Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Monday, June 1st, 2020

Oh, No! Another Meeting!

“Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer the meetings the better.” – Peter Drucker

I hate to admit it but I write about this topic very often. The trouble is, this problem never seems to go away or even improve.

Right now, rather than in-person meetings at the firm, people are becoming exhausted because of too many ZOOM meetings! I hear this from many people who are now working remotely.

This topic has been addressed, very humorously by Dilbert, on many occasions:

Boss: We’re having a meeting to discuss employee retention.

Dilbert: Tell them that employees quit because there are too many useless meetings.

Boss: We won’t be getting into reasons at the first meeting.

Seriously, does your firm have too many meetings? It is an on-going danger inside CPA firms because:

  • Partners want to be sure they are communicating with everyone.
  • Partners want to show their people that they care about their opinion.
  • Partners and managers think that what they discuss is of interest to everyone.
  • Partners have a strong “need to know” about way too many things!
  • Partners think they have to be in on every decision.

Some suggestions:

  • Don’t make most meetings mandatory.
  • Invite and involve fewer people.
  • Invite and involve the right people.
  • Be sure the technology works for everyone.
  • Always have an agenda.
  • Set an end time and stick to it.
  • Leave the meeting with Action Steps.

If you involve people in meetings that are important and they don’t talk or contribute. Don’t invite or involve them again.

The most recent story I heard is that one manager had so many ZOOM meetings that she had to actually conduct the meetings in a closet because it was so disturbing to the rest of her family because her spouse and even her children were also working online.

  • A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.
  • James T. Kirk

Friday, May 29th, 2020

The Power of Recognition

“I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks.” – William Shakespeare

This week for my Friday Flashback post, I hope you will take a few minutes to read about the importance of “Hello. Good Morning. Thank-you.”

It’s a post from April 2014 and it still applies today. You might even find the 3-minute video helpful that is referenced in the post.

You are probably beginning to welcome people back into the office. Keep in mind that your people need appreciation and recognition, in person, and also when they are working remotely.

Have a great weekend.

  • We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
  • Cynthia Ozick

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Don’t Rescue

“Let others perform. Ego creates silos.” – Dan Rockwell

An on-going complaint by CPA firm managers – “The staff person didn’t finish the job. They sent it back to me!”

What’s rather sad about this scenario is the fact that while the manager complains, they just go ahead and take the work back, finish it or fix it.

The team member almost always sends the job back to the manager, unfinished, because they don’t know what to do next. They came upon an issue that they were unfamiliar with and have learned that if they give it back to the manager, the manager will finish it!

Dan Sullivan (@LeadershipFreak) says, “It’s dangerous to do other people’s work for them. When you rescue competent people, you minimize talent and promote disengagement.”

Managers defend their actions with the excuse of having to get the job moving, out the door and not put too much more time in the job. Don’t rescue them, send the job back, and help them address the unfamiliar issue.

Here is a simple, 4-step training method that 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

If you keep rescuing them, they will never gain the knowledge and experience for career success.

  • The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
  • William Arthur Ward

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Changed Forever

“The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” – Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea

Consultants and profession leaders have been continually prodding and pushing many CPAs toward significant change. Mostly, it has been by asking practitioners to take baby steps toward change. I have been talking about baby steps for years because most accountants have a great fear of quick, even if it is meaningful, change.

COVID-19 did what consultants and profession leaders couldn’t accomplish in decades. That is, forcing CPAs to suck it up and make immediate adjustment to their operation behaviors.

There is no going back now. The changes most firms made rather quickly will endure.

Gary Shamis, former managing partner of SSG, a large, progressive firm that got gobbled up by BDO has an interesting article via Accounting Today titled, Our Profession Has Changed Forever.

Three things that have changed:

  • The virtual practice
  • The client experience
  • Office real estate

Three things that have stalled:

  • Advisory services
  • M&A
  • Diversity & inclusion

Be sure to read the article to learn what he says about each.

  • Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.
  • Max McKeown

Friday, May 8th, 2020

Flashback Friday – Too Busy

“If you are too busy to develop your talents, you are too busy” – Julia Cameron

Are your clients becoming distanced from you because they are too busy trying to save their business and their employees’ jobs?

While many larger firms are letting people go, I find that smaller firms (the vast majority of firms in the U.S.) are very busy,

Here’s a post titled: I Can’t. I Am Too Busy. Read it and make sure you are not too busy doing the wrong things.

  • Anyone too busy to say thank you will get fewer and fewer chances to say it.
  • Harvey Mackay

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

What Are You Doing?

“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.” ~ Andrew Carnegie

People are watching what you do.

Whether you are a firm leader or a first-year accountant. People are watching what you do.

Do you live what you say? Or, do you say one thing and do another?

During this unusual time, firm partners are doing things they have never done before. Everyone is serving clients in a way they have never done before. You get distracted. Sometimes you feel invisible because you don’t have much face-to-face contact. Does that change how and why you do things?

You are not invisible. People are watching you. It’s up to you to set a good example.

  • Look at people for an example, but then make sure to do things your way. Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Queen Latifah

Monday, May 4th, 2020

Bringing People Back

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” – Bertrand Russell

There are a lot of discussions going on in the accounting firm world about what to do when firms begin to bring team members back into the office.

It is also important to be able to advise the firm’s clients on how to reopen offices safely.

Theresa Richardson, Chief Talent Officer of Withum has some great advice and guidelines in a post on the Withum website.

She explains the five factors to measure before reopening your business

  1. Communication
  2. Prevention
  3. Social Distancing
  4. Empathy
  5. Health Procedures

Read the article to learn about each factor – Returning to the Workplace: Post-Pandemic Considerations.

  • Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.
  • Karl Augustus Menninger

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

Be Prepared

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

If your are a CPA firm leader, you should always remember the Boy Scout motto:

Be Prepared – The Scout motto means that you are always ready to do what is necessary to help others. It also means you are ready, willing, and able to do what is necessary in any situation that comes along.

Peter Drucker told us – The manager will have to look at her task and ask, “What must I do to be prepared for danger, for opportunities, and above all for change?”

Recently, you have had to face danger and change yet not forget about opportunities. Some firms have done a commendable job of this because they were prepared. Some have struggled because they did not have strong enough technology and procedures.

Going forward it is a great time to make sure your firm is lean and can move fast as our new world of work evolves.

Employing the right talent is always an issue. As you have heard many times, you must have the right people on your bus and have them in the right seats. You must be able to trust your people.

Many of your people are skilled, experienced, and loyal. They can work remotely without someone looking over their shoulder. You can trust them. What are you going to do with the people you don’t trust?

  • For there to be betrayal, there would have to have been trust first.
  • Suzanne Collins

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

Let Go Of The Past

“Treat people with their strengths in mind, not their past offenses.” – Dan Rockwell

We hear and read about lots of different ways to build on your strengths. You should also be guiding others in your firm to do the same.

What really happens inside some CPA firms? The managers and partners have very long memories.

I have heard the stories for years. “Don’t give me Tony for this engagement. Remember how he messed up on that John Doe job?” “I don’t want Brenda for this assignment. She has no clue about (fill-in the blank).”

Tony messed up that job three years ago during his first year with the firm. Brenda had no clue about whatever five years ago!

I think it is somewhat part of human nature. Well, accountants’ nature anyway. People remember the bad things that happen and so often forget to recognize the good things.

Be more in tune with how people progress in your firm. Some beginners catch on fast and some not so fast. Don’t give up on them too quickly. Learn to build on people’s strengths and down-play their weaknesses. Even when giving feedback, don’t always make it constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is a term used all to often within CPA firms. Criticism is criticism and the person receiving the criticism only hears criticism (not constructive).

Take advantage of the great resource of strengths of the people working in your firm. Downplay, and even forget, past mistakes.

There are plenty of resources out there:

Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald Clifton

Here’s a good article via Forbes.

  • With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, April 24th, 2020

Don’t Forget! – Feedback!

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard

So many things are on your mind right now. How will we cope in the new normal? How will we permanently establish a remote workforce? Which team members should be in the office and which ones should stay away? What about the most vulnerable on our team?

Yes, lots of challenges and so much to do. But, don’t forget one of the most important things your team needs… feedback. You don’t see them in person and most of your contact is via email so you might forget that important ingredient to a person’s success in their job.

Here’s a flashback post about feedback – it’s Flashback Friday. Stay Safe.

  • Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded; not dwelled upon and stored.
  • Tim Fargo