Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

Snooze Is Not For You

“The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.” – Seth Godin

On rare occasions, I provide a complete post by Seth Godin. Today is one of those days. Why? I observe so many CPA firms that delay decisions and then delay them again and again.

I also observe that CPAs have an email Inbox that houses hundreds of emails. I once knew a tax manager that had thousands of emails in her Inbox. That is when we began limiting the digital space that accountants could use for their email. Please consider small, everyday decisions and larger partner group decisions as something you should deal with and then move on!

SNOOZE IS A TRAP

There’s a button on my email program that allows me to postpone an incoming email to a future day.

Sort of like a snooze button.

The snooze button is a trap. It’s a trap because not only do you have to decide later, but you just expended time and energy to deciding to decide later.

Do it once, move on.

‘Decide once’ is a magical productivity commitment.

There is a certain class of decision that benefits from time. Decisions where more information is in fact useful.

But most of the time, we’re busy making decisions that should be made now or not at all. You end up with a ton of decision debt, a pile of unanswered, undecided, unexplored options. And you’re likely to simply walk away.

If you open an email, you’ve already made the commitment to respond and move on. Not to push it down the road.

In or out, yes or no, on to the next thing.

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

Friday, April 26th, 2019

Spring Cleaning

“If you always add and never subtract, you will eventually bury yourself.” – Peter Walsh

Maybe you aren’t really too busy today. Anyway, you are probably still recuperating from tax season.

This would be a great day to clean your desk (and your office)!

Right, I know you are paperless (cough, cough). But do you spend time looking for stuff? Studies have found that we lose precious work minutes every time we go searching for a lost paper on a cluttered desk or office.

This doesn’t just apply to paper items. Studies have also found that information workers lose up to two hours a week frantically searching for lost digital documents.

In her article via HBR, Libby Sander tells us that cluttered spaces can have negative effects on our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus. Workplace stress costs American businesses up to $190 billion every year in health care costs alone. Read the article here.

I have toured many accounting firm offices over the years. I can always tell, without being told, which office belongs to a tax partner or manager (because of the stacks of papers, files, mail, magazines, etc.)!

This is the day to unclutter your desk, office, and your mind!

  • Clutter smothers. Simplicity breathes.
  • Terri Guillemets

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

What Being on Salary Really Means

“When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, ‘it’s in the script.’ If he says, ‘But what’s my motivation?” I say, your salary.” – Alfred Hitchcock

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, when an employee is paid on a “salary basis,” this means essentially that she receives regular pay on a regular basis, and that this amount doesn’t fluctuate in regard to the quality or quantity of work actually performed.

Salaried positions often have a higher perceived status and job titles that seem more professional. Being salaried is viewed as having to work extra hours for no additional pay, but if you work less than 40 hours per week, you still get paid your salary. Salary allows for some degree of flexibility and stability.

How does this apply inside your accounting firm? You would think that salaried people would not be monitored as closely as hourly employees. However, as one client said to me recently, “We put them on salary but we treat them like hourly.” What are the benefits of being salaried at your firm?

I have observed that flexible scheduled and part-time people seem to receive more perks and are treated more equitably than full-time, salaried people.

  • I came into the game when I broke into the major leagues, the minimum salary was seven thousand dollars, and I'd have to go home in the wintertime and get a job.
  • Nolan Ryan

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Team or Not?

For years, I have talked about CPA firm “teams”. I usually use “team member” rather than staff. I have contended that if you talk consistently about a team, maybe you will actually become one.

I recently read the following quotation by Simon Sinek:

“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.” – Simon Sinek

It made me think about it in a completely different way. I believe a lot needs to be done to develop a strong level of trust within many accounting firms. I have observed that staff do not trust partners and vice versa.

Firm leaders, continue to work on trust within your firm. The best way to start is by setting a good example. Revisit The Four Agreements.

  • Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
  • William Shakespeare

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Who Are You Traveling With?

“As soon as I saw you, I knew a grand adventure was about to happen.” – Winnie The Pooh

I read two quotes yesterday made me think about CPAs and CPA firms:

“In life, it’s not where you go..it’s who you travel with.” – Charles Schulz

“Sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people.” – Elizabeth Green

During the past couple of months, you have been spending a lot of time with your team members, ALL the people who work in your firm or office.

How do these two quotes apply to you? Are you accomplishing extraordinary things?

Even tax season can be fun and meaningful when you are traveling through it with the right people.

  • I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.
  • Mark Twain

Friday, April 5th, 2019

A Refresher On The Overtime Rules

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

An administrative assistant in your office receives a great performance evaluation and then asks you if they can be put on salary. In many CPA firms, it sometimes becomes a dilemma.

Be sure you are abiding by the federal overtime rules. Here’s a link to an article that owners, firm administrators and HR managers might need to read. It could also be shared with your entire team. Your CPAs all need to be able to advise clients when this topic arises.

Don’t work too many long hours this weekend. Next weekend you should be all done – no working! Many firms are able to do this when the due date falls on a Monday.

  • My first job at Gleason's Bar in Cleveland was $800 a week, when I was making $92 a week with overtime at the automobile plant.
  • Chuck Berry

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

Circumvent The Problem

“One day’s delay is another day’s lack of progress.” – Stuart Bowen

There is a difficult conversation that needs to happen. There is a big decision that you are not ready to make. There are two or three things that should have been implemented months (or years) ago.

Circumvent! (Avoid, get around, find a way around, evade, get past, bypass, sidestep, dodge, delay – you get the message!)

It is time to stop allowing irritations to annoy you and drag on, and on. Deal with nagging, and sometimes small, problems before they become a big deal.

Need to talk to someone about a performance issue? Don’t wait until summer.

  • The mark of the man is how he responds to situations. You're not going to avoid tough times. We're all over the barrel some of the time. What are you going to do about it?
  • Martin Short

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Courtesy Policy

“Politeness is the art of choosing among your thoughts.” – Madame De Stael

You have had an extremely busy week. You are spending SO many hours with your co-workers. You are probably working this weekend and long hours next week. It is natural to become aggravated, at times, with those around you.

I read this small excerpt in an article:

Politeness is the cornerstone of any civilized society. In essence, it is respect for other people’s feelings. This respect is reflected in both thought and action . . . in considering other people’s points of view and behaving in sensitive ways. Unfortunately, in many areas of life, politeness seems to be outdated.

Maybe your firm needs a Courtesy Policy to help remind people that civility is alive and well in your firm and in the CPA Profession. Here’s a sample:

Sample Firm Courtesy Policy

  • If you have a problem with someone, talk about the problem only with them and in private.
  • Use positive conversation.
  • Blame a system, not a person.
  • Apologize and make restitution if someone is upset by your actions.
  • When you talk about a person who is not present, speak as if they are listening to your conversation. Use the person’s name in each sentence in which you refer to them.
  • Speak very politely using a person’s name – – “please” and “thank-you” as a minimum.
  • Greet and farewell everyone by name and with eye contact.
  • Tell the truth.

 

  • The toughest thing about being a celebrity, I suppose, is being polite when I don't want to be.
  • Eric Clapton

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Morning Person Or Not

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

I am a morning person. I like to get up early (5:00a) and start the day by reading and drinking a cup of coffee. Then I work most of the morning at a fairly ambitious pace. I have always felt I do my best work in the morning.

It’s not for everyone. Many people are definitely not morning people. That’s the joy of embracing flexible schedules for all your team members.

When I was working in a firm, I would be the first one there at 6:00a, that is when I was most productive. I had a partner who would often work until 2:00a. He was the most productive after 7:00p.

Many firms now provide core hours that they expect people to be available. Outside those core hours, people can work whenever and wherever. Some firms don’t even specify core hours any longer. Are you allowing people to work at their most productive time?

  • If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.
  • Bruce Lee

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

March Madness for CPAs

“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.” – Aristotle

It is that time of year again. The annual period of time when CPAs have successfully put the March 15th due date behind them and are working madly toward the April 15th deadline. It’s CPA March Madness!

Hopefully, you are finding time to watch the basketball March Madness. Take a breather and read the history of the basketball event: March Madness: Keeping Society Sane Since 1908. 

  • You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it.
  • Robin Williams