Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Wednesday, September 7th, 2022

The Daily Briefing

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

To improve communication and to help balance workloads, many firms have a quick morning briefing. Some firms call it the daily huddle. It is a quick, stand-up meeting aimed at enhancing communication. It is said that John D. Rockefeller and Steve Jobs both utilized the daily huddle.

If you have a smaller firm, everyone can meet for 15 minutes each morning. If you are a larger firm, you can do it by department. Keep it short.

Read this article – The Potent Power of the Daily Huddle – via the Growth Institute. I hope you are already doing this!

  • Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

How Fast Are You?

“Everybody must realize that if you don’t meet customer demand quickly enough, without sacrificing quality, a competitor will.” – Bill Gates

The world’s fastest land animal is the cheetah. It can reach speeds up to 70 mph.

From sloths to snails, tortoises to slugs, the slowest animals in the world just aren’t in a hurry.

I have observed that in many CPA firms change moves at the speed of a covered wagon crossing in the prairie in 1850.

What is needed right now is fast change. Think of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. It flies at 2200 mph. Assess where your firm stands on the speed of change. Are you procrastinating and thinking, “We have plenty of time; let’s work on that next year.” Believe it or not, even with the pandemic and the need for remote work, there are still many firms out there that are not paperless.

This year, you still have time to make some needed changes to enable your firm to be a firm of the future.

I know you are not a jet airplane but are you a cheetah or a sloth?

  • The only way to win is to learn faster than everybody else.
  • Eric Ries

Thursday, September 1st, 2022

Fail and Fail Again

“I knew that if I failed, I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” – Jeff Bezos

CPAs are conservative, traditional, professional, slow to change, and never want to fail.

That is why I am including an entire Seth Godin post for you to ponder. It is as follows:

UNBEATABLE VS. PERFECT

Google has killed more than 200 projects over the last few decades. They fail all the time. More than once a month they shut down a business that frightened the competition and seduced consumers.

That’s part of the recipe for becoming an unbeatable behemoth. Fail a lot.

Institutions like Western Union and A & P and Woolworth’s and Sears forget this part.

Don’t be complacent. Don’t be afraid. Don’t try to eliminate any chance of failure. Try things, experiment and take some risks. It’s how the most prominent and progressive CPA firms got to be prominent and progressive (and profitable).

  • The biggest risk is not taking any risk.
  • Mark Zuckerberg

Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

Keep Trying To Engage Employees

“I’m hearing that quiet quitting is about employees setting boundaries.” – Sharlyn Lauby

I am still on the Quiet Quitting topic!

Here is an excerpt from a post by Sharlyn Lauby (@HRBartender).

To me, quiet quitting sounds like what happens when organizations don’t plan and communicate then dump work on employees. Then employees push back against how they are treated. Remember that old saying, “A lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.”? Employees are smart. They don’t want to be taken for granted or taken advantage of.

This one paragraph describes what I have observed happening in CPA firms for years.

Per Lauby, there are some things you can do if you truly want to address quiet quitting:

  • Plan better
  • Communicate earlier
  • Ask for help
  • Be flexible
  • Say thanks and mean it

These should be easy things to do. Read her entire article (a short read) to learn more about each of these things you can do.

  • If employees aren’t meeting the performance standard, then you coach and counsel them.
  • Sharlyn Lauby

Monday, August 29th, 2022

If You Care, Confront.

“Confrontation is not a verbal hit-and-run; rather, it is used constructively to bring about change.” – Donald Collins

I have observed that CPAs are very uncomfortable with confrontation.

They will let things slide for a long time before they dare to have a crucial conversation.

Sometimes these conversations need to happen with staff members, sometimes with clients, and sometimes with their own partners. In these cases, silence is not golden.

I received this advice once, and I want to share it with you. “If you care, confront! Don’t let them piss and moan!”

You have got a lot to do this week, so you don’t have to work (or have your team work) on Labor Day. It is a holiday!

  • Remember, confrontation is about reconciliation and awareness, not judgement or anger.
  • Dale Partridge

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