Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Firing a Pregnant Person

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” ― Tom Bodett

I am often consulted about various HR issues inside an accounting firm. I’ve received questions of many types and some of the same questions over and over again. I am not a legal law attorney. So, I may give you advice as to how many accounting firms have handled various problems but I strongly advise you to check with your attorney before you proceed in some troubling situations.

One repeated question is basically, can we fire a female who is pregnant? Experts tell us you can fire a pregnant person but not because they are pregnant. Here is a very interesting and educational article for you to read. Please read it. If the issue hasn’t come up at your firm, sometime in the future it will

It’s from Inc. and written by Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady, titled: 7 Lawsuits Claim Amazon Fires Pregnant Women.

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

Monday, May 13th, 2019

What About Your Elephants?

“Productive conversations turn conflict into collaboration, reduce costly mistakes and create a culture of accountability.” – Marlene Chism

It’s the beginning of partner retreat season for public accounting firms.

From my experience and from many conversations with CPA partners and practice managers, during these retreats, there always seem to be an “elephants in the room.”

Elephant in the room definition from the urban dictionary:  n. A very large issue that everyone is acutely aware of, but nobody wants to talk about. Perhaps a sore spot, perhaps politically incorrect, or perhaps a political hot potato, it’s something that no one wants to touch with a ten-foot pole. 

From my experience in pre-retreat preparation, partners will individually tell their facilitator that they want the elephant in the room topic to be approached and solved but as a group, they want to avoid it completely.

The staff also are aware of the elephant in the room topic. It is difficult to address for various reasons, including power structures and cultural issues but putting it on the back burner time after time is even more disruptive.

This year actually discuss your elephant in the room. Here’s a helpful article from Marlene Chism – The undiscussables: How to address the elephant in the room. The article will also help you better express your concerns when you are giving performance feedback.

You can follow Marlene on Twitter: @StopYourDrama

  • Knowing your feelings won't change the facts, but knowing the facts can change your feelings.
  • Marlene Chism

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Finding the Best Person for the Job

“We need constant change, technological innovation capability, and high productivity to survive in the fiercely competitive environment.” – Joe Kaeser

Firms merge, people leave, people retire and a new firm administrator (Practice Manager) is needed. The role is a very critical one for an accounting firm. The person in this role can make all the difference in how the firm moves into the future, how staff turnover is reduced, how training is developed and presented and how the owner group operates.

If you are a Practice Manager, Office Manager, Firm Administrator or COO here are the characteristics and actions that will make you successful. If you are searching for a new person to fill this role in your firm, use these attributes in your hiring decision.

18 Attributes of an Effective Practice Manager, Firm Administrator or COO

  1. Technical knowledge of the area being managed.  They learn the area, hone skills and stay on top of technological developments.  It earns respect from subordinates and peers.
  2.  Cheerleader.  They are adept at motivating all people.
  3.  Educated to help deal with peers and colleagues.  They have a solid educational background (many firms require a bachelor’s degree now) and continue learning through seminars, webinars, trade journals, newsletters, online research, and reading Rita Keller’s Blog.
  4.  Innate managerial mentality.  This includes being alert, dependable and willing to carry out a commitment.
  5.  Team player.  Grandstanders are not allowed.  He/She solves problems in other departments, as well as in administration because the objective should be collectively beneficial.
  6.  Ability to anticipate potential problems.  He/She is painfully aware of Murphy’s Law (If anything can go wrong, it will).  Contingency planning is a key tool for practice managers.
  7.  A natural sense of fairness and integrity and emotionally well balanced.  Natural is the keyword.  If he/she has to consult a manual to know what’s fair, frustration will be constant.  Also, immature managers can hurt the employees and the firm they represent.
  8.  Courageous, resolute, strong convictions and socially conscious.  He/She works with management and staff with an overall goal of quality client service.   They often deal with egotistical personalities and partners unwilling to “let go.”
  9.  A good follower, not resentful of instructions or constructive criticism.  Anyone secure enough to demonstrate mature leadership will understand the reasons for recognizing the proper chain of command.  Observing protocol demonstrates respect for the system.
  10.  Have initiative and be creative, imaginative and resourceful.  Preventing problems is the most sublime form of problem-solving.  Successful practice managers act without being told to do so.
  11. Energetic.  The practice manager sets the pace.  Most work 2,300 hours or more per year (that number includes PTO, holidays, CPE, etc., working the hours required to get things done.
  12. Reliable, even temperament.  You can’t constantly change your personality.  Nothing goes right all the time, and if you care, you’re going to get upset once in a while.  You don’t have to be apologetic for losing your cool when provoked.
  13. Competitive, unafraid of conflict.  A competitive person is not afraid to set standards never before attained, nor is he or she afraid to fail.  Such a person realizes there can be growth in failure if there is learning.  In managing conflicts, the effective practice manager must know how to come out on top or graciously back off.
  14. Positive.  A positive attitude is a catalyst for creativity.
  15.  Excellent communication skills.  A successful practice manager should be able to write clearly and crisply, speak articulately and succinctly and listen intently.
  16.  Logical, capable of making decisions.  Managers must make tough decisions without fear of making a mistake.   Procrastination could be worse than the decision made.
  17.  Appreciation of technology and social media.  Successful practice managers see technology and social media as tremendous resources and continually lead the firm to advance in these areas.
  18.  Organized, self-disciplined.  Orderly thinking results in orderly living and managing.
  • Most of life's actions are within our reach, but decisions take willpower.
  • Robert McKee

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

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

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Time to Participate in the Rosenberg Survey

Busy season is history and now it is time, once again, to participate in the annual Rosenberg MAP Survey. The information you receive is a valuable tool in helping you manage your firm successfully. Here’s more information:

The 2019 Rosenberg Survey is well underway and so far, we’ve received a great response.
Do you know which key statistics drive profitability? Do you know how your firm is performing relative to like-sized firms in similar markets? Participate in the 2019 Rosenberg Survey to find out!
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 Monday, July 15th.

 

  • Most firms are still stuck managing the compliance services at the expense of the advisory work.
  • Jeff Pawlow

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

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

The Easy Route

“It is easy to believe we are each waves and forget we are also the ocean.” – Jon Muth

There is a lot of work to do. That is true at almost any time of year in an accounting firm.

You want to be as productive as possible but how often do you waste, or misuse, your valuable time? You want to get so many things off your to-do list that you decide to knock out the easy things first.

You are thinking, “first thing in the morning I will get those five easy things done and off my list”. The trouble is, those five easy things should not be on your list. Delegate them or eliminate them.

I have observed that in many firms, partners are doing manager work, managers are doing staff work, and staff members are looking for meaningful work.

  • It is easy to get everything you want, provided you first learn to do without the things you cannot get.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Monday, March 25th, 2019

How To Keep Firm Initiatives Moving Forward

“Never be so busy as not to think of others.”  – Mother Teresa

Have you heard some of these comments inside your firm?

  • Our partners are so busy that they never seem available for questions.
  • We have a retreat every year but we should just video it and play it again next year since we always talk about the same issues year after year.
  • The managing partner is more focused on clients than he/she is on firm initiatives.
  • The managing partner is our best rainmaker – we don’t want him/her focused on the day-to-day issues.
  • We are trying to identify our next managing partner but no one seems to want the job.
  • Our managers don’t seem to be very good at mentoring others.
  • There is definitely a communication problem inside our firm.

What’s the solution to a lot of the above comments and the following:

  • How do you enable your partners to be focused on client service, client relationship-building, and business development?
  • How do you enhance the communication inside your firm?
  • How do you create a mentoring program that really inspires young people?
  • How do you investigate your processes and procedures and make them more efficient?
  • How do you make sure the firm is following all of the most current trends in human resources?
  • How do you create a cool culture, a fun culture and move your firm into the digital world?

Heres the answer – Hire a qualified, professional practice manager/firm administrator. Make it their responsibility to keep initiatives, important to the inside health of your firm, OFF of the back burner and ON the front burner.

  • Those who are wise won't be busy, and those who are too busy can't be wise.
  • Lin Yutang