Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

Your People Want to Tell You

“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.” – Sybil F. Stershic

Per Gallup, your people really want to tell you what they need and how they feel. So, it is up to you to ask them. In doing so, you can gain so much valuable information and receive guidance on how to proceed through the weeks and months ahead.

Great advice from Gallup:

  • Since no one can know how long a crisis will last or what the outcomes will be, the most sensible thing to do is address your employees’ current needs.
  • Gathering employee feedback sends a positive message in times of crisis.
  • Asking your workforce what they think and then taking no action after getting their answers is always the wrong move.
  • We live in counterintuitive times – – now is not the time to “go with your gut.”

Many accounting firms are now doing pulse surveys. A staff pulse survey is a short, quick survey that is sent out to employees on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly, etc.). This survey is essentially a check-in, providing a pulse check on topics such as employee satisfaction, job role, communication, relationships, and work environment.

Gallup says that garnering employee feedback through surveys or other channels benefits the organization and employees alike. Gallup has found that understanding and acting on employee feedback from engagement surveys is directly related to organizational resiliency. Teams perform better during tough times (i.e., recessions, disruptions) if they have:

  • clear expectations
  • the materials and equipment they need
  • the opportunity to do what they do best
  • coworkers across teams who are committed to quality

Here’s a link to the Gallup article.

  • Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.
  • Stephen R. Covey

Monday, June 7th, 2021

Fixing People

“Spend more time encouraging high performers. Most leaders spend too much time trying to fix low performers.” – Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak)

The above comment certainly made me think about all the time many CPA firms spend trying to fix people, meaning poor performers.

How many poor performers do you have inside your firm? I bet you can name more than one!

The comment I always hear from firm administrators, HR managers, etc. is “the partners won’t let her/him go. He/She has been here for 15 years.”

If you have a poor performer, they are taking up space that could be allotted to a bright, ambitious, up-and-comer. They are a faulty cog in the wheel of efficiency.

It is not being mean or hurtful to a person. It is about clearly defining expectations and monitoring a person’s progress toward meeting those expectations. This has become even more important with the enhanced need to be technologically savvy when working in the accounting world.

I hear the story over and over again. We need a development plan for Sally. Do you have a sample? I ask, “How long has she been with the firm?” The answer, “Ten years.”

The bright spot I am hearing is that, because of working remotely, many firms have increased the responsibility of their managers. Managers must provide feedback AT LEAST twice a month or even weekly. A person who is not meeting expectations should know that fact before they have been with the firm for years.

  • Leaders set high standards. Refuse to tolerate mediocrity or poor performance
  • Brian Tracy

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

Interesting Thoughts About Meetings

“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.” – Thomas Sowell, American Writer and Economist

I occasionally repost a blog in its entirety by Seth Godin. I think this one is something CPAs should think about.

My observation is that people working in a CPA firm would be afraid to NOT attend a meeting called by a partner and especially afraid to admit that a meeting would be a waste of time.

Godin’s post:

MEETING NULLIFICATION

Here are two policies it might be fun to try for a week:

Meeting abstention: Anyone invited to an internal meeting has the power to opt-out. “Send me the summary, please.” If someone abstains, they give up their ability to have a say in the meeting, but most meetings these days don’t actually give people a platform to have a say. And then that person can leave the Zoom room and get back to whatever it is they were doing that was actually productive.

Meeting nullification: If anyone in an internal meeting announces that the meeting is a pointless waste of time, it’s over. The meeting organizer is obligated to send everyone the memo that they probably should have sent in the first place.

If you discover that you’re calling meetings where people abstain, or worse, call for nullification, perhaps you should be more careful about which meetings you call and who you invite.

Does your organization have the guts to try this out? Do you, as an attendee, care enough to abstain?

The fact that even discussing this idea is stressful helps us understand status roles and power.

  • Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better.
  • Peter Drucker

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

Surprise Them

“The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” – Harvey Mackay

If you want to retain clients, you need to really get to know them. I don’t mean getting know what services they want and need from your firm. I mean getting to know them as a person.

We have just been through graduation season for high school and college students. Do you know if your clients have a child (or grandchild) graduating this year? If so, did you surprise them by sending a congratulations card to the client acknowledging how proud they must be of their student?

Are some of your clients devoted fans to a sports team? Have you ever surprised them with a coffee mug, a hat or tee shirt for that sports team?

American businessman and author, Harvey Mackay, required his salespeople to find the answers to 66 Questions about each customer. You can see it here.

Maybe it is time for you to develop a similar questionnaire that is appropriate for your accounting firm and ask each relationship manager to discover more about the firm’s clients. Then use it to surprise them.

  • Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding.
  • Harvey Mackay

Monday, May 24th, 2021

The Rosenberg Survey

“Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.” – Mitch Kapor

Today I have a message (and reminder) from my friend Charles Hylan:

Welcome to the other side of the tax deadline!
The 2021 Rosenberg Survey is well underway and so far, we’ve received a great response.

Our world has certainly changed and the need to proactively lead your accounting firm cannot be any higher!

The 2021 Rosenberg Survey will include financial results from 2020 and how the accounting profession navigated the pandemic.
Click Here for this year’s Rosenberg Survey Form
For over two decades, The Rosenberg Survey has proven to be the benchmarking standard for mainstream accounting firms across the US and Canada. The Rosenberg Survey provides highly relevant and in-depth analyses and serves as a guide to help your firm make strategic decisions.

See how valuable The Rosenberg Survey is for yourself! The deadline to complete the survey is Thursday, July 15th.

Thank you to those firms who have participated thus far!

Regards,
Charles Hylan
  • Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.
  • Gertrude Stein

Friday, May 21st, 2021

One of Your Biggest Challenges

“The best way out of a difficulty is through it.” – Will Rogers

This week for Flashback Friday, I encourage you to read about one of your biggest challenges. Here is a post from 2019.

  • The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.
  • Maynard Keynes

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

“The trick is this: keep your eye on the ball. Even when you can’t see the ball.” – Tony Robbins

Today’s title applies to several sports. I think of golf and baseball. It also applies to partners (especially the managing partner) in accounting firms.

Keeping your eye on the ball applies throughout the game or match, not just as certain times. Managing an accounting firm requires you to keep your “eye on the ball” throughout the year, not just during busy season.

I have observed that some CPA firm owners have lucrative outside interests. Maybe it is another business or even life events, perhaps building a new house. You get distracted and yes, it is understandable. You expect the firm to run smoothly without you. Your firm administrator does a great job of running operations but he/she do not “run” the other partners or the visionary topics that need to keep moving no matter if it is summer.

After you recuperate from the never-ending tax season, hopefully that will only take a week or two, you need to regroup and focus on the inside health of the firm. Are there performance issues with staff or partners? Do you need to re-evaluate office space and/or negotiate a new lease? Are you now moving ahead with that M&A deal you put off until after May 17th? Do you need to further negotiate with that other acquisition to expand firm services?

By not keeping your eye on the ball, you might just “kill the golden goose.”

  • Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
  • Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, May 17th, 2021

The New CPA Exam

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon

They are changing the CPA Exam again. It is shifting to put an increased focus on technology. July 1, 2021 is when this shift in the Exam will take place.

From Accounting Today: As the accounting profession evolves to meet today’s needs, the Uniform CPA Examination is also evolving to reflect these industry changes. On July 1, 2021, the CPA exam is shifting significantly to put a heavier focus on technology, digital mindsets, data analytics, and the other skills that newly licensed CPAs need to succeed. Candidates preparing to take the CPA Exam must take these updates into consideration.

Here’s the informative article, What every candidate needs to know about the updated CPA exam, via Accounting Today. Read it and share it.

I wonder how many CPA partners could pass the exam if they had to take it in 2021. I have often heard partners joke about it (meaning they couldn’t pass it now, let alone after July 1).

  • Study while others are sleeping, Work while others are loafing, Prepare while others are playing, and Dream while others are wishing.
  • William Arthur Ward

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

How Your Office Might Look In The Future

“The best way to enjoy your job is to imagine yourself without one.” – Oscar Wilde

So many CPA firms have been planning how to return their employees to the office. The, not once long ago, open office layout that was so popular is now a thing of the past. Accounting firms don’t have to worry about that, they never made the switch to an open office anyway. Private offices have always been the dream of up-and-comers in accounting firms.

Private offices for everyone doesn’t seem to be a very workable plan either. Think futuristic and maybe follow some of the ideas Google is implementing. Google’s first office was a cluttered garage (like many tech start-ups).

Here are some of the things Google is doing:

  • Encourage (but not mandate) that employees be vaccinated before returning to the office.
  • Over the next year, they will try out new office designs.
  • They are designing “Team Pods.”
  • Meeting room concepts like Campfire where virtual employees will be joined with in-person employees (check out the article to see a picture).
  • In some areas, around the world, Google is building outdoor work areas.
  • Employees can return to their permanent desks on a rotation schedule to ensure that no one is there on the same day as their immediate desk neighbors.
  • There’s more! Read the full article here and see all the pictures. Be sure to watch the video of the balloon wall! I simply can’t visualize that in a CPA firm.

What is your plan? Don’t feel like you have to make a sweeping change all at once. Like Google, experiment with various options over the next six months or so. Keep your team informed and involved in the experiments. Be creative (and caring).

And, never forget you cannot please everyone.

  • If you take care of your immediate surroundings, the universe will take care of itself.
  • Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

Passive Observers

“Passive observers don’t belong at the table.” – Dan Rockwell

Per Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak), once you’ve got 7 people in a decision-making group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.

I have observed, by attending a huge number of partner meetings and retreats, at my own firm and with my many clients, that there are way too many passive observers in those meetings.

When a delicate topic or a confrontation arises, the biggest percentage of the partners in attendance look at their laps. They look down so the facilitator cannot make eye contact and they might not be expected to take a stand.

The same thing happens in other types of meetings in accounting firms. I love the one brave soul on the team who will raise their hand and ask the dumb question. The remainder of the team has the same question in mind but they don’t want take a chance of embarassing themselves.

It is up to you, the leader of the meeting, to run a great meeting. As Rockwell says, “Poorly run meetings offend the talent at the table.”

Here are Rockwell’s 3 words that make meetings great:

#1 – Specific – Two or three action items are enough for most meeting agendas.

#2 – Shorter – Stick to the time allotted, don’t turn a 20-minute briefing into an hour lecture.

#3 – Smaller – No passive observers. Decide and deliver.

Read Rockwell’s post here.

  • Mediocre meetings reflect and produce mediocre organizations.
  • Dan Rockwell