Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

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

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

4,225

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” – Dr. Seuss

This is my 4,225th blog post. When I stop and think about it, I even wonder how I can have so much to say about managing an accounting firm. Yet, I haven’t said it all!

Today, go to my website and browse through the Categories. There are topics such as:

  • Communication
  • Client Service
  • Crafting Your Career
  • Culture
  • Firm Administrator
  • Generations
  • Leadership
  • Managers
  • Marketing
  • Mentoring
  • Mergers
  • Reading
  • And, the most important one – Partner Topics!

If you are reading my blog via your email, actually go to my website today and see if you can find the answer to something that is challenging you or your firm right now.

  • Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.
  • Tony Robbins

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

Surprise Them

“The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” – Harvey Mackay

If you want to retain clients, you need to really get to know them. I don’t mean getting know what services they want and need from your firm. I mean getting to know them as a person.

We have just been through graduation season for high school and college students. Do you know if your clients have a child (or grandchild) graduating this year? If so, did you surprise them by sending a congratulations card to the client acknowledging how proud they must be of their student?

Are some of your clients devoted fans to a sports team? Have you ever surprised them with a coffee mug, a hat or tee shirt for that sports team?

American businessman and author, Harvey Mackay, required his salespeople to find the answers to 66 Questions about each customer. You can see it here.

Maybe it is time for you to develop a similar questionnaire that is appropriate for your accounting firm and ask each relationship manager to discover more about the firm’s clients. Then use it to surprise them.

  • Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding.
  • Harvey Mackay

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

Chill Out – Substitute Fascinated for Frustrated

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Working at a growing, busy CPA firm can be frustrating at times. That is not an earth-shaking statement. You know it all too well! I have a light-hearted story for you today.

What do you do to relieve the frustrations that come your way almost on a daily (or hourly) basis? I have a suggestion that might help.

Many years ago I learned a way to reduce the stress of frustrations from a colleague who always looked on the bright side of things. She continually inspired me to be a better leader and to be a better person. No matter the situation, she found a way to take positive value from the experience.

As we went through the ups and downs of our busiest season, I found myself facing way too many frustrations. During one of these moments, my colleague gave me some excellent advice.

She suggested I substitute the word fascinated for frustrated. It is very simple but when I started thinking in this way, it simply took the edge off!

“Isn’t it fascinating that Joe Client drops off his information every year at the last minute and expects us to have it completed within one or two days? I wonder what causes him to demonstrate that behavior? Maybe he struggles with an assistant (or spouse) who isn’t proactive in helping him prepare and organize.”

“It really fascinates me that Sally Sue always leaves a mess in the break room. Perhaps she was raised by a wicked aunt that made her scrub floors every week-end!”

Try working a fascinating story into your frustrations. Yes, I have actually tried this and it helps me smile and de-stress.

  • It is hardly possible to build anything if frustration, bitterness and a mood of helplessness prevail.
  • Lech Walesa

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Doing Your Best With Virtual Meetings

“No matter what time it is, wake me, even if it’s in the middle of a cabinet meeting.” – Ronald Reagan

I hear it over and over again, CPA firm citizens are suffering from Zoom fatigue. I have experienced some frustrations, too. There are people who never participate, don’t turn on their video on, don’t mute sound and so on.

It is up to the meeting host to facilitate a productive meeting. If you are the host for some meetings, there is a great list of suggestions from Paul McDonald in a recent issue of CPA Practice Advisor. The topics are:

  • No agenda, no meeting
  • Use visual stimuli
  • Have a backup plan
  • Get everyone involved
  • Set some ground rules
  • Video on, sound off
  • Keep to time
  • Show empathy
  • Always follow up
  • Consider alternatives
  • Do check your tech
  • Don’t multitask
  • Do check your background
  • Don’t use speakerphone
  • Do come prepared
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Do connect on a human level

Be sure to follow this link to read the helpful information about each of these bullet points. Become the champion meeting host for your firm!

  • If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings'.
  • Dave Barry

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

“The trick is this: keep your eye on the ball. Even when you can’t see the ball.” – Tony Robbins

Today’s title applies to several sports. I think of golf and baseball. It also applies to partners (especially the managing partner) in accounting firms.

Keeping your eye on the ball applies throughout the game or match, not just as certain times. Managing an accounting firm requires you to keep your “eye on the ball” throughout the year, not just during busy season.

I have observed that some CPA firm owners have lucrative outside interests. Maybe it is another business or even life events, perhaps building a new house. You get distracted and yes, it is understandable. You expect the firm to run smoothly without you. Your firm administrator does a great job of running operations but he/she do not “run” the other partners or the visionary topics that need to keep moving no matter if it is summer.

After you recuperate from the never-ending tax season, hopefully that will only take a week or two, you need to regroup and focus on the inside health of the firm. Are there performance issues with staff or partners? Do you need to re-evaluate office space and/or negotiate a new lease? Are you now moving ahead with that M&A deal you put off until after May 17th? Do you need to further negotiate with that other acquisition to expand firm services?

By not keeping your eye on the ball, you might just “kill the golden goose.”

  • Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
  • Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, May 17th, 2021

The New CPA Exam

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon

They are changing the CPA Exam again. It is shifting to put an increased focus on technology. July 1, 2021 is when this shift in the Exam will take place.

From Accounting Today: As the accounting profession evolves to meet today’s needs, the Uniform CPA Examination is also evolving to reflect these industry changes. On July 1, 2021, the CPA exam is shifting significantly to put a heavier focus on technology, digital mindsets, data analytics, and the other skills that newly licensed CPAs need to succeed. Candidates preparing to take the CPA Exam must take these updates into consideration.

Here’s the informative article, What every candidate needs to know about the updated CPA exam, via Accounting Today. Read it and share it.

I wonder how many CPA partners could pass the exam if they had to take it in 2021. I have often heard partners joke about it (meaning they couldn’t pass it now, let alone after July 1).

  • Study while others are sleeping, Work while others are loafing, Prepare while others are playing, and Dream while others are wishing.
  • William Arthur Ward

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

We All Want To Know The Top Issues – Share Yours!

“Latest survey shows that 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the world’s population.” – Stephen Hawking

I have always looked forward to reading the results of the AICPA PCPS Top Issues Survey. They conduct it every other year. The last one was in 2019 and a lot has certainly happened since then!

Now is your chance to share the top issues facing your firm by participating in the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) CPA Firm Top Issues Survey. Your responses highlight the critical issues facing firms and guide PCPS as we develop tools and resources to assist your firm in meeting the everyday challenges of running a practice.

The Top Issues Survey — which takes less than 10 minutes to complete — is open until Friday, June 18.

Take the survey

Comprehensive results and thought-leading commentary will be available this summer at www.aicpa.org/pcps/topissues.

Your participation informs the profession and shapes the future. The AICPA appreciates your valuable time and insight and so do I. Remember, it only takes 10 minutes and you have until June 18.

Of course, I will keep nagging you…. oops, I mean reminding you. I hope you are following me on Twitter.

  • Survey and test a prospective action before undertaking it. Before you proceed, step back and look at the big picture, lest you act rashly on raw impulse.
  • Epictetus

Friday, May 7th, 2021

A Book For CPAs – Flashback Friday

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

I am assuming (and hoping) that, as a leader, you have read most of the prominent business books.

Here’s a flashback post about a book I think all people working in a public accounting firm should read – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

  • I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
  • Groucho Marx

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

A Great Manager is an Employee Benefit

“Just as a bad manager can ruin a good job, a great manager can make a good job even better.” – Gallup

I have written and talked about the danger of having bad managers in the CPA profession many times and quoted Gallup saying, “People don’t leave companies, they leave bad managers.”

That’s why, when I came upon a recent article from Gallup titled, “The No. 1 Employee Benefit That No One’s Talking About.” Guess what that benefit is…. good managers!

Bad managers can even affect the health of your team members. The stress they feel at work goes home with them and is a factor in their overall well-being.

People leave good jobs because of bad managers then why don’t they look for good managers when seeking a new job? It is because companies don’t advertise or promote the fact that they have great managers.

I hope your firm is investing in the success of your managers. Accounting firms spend significant dollars on TECHNICAL CPE for managers as they advance in their careers. It’s time to spend more money helping them become great people managers.

There are many great leadership programs for managers and future partners in the CPA profession. Make the investment to send your managers. Then find ways to let the world know you have good managers.

Gallup has advice for building a healthy and thriving organization, starting with your managers. Read the article to learn more.

  • Research reveals that about one in 10 people possess high talent to manage.
  • Per Gallup