Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Is It Time To Actually Retire?

In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned that I had recently re-read Tuesdays with Morrie.

One of Morrie’s wise sayings was:

“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”

He was talking about life. To me, because I have worked with so many Baby Boomer CPAs over the years, it is something that applies to their retirement.

Many are in denial about retirement. They plan to work until they drop. Very short-sighted, indeed. There is so much more to experience if you wish it so.

Several situations I know about involve partners retiring but they do not quit working at the firm.

A couple of others involve 80-somethings continuing to come into the office even though they are not able to use the technology any longer.

My advice: Don’t hang on too long.

 

  • It's not too late to develop new friendships or reconnect with people.
  • Morrie Schwartz

Friday, February 7th, 2020

Who Do You Trust?

“Listening is an important skill for building trust.” – Jennifer Collins

I remember hearing that Johnny Carson began his career as a game show host. When I typed in the title of this blog post, it jogged my memory, so I Googled it.

Who Do You Trust? (1956–1963) Married pairs of contestants were asked to answer questions, the husband deciding whether he or she would answer. The original emcee Edgar Bergen was later replaced by Johnny Carson.

My question is who do YOU trust at work?

I have facilitated numerous upward feedback surveys for CPA firms. If I receive several questions about how confidential the survey is I know that there is a lack of trust in firm leaders. There is almost always a fear of retaliation.

My wish is that there would be enough trust in a firm that all employees are comfortable telling the partners exactly what they think without that nagging fear.

Here’s an excerpt from a blog post by Skip Prichard that prompted my blog post. His description sure sounded like a CPA firm to me!

From Skip:

Simply put, servant leaders build a culture of trust.

Why is that key? Because without trust—for the leader, for coworkers, for the organization at large—everyone will be focused on survival rather than success. Because the opposite of a culture of trust isn’t simply “a culture without trust.” It’s a culture of fear.

What does that mean? I think of a company I worked at that, when I started, I saw a complete lack of trust. Management spent time looking for new tools to track and manage staff. It was all about analytics aimed at finding people who weren’t “working hard enough” (according to the definitions attached to the tools, at least). Those people could be put on a list and micromanaged, reprimanded or even fired.

I have often found that partners (owners) don’t trust the staff and the staff doesn’t trust all of the partners. Think about what you can do about this situation as you work your way through busy season.

  • The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
  • Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Quit Making Excuses

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

When talking with accounting firm owners and working with new clients I often hear lots of excuses when I suggest new ways to do things and the importance of keeping up with current trends in the CPA profession. I hear “Yes, but…” over and over again.

I hear:

  • Yes, we have heard other firms are doing that, but at our firm…..
  • Yes, we tried closing on Fridays, but….
  • Yes, we thought about allowing more people to work remotely, but…
  • Yes, as partners, we know we could delegate more to our staff, but….
  • Yes, the partners want to do paperless billing, but….
  • Yes, all of our partners agree that the managing partner needs to delegate more clients to other partners, but….
  • Yes, we would love to have more female partners, but….
  • Yes, we need some up-and-comers, but……
  • Yes, we have some below-average performers, but….

Are you thinking and saying, “Yes, but…” too often?

  • Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.
  • George Washington Carver

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

Achieving What Matters

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” Karen Lamb

Partners get distracted. They also get comfortable.

Sometimes they end up repeating what they do over and over again. They are not stretching themselves to change, evolve and achieve new goals. The same applies to many managers working in CPA firms.

Often, the agreed-upon goals are not achieved because guess what? They are too busy doing what they always do. New, important things that matter are put on the back burner.

Here’s a quote from Peter Drucker that you should apply:

“What results are you being paid to achieve? List three tasks that you should eliminate to be productive.” – Drucker

Once you list them – then deal with them.

  • The great glorious masterpiece of man is to know how to live with purpose.
  • Michel de Montaigne

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

If I Retire What Will I Do?

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Baby Boomer partners in accounting firms are facing a dilemma. The big question is what to do once they retire.

This challenge causes many to simply ignore retirement and just continue working. Many actually have a great fear of retiring. They picture retirement as spending time around the house and irritating their spouse. The spouses fear this, too! You can only play so much golf.

Because they have put in so many long hours at work during the last 35 years, they haven’t developed many hobbies or other interests outside of the CPA profession.

Stop and think about it. Most CPAs nearing retirement have been involved in numerous community and charitable organizations throughout their careers. They have become very interested in, and actually developed a great passion for, some of those organizations. Devoting time to causes you care about can be an opportunity for many productive years ahead.

WalterLynnJr.LR_-1-720x400I have a wonderful example. One of my former clients and a good friend, Walter Lynn merged his successful CPA practice into another firm a few years ago. While he did stay involved for the appropriate amount of time, he began furthering his strong interest in agriculture and ranching into a great passion – soil! Yes, soil and how the health of our country’s soil should be a greater concern to all of us.

He met numerous, high-profile researchers and experts and his involvement continued to grow and keep him busy doing something he thoroughly enjoyed.

Here’s what happened recently:

In response to an overwhelming demand for regenerative agriculture education and consulting services, Understanding Ag, LLC (UA), today announced the appointment of Walter Lynn, Jr. as its Chief Executive Officer.

Read the full press release here. I am so proud of Walter for taking on something that is so much bigger than grinding out his senior years in tax season after tax season. What are you going to do?

  • Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civiliation.
  • Daniel Webster

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

Old School

“There’s definitely an old school element to my music, but I also think it’s modern.” – Lenny Kravitz

How is your firm viewed by clients and prospects?

Progressive, innovative, passionate and future-focused or “old school”?

Many firms still have partners, in their 60s or older, who have been long-time rainmakers still out there being the “face of the firm.” Young partners, managers, and staff are often completely happy letting them do it.

The word on the street becomes, “they’re old school.”

Even in the age of online visibility and branding, the importance of being heard and seen in your local business community is still very important for most accounting firms. Educate your entire team about being “on stage” and representing the firm not only during business hours but after hours, too.

Older rainmakers, it is your duty to replace yourself. ALWAYS take a younger person along when you are out and about. Younger, less experienced CPAs – it’s your responsibility to ask them to take you along.

  • I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it.
  • J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Fight it! – Procrastination

“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin

I have observed that accountants are masters at procrastination.

Definition: Procrastinate: delay or postpone action, put off doing something.

You would think that people who are deadline driven would avoid procrastination. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Here’s what I have seen over and over again during my several decades working in public accounting.

Procrastination is practiced throughout tax season and as due dates near, fire drills begin. Thus, hectic and stressful times reign for ten days before the due date.

Procrastination runs rampant after a partner or management retreat. The common excuses are:

  • We are too busy.
  • We can’t work on it now (the firm initiative), we are too busy with performance reviews.
  • The fall due dates are approaching.
  • We have to do so much tax planning in December.
  • We will have to wait until after April 15.
  • After April 15, too many people are taking time off.

Experts tell us that most people procrastinate because they don’t like what they do. If you love what you do, you procrastinate less.

According to Jeffrey Gitomer, there are two things you can do to fight procrastination – 1) Set a false (earlier) deadline, and 2) Enjoy the deadline, instead of lamenting it.

I usually approach completing tasks this way. I do what I dread first and then can enjoy the projects I am passionate about.

If you are not passionate about what you mostly do, you better find another job.

  • In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Provide Training For Your Leaders – Please!

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Convergence Coaching’s Spring Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP) is open for registration! This year-long program kicks off at the end of May and is designed to take high-potential managers, senior managers, principals, and newer partners to their next level of success in leading others and the firm.

So much is changing. Now is the time to expand your visibility & take on a meaningful role to drive change at your #firm. Learn the skills you need to advance your #role with the @ConvergenceSays TLP. Here is a helpful video –  https://youtu.be/xKP8KeKFMkg

For more detailed information about this valuable program, click here.

The program fills up quickly so don’t wait too long to register.

  • Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Banish the Interruptions

“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” – Josh Billings

You arrive at the office very early ahead of everyone else. Maybe you get up at 4:30 a.m. and work from home a couple of hours before you leave.

You need more time to get your work done because during the traditional work hours – 8 to 5 – you have too many interruptions. You cannot even walk down the hall to the coffee station without getting stopped by someone asking a question.

You are a “go-to” person and you always give people answers. Maybe you should stop.

Why are people constantly coming to you for answers and guidance? If you have hired the right people, they will not need constant guidance. If you hire B players you will be continually stuck in a squirrel cage. Hire people smarter than you. You have heard that piece of advice for years but do you actually do it?

Develop your team and shield yourself from phone calls, emails and a line outside your door.

Firm administrators, managers, and managing partners – I am talking to you!

 

  • The oldest, shortest words – ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – are those which require the most thought.
  • Pythagoras

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Holding Everyone Back

“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” – Franz Kafka

I have seen it many, many times. You have seen it inside your own firm. Certain people simply opt-out of learning new processes, procedures and new technology. They do things the way they have always done them.

I used to recommend that you ignore them, work around them and take the majority of your people forward. Don’t let one person sink the whole ship. I don’t want you to make it easy for these non-compliant people. If they can’t keep up, don’t make another person do the work for them.

This often happens with older partners and especially with owners who have supposedly retired but continue to work at the firm. They will definitely have difficulty keeping up with the firm technology and usually expect an admin person or some other staff to “take care of them.”

All this came to mind because of a recent tweet by my good friend, Dustin Hostetler (@Flowtivity). Here’s his tweet and I agree!

Firms are not maximizing their technology investment until all team members are embracing the technology. Having workarounds for certain individuals because they don’t know how to use it (or won’t learn) to perform their function of the process holds everyone back.

  • The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today!
  • Nolan Bushnell