Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

I Call It the Bad Apple

“To keep poor performers in place is to risk the future of the firm.” – Ron Baker

Recently, I read a great article by Ron Baker (you all know Ron Baker!).

His title for the article is Negative human capital and how it affects your firm. I simply call it The Bad Apple and have blogged about it several times. That being said, you MUST read Baker’s article.

Here’s an excerpt:

We do people no favors when we let them languish in a job they are not capable of performing well, or for which they have no heart. The philosophy, “hire slow and fire quick,” is sound advice. How do you know when it is time to let someone go? Ask yourself if you would hire this person again. Think how you would feel if this person came to you and said he or she was leaving to pursue another opportunity.

It is simply unacceptable to other team members to keep people in the firm who are not meeting expectations. The negative morale effects are significant, and will ripple throughout the company. Poor performers are not good role models, do not make good mentors, and may even be damaging customer relations. If the leaders don’t make these tough decisions regarding the most important form of intellectual capital in their firms, who will?

In my consulting work, I have observed that partners make excuses upon excuses for why they can’t let some go even when the entire staff would breathe a sigh of relief. Even when the person has caused repeated turnover because people cannot put up with their bullying.

It only takes 7 minutes to read the entire article.

  • We do people no favors when we let them languish in a job they are not capable of performing well, or for which they have no heart.
  • Ron Baker

Monday, February 24th, 2020

The Real Problem

From my experience, CPAs ignore the real problem. This came to mind when I read the following quote by Stephen R Covey:

“All the well-meaning advice in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans if we’re not even addressing the real problem.”

It also often comes to mind as I advise my valued clients. They hire me to get them on track, investigate and uncover troubling issues within the firm, make recommendations on how they can become future-ready, etc.

Very often, I give them advice that they don’t really want to hear. It is advice about once and for all addressing the real problem within their firm.

Many of them tell me that there is always “an elephant in the room” when they have their firm retreat and no one addresses it. Others are aware of a very troublesome employee or even a partner that no one wants to deal with. They are unwilling to outplace disruptive people. In other cases, their young people are sending them strong messages about a software, a procedure or a process that needs to be changed but the older partners simply will not listen.

To me, building a team of engaged, enlightened, energetic and passionate people who are willing to work as a team for the good of the firm is a foundational piece of the puzzle. This year, why don’t you finally address THE REAL PROBLEM.

  • Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them.
  • Charles DeMontesquieu

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Your Future Will Be Limited

I follow John C. Maxwell on Twitter. Yesterday, he posted the following tweet:

If you’re not identifying the leaders of tomorrow whom you will train up, your potential and your future will always be limited. 

It a simple, short message that speaks volumes to CPAs working in public accounting.  Owners of firms should have heeded this advice many years ago.

Here’s another recent tweet from Maxwell that hits home with CPAs:

No matter what it costs you, the return you receive will eclipse the price. Developing leaders is the most impacting and rewarding thing you can do as a leader.

Baby Boomer CPAs, nearing retirement, have been warned over and over again but few have acted upon the advice and now, their futures are limited. For some, it is merge-up or close-up.

  • Don't let what's uncertain be what defeats you. Instead, let it be what motivates you to keep reaching toward what's possible.
  • John C. Maxwell

Monday, February 10th, 2020

Allow Your Team to Set Their Own Goals

“Focusing on strengths is the surest way to greater job satisfaction, team performance and organizational excellence.” – Marcus Buckingham

Does your CPA firm, as part of the performance feedback system, give employees certain goals to attain? Sometimes it makes sense but not always.

One firm told me they have one goal for all new college graduates entering the firm. That one goal, until it is achieved, is to pass the CPA exam. Maybe, even this one important goal, doesn’t make sense any longer.

According to Marcus Buckingham, goals that are pushed down from on high are un-goals. Goals should have meaning for the individual and, thus, should be created by that individual for themselves.

Firms should be creating meaning for everyone in the firm. Do your people know and understand what the firm is trying to achieve and where it is going in the future? Do they realize that the firm is a service organization focused on improving the lives and financial success of their clients? Do they understand the firm’s purpose? More importantly, have you effectively communicated the firm’s purpose?

If your people truly understand the purpose of the firm and buy-in to that journey, they will be able to set meaningful goals for themselves.

Read this interesting article about goals via Marcus Buckingham titled, “The best leaders do not set goals. Here’s what they do instead.”

  • You will excel only by maximizing your strengths, never by fixing your weaknesses.
  • Marcus Buckingham

Friday, February 7th, 2020

Who Do You Trust?

“Listening is an important skill for building trust.” – Jennifer Collins

I remember hearing that Johnny Carson began his career as a game show host. When I typed in the title of this blog post, it jogged my memory, so I Googled it.

Who Do You Trust? (1956–1963) Married pairs of contestants were asked to answer questions, the husband deciding whether he or she would answer. The original emcee Edgar Bergen was later replaced by Johnny Carson.

My question is who do YOU trust at work?

I have facilitated numerous upward feedback surveys for CPA firms. If I receive several questions about how confidential the survey is I know that there is a lack of trust in firm leaders. There is almost always a fear of retaliation.

My wish is that there would be enough trust in a firm that all employees are comfortable telling the partners exactly what they think without that nagging fear.

Here’s an excerpt from a blog post by Skip Prichard that prompted my blog post. His description sure sounded like a CPA firm to me!

From Skip:

Simply put, servant leaders build a culture of trust.

Why is that key? Because without trust—for the leader, for coworkers, for the organization at large—everyone will be focused on survival rather than success. Because the opposite of a culture of trust isn’t simply “a culture without trust.” It’s a culture of fear.

What does that mean? I think of a company I worked at that, when I started, I saw a complete lack of trust. Management spent time looking for new tools to track and manage staff. It was all about analytics aimed at finding people who weren’t “working hard enough” (according to the definitions attached to the tools, at least). Those people could be put on a list and micromanaged, reprimanded or even fired.

I have often found that partners (owners) don’t trust the staff and the staff doesn’t trust all of the partners. Think about what you can do about this situation as you work your way through busy season.

  • The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
  • Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Quit Making Excuses

“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” – John Wooden

When talking with accounting firm owners and working with new clients I often hear lots of excuses when I suggest new ways to do things and the importance of keeping up with current trends in the CPA profession. I hear “Yes, but…” over and over again.

I hear:

  • Yes, we have heard other firms are doing that, but at our firm…..
  • Yes, we tried closing on Fridays, but….
  • Yes, we thought about allowing more people to work remotely, but…
  • Yes, as partners, we know we could delegate more to our staff, but….
  • Yes, the partners want to do paperless billing, but….
  • Yes, all of our partners agree that the managing partner needs to delegate more clients to other partners, but….
  • Yes, we would love to have more female partners, but….
  • Yes, we need some up-and-comers, but……
  • Yes, we have some below-average performers, but….

Are you thinking and saying, “Yes, but…” too often?

  • Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.
  • George Washington Carver

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

Achieving What Matters

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” Karen Lamb

Partners get distracted. They also get comfortable.

Sometimes they end up repeating what they do over and over again. They are not stretching themselves to change, evolve and achieve new goals. The same applies to many managers working in CPA firms.

Often, the agreed-upon goals are not achieved because guess what? They are too busy doing what they always do. New, important things that matter are put on the back burner.

Here’s a quote from Peter Drucker that you should apply:

“What results are you being paid to achieve? List three tasks that you should eliminate to be productive.” – Drucker

Once you list them – then deal with them.

  • The great glorious masterpiece of man is to know how to live with purpose.
  • Michel de Montaigne

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

Consequences

“Unresolved offenses become excuses for poor performance.” – Leadership Freak, Dan Rockwell

Leaders in CPA firms often establish rules and guidelines for employees of their firm. Then, when someone ignores the rules/guidelines what happens? Usually, nothing!

At a full team meeting, the managing partner introduced a new rule – something about documentation. One experienced manager asked THE question, “What are the consequences if people ignore this step?” The leaders basically side-stepped the question.

One time an experienced Director of Technology in a firm said to me, “We adopt guidelines but we actually manage by exception.”

Ignoring offenses says volumes about your leadership style. Addressing an offense doesn’t always mean some sort of punishment. You can forgive an offense but don’t ignore it.

 

  • When you can’t resolve offenses, YOU become toxic. The Dead Sea is dead because it hangs on to everything.
  • Dan Rockwell

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

Make Your Clients Say Wow

“Don’t be yourself – be someone nicer.” – Mignon McLaughlin

When was the last time you did something to show your most valued clients and lucrative prospects that you are thinking about them?

What about doing something for your team members during the next few stressful months?

How about sending them some green bagels on St. Patrick’s Day (I know a local law firm that did this every year)? Deliver a pumpkin pie just before Thanksgiving. It could be something as small as some of your promo items – pens, post-it notes, notepads, coffee mugs or candy with the firm logo.

For your team, it could be a thank-you note to their family for being so understanding during tax season. A handwritten thank-you note to the team member when they have gone above and beyond. It could also be new coffee mugs, portfolios, logo shirts or candy sent to their home on their birthday.

fullsizeoutput_45bdThis came to mind because I received a promo package from OnPay, an online payroll processing service last week. It contained a small box of candy, a nice coffee mug, lip balm, and some great coffee. I was thrilled and it did cause me to write this blog post.

What can you “cause” your clients and team members to do by just being thoughtful?

  • I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble.
  • Rudyard Kipling

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Provide Training For Your Leaders – Please!

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Convergence Coaching’s Spring Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP) is open for registration! This year-long program kicks off at the end of May and is designed to take high-potential managers, senior managers, principals, and newer partners to their next level of success in leading others and the firm.

So much is changing. Now is the time to expand your visibility & take on a meaningful role to drive change at your #firm. Learn the skills you need to advance your #role with the @ConvergenceSays TLP. Here is a helpful video –  https://youtu.be/xKP8KeKFMkg

For more detailed information about this valuable program, click here.

The program fills up quickly so don’t wait too long to register.

  • Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.
  • Benjamin Franklin