Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Monday, February 10th, 2020

Allow Your Team to Set Their Own Goals

“Focusing on strengths is the surest way to greater job satisfaction, team performance and organizational excellence.” – Marcus Buckingham

Does your CPA firm, as part of the performance feedback system, give employees certain goals to attain? Sometimes it makes sense but not always.

One firm told me they have one goal for all new college graduates entering the firm. That one goal, until it is achieved, is to pass the CPA exam. Maybe, even this one important goal, doesn’t make sense any longer.

According to Marcus Buckingham, goals that are pushed down from on high are un-goals. Goals should have meaning for the individual and, thus, should be created by that individual for themselves.

Firms should be creating meaning for everyone in the firm. Do your people know and understand what the firm is trying to achieve and where it is going in the future? Do they realize that the firm is a service organization focused on improving the lives and financial success of their clients? Do they understand the firm’s purpose? More importantly, have you effectively communicated the firm’s purpose?

If your people truly understand the purpose of the firm and buy-in to that journey, they will be able to set meaningful goals for themselves.

Read this interesting article about goals via Marcus Buckingham titled, “The best leaders do not set goals. Here’s what they do instead.”

  • You will excel only by maximizing your strengths, never by fixing your weaknesses.
  • Marcus Buckingham

Friday, February 7th, 2020

Who Do You Trust?

“Listening is an important skill for building trust.” – Jennifer Collins

I remember hearing that Johnny Carson began his career as a game show host. When I typed in the title of this blog post, it jogged my memory, so I Googled it.

Who Do You Trust? (1956–1963) Married pairs of contestants were asked to answer questions, the husband deciding whether he or she would answer. The original emcee Edgar Bergen was later replaced by Johnny Carson.

My question is who do YOU trust at work?

I have facilitated numerous upward feedback surveys for CPA firms. If I receive several questions about how confidential the survey is I know that there is a lack of trust in firm leaders. There is almost always a fear of retaliation.

My wish is that there would be enough trust in a firm that all employees are comfortable telling the partners exactly what they think without that nagging fear.

Here’s an excerpt from a blog post by Skip Prichard that prompted my blog post. His description sure sounded like a CPA firm to me!

From Skip:

Simply put, servant leaders build a culture of trust.

Why is that key? Because without trust—for the leader, for coworkers, for the organization at large—everyone will be focused on survival rather than success. Because the opposite of a culture of trust isn’t simply “a culture without trust.” It’s a culture of fear.

What does that mean? I think of a company I worked at that, when I started, I saw a complete lack of trust. Management spent time looking for new tools to track and manage staff. It was all about analytics aimed at finding people who weren’t “working hard enough” (according to the definitions attached to the tools, at least). Those people could be put on a list and micromanaged, reprimanded or even fired.

I have often found that partners (owners) don’t trust the staff and the staff doesn’t trust all of the partners. Think about what you can do about this situation as you work your way through busy season.

  • The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
  • Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Quit Making Excuses

“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” – John Wooden

When talking with accounting firm owners and working with new clients I often hear lots of excuses when I suggest new ways to do things and the importance of keeping up with current trends in the CPA profession. I hear “Yes, but…” over and over again.

I hear:

  • Yes, we have heard other firms are doing that, but at our firm…..
  • Yes, we tried closing on Fridays, but….
  • Yes, we thought about allowing more people to work remotely, but…
  • Yes, as partners, we know we could delegate more to our staff, but….
  • Yes, the partners want to do paperless billing, but….
  • Yes, all of our partners agree that the managing partner needs to delegate more clients to other partners, but….
  • Yes, we would love to have more female partners, but….
  • Yes, we need some up-and-comers, but……
  • Yes, we have some below-average performers, but….

Are you thinking and saying, “Yes, but…” too often?

  • Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.
  • George Washington Carver

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

Achieving What Matters

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” Karen Lamb

Partners get distracted. They also get comfortable.

Sometimes they end up repeating what they do over and over again. They are not stretching themselves to change, evolve and achieve new goals. The same applies to many managers working in CPA firms.

Often, the agreed-upon goals are not achieved because guess what? They are too busy doing what they always do. New, important things that matter are put on the back burner.

Here’s a quote from Peter Drucker that you should apply:

“What results are you being paid to achieve? List three tasks that you should eliminate to be productive.” – Drucker

Once you list them – then deal with them.

  • The great glorious masterpiece of man is to know how to live with purpose.
  • Michel de Montaigne

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

Consequences

“Unresolved offenses become excuses for poor performance.” – Leadership Freak, Dan Rockwell

Leaders in CPA firms often establish rules and guidelines for employees of their firm. Then, when someone ignores the rules/guidelines what happens? Usually, nothing!

At a full team meeting, the managing partner introduced a new rule – something about documentation. One experienced manager asked THE question, “What are the consequences if people ignore this step?” The leaders basically side-stepped the question.

One time an experienced Director of Technology in a firm said to me, “We adopt guidelines but we actually manage by exception.”

Ignoring offenses says volumes about your leadership style. Addressing an offense doesn’t always mean some sort of punishment. You can forgive an offense but don’t ignore it.

 

  • When you can’t resolve offenses, YOU become toxic. The Dead Sea is dead because it hangs on to everything.
  • Dan Rockwell

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

Make Your Clients Say Wow

“Don’t be yourself – be someone nicer.” – Mignon McLaughlin

When was the last time you did something to show your most valued clients and lucrative prospects that you are thinking about them?

What about doing something for your team members during the next few stressful months?

How about sending them some green bagels on St. Patrick’s Day (I know a local law firm that did this every year)? Deliver a pumpkin pie just before Thanksgiving. It could be something as small as some of your promo items – pens, post-it notes, notepads, coffee mugs or candy with the firm logo.

For your team, it could be a thank-you note to their family for being so understanding during tax season. A handwritten thank-you note to the team member when they have gone above and beyond. It could also be new coffee mugs, portfolios, logo shirts or candy sent to their home on their birthday.

fullsizeoutput_45bdThis came to mind because I received a promo package from OnPay, an online payroll processing service last week. It contained a small box of candy, a nice coffee mug, lip balm, and some great coffee. I was thrilled and it did cause me to write this blog post.

What can you “cause” your clients and team members to do by just being thoughtful?

  • I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble.
  • Rudyard Kipling

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Provide Training For Your Leaders – Please!

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Convergence Coaching’s Spring Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP) is open for registration! This year-long program kicks off at the end of May and is designed to take high-potential managers, senior managers, principals, and newer partners to their next level of success in leading others and the firm.

So much is changing. Now is the time to expand your visibility & take on a meaningful role to drive change at your #firm. Learn the skills you need to advance your #role with the @ConvergenceSays TLP. Here is a helpful video –  https://youtu.be/xKP8KeKFMkg

For more detailed information about this valuable program, click here.

The program fills up quickly so don’t wait too long to register.

  • Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Banish the Interruptions

“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” – Josh Billings

You arrive at the office very early ahead of everyone else. Maybe you get up at 4:30 a.m. and work from home a couple of hours before you leave.

You need more time to get your work done because during the traditional work hours – 8 to 5 – you have too many interruptions. You cannot even walk down the hall to the coffee station without getting stopped by someone asking a question.

You are a “go-to” person and you always give people answers. Maybe you should stop.

Why are people constantly coming to you for answers and guidance? If you have hired the right people, they will not need constant guidance. If you hire B players you will be continually stuck in a squirrel cage. Hire people smarter than you. You have heard that piece of advice for years but do you actually do it?

Develop your team and shield yourself from phone calls, emails and a line outside your door.

Firm administrators, managers, and managing partners – I am talking to you!

 

  • The oldest, shortest words – ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – are those which require the most thought.
  • Pythagoras

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Achieving Your Goals

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

I recently received my copy of the hireMAX Spotlight newsletter. I have enjoyed a long business friendship with the president and founder, Norm Bobay. hireMAX provides employee selection and development programs.

The newsletter article titled, 7 Steps To Achieve Your Business Goals, describes how Navy SEALs achieve their goals. There is a lot of good advice for CPAs who want to become more successful.

When most of us think about Navy SEALs, we think of their bravery and toughness. They take on dangerous missions and seem to achieve the impossible.

In the book The Navy SEAL Art of War by Rob Roy, he talks about how Navy SEALs accomplish these amazing feats. He explains that it’s more about the process than the ability. He lays out these seven steps that you can use to tackle your scariest goals.

  1. Always ask clarifying questions. SEALs ask very specific questions to understand their mission clearly. You need to ask yourself the Who, Why, What, When, Where, and How questions about your goal. Use each of these questions to better clarify your objective. You don’t want to go into a mission misinformed about what the objective of it was. The same thing is important when you go after achieving a goal.
  1. Inventory all of your available resources. This includes knowing what you have now and what’s coming down the road. Note your tangible resources such as technology and money. Don’t forget to include the intangible resources such as your network and your skills. Consider every resource available to you that can help you reach your goal.
  1. Clearly set up roles and responsibilities. If your goal involves help from your team, make sure they know their role and responsibility in achieving it.
  1. Maintain hyper-focus on your goal. Leaders don’t make excuses and they don’t let circumstances cause them to need an excuse.
  1. Think through all possible contingencies and outcomes. Be prepared to work around any problems that may arise. A failure to plan is a planned failure. 
  1. Train every day. SEALs train a lot. They practice over and over again until they’re stress-proof. You need to do the same. The more you train, the faster you’ll be. Training can help you quickly evade problems that arise. 
  1. The last step is to celebrate! Scratch that. This step is definitely not on the Navy Seals list. It’s great that you reached your goal but now you need an after-action review. Navy SEAL’s debrief after every mission. You need to do something similar. Look back to see if there are areas you can improve on when you go after your next goal. Rehash the mistakes you made and learn from them to do better next time.

Leaders can learn from Navy SEALs and utilize their processes in the business world. Implement the seven steps above and you’ll be on your way to achieving your next goal.

 

  • The only easy day was yesterday.
  • ..a Navy SEALs motto

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

Punctuality

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” – William Shakespeare

I admire punctuality. To me, it shows character and caring.

Here’s a true story. A CPA merged her practice up into a larger firm. She always practiced punctuality when dealing with clients and employees. She was looking forward to a scheduled meeting with her new partners. They realized she had some serious topics to discuss. She arrived at the conference room five minutes before the meeting time. She sat for 20 minutes before the two partners showed up. She felt it was a sign of disrespect. Thus, it set a tone for the meeting.

How do you feel when you have to wait for an appointment? I know it should be expected at a doctor’s office but it is still irritating.

Do you ever make your clients wait on you? Do you schedule a phone session with a client and call them 10 minutes late?

I hope you are never late for an individual employee performance feedback meeting. It tells them they are not important.

Being on time can be accomplished – make it a resolution for 2020 and stick to it.

  • I'm late, I'm late! For a very important date! No time to say 'hello, goodbye,' I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!
  • The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland