Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

Managers, If You See It, Say It

“Be factual and consistent.” – Suzanne Lucas

For firm administrators and practice managers in CPA firms, it is an old familiar story. All of this story is pre-COVID, of course, but much of it still applies to remote workers.

A partner goes to the firm administrator and says that when he arrived this morning at 8:30, he noticed that Susie was standing at Patty’s desk chatting. It bothers him that they have most likely been chatting since 8:00, and they were still chatting at 8:45. He wants you to talk to them.

A tax manager lets you, the firm administrator, know that Bobbi who works in the accounting area is not following the firm’s dress code. She wants you to talk to Bobbi.

Ted, the new staff accountant, was suppose to take some important mail to the Post Office. The manager found out that he didn’t make the trip to the actual Post Office, he just dropped it in the mailbox near his home at the Mall. It wouldn’t be picked up until late morning the next day. The manager wants you to talk to Ted…. because you are so good at it!

In larger firms, the job of communicating this kind of message is often given to the HR Director.

Communicating these kinds of messages – you don’t adhere to the dress code, you don’t use your time wisely or you don’t follow specific instructions – is not a fun task.

In progressive, well-managed firms, whenever possible, the partner/manager should deal with these situations directly. It’s their job to manage people.

Per Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady: It’s a manager’s job to manage, and part of managing is telling people that their clothes are inappropriate, or that they should shower more often or chew with their mouths shut. Yes, their parents should have taken care of that, but sometimes kids just don’t listen.

Read her interesting article here.

  • We are shaped by our conversations.
  • Robin S. Sharma

Friday, April 17th, 2020

Stale and Repetitive – Flashback Friday

“Repetition doesn’t create memories. New experiences do.” – Brian Chesky

Young accountants entering public accounting are often given the same type of work – it’s repetitive.

They are also asked to work on the same client engagement for several years in a row – it’s repetitive.

Managers often cling to the more challenging work because they need to be productive, too.

Don’t let this happen. Read more here.

  • If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.
  • Thomas Edison

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

Don’t Waste Dollars On Coaching

“Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.” – Wayne Gretzky

Progressive accounting firms invest in their people. They are not stingy when it comes to sending the right people to the right conferences. They are aware of the needs of their team and invest in the proper CPE to help them improve their technical skills. They send their Practice Manager to CPA management conferences such as the CPAFMA annual conference. (This year’s has, of course, been canceled. The next conference will be in Sarasota, November 9-11, 2021.)

These successful, growing firms also invest in individual mentoring/coaching for their partners, managers and others. Especially with partners, these significant dollars are wasted. They have no intention of changing.

There is a great article via HBR titled, 4 Signs an Executive Isn’t Ready for Coaching. Here are the 4 signs – be sure to read the entire article that gives details on each of the signs.

  1. They blame external factors for their problems.
  2. You can’t get on their calendar.
  3. They focus too much on tips and tactics.
  4. They delay getting started with a coach to “do more research” or “find the right person.”
  • Nothing will work unless you do.
  • John Wooden

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

Three Little Words

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” – Audrey Hepburn

During these unique times, it is probably to your benefit to remember to say those “three little words” to your family. Since you are marooned at home with them, saying “I love you” could help over-shadow some of the inconveniences you may be facing as a family unit.

Don’t forget your remote workforce. You see them on Zoom, you email a lot and you share work via software applications.

Just because you don’t see them face-to-face doesn’t mean you don’t care and appreciate them.

Here’s a list of three little words you should be communicating to your team members:

  • You did great
  • Glad you’re here
  • Thanks so much
  • Really good job
  • You’re so efficient
  • What an improvement
  • You are talented
  • I miss you
  • Hang in there

You don’t have to give flowery compliments or speeches. Just remember your manners and be kind.

By the way, to all my blog readers, I love you!

  • Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
  • Charles R. Swindoll

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Work Habits of CPA Partners

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many non-partner CPAs and others working in or advising the CPA profession have said that partners work too many hours.

Advisors have been saying for years that your young CPAs won’t want to become a partner because they see the partners setting the wrong example – they work too hard and too many hours.

A recent article via HBR stated that, based on a study, top CEOs of public companies work an average of 62.5 hours per week. CEOs are always on, and there is always more to be done. Think about how that statement applies to your partners, especially the managing partner, the executive committee, etc.

If you want to be a partner someday, keep in mind that you will have two roles, owner and employee. Non-partner CPAs in public practice work with clients. Yes, they have some additional roles by serving on committees or special task forces for the firm but mainly, they help clients.

Partners serve clients and their second job – which maybe should be their first job – is running an efficient, effective and profitable business – the firm. They are paid well if the firm is successful. Their employees are paid well if the firm is successful.

If you are critical of your partners, keep in mind, they are always on, and there is always more to be done.

You might find the HBR article interesting – How CEOs Manage Time.

  • I am focused on the work. I am constantly creating. I am a busy girl. I live and breathe my work. I love what I do. I believe in the message. There’s no stopping.
  • Lady Gaga

Friday, April 10th, 2020

Agreements

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” – Abraham Lincoln

In the CPA profession, there are all kinds of agreements – employment agreements, partner agreements and so on. None of these are my favorite.

My favorite agreements are The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Revisit them here. It’s Flashback Friday.

  • Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
  • Helen Keller

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

Surveillance

“When you hire AMAZING people and give them FREEDOM, they do amazing stuff.” – Seth Godin

As I do occasionally, I am offering you a complete blog post by Seth Godin. It struck me as something that accounting firm leaders will find helpful.

Over the years, I have observed many different ways that partners attempt to monitor the productiveness of their various team members. Some leaders even become obsessed with it. I hope you agree with No. 3:

The Panopticon

There are three ways to tell if people are hard at work in an office:

  1. the boss can watch them go to meetings. And they can watch each other in meetings as well.
  2. the boss can watch them sit at desks in an open office.
  3. we can make promises to each other and then keep them.

It seems as though only the third one is a useful, long-term way to allow us to do our best work together. The first two can help along the way, but if a meeting or an open office exists as a convoluted way to do surveillance, you’re probably wasting precious energy and trust.

And while transferring our work to home makes #1 even easier and #2 irrelevant, I’m still lobbying for #3.

  • Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost ALWAYS fails because it’s too late.
  • Seth Godin

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

Move Quickly!

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” – Zig Ziglar

For years I have been encouraging (yes, even nagging) you to improve your billing and collection policies and procedures. Here are a couple of examples:

Pay Attention to Collections – February 2020

Never Be Complacent About Collections – January 2018

The tax deadline is now July 15 but that is not a reason to slow down. It is so important to continue to work quickly, bill immediately and focus on collection.

You are helping your clients face unimagined challenges. You are valuable. Bill them quickly and bill them for what you are worth. It is going to be a year of hard work on behalf of your clients. You are needed.

  • The man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Snooze Is Not For You

“How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable.” – Seth Godin

I have been amazed that, even though I have been observing the Stay At Home order now for nearly three weeks, that time seems to fly by quickly. It has always been that way for me, even as a child I was never bored.

For my many CPA firm friends, I know that this busy season is moving quickly and even with the extended due dates, you are still focused on that April 15th date for many of your clients. Time is flying by! There isn’t time to hit the snooze button.

However, when you return to focusing on how to more efficiently and effectively manage your firm, you will most likely hit that snooze button.

Here’s an informative post from April last year. It’s Flashback Friday and time for you to remember that snooze is not for you!

  • Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.
  • Kevin Stirtz

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Your Staffing Model

“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.” – George Carlin

I have been thinking that maybe CPA firms would be busier than ever in 2020. But, maybe I have been thinking wrong.

I read this morning that Friedman, a well-known Top 100 firm laid-off 50 people on March 26. You can read all about it here via goingconcern.  A recent survey found that 41% of accountants believe job cuts will happen at their firm because of COVID-19.

The article makes it sound like Friedman did not handle the situation very professionally. One person’s comment:

The person knew something was up when they were locked out of their computer on Thursday morning. So they called IT.

“They immediately slammed the phone down. I guess they knew I was on the fired list,” the person said.

What about your firm? Do you have a people plan ready for moving forward in 2020 after the tax crunch is over? I still believe that there will be so much work that needs to be done helping clients understand all the new rules and guidelines and also, helping them with budgeting and planning how they will survive into the future.

 

  • When I was 16, I worked in a pet store. And they fired me because they had three snakes in there, and one day I braided them.
  • Steven Wright