Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

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

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

No Negativity!

“Negativity is the enemy of creativity.” – David Lynch

I love these rules from Jon Gordon:

5 Ways to transform negativity on your team:

1. The No Complaining Rule.

2. Engage in Positive Conflict: Have difficult conversations to address issues.

3. Meet and talk about the negative effects of negativity.

4. No energy vampires.

5. Discuss ways to stay positive as a team.

  • When someone tells me "no," it doesn't mean I can't do it, it simply means I can't do it with them.
  • Karen E. Quinones Miller

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

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

Podcasts

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo

Podcasts are becoming more and more popular within the CPA profession. Many of you listen to podcasts as you commute back and forth to the office.

Check out this infographic via Podcast Insights that gives you some interesting facts about podcasting.

If you want to learn more about CPA practice management, firm governance and trends, listen to my podcast with Brannon Poe of Poe Group Advisors.

  • The older I get, the more I see a straight path where I want to go. If you're going to hunt elephants, don't get off the trail for a rabbit.
  • T. BOONE PICKENS

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Sense of Urgency

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Every due date, CPAs complain that the clients are the reason for the last-minute added pressure. They are the reason the team has to work longer hours as the due date approaches.

It’s not all the clients’ fault. Perhaps you have lost your sense of urgency, especially over the summer. Those fall due dates are approaching. How much effort did you and your team spend on getting the clients to help you spread the work over the entire summer instead of the first two weeks of September?

This also applies to the winter busy season. Create a sense of urgency relating to getting the client work out the door before the last minute.

I also see a loss of the sense of urgency by partners when the firm is doing well and they are making good money. They are not hustling to bring in new business and expand services to current clients.

Some of my clients have created “keep the work flowing” initiatives this summer. They made it a priority to continually communicate with the clients to obtain their information sooner rather than later. Each partner was held accountable – it’s wasn’t deferred to the staff.

Did you lose your sense of urgency this summer? Read the quote above again.

  • We have to live life with a sense of urgency so not a minute is wasted.
  • Les Brown

Monday, August 5th, 2019

Effective Communication

“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly.” – Mark Sanborn

Almost every problem I encounter in working with CPA firms, whether it is a partner group issue, a procedural issue, or a people management issue, can be traced back to poor communication.

Every person working in public accounting needs to have the ability to effectively communicate.

Perhaps the partner group has discussed a certain issue so much and so long that they just assume everyone in the firm is aware of the issue. Many are not.

Managers believe they are so busy that they shouldn’t take their precious time to actually talk in-person to a team member about an issue. They use email or text and end up creating a lot of misunderstanding.

Employees are troubled about a certain aspect of their job but they are actually afraid to speak up and discuss it with the boss.

Open, honest communication should be part of your culture. Ask your team to give feedback to the leaders on the topic of communication. If you rank poorly, it is a wake-up call!

Sharlyn Lauby, @hrbartender, in a recent post gives us 4 Practical Tips for Effective Business Communication. Check out her post to read more about these four:

  1. Clarity
  2. Commitments
  3. Documentation
  4. Interaction

 

  • The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said.
  • Peter F. Drucker

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

Managing People Means Being Visible

“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” – J. K. Rowling

I know, you love to sit in the stillness of your cozy office and work on tax, accounting, audit and various client matters. It’s comfortable, but don’t forget about one of your important duties as a person responsible for managing people – MBWA – Management By Walking Around.

MBWA is the habit of stopping by and simply chatting with members of your team. The theory came from Bill Hewlett and David Packard and they practiced it at their notable company.

Here are some posts I have written on this topic. Yes, I’m still urging (nagging) you to MBWA.

The MBWA 8.

MBWA for CPAs

It’s More Than A Lot Of Warm & Fuzzy Stuff

  • To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.
  • Doug Conant

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

Leadership Wisdom

“Too many managers spend too much time focused on the wrong things.” – Dave Christiansen

As a partner or a managing partner in a CPA firm, do you cultivate your leadership wisdom? Do you realize that you are watched closely and that everything you do sets an example?

So many accounting firms are desperately struggling with succession, the constant chant being, “There’s no one who can replace me!” Whose fault is that?

Bruce Tulgan, in a recent LinkedIn post, featured Dave Christiansen, President and CEO of Mid-Kansas Coop (MKC). Christiansen spends the majority of his time clearly communicating expectations and vision to, establishing a culture for, and developing future leaders from roughly 400 full-time employees.

Aging CPAs have found themselves in need of future leaders but have spent minimal time focused on developing leadership skills in others (or even in themselves). Most CPA partners have spent considerable time developing CPAs possessing amazing technical skills.

Christiansen has great tips on hiring and developing today’s top talent:

  • Remember that you will end up with the staff you deserve
  • Staff for the company you want
  • Paint a picture for top talent
  • Most formal “coaching” or “mentoring” programs are ineffective
  • If you want to retain people, find out what they value
  • Invest in your people until it hurts
  • Have a structured approach to high-potential identification
  • Don’t hire people you have to motivate
  • The emerging young workforce will put more pressure on managers

Read more about each of these tips here. This is a great article to share with your partners and other management leaders.

  • If you’ve spent your time wisely defining what you’re looking for in an individual, recruited well and created a picture in the new employees’ mind as to how they fit into your organization, what their role is, and how they’ll make a difference, you’ve won 80% of the battle.
  • Dave Christansen

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

The Busyness Paradox

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter F. Drucker

I love the above quote from Drucker. It certainly applies to some of the work inside a CPA firm.

I have observed that in most CPA firms, there is a culture of busyness. It creeps into how you talk and how you act or react.

You need to do this but you get distracted by that. Just having to quickly check your email turns into an hour or two. You become focused on the immediate rather than the important.

I just read an informative article via HBR by Brigid Schulte – Preventing Busyness from Becoming Burnout.

The author states: “I largely blamed myself for not making the time to do more ambitious, high-priority work, or managing to get it all done within reasonable hours and have more time for life. It’s only recently that I’ve begun to see how I was trapped in a busyness tunnel.”

Here’s an excerpt that explains the Busyness Paradox:

Here’s how the busyness paradox works: When we’re busy and have that high-octane, panicked feeling that time is scarce — what one participant called the “sustained moment of hecticness” through the workday — our attention and ability to focus narrows. Behavioral researchers call this phenomenon “tunneling.” And, like being in a tunnel, we’re only able to concentrate on the most immediate, and often low value, tasks right in front of us. (Research has found we actually lose about 13 IQ points in this state.) We run around putting out fires all day, racing to meetings, ploughing through emails, and getting to 5 or 6 PM with the sick realization that we haven’t even started our most important work of the day.

I am sure much of this sounds all too familiar to all of us who have worked, or who are currently working, inside a “busy” CPA firm! It is a serious issue in the CPA profession and one that drives young workers away from public accounting.

Take a few minutes to read the entire article. The author gives you “3 Ways to Break Your Employees Out of the Busyness Paradox.”