Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Monday, June 24th, 2019

Wastes To Look At In Your Firm

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” – Harvey Mackay

Last week I read the tweet below from @AccountingEdit (Dan Hood). He was attending the Rainmaker Superconference in Atlanta. So much is said in just these few words. Read these few words and apply them to your CPA firm.

Wastes to look for (in your firm and at your clients):

Defects: In which areas are things not right the 1st time?

Waiting: Where can time taken be reduced?

Over-engineering: Do too much for money charged

Process: There’s no process or a flawed process

  • I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.
  • William Shakespeare

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Be Sure You Have a Plan

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra

Here is a simple message for today:

“I remember saying to my mentor, ‘If I had more money, I would have a better plan.’ He quickly responded, ‘I would suggest that if you had a better plan, you would have more money. You see, it’s not the amount that counts; it’s the plan that counts.'” – Jim Rohn

Your partner and/or management retreat is coming up. Make sure you come out of it with a plan. Don’t waste two days of your time and then not take action.

  • A goal without a plan is just a wish.
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

The People Around You

You are working in a firm. Take a look at the leadership group.

You are the leaders in a firm. Take a look at the people you have hired.

Sometimes the following applies for a while but not for the long term. If you feel like you might be in a cage, do something about it.

I saw the following on Facebook. Also, ask yourself, “Am I in the right circles with my social media?”

CircleCage

  • Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions.
  • Will Smith

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

Are You Really Excellent?

“Excellence is a way of life that sustains us and inspires us day in and day out. There is no ‘long term.’ There is only the way we act when we step out into the corridor after a meeting—or, yes, the quality of your next four-line email.” – Tom Peters

The above quote from Tom Peters got me to thinking.

Firm leaders will always declare, “we provide excellent client service.” They will also tell me that excellent could be used in describing how they treat and train their employees.

Is it true at your firm?

Think about the above quote. Do you act in an excellent manner day in and day out? Do you maintain excellent behavior after a heated partner meeting? Do respond in an excellent manner when you avoid a call from an unhappy client? And, what about when you are writing an email?

  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit.
  • Aristotle

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Avoid the Trivial

“A good memory is one trained to forget the trivial.” – Clifton Fadiman

There are some people who might be surprised by your actions/decisions (as a boss) but they pick their battles and don’t make a fuss about trivial matters.

Then you have some people who tend to make a fuss about everything. They delight in the trivial and demand more information about almost every decision.

I hope a majority of your team members fit into the first category.

As a boss, you are the one who mentors, coaches and teaches people how to advance in their careers. Are you doing a great job?

  • Of course it is trivial, but then most things are.
  • John Malkovich

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Motivate Your Team

I read a recent tweet from Jon Gordon and I just had to share it with all of you.

“The greatest way to motivate is not through big speeches, bold strategy meetings or loud screaming sessions. The greatest way to motivate is through one on one meetings that enhance communication, develop connection and strengthen commitment one team member at a time.”

Enhancing communication and motivating your team are two of the biggest issues I encounter as I talk with firms around the country. It is important in big firms and small firms.

A motivated, inspired team makes all the difference.

 

  • Creating the kind of workplace that is actually fit for human life goes way beyond mere happiness.
  • Moe Carrick

Friday, May 24th, 2019

A Lesson For CPA Firm Partners/Managers

You are the managing partner of a CPA firm. You are the PIC (partner-in-charge) of audit, tax, consulting or an office of the firm. You are a COO or Practice Manager. What do your employees call you? Don’t you ever wonder what they call you behind your back? Do they say you are a good boss?

You might think Steve Jobs was a fearless leader yet he’s described as egotistical and abrasive. Not exactly in line with the title: Good Boss

Jim Henson, on the other hand, by all reports was a Good Boss (his employees did call him “fearless leader”).

  • His former employees say working for him was the best job they ever had.
  • His son, Brian Henson, says: He taught me to identify a person’s talent, nurture that talent, and encourage them to look to themselves for a solution.
  • His agent says Henson rarely spoke above a whisper.
  • His wife says he was so patient that she sometimes wanted to kick him!
  • He was a good listener, accepted ideas from others and used them.
  • If he thought something hadn’t been done well, he would never say that. He would say, “Hey, I wonder if we just should try…….”

A good boss, like a good teacher, empowers their employees. This is easy to say and very hard to actually do. Most of us have egos that get in the way.

 

As for Henson, no one ever saw him angry. Far from lazy, he worked harder than anyone in his company. He rarely slept. He was not fearful. Never afraid to try something new.

Instead of miserly. Henson was generous, going well over budget in order to give others the time and space to create.

I routinely encounter accounting firm leaders who are miserly (only spend CPE dollars on technical education, won’t send their firm administrator to a conference that could bring huge pay-back to the firm, won’t spend any education/training dollars on their administrative team and support team, etc.).

Read this full article about Henson on Fast Company. It contains so much information to absorb and contemplate. How do you stack up?

  • Life is like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.
  • Jim Henson

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Get Rid of Drama!

This is a sad statement for me to make, however, when I noticed this comment by the author, Jon Gordon I thought of CPAs and their firms. Here is his tweet:

“Complaining is like throwing up. Afterward, you feel better but then everyone around you feels sick.”

How much complaining goes on inside your firm? I have heard from many, well…. most of my clients that there is entirely too much drama inside the firm. Someone always seems to be complaining about someone else.

I have frequently observed a strange reaction from a partner group. They decide on a new policy, procedure or event. Then they hear that one person has complained about their decision. They quickly react and often reverse or modify their decision. Don’t do it!

Keep another famous quote in mind:

You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all of the time” (Poet John Lydgate as made famous by Abraham Lincoln).

When you make decisions always keep in mind… “for the good of the firm”.

  • I can't tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.
  • Ed Sheeran

Monday, April 29th, 2019

Stale and Repetitive

“Repetition doesn’t create memories. New experiences do.” – Brian Chesky

A lot of accounting work is repetitive. People get bored with repetitive.

Inside firms, a lot of HR and career development programs become very repetitive. If you want to keep people engaged and positive, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your performance evaluation process stale?
  • How about the way you provide CPE (Continuing Professional Education)?
  • Is there anything unique about the employee benefits package you offer your team?
  • Do you keep some people on the same client engagements for years and years?

If you never refresh and redesign your employee feedback process, the people receiving the feedback and the people providing the feedback will both begin to dread the process.

Are you assessing the need for training and providing the same resources that you have for five or ten years? The types of training and the way it is delivered have changed drastically over the last several years. There is still time to make a change in this area this year.

I have visited several CPA firm websites where they list their complete benefits package on the website. Do you do this? Have a summary of your benefits as a hand-out for everyone interviewing with the firm. What do you offer that is unique? Flexibility is not unique any longer but it is something that you will definitely want to offer.

I have heard the arguments for years and years…. “our clients want to see the same people on their engagement EVERY year.” That is often true but it does not allow for career growth. Young accountants, in public accounting, learn by continually being assigned to more and more difficult work. Don’t let your managers cling to the more interesting assignments because they have become too comfortable. Ask your less experienced people step-up to more challenging assignments.

  • Better die than live mechanically a life that is a repetition of repetitions.
  • D. H. Lawrence

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

A Key Communication Issue

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

Through my consulting activities, I almost always find that inside an accounting firm, communication is one of the biggest perceived issues. Staff members consistently rank lack of communication as a major issue for their firm.

Leaders tell me they have an annual State of the Firm event to share information about the firm. Of course, everyone enjoys the annual event where the managing partner provides some highlights of the previous year (or tax season) and provides some motivational comments for moving forward. It is a form of communication and transparency but, with this scenario, I don’t think once a year is quite enough.

The most aggravating communication issue for staff relates to clients. They are charged with performing the client engagement quickly and accurately while helping, as best they can, the client be more successful. Often they learn, after-the-fact, that the partner has had discussions with the client and failed to inform the staff member. Sometimes work has to be re-done because the staff member lacked pertinent information.

Some firms have solved this issue by utilizing software programs that keep everyone informed about conversations with a client. It works wonderfully if the partners, managers, and others remember to use it.

  • Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating.
  • Charlie Kaufman