Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Are You Breaking This Employment Law?

“Win or lose, do it fairly.” – Knute Rockne

The whole topic of exempt vs. non-exempt has been a challenging conversation inside CPA firms ever since I can remember.

Many CPA firm leaders think the simple answer to paying people is to “put them on salary.” This might not be a wise choice.

I have heard so many questions over the years about docking a salaried person’s pay if they are continually tardy, leave early, etc.

Please take time to read this informative article via Inc. by Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady. It is titled, “The Employment Law You Are Probably Breaking.”

Here’s an excerpt:

You can discipline, fire, demote, yell at, or dock vacation time. But, you may not dock pay. And if you do dock pay? You’ve just made that person non-exempt. Which means you not only owe overtime going forward, you owe it going backward. So your attempt to save $50 by docking two hours pay could mean you’ll be out thousands in back overtime pay.

  • The Way You See People Is The Way You Treat Them, And The Way You Treat Them Is What They Become
  • Goethe

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Greeting Your Clients and Other Visitors

“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.” – Jerry Gregoire

First impressions do matter.

When a visitor arrives at your office and walks into your lobby, do they think, “Wow”? Or, do they wonder…. “Where is everybody?”

Do they see a warm and welcoming, space that sends a message of professionalism and attention to detail?

Do they encounter a smiling Director of First Impressions who seems to be delighted that they have arrived?

Do they see a sign on the counter that says, “Welcome to the Firm – Name of person” on their first visit to the firm?

Are they offered a menu that lists all of the refreshments available to them?

Or, does the firm still have an old school feel when you enter the lobby?

Is there is a very small sliding window that separates you from the person that is supposed to greet you?

Is there no one there to immediately greet you?

Do the furnishings look dated?

Are the magazines old?

And the most depressing of all these things, is there one of those service bells on the counter that is used to summon someone?

  • 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

Monday, October 29th, 2018

Office Halloween Fun

“Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.” – From Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Over the years, at my firm, we had some wonderful, fun times at Halloween. Bringing in team members children to trick or treat at each office or desk, organizing the best costume contest and having refreshments in the late afternoon.

I know that many CPA firms do similar things and have a lot of fun. However, this year, and going forward, you must be careful and set some guidelines. I’m sure you have all read and heard about the high-profile news person who lost her job over a comment about Halloween costumes. As with so many things, these days, you must be cautious when it comes to almost any topic.

Here are some guidelines from Huffington Post:

Pick a theme – For example, dress like one of your favorite cartoon characters.

Avoid Controversial Costumes – such as dressing like a particular politician.

Don’t Forget It Is a Workday – Will your costume make it uncomfortable to perform some of your routine duties?

No Pressure – Not everyone in your office may enjoy Halloween. No one HAS to dress in a costume.

Decorate Tastefully – Avoid toy weapons and any blood, guts and gore aspects of decorating.

Go Easy on the Alcohol – that is if you serve it at all. Some tasty punch might be more appropriate.

Here’s an article via Inc. by Suzanne Lucas, @RealEvilHRLady about last week’s incident.

  • Villainy wears many masks, none so dangerous as the mask of virtue.
  • Ichabod Crane, Sleepy Hallow

Friday, October 26th, 2018

You Can Get A Lot Done In Two Months!

“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.” – General George S. Patton

I get into some lively discussions that are focused on firm governance. It is about getting the right people on the bus and getting them in the right seats.

Do you have partners in the wrong seats? Perhaps, they are in the administrative, operations, HR seats rather than the revenue generating, nurturing future leaders and bringing in business seats?

During one of my conversations with a client, the CPA partner said, “I don’t think we have time to do anything about this now, I guess it should wait until after busy season.” That sure pushed me onto my soapbox!

It is late October. You have an entire two months to get important firm initiatives rolling along the path to completion.

Leaders, please do not waste two entire months – November and December (and there is usually time up until February) to do things that need to be done at your firm!

CPAs, thank goodness, like to be sure things are correct (and maybe even perfect). Your firm management and operations will never be perfect. It is a work-in-progress and should stay that way.

Continually focus on small changes that never cease. I call it taking baby-steps. Move from status quo (which is comfortable) to “an improved position.” – – one step at a time. Then, repeat that same process.

Need to realign governance so that your partners are more productive? Need to develop a system so that your younger team members are better mentored and trained during busy season? Begin now, in November, don’t wait until Spring.

Your systems will never be perfect – that’s the joy of it. Have fun DOING THINGS!

  • I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.
  • Woody Allen

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

A Difficult Situation

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

Believe it or not, I have been asked by several CPA firm leaders over the years about what to do in this unsettling situation.

You have a poor performing employee. The employee is female and she needs to be fired. She is not performing well. You have even put her on a performance enhancement plan that she has failed. Then, before you decide to pull the trigger and fire her, you learn that she is pregnant.

Is it legal to fire her or do you have to wait until she returns to work after maternity leave? It’s a tricky situation and Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady) gives us some great advice.

The bigger issue is that you procrastinated on letting her go in the first place. That is the exact issue I see most often with CPAs.

Use this informative article to help you going forward.

And, please deal with poor performance proactively. Document all performance feedback and be sure someone is not surprised when they are fired.

  • If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.
  • Vince Lombardi

Friday, October 12th, 2018

In a Hurry?

Lots of experts tell us that millennials want to know how fast they will be promoted. While I agree that you must be able to explain how a career path plays out at your firm, I wonder if a bit of reality might be in order.

Reading the following quote made me realize what a long journey it is to build relationships, learn, and keep current, on loads of technical issues, become well-known in your business community and also build a reputation as “the expert” in a certain discipline.

“It took me fifteen years to make it look easy.” – Fred Astaire

I am not saying that it should take 15 years to become a partner. I am saying that after you do become a partner you must continue to learn, grow and develop ways to make what you do look easy.

  • Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
  • Marie Curie

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Don’t Make Excuses

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” —Benjamin Franklin

In my consulting work, I hear about it all too frequently. In the workplace, there is a troublesome employee. I have heard many stories involving both males and females being the culprit.

This troublesome employee (often it is a partner in the firm) is well known for being difficult. He/She has been with the firm a very long time and is set in his/her ways. He/She might provide good client service but he/she is not a team player. For the people working with them, it means continually giving in to their wishes or risk their wrath. Even leaders back away from the situation.

The common excuse said many, many times over the years to a multitude of people who complain about him/her is: “That’s just the way he/she is.” Letting this go on too long will take a toll on firm morale.

Strong leadership is needed to keep an accounting firm on the track to profitability and success in the future. Quit making excuses for these renegades and take appropriate action. A lot of people will thank you.

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

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Simple Mission: Set A Good Example

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

You are a partner in a CPA firm.

One of the most important things you can do as a leader is set a good example.

When I ask CPA firm citizens who, in their firm, breaks the rules, ignores the established procedures and demands special treatment, the answer is always “the partners!”

Many challenges and frustrations that happen inside a busy CPA firm would be solved if EVERY partner would set a good example.

Sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

  • Example is leadership.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Partner Buy-Out & Retirement – Webinar

“Golf is played by twenty million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun.” – Jim Bishop 

I get so many questions about what a partner buy-out and retirement should look like. Here’s an opportunity for you to learn about the current trends presented by Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory via CPA Leadership Institute.

October 10, 2018 – 1:00 – 1:50 pm EST – Surviving Succession – Partner Buyout and Retirement.

If you’re like most firms, your partner agreements have not been reviewed or updated in a long time. That is dangerous given the succession issues in our profession today and the number of baby boomers retiring. I will discuss best practices and latest trends in how to value your practice, how to pay out the retiring partner, building your bench, and successful client transition to the next generation.

REGISTER HERE.

 

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

Plan Ahead & Don’t Disappoint

“Punctuality is the politeness of kings.” – Louis XVIII

Life inside an accounting firm can be very hectic at times. When you arrive at the office, you have great plans for your day and expectations of what you will accomplish.

Then, you-know-what happens.

Suddenly, you realize you probably can’t make that meeting with a client, a team member or an employee. You will just have to reschedule that phone conference with the Chair of a committee you are on at a non-profit organization.

Rather than disappoint and cancel on someone at the last minute, make time toward the end of the week to look ahead at the following week’s schedule. Are you over-scheduled? Can you realistically squeeze in that client visit or meeting with the tax committee? Don’t over schedule yourself. If you must cancel or reschedule, give them plenty of notice.

People count on you. Their time is valuable, too. Don’t be a Last Minute Larry or a Procrastinating Polly.

  • Tardiness often robs us opportunity, and the dispatch of our forces.
  • Machiavelli