Archive for the ‘Managers’ Category

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

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

Our Curriculum 

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.

View the Full Three Year Curriculum Map

Don’t Take Our Word For It…

You can hear it from our graduates first hand!

Since its inception in 2004, The Partner Institute™ has developed future leaders in the profession. We are proud to have a proven track record of success. View Testimonials

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Reserve your spot in The Partner Institute™ by submitting your registration and a deposit of $500. Attend the initial course and then decide if the program is right for you. If you elect to continue, we will invoice you accordingly.

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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