Archive for the ‘Managers’ Category

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

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Have You Been Promoted to a Leadership Position?

“You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln

Have you just been hired as a Firm Administrator? Have you just been promoted to a manager-level position in your firm?
Have you been “one of the team,” whether it is the accounting team or the administrative team, and all of a sudden you are now in a position of visible leadership?

Things have changed. You must act differently now. You can compare it to being a passenger in a car or being the driver.

Passengers have more freedom to do things that drivers can’t do. As a passenger, you can cut-up, listen to loud music, focus on the passing landscape, eat snacks and generally horse-around with other passengers. The driver has to focus on the road and not get distracted. As a driver, you no longer have the right to goof around.

The same thing applies as you become a manager. You are no longer a passenger, you are the driver. Your responsibilities increase and, yes, you lose some freedoms you may have enjoyed as a passenger.

Example: If you are the manager, you don’t have the right to join in the whining about the topic of the day with the other staff. As a manager, you do not gossip or complain about upper management. When you are the manager you no longer have the right to blame others for a problem. You no longer have the right to avoid issues or choose to not make a decision. As a manager, the buck stops with you.

You even lose control of your time because you are responsible for other people’s time (as well as your own).

The first managing partner I worked for put it very simply to me when I got my very first promotion. He was the founder and a very traditional, hard-working, old-school CPA managing partner.

He said to me, “You are now on salary and part of management. You need to work whatever hours it takes to get the job done.” I knew a change had occurred. I was no longer a passenger.

  • Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?
  • George Carlin

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

Silence

“Sometimes you don’t have to say anything. Silence speaks it all.” – Disha Patani

During each day, you get an enormous amount of questions.

You are the firm administrator. It seems like people are lined up outside your office door continually as the day evolves.

You are the managing partner. A client calls and expects an answer on the spot. A partner stops you in the hall and asks a question. Your firm administrator needs an answer right away!

Partners and managers get questions from staff. Staff members get questions from each other. It seems everyone asking questions think YOU must have an easy and quick answer.

Try a little silence. In appropriate situations, just remain silent and the person asking the question just might answer it themselves.

If you are stopped in the hallway and asked a question say: “Let me think about that and I’ll get back to you.” Often, people catch you off guard and it is much safer to deflect, think and then reply.

Delay doesn’t mean days or weeks, it means minutes or hours.

One of the main insights I receive from staff is that they often wait on answers from partners (mostly regarding client work) for days, weeks and sometimes months.

  • He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

A Learning Opportunity

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Don’t hesitate to invest in the success of your new partners and your future partners.

My good friend, Jeff Pawlow of The Growth Partnership, reminded me that it is time to register for The Partner Institute. Here’s the scoop:

Announcing The Partner Institute™ 2019

The Partner Institute™ is a three-year, multidisciplinary program designed to develop the needed skills and attributes for successful firm leadership. Session 1 starts January 16-18, 2019 at the Boardwalk Inn at Walt Disney World. Learn More

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The Partner Institute™ offers participants a robust, in-classroom curriculum led by facilitators who are experts in their particular topic and have a deep pedigree rooted in the accounting profession. This sets The Partner Institute™ apart from other offerings.

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  • Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
  • Nelson Mandela

Friday, July 20th, 2018

Invest In Your Managers – Flashback Friday

“The future depends on what you do today.” – Gandhi

Reaching the manager level inside a CPA firm is a wonderful accomplishment. However, along with the title comes the responsibility for others. It is so much more than having technical knowledge. The manager is (or should be) the first-line boss of other people.

Invest in your managers, help them learn the special skills necessary to manage and inspire others.

Here’s a flashback post on this topic.

 

  • Success in management requires learning as fast as the world is changing.
  • Warren Bennis

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

The Best Way to Train New Staff

“The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.” – Michael Jackson

Several years ago I heard Dustin Hostetler, Chief Innovation Officer at Boomer Consulting, talk about a method of training that he thought would be greatly beneficial to the CPA profession.

It is a simple, 4-step method but seems to make so much sense for interns and new hires working in accounting firms.

  1. I do – You watch
  2. I do – You help
  3. You do – I help
  4. You do – I watch

Here’s a short video with the complete explanation.

  • Learning is not watching a video, learning is taking action and seeing what happens.
  • Seth Godin

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

We Are So busy

“Never mistake activity for achievement.” – John Wooden

I love the above quote and it is something that I think applies to CPA firm citizens.

I hear it all the time:

  • We are so busy.
  • No one has time to help me.
  • I hesitate to add new clients because I can’t ask the staff to work more hours.
  • And, many similar statements.

I also see it all the time. A huge amount of talking, debating and worrying with very little actually being accomplished. I observe it often in my coaching clients – lots of talk and excuses (we were too busy) and little achievement.

Analyze what you are so busy doing. The best thing you can be doing, no matter what level of staff you are (or partner), is to focus on developing others. Delegate to them and get yourself out of the busy-work and focus on achieving something bigger.

  • Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Performance Feedback

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi

For many firms, it is the time of year when you begin your performance feedback sessions. Hopefully, you have modified and updated your methods over the last few years. While some firms have theoretically eliminated the annual performance review, it is certainly not dead yet.

If you use the same format year after year after year, your employees and those who are giving them feedback come to dread the entire process.

Sometimes partners are expected to give feedback to 7, 8, 9 or more people. That takes a lot of time. The bigger issue is, after all the preliminary information gathering is done, how you structure the actual feedback face-to-face meeting.

One step in the right direction is to have more performance conversations throughout the year and not put so much focus on the big, annual evaluation.

Another modification is to work with your partners and managers in learning how to provide more meaningful feedback. Historically, managers have focused on past performance rather than talking about the future. Managers have also tended to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths.

Work to identify each individual’s strengths. Then, build momentum and career progression on those strengths. Develop a system of more frequent conversations and down-play the dreaded annual review.

 

  • If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.
  • Thomas Edison

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Accountability

“Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame.” – Courtney Lynch

There are a lot of conversations in public accounting firm circles about accountability. Practitioners ask, “How do we hold people accountable?” They want to know exactly what to do and what to say.

In an accounting firm, it is almost always from the top down. As leaders, you want your people to be held accountable for their performance or lack thereof.

Keep in mind, accountability is a two-way street. If you are holding your people accountable for their performance, they should also be holding you accountable for your performance.

Is that happening at your firm? Do the members of your partner group hold each other accountable? Do you welcome upward feedback so that you are accountable to everyone in the firm?

  • Go into every interaction with those who work for you believing that you are as accountable to them for your performance as they are to you for their performance.
  • Jim Whitehurst