Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Wednesday, July 7th, 2021

Engage Your Employees – Don’t Lose Them

“You give loyalty, you’ll get it back. You give love, you’ll get it back.” – Tommy Lasorda

Now, more than ever, it is so important to engage your team members. As you all know, finding, hiring, and retaining people has become even more of a concern for public accounting firms.

Some firms are holding their partners accountable for engaging and retaining valued team members. Firm management is asking each partner these three questions. Leaders need followers. Many people working in public accounting say they stay with the firm because they are loyal to a particular partner. Who are those partners at your firm and why do they deserve such loyalty?

  • A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down.
  • Robert Benchley

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

A Long Weekend – Time For Contemplation

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” – Aristotle

Beginning today and through the long weekend. I hope you take some time to think and reflect.

Every day, in your leadership position, you create works of art. It might be a simple process, a procedure, valuable insight for a client, a smile for a co-worker, or a helping hand for your team.
Remember leadership is not a position, it is a state of mind – anyone can be a leader.

I like this one:

“It is about leaving a mark that I existed:
I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated.
I was happy. I was sad. I was in love.
I was afraid. I was hopeful.
I had an idea and I had a good purpose
and that’s why I made works of art.
– – Felix Gonzalez-Torres

  • Contemplation is the root of awareness and creativity.
  • Sandra Chantry

Friday, June 25th, 2021

Where Is Your Sense of Urgency?

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci

It’s Friday and time for a Friday Flashback post. I think this one is definitely needed right now.

It’s Friday and you probably have very few people in the office or even working remotely. Many firms actually close on Fridays during the summer months. Hopefully, Monday through Thursday there is a real sense of urgency within the firm and a lot of creative client service is happening.

Click here for a quick read about a sense of urgency.

  • Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.
  • Jim Rohn

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021

Knowing The Whole Story

“Fortunate is he who understands the cause of things.” – Virgil

When I read the above quotation in a book I am reading (The Pioneers by David McCullough), I was reminded how CPA firm leaders often misunderstand or are in the dark about “the cause of things.”

If you are working in a CPA firm, you know that the grapevine is usually very active. For example:

  • Three partners meet in one of their offices with the door closed. The grapevine activates.
  • A senior accountant is unusually dressed-up for the day and leaves early. The grapevine activates.
  • An intern claims he is sick two Mondays in a row. The grapevine activates.

Leaders are often faced with challenges that seem straight-forward and uncomplicated. Do you really know the backstory – what led up to the event?

A person gives their notice and seems untroubled and apparently moving on to a better opportunity. Do you know what led up to the departure, the cause?

Sally, the receptionist, is always late. You must address it. Do you know the cause, the backstory?

Are you doing surveys to determine how your people feel about remote work or hybrid work? Some firms are experiencing several resignations (people moving on the what they think are better jobs). Remember, “Fortunate is he who knows the cause of things.”

  • They can because they think they can.
  • Virgil

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

Your Influence & Focus

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” – John Maynard Keynes

Summer is here and you have a mix of priorities on your work and life calendars. Usually, firms are doing performance feedback sessions and assessing what needs to be improved before the next busy season. You are also, personally, planning some stress-relieving vacation time.

As a managing partner, firm administrator, HR director, etc., I urge you not to lose sight of some important activities. Be sure to use your influence and focus on key firm issues. Here’s a listing for you to consider:

  • I'm open for possibilities. I'm open for choices. I always welcome new ideas. I'm always eager to learn. I'm never going to close my mind to learning
  • Cesar Millan

Monday, June 21st, 2021

The Great Resignation

“Your employer brand is your external experience, and your talent brand is the internal experience.” – Cassie Whitlock

Has your accounting firm started to experience the resignation crisis? It is happening to employers now and the prediction is that it will continue.

Last week, I wrote about how the talent pool for CPAs will be shrinking. Now, it seems, you will be facing the fact that your people can work for a firm, no matter where that firm is located. Firms in large cities are willing to pay large city salaries to remote staff that live in more affordable localities.

Per a recent article via Fast Company, Texan A&M University Associate Management Professor Anthony Klotz coined the phrase (the great resignation) during an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

The article also notes:

Employees are also seeking more rewarding work, adds Cassie Whitlock, head of human resources for the talent management software platform BambooHR. “Many have lost a sense of connection to the workplace,” she says. “Even if they’re getting time with their manager, we discovered they’re having fewer interactions, and the quality of those interactions is diminished. They’re not having a feeling of genuine connection. They feel less seen, recognized, and appreciated.”

Remember something I have written about often – people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Your managers have that first-hand contact with your staff both in person and remotely. It’s time again to help your managers to become very skilled at managing and engaging people.

Whitlock stresses something that CPA owners need to embrace:

“They (managers) spend the most time with employees, and they make or break an organization’s goals, objectives, and outcomes,” says Whitlock. “They carry the water. Invest in growing managers to make sure you have the quality and caliber you want.”

  • You need to be great at telling stories in your organization. How are you making a difference? And are you sharing those successes with team members to help them feel good about the goals and outcomes you’re driving?
  • Cassie Whitlock

Monday, June 14th, 2021

One Way Street

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” – Epictetus

Wise words from Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple when discussing living in the past – a past that one loved and enjoyed:

“I learned what I suppose I really knew already, that one can never go back, that one should not ever try to go back – that the essence of life is going forward. Life is really a One Way Street, isn’t it?”

Maybe you have “good old days” thoughts as you progress through this new normal that we are living – in our business lives and in our personal lives.

As you look back, life at your firm was progressing but was also stable, comfortable and understandable. All that has changed since March 2020.

Now, we must remember that we are on a One Way Street into the future. There is no place to turn around and go backward.

Going forward will be challenging but it will also be exciting and rewarding.

  • There's only one way to have a happy marriage and as soon as I learn what it is I'll get married again.
  • Clint Eastwood

Friday, June 11th, 2021

The Purpose of Your Firm

“A business enterprise has two basic functions: marketing and innovation.” – Peter F. Drucker

It’s Friday again and time for an enlightening Flashback Friday post. Peter F. Drucker’s view on the purpose of a business is something you should consider.  Click here.

  • The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said.
  • Peter Drucker

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

Communicate Your Thoughts On Hybrid

“Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.” – Linus Pauling

So many firms right now are sticking their toe into the hybrid work schedule waters. Do we or don’t we? How will it look? How will we keep communication and culture strong? Maybe we just go to a four-day workweek. If everyone works whatever schedule they want, will it create chaos? Will client service suffer over the long term? What will we do about the administrative team?

Many decisions need to be made and I hope you can make them quickly. The most important things is to communicate to your team. Don’t leave them wondering all summer long what the firm will do in the Fall.

Here’s a message Tim Cook of Apple sent to the team last week:

In an email to staff, Apple CEO Tim Cook has told office employees that they are expected to return to their workspace three days a week starting in September. The iPhone maker said it wants most office workers to show up Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with the option to work remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays. “For all that we’ve been able to achieve while many of us have been separated, the truth is that there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other,” he wrote in the email. “Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.”

What goes through my mind is how will this building look empty for the long term.

  • For now, let me simply say that I look forward to seeing your faces.
  • Tim Cook

Monday, June 7th, 2021

Fixing People

“Spend more time encouraging high performers. Most leaders spend too much time trying to fix low performers.” – Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak)

The above comment certainly made me think about all the time many CPA firms spend trying to fix people, meaning poor performers.

How many poor performers do you have inside your firm? I bet you can name more than one!

The comment I always hear from firm administrators, HR managers, etc. is “the partners won’t let her/him go. He/She has been here for 15 years.”

If you have a poor performer, they are taking up space that could be allotted to a bright, ambitious, up-and-comer. They are a faulty cog in the wheel of efficiency.

It is not being mean or hurtful to a person. It is about clearly defining expectations and monitoring a person’s progress toward meeting those expectations. This has become even more important with the enhanced need to be technologically savvy when working in the accounting world.

I hear the story over and over again. We need a development plan for Sally. Do you have a sample? I ask, “How long has she been with the firm?” The answer, “Ten years.”

The bright spot I am hearing is that, because of working remotely, many firms have increased the responsibility of their managers. Managers must provide feedback AT LEAST twice a month or even weekly. A person who is not meeting expectations should know that fact before they have been with the firm for years.

  • Leaders set high standards. Refuse to tolerate mediocrity or poor performance
  • Brian Tracy