Archive for the ‘Managers’ Category

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

What Kind of Busy Person Are You?

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

If you work in an accounting firm it is almost certain that you are very BUSY. Usually, busier than you want to be. However, what are you busy doing? If you are a partner doing manager work or a manager doing staff work, that does not count as being busy.

I occasionally repost a blog from Seth Godin in its entirety. Here’s one that is right on target for CPAs!

ASK A BUSY PERSON

You might know one.

The busy person has a bias for action, the ability to ship, and a willingness to contribute more than is required. The busy person is wrong more than most people (if you get up to bat more often, you’re going to have more hits and more strikeouts, right?). Those errors are dwarfed by the impact they create.

Being a busy person is a choice.

It might not work for you, but you could try it out for a while.

We need more busy people.

  • I am so busy doing nothing that the idea of doing anything which as you know, always leads to something cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.
  • Jerry Seinfeld

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

Be A Great Manager

Bruce Tulgan tells us: Being a great manager requires a lot of time and effort. You cannot treat your management responsibilities as a low-commitment responsibility! You owe it to the people on your team to give them the support, guidance, and coaching they deserve. 

An important part of managing people involves one-on-one conversations. These one-on-one meetings help you create an upward spiral of performance.

There are four basic steps to creating an upward spiral of performance on your team:

1. Define performance standards

2. Spell out expectations

3. Collaborate on next steps

4. Follow up, revise, and adjust

Download Tulgan’s ebook here.

one one

  • It’s the most talented, not the least talented, who are continually trying to improve their dialogue skills. As is often the case, the rich get richer.
  • Kerry Patterson

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 11th, 2019

The Importance of the Firm Administrator

The majority of people in the accounting profession operate at Levels I and II. – Gary Boomer

There is a good article by Gary Boomer via Accounting Today – Leadership, Management, and Administration: What’s the difference”

Here are some tidbits:

Boomer refers to Jim Collins’ five levels of leadership from his book “Good to Great.” He defines the levels as:

  • Level I: Capable individual
  • Level II: Contributing team member
  • Level III: Competent manager
  • Level IV: Effective leader
  • Level V: Executive

Administrative personnel are often expected to have all the skills, especially in smaller firms that have a part-time managing partner or CEO. This is a monumental task, and often people are set up to fail in the role of firm administrator. People in these positions require professional development, peer networks, and management resources to succeed. The biggest risk is they are viewed by many accountants, including some partners, as overhead, rather than as a strategic asset.

It’s a great article – Read the entire article here.

  • People leave firms because of bad managers, not because of the firm.
  • Gary Boomer

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

In Accounting Firms Do Managers Really Manage?

“Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” – John Rockefeller

In accounting firms, managers are promoted because they have accumulated experience in public accounting and they are highly skilled technicians. They need more than that.

Managers become partners in firms. They still often lack the most important skill, managing people.

As noted in a recent HBR article, Dr. Jim Mitchell a computer scientist who made the leap into management from an engineering position, eventually retiring as Vice President at Oracle Laboratories, said that people skills, including empathy and self-knowledge, were the most important characteristics he himself needed to possess when he transitioned to management.

Anna Ranieri, the author of the article noted that moving into management requires divesting oneself of some individual contributor duties and taking on new duties as a team leader. This rarely happens in accounting firms when promoting people to manager and promoting managers to partner.

Managers hold things up by:

  • Doing tasks that should be delegated to team members
  • Taking back the tasks that they have delegated because they believe they can do them better
  • Under communicating with direct reports, making them unsure of their duties
  • Micromanaging in a way that doesn’t allow team members to expand their own capabilities

These are exactly the things new managers demonstrate when they are promoted inside an accounting firm.

Read the entire article (How to Know if  Someone Is Ready to Be a Manager) and share it with all the managers in your firm.

  • Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.
  • Ronald Reagan

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

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Clarity

“If you have drama, there is a lack of clarity at the root.” – Marlene Chism

Yesterday, I wrote about being very clear about what you expect from people. Clearly communicate your expectations.

This morning I read an interesting article by Marlene Chism titled, The Root Cause of Workplace Drama: Lack of Clarity.

She notes, one reason for lack of clarity is failing managers:

There is a reason people do what they do, and that reason is often due to the culture and past experiences. For example, on a consulting project, I found out that the reason managers didn’t make decisions is because they lacked confidence. The reason the managers lacked confidence was because many of their decisions had been overridden by senior leaders. Therefore, the managers feared making mistakes and losing face in front of employees.

She also talks about unsuccessful employees and wrong issues/quick fixes. Read the entire article here.

  • Avoid the tendency to focus on a solution before clearly identifying the problem.
  • Marlene Chism

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

The Secret of Change

Focus slideI was browsing through famous quotations about facing a new year. I came across one that I have often used in my presentations.

To me, it says so much about CPAs in public practice coping with surviving in a profession that is undergoing some of the most formidable changes it has ever faced.

Clinging to the past is not the answer. Making the commitment to change yourself is the answer. How are you, personally, going to survive into the future.

Too many partners and managers are clinging to work that they know and love. They have not developed the skills or desire to delegate properly so that less experienced CPAs can learn from more challenging work.

Begin this week to observe what your team members need to learn and give them projects that will help develop their skills and knowledge.

Struggling with exactly what to delegate? Ask your team what they think you should delegate. They are more insightful than you might think. Managing partners, ask your firm administrator what he/she thinks you should delegate to them. You might be pleasantly surprised.

  • Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

What Managers Should Be Doing In CPA Firms

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Peter Drucker divided the job of the manager into five basic tasks:

1) Sets objectives. The manager sets goals for the group and decides what work needs to be done to meet those goals.

2) Organizes. The manager divides the work into manageable activities and selects people to accomplish the tasks that need to be done.

3) Motivates and communicates. The manager creates a team out of his people, through decisions on pay, placement, promotion, and through his communications with the team. Drucker also referred to this as the “integrating” function of the manager.

4) Measures. The manager establishes appropriate targets and yardsticks, and analyzes, appraises and interprets performance.

5) Develops people. With the rise of the knowledge worker, this task has taken on added importance. In a knowledge economy, people are the company’s most important asset, and it is up to the manager to develop that asset.

Does this sound like the managers at your firm? I find that so many so-called managers are actually higher-paid and more experienced technicians. If owners want more freedom to bring in business and talent, be sure your managers are trained and expected to manage.

Read What do managers do via WSJ.

  • Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, you need to cut your losses and move on.
  • Howard Schultz