Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Don’t Waste The Rest of The Year

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

Be sure to take a few days to recover from tax season. Then get busy! Don’t make excuses the rest of the year.

April 16th – We can’t tackle revising our performance feedback system, we have to have some downtime for a while after April 15th.

May 1 – We can’t work on the new orientation/onboarding project now because everyone is taking some vacation since tax season is over.

June 1 – We can’t tackle revising our performance feedback system, it’s time to do them and we’ll have to wait until this year’s process is over.

July 1 – We can’t right now… too many people on vacation.

August 15th – We can’t do an upward partner feedback survey, it’s time to focus on the September 15th due date.

September 17th – We can’t possibly work on that organizational alignment project, we have to focus on the October due date.

October 15th – We’ll work on our succession plan after the partner retreat.

November 1 – Let’s see what we can get done in November!

December 1 – We’ll have to put a halt on that workflow project because we are so busy in December with tax planning.

January 1 – We’ll have to wait until after April 15th.

Sound familiar?

  • Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
  • Dale Carnegie

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Managing Remote Employees

“A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.” – Simon Sinek

It is finally becoming fairly commonplace in the world of public accounting. Firms are hiring more and more remote employees. Firms also seem to be struggling with exactly how to manage these somewhat invisible people.

First of all, don’t let them be invisible. There are just too many technology tools available today that can make a remote employee feel almost like one working inside your office.

Google, who employs nearly 100,000 workers spread over 150 cities in more than 50 countries (on five continents) did a study of more than 5,000 employees. They measured well-being, performance, and connectedness (and other things). They came up with recommendations on how to keep things consistent.

Here are three things they recommend for remote teams:

  1. Get to know your people
  2. Set clear boundaries
  3. Forge connections

Read this article via Inc. and learn more about these three things and how to make remote employees (and your firm) more successful.

  • "We were happy to find no difference in the effectiveness, performance ratings, or promotions for individuals and teams whose work requires collaboration with colleagues around the world versus Googlers who spend most of their day to day working with colleagues in the same office,"
  • Veronica Gilrane, Manager of Google's People Innovation Lab

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Procrastination

“My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.” – Charles Dickens

From an article via Fast Company:

Chronic procrastination has even been linked to higher rates of depression, substance abuse, phobias. and other issues, as Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University and author of Still Procrastinating: The No-Regrets Guide to Getting It Done, told Stephanie Vozza in a previous Fast Company piece. If you’re in the habit of putting off important tasks until the last minute, you may be able to overcome procrastination by looking at–and dealing with–the root causes.

Just something to think about…..

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

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

Circumvent The Problem

“One day’s delay is another day’s lack of progress.” – Stuart Bowen

There is a difficult conversation that needs to happen. There is a big decision that you are not ready to make. There are two or three things that should have been implemented months (or years) ago.

Circumvent! (Avoid, get around, find a way around, evade, get past, bypass, sidestep, dodge, delay – you get the message!)

It is time to stop allowing irritations to annoy you and drag on, and on. Deal with nagging, and sometimes small, problems before they become a big deal.

Need to talk to someone about a performance issue? Don’t wait until summer.

  • The mark of the man is how he responds to situations. You're not going to avoid tough times. We're all over the barrel some of the time. What are you going to do about it?
  • Martin Short

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

The Easy Route

“It is easy to believe we are each waves and forget we are also the ocean.” – Jon Muth

There is a lot of work to do. That is true at almost any time of year in an accounting firm.

You want to be as productive as possible but how often do you waste, or misuse, your valuable time? You want to get so many things off your to-do list that you decide to knock out the easy things first.

You are thinking, “first thing in the morning I will get those five easy things done and off my list”. The trouble is, those five easy things should not be on your list. Delegate them or eliminate them.

I have observed that in many firms, partners are doing manager work, managers are doing staff work, and staff members are looking for meaningful work.

  • It is easy to get everything you want, provided you first learn to do without the things you cannot get.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Monday, March 25th, 2019

How To Keep Firm Initiatives Moving Forward

“Never be so busy as not to think of others.”  – Mother Teresa

Have you heard some of these comments inside your firm?

  • Our partners are so busy that they never seem available for questions.
  • We have a retreat every year but we should just video it and play it again next year since we always talk about the same issues year after year.
  • The managing partner is more focused on clients than he/she is on firm initiatives.
  • The managing partner is our best rainmaker – we don’t want him/her focused on the day-to-day issues.
  • We are trying to identify our next managing partner but no one seems to want the job.
  • Our managers don’t seem to be very good at mentoring others.
  • There is definitely a communication problem inside our firm.

What’s the solution to a lot of the above comments and the following:

  • How do you enable your partners to be focused on client service, client relationship-building, and business development?
  • How do you enhance the communication inside your firm?
  • How do you create a mentoring program that really inspires young people?
  • How do you investigate your processes and procedures and make them more efficient?
  • How do you make sure the firm is following all of the most current trends in human resources?
  • How do you create a cool culture, a fun culture and move your firm into the digital world?

Heres the answer – Hire a qualified, professional practice manager/firm administrator. Make it their responsibility to keep initiatives, important to the inside health of your firm, OFF of the back burner and ON the front burner.

  • Those who are wise won't be busy, and those who are too busy can't be wise.
  • Lin Yutang

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Save The Small Talk

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer

In your role in CPA firm management, other people are under your care and guidance.

Partners, managers, practice managers, HR managers, IT managers, marketing directors, and controllers usually have other people looking to them for direction and advice. It might be for some short-term issue with a process within the firm or a long-term career path decision.

You talk to people every day but I imagine it is mostly what could be termed as small-talk. You talk about the traffic or maybe the weather. Of course, you also talk about the work.

Keep in mind that studies have told us that people who take part in more substantive conversations and less trivial chit chat experience more feelings of satisfaction with work and life.

That is why it is important to not let mentoring and coaching conversations fall aside as you make your way through busy season. It is good for you and your team to talk about feelings, sentiments and what makes you happy and makes life worthwhile.

  • You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.
  • Epicurus

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

Clarity

“It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal.” – – Steve Maraboli

Accounting firm partners want their team members to meet their expectations when it comes to job performance. Do the team members know, specifically, what is expected of them? From my many interactions with accounting firm leaders, I have found that they do not provide clarity when it comes to performance.

When an employee is not meeting expectations, almost everyone in the firm knows before that specific employee knows. It seems that partners are very uncomfortable addressing the issues directly with the individual.

Firm leaders must do a better job of clearly communicating what success looks like. Be prepared to tell a team member exactly what you expect them to do and what you expect them NOT to do. Have a private conversation with any team member you observe doing something they need to change. Do it immediately when you observe the undesirable behavior. Don’t discuss it with others and delay the conversation for weeks, months or years!

  • Mystification is simple; clarity is the hardest thing of all.
  • Julian Barnes

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Algorithms, Parental Leave & Other Information

“We never know the love of a parent til we become parents ourselves.” – Henry Ward Beecher

I recently read a very interesting article via Fast Company about Stitch Fix and its CEO, Katrina Lake. At age 34, she was not only the youngest female founder to ever lead an IPO but she also stood at the Nasdaq podium while holding her toddler on her hip.

I know many women who have made Stitch Fix a part of their lives. The story of the company is very interesting. You can learn something about how they gather and use data. Also, I think accounting firms could learn something about parental leave from Lake. Here’s an excerpt:

Stitch Fix’s board is more than 60% female, and its tech staff is 35%—still not gender parity, but far better than the industry average and without hiring quotas. Interviewees are informed that the company values “bright” people over the purely book smart and “kind” people over nice. During the application process, instead of having to solve a technical problem alone, candidates are paired with a nontechnical staffer from styling or merchandising to collaborate, which quickly surfaces inventive applicants. Lake has also been adamant about fostering work-life balance. Most notably, she provides 16 weeks of parental leave to all full-time employees who are primary caretakers—whether they work in data science or a warehouse. It never occurred to Lake to create the kind of caste system of disparate benefits for different types of workers that’s prevalent at many tech companies.

She took the full 16 weeks herself this winter after the birth of her second child in November. “There might’ve been times, years ago, where I would’ve felt a little bit more uncomfortable taking the leave,” Lake says during her last full week in the office in the fall. “We have lots of women at Stitch Fix who are growing their families and also doing a great job here. Being able to take a leave is the right thing for your family. It’s also the right thing for your work so that you can come back and be focused and be excited.”

  • Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than the parent.
  • Bob Keeshan

Monday, February 25th, 2019

Have A Grateful Week

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I remind you often to remember to simply say, “thank-you” to your team members. No matter what your role in the firm, say it to each other. It means a lot from the boss but it also means a lot from a peer. Sometimes, it is even shocking when an employee says thanks to the boss.

On a recent blog post by Grammarly, they noted that it’s nice to form a thank-you in a different way, rather than the usual thanks or thanks so much.

Here are some alternatives, use them this week.

  • Thank you for all your hard work on this.
  • Thanks again we couldn’t have pulled this off without you.
  • Thank you, you’re amazing!
  • I’m so thankful for everything you bring to the table.
  • Thank you kindly.
  • Thanks a million.
  • Many thanks.
  • Warmest thanks.
  • I truly appreciate your hard work.
  • I truly appreciate you.

Plus, there are more. Read them here.

I am “beyond grateful” that you read this blog!

  • Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
  • Aesop