Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Be Positive – Keep Smiling

“Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.” – Marilyn Monroe

As I have said before, there is way too much drama going on inside accounting firms.

I always explain to young people just beginning their careers that they should keep in mind that CPAs have been trained for auditing. Their role is to question, research, explore and look for mistakes. So, don’t be offended if they are critical of almost everything. Smile, learn and move on.

Experienced CPAs provide something called review notes to their subordinates. They review the less experienced persons work and give them written notes on what they did wrong. I have known groups of beginners to laughingly compare…. “I got 15 review notes from old Joe!” “That’s nothing, I got 28 from him last week!” Smile, learn and move on.

Betty, the long-time firm bookkeeper has been with the firm for 32 years. She is often gruff and demanding. So, you better not make a mistake on your expense report. Smile, learn and move on.

All of this is fodder for drama inside the firm. Don’t let it get to you. Keep Marilyn Monroe’s quote in mind: “Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”

  • Fear is stupid. So are regrets.
  • Marilyn Monroe

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

Be An Encourager

“We can improve our relationships with others by leaps and bounds if we become encouragers rather than critics.” Joyce Meyer

Young accountants coming into the world of public accounting might be surprised at the number of critics they encounter.

It seems, in many firms, the experienced CPAs have fallen into the habit of teaching by criticism. Too often, their expectations are not adequately communicated and yet they become critical when new college recruits struggle with the tasks they are assigned.

I have heard many new recruits say, “I never learned any of this in college.” I suppose that is the case with many new graduates entering any profession.

The next time you are writing review notes for a new hire, be sure to consider if you communicated your expectations, clearly and concisely, at the beginning of the assignment. Actually discuss the review notes verbally with the team member and be sure to offer words of encouragement.

When a new hire receives seemingly harsh, written review notes without any personal communication or encouragement, it can be very demotivating and disheartening.

Encouragement builds relationships that can result in long-term career progress. Encouragement keeps people at your firm and prevents them from seeking job satisfaction elsewhere. Read the above quote again.

  • Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you’re willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.
  • Lou Holtz

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Managing a Hybrid Environment

“Workers will fit into new personas, such as a homesteader, office dweller, and coffee shop traveler, and managers will need to properly manage distributed teams.” – Jeff Schwartz, Deloitte Consulting

By now, you have all realized that having a hybrid environment for your workforce will be needed going forward. Some firms have already made great strides and the need will increase once vaccines are available to everyone.

In a recent article via Fast Company, Stephanie Vozza directs us to a book written by Jeff Schwartz, founding partner of Deloitte Consulting’s Future of Work practice.

It is no longer work/life balance. Work and life have become fully integrated and being able to offer choices and manage hybrid workers is a necessity for partners and managers.

You will need to determine what works best for each individual worker and be flexible so that they can change their minds depending on personal situations.

Read the article here. It is only a four-minute read. You should also read Schwartz’s book, Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work.

  • Now as we think about what it means to go back to the office, we can’t use an old map to explore a new world.
  • Jeff Schwartz

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Do They Like You?

“People prefer to say yes to those that they like.” Robert Cialdini 

I hear stories, all kinds of stories.

Working and interacting with hundreds of accounting firms over the last thirty years I, of course, hear stories. I hear, from the partners, what a great firm they have, how progressive they are, and how they do so much for their people. I do believe most of this.

I hear from the professional support team and the accounting staff how, while it is a good firm, they struggle with getting questions answered, getting changes approved and dealing with some of the partners. I do believe most of this.

The question for you to ponder today, as a shareholder, is influenced by the above quotation. Do your people actually like you?

If you are friendly, smile often, show caring/concern for individual team members, and are approachable, they will like you. They will work harder for you and strive to meet your expectations. They will respect you.

I remember when I was new to a CPA firm. One CPA partner would occasionally ask how I was doing and would ALWAYS say thank-you when I completed various tasks for him. That partner’s tasks always ranked higher on my to-do list than the other three partners.

The old English proverb, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, means that it is much easier to get what you want by being polite rather than by being rude and insolent.

  • Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Friday, February 19th, 2021

A Business – Not A Committee

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” – Jimi Hendrix

As firms grow, things must change. Every shareholder cannot be involved in every decision.

Here’s my Friday Flashback Post – Run Your Firm Like a Business.

  • Muddle is the extra unknown personality in any committee.
  • Anthony Sampson

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

What’s The Problem?

“If you complain about the same problems everyday… YOU are the problem.” – Brad Lea

Did you ever notice, inside your firm, that the same problems keep reappearing?

Perhaps it is a lack of training. Most likely, it is because that poor decisions or no decisions have been made.

Often the leadership group is in denial. Sometimes they think they have fixed the problem, yet it continues to cause frustration.

There seems to be many opinions as to why the problems continue to exist.

Are YOU the problem?

  • We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

Just Keep Ascending

“Wake up wild one! Your mind is a cageless bird waiting to fly to uncharted lands. Like the phoenix, you’ll rise again with renewed vigor, clarity, compassion and insight.” – Melody Lee

I read the following on Jon Gordon’s Instagram site. It applies to you and your accounting firm. Just keep soaring.

“The only bird that dares to peck an eagle is the crow. The crow sits on the eagles back and bites his neck. The eagle does not respond, nor fight with the crow; it does not spend time or energy on the crow instead he just opens its wings and begins to rise higher in the heavens. The higher the flight, the harder it is for the crow to breathe and eventually the crow falls off due to a lack of oxygen.

Learn from the eagle and don’t fight the crows, just keep ascending. They might be along for the ride but they’ll soon fall off. Do not allow yourself to succumb to the distractions….keep your focus on the things above and continue rising!!”

Source: Original Author Unknown

  • Keep going, because there is nothing worse in this world than to stop. Simply keep flying.
  • Vidhya Thakkar

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

The Annual Performance Evaluation

“Be spectacularly great at what you do. Wear your passion on your sleeve and hold your heart in the palm of your hand. And work hard. Really hard.” – Robin Sharma

If you have been keeping up with current trends in firm management, you probably know all too well that the annual performance review is on the verge of death.

Many firms have already abandoned this old-school method of providing team members with information that could help advance their careers. Today’s workforce wants feedback continually – every day – or more often. If your firm does away with the annual performance review, it means that managers and partners need to step up their game. They need to learn how to actually manage people and manage performance. It’s worth the effort.

You might think of it as conversation-based performance feedback. You will probably find that this method will help advance the skill level of your team much more rapidly. These performance conversations can focus on serving the clients, embracing the firm’s core values, and more.

Eliminating those old-fashioned performance rating sheets will create a sigh of relief from everyone involved!

If you can’t eliminate the more structured performance feedback process, at least simplify the one you have. Try the Keep, Stop, Start method and perhaps give this feedback monthly.

  • Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.
  • Steve Jobs

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

The Sloth

“In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few years ago we enjoyed a unique trip to Costa Rica. We didn’t go to a resort or spend time at a tourist beach. We saw the country via land, sea, and air – the middle, the south, and the north.

We were lucky to observe sloths in the wild. The ones we saw didn’t move. We watched one for a couple of hours one afternoon leading up to sunset. No movement.

Is your leadership style like the sloth? Some of your team members might think so. They want decisions made quickly. Do you do that? They are promised that a certain change will happen but it’s delayed and delayed again.

At partner retreats, some important and needed decisions are put off until after the next tax season or put on the list for next year’s retreat.

Sloths are amazing creatures and have been called the world’s laziest animal, slow to do almost everything. It’s not true.

Are your partners viewed much the same? I hope it’s not true.

Here are 10 Incredible Facts About the Sloth – it is very interesting.

  • Sloth is most often evidenced in busyness ... in frantic running around, trying to be everything to everyone, and then having no time to listen or pray, no time to become the person who is doing these things.
  • Eugene H. Peterson

Monday, February 8th, 2021

Smile

“Don’t open a shop unless you know how to smile.” – Petteri Tarkkonen

Today’s quote certainly applies to accounting firms.

I have heard so many stories from CPA firm citizens about their partners. Here are a few:

  • Some of our partners never smile.
  • Partners don’t seem to have a sense of humor.
  • Some of our partners walk right by you in the hall and never even acknowledge you.
  • I wish all of our partners would simply say Good Morning.
  • I wish all of our partners would say thank-you more often.
  • When I was hired, they said they have an open-door policy but it seems like every time I need to talk to a partner they seem to be too busy.
  • I need to ask a partner a question but they never answer my emails.

Partners and managers, you may not have a lot to smile about during COVID, during tax season or when client expectations are unreasonable. Your team members don’t know what pressures you are under. That doesn’t mean you can’t smile and be congenial towards all of those people who are often suffering right along with you.

One of my favorite phrases, MBWA (Manage By Wandering Around) still applies. If some of your team are in the office, walk around and briefly check-in on them. The same applies to your remote workers. You can email, call or video chat with them and use the same words – – “How are you doing? Is there anything I can do to help?”

Did you know that people can tell when you smile when answering the phone?

Smiling is part of simply being polite. Maybe your firm needs a Courtesy Policy.

  • Politeness is the art of choosing among your thoughts.
  • Madame De Stael