to the Partner on your account.

We appreciate your ongoing support of our team and our firm and look forward to continued success together.

Thank you,

WilkinGuttenplan

  • Work is important, but you also need to disconnect, to unplug at times, in order to be even more concentrated when you do work.
  • Massimiliano Allegri