Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Should Sole Practitioners Have Retreats?

“Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities.” – Terry Josephson

If you are part of a smaller firm, with one owner or two partners and are reading this blog – my answer is a resounding YES!

Just because you don’t have a multi-partner firm doesn’t mean you should not devote a special time and place for strategic planning. Try involving your entire team in the planning session. When I have facilitated these types of planning sessions, the employees contribute an amazing amount of relevant ideas and suggestions.

Sole practitioners who include their entire team in sculpting the firm’s future are making a positive difference for their firms. I believe it is a tactic that smaller firms should embrace wholeheartedly. It’s not too late to have this type of session in December or early January. It could even be a half-day event with a follow-up session in late April.

  • Take a chance! All life is a chance. A person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.
  • Dale Carnegie

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

I Can’t. I Am Too Busy.

“If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?” – Marie Dressler 

Oh, my. That busy word again.

Look at the quote, above, and think of the partners and staff working at your accounting firm. Everyone thinks they are too busy. Even your clients think you are too busy. What does that tell them?  Do they shy away from asking questions or asking you to work on a new project because you are just too busy?

How much time do you waste? How much time does your team waste?

I changed the quote: “If staff are so busy, how come they find time to take an extra-long lunch, chat with each other about last night’s football game or spend 30 minutes eating breakfast in the lunchroom when they arrive in the morning?”

  • I wanted to figure out why I was so busy, but I couldn't find the time to do it.
  • Todd Stucker

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

What If They Stay?

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard

I see it all the time, there are people who need to go. Owners hope and pray they will eventually quit. In fact, they subtly take steps to encourage departure. But, what if they stay? Is it worth demotivating your top performers because poor performers experience no consequences for their lack of engagement, low performance, and bad attitudes?
Here’s a tweet from Bruce Tulgan, author of It’s Okay To Be The Boss:
Of course, there are employees we don’t want to lose. But who are you afraid will stay? Identify those people. Are they low performers? Do they have an attitude problem? Are they simply not engaged? If you can fix the problem, do it! Otherwise, you’ve got to let those people go.
  • No man goes before his time; unless the boss leaves early.
  • Groucho Marx

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

Putting Out Fires

“We need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” – Desmond Tutu

The above quote made me think of CPAs. Of course, almost everything I read makes me think of CPAs!

It has been my observation that inside public accounting firms, a lot of people are constantly “putting out fires.” Firm administrators and some managing partners tell me that they can’t find time to address important firm initiatives because it seems like every day is a fire drill.

Have you ever stopped to contemplate what is causing the fires in the first place?

  • My normal routine is pretty much putting out fires all day.
  • Vera Wang

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

Disappointed & Embarrassed

“She overcame everything that was meant to destroy her.” Sylvester McNutt III

Women have been slowly but surely gaining ground within the CPA profession. I have been very proud of associations and firms that have made the commitment to provide the leadership development assistance and other resources women need to advance in their careers. These organizations follow through on those commitments.

Then there are others. The news this week is very disheartening. I was disappointed and embarrassed for the CPA profession. I was not shocked that this happened at one of the “big” firms. But I was shocked at what was presented to a group of female executives.

It is my observation that women are a foundational piece in almost every public accounting firm. Here’s the Male/Female professional staff breakdown via the Rosenberg survey:

  • Firms over $20M: 48%/52%.
  • $10-20M firms: 45%/55%
  • $5-10M firms: 43%/57%
  • $2-5M firms: 41%/59%
  • Under $2M: 35%/65%

Here are two different news articles covering the fiasco.

Empowerment Seminar Tells women They Have Small, Pancake-Like Brains

Ernst & Young training seminar told women not to “flaunt” bodies

  • The most dangerous woman of all is the one who refuses to rely on your sword to save her because she carries her own.
  • R. H. Sin

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

Fighting The Talent Wars

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” – Richard Branson,

If you want to attract and keep outstanding people, you need to create a culture where top talent can shine. Your people systems matter most.

When was the last time you updated your people systems to keep pace with current trends?

Here’s a list. Get busy.

  • Recruitment
  • Orientation, Onboarding, and Training
  • Performance Management
  • Development and Opportunity
  • Leaders Leading by Example
  • The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.
  • Steve Jobs

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

The Person Fits The Job

“All good performance starts with clear goals.” – Ken Blanchard

It has always amazed me how some CPA firm leaders go to great lengths to avoid firing a person.

Francine, a bookkeeper, has been with the firm 15 years but she has never really embraced the technology that is currently needed for her role.

Fred, a 3-year staff person, has struggled to understand and prepare tax returns.

Bobbi, the administrative assistant focused on the tax area, performs the final processing of tax returns before they leave the firm. Her work has to be continually reviewed “just in case.”

The partners are aware of the shortcomings but rather than be completely honest with the employee, they agree that they should create a different role where Francine, Fred or Bobbi might fit.

Rather than looking at a specific, important role in the firm and finding the appropriate person to fill it, partners struggle to establish a role that a poor performing employee might be able to fill. This way they won’t have to outplace someone.

Are you really doing them a favor?

  • The highest levels of performance come to people who are centered, intuitive, creative, and reflective - people who know to see a problem as an opportunity.
  • Deepak Chopra

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

Staying Safe Online

“The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” – Tacitus

As the old saying goes, “It’s a jungle out there!” It sure seems to apply to the internet.

Jared Clarke, privacy advocate & tech writer, made me aware of his VERY informative article, Ultimate Privacy Guide (How to stay safe online).

Complete privacy on the internet is virtually impossible, and any services that claim to offer it are bending the truth.

However, anyone can improve their privacy online by adapting their on-line habits, like choosing privacy-focused online services and limiting the volume of information, they store on the internet.

In this privacy internet guide, we’ll show you how to protect internet privacy against threats.

As you read the article, be sure to note the top three basic mistakes users follow repeatedly. He also shares his Top 10 Online Privacy Tips.

 

  • The best safety lies in fear.
  • William Shakespeare

Friday, October 4th, 2019

Life On A Plateau

“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.” – Dan Rather

Plateau meaning: to reach a state or level of little or no growth or decline, especially to stop increasing or progressing; remain at a stable level of achievement; level off.

The firm has plateaued. It was once growing steadily, and maybe even rapidly. Firm rainmakers retired and the next generation of owners don’t seem to be as skilled or experienced at bringing in new business. They have been making an extremely comfortable living for the past several years (often many years). So life is good at the top.

The “let’s just get the tax returns out the door” mentality has filtered down to the managers and seniors. The firm is paperless, well almost. The firm is doing so may nice things for the team, but haven’t added anything new lately. We’re not a sweatshop firm, so all is well.

We wonder why several of our new hires have left already. Oh, well.

How boring!! If your firm is not growing, it’s shrinking. Get off of that plateau.

  • I'm always improving and I want to get better and never hit a plateau. I find it an amazing adventure.
  • Nigel Kennedy

Friday, September 27th, 2019

It’s Friday – Clean Up Your Emails

“No one got rich checking their email more often.” – Noah Kagan

I have heard it for years. Now, I hear it more from Baby Boomers working at accounting firms.

“I have so many emails! I just can’t keep up.”

Younger generations have found other ways to make contact. One Boomer partner’s comment to me: “My clients are texting me! I can’t deal with that!”

I have known some CPA partners and managers who almost think it is a badge of courage to say they have 1,500 emails in the inbox! Or, “I get 200 emails per day!”

Do you have hundreds in your firm email inbox? Go ahead, delete them all in one bold action and start over.

I like the efficiency practice I learned years ago in dealing with paper items sitting in a physical inbox sitting on your desk. It applies to email now.

Look at the item. You have three choices.

  1. Delegate it.
  2. Deal with it immediately.
  3. Throw it in the trash.

Have a great fall weekend.

 

  • Email is having an increasingly pernicious effect. Not only is it having a perceptible effect on productivity, it's skewing what it is we focus on. The immediate increasingly crowds out the important.
  • Noreena Hertz