Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Monday, February 1st, 2021

The Partner Pyramid

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” – James M. Barrie

You are a leader in an accounting firm. You have worked very hard to reach the level of authority and responsibility that you now enjoy. You are now a partner. Congratulations, but beware! Things have changed.

Some CPAs, climbing the ladder of success, believe that becoming a partner means they are off the hook. They can control their own work lives. They will have many people working under their guidance to get the work done. They can relax a bit. They have reached the top of the pyramid. They can play more golf.

Wrong! Take a minute and a half to learn about the Partner Pyramid.

  • Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.
  • Ezra Taft Benson

Friday, January 29th, 2021

Interviewing Experienced Candidates

“You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world…but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” – Walt Disney

It’s Friday again… already! It is time for a Flashback Post. This one is from January 2018.

Click here.

  • Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions and a healthy dose of curiosity. What do you think is the most important factor when building your team? For us, it’s personality.
  • Richard Branson

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Think Big

“Go for great. Own your game. Be kind. Get big things done.” – Robin S. Sharma

Working in public accounting, you tend to be driven by due dates.

It is what motivates you. You focus on the little things that hinder the efficient flow of work through the office. You focus on what needs to get out this week or next week. You focus on the immediate challenge, whatever that might be.

When major due dates pass, you spend time recuperating and cleaning-up lots of small things that you have delayed until after the due date.

As for some major decisions that need to be made, you put those on the back burner until after the partner retreat, until the next major due date passes, or until you have enough time.

I have observed that you tend to pay too much attention to little things and too little attention to big things.

When will you ever have time? Some of those BIG things make you uncomfortable. You would rather by-pass confrontation.

Do you need to out-place certain clients, certain employees or even certain partners? Do you need to invest heavily in new technology? Do you need to finally address succession and admit that merging-up is your succession plan?

Don’t wait for summer to come to begin discussing these, and other, big issues with your management group. Pay continual attention to big things, make big decisions and keep moving forward each day, each week, and each month.

  • We forget the little things, so it's no wonder some of us screw up the big things.
  • Neil Cavuto

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Employee Engagement Matters – Flashback Friday

“Paychecks can’t buy passion.” – Brad Federman

To drive engagement, it’s simple, you have to be proactive.

Read this blog post from 2017 to learn about your three types of employees.

  • I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.
  • Walt Disney

Monday, January 18th, 2021

Drama, Fear & Conflict

“Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity.” – Warren Bennis

Accountants, in general, are kind, caring, and sincere. They live their lives helping their clients become successful. They often have difficult conversations with their clients.

Inside their own CPA firm, they ignore conflict and avoid confrontation. Partners and managers often dodge conflict in the hopes that someone else will deal with it. Yet, they readily admit that there is way too much drama going on inside the firm.

Often the conflict is between two or more employees. However, the most troubling conflict is when employees actually fear one or more of the firm leaders, and other leaders hide from the drama, fear, and conflict.

Here’s a quote from Marlene Chism:

“If there are performance problems, workplace drama, or disruptive behaviors in your workplace, it’s because it’s been allowed. Avoiding difficult conversations causes a culture of dysfunction that affects every aspect of business.” – Marlene Chism

Read that quote again. From the mildest conflict to actual fear of an individual continues because IT’S BEEN ALLOWED.

Some issues eventually go away on their own but most do not. YOU must deal with it. Here’s a helpful article from Chism.

  • Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.
  • Winston Churchill

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

We’ll Get Back to Where We Were… Wrong!

‘You did that this year; why not last year or the year before?’ – Allan Koltin

I hear it said over and over. “When things get back to normal…”.

Most CPA firms have made great progress since March 2020. Even the AICPA is saying that firms have achieved needed change that they (the AICPA) thought would take five years. Firms did it in a few days and continually improved upon it throughout 2020. I am talking about enabling and embracing a remote workforce.

Some very small firms did not make this leap. They think it is a good thing that they still go into the office and operate in the old school way. I’m not sure that is a wise decision.

I agree with this observation by Allan Koltin:

“It’s not about bricks and mortar anymore,” he said. “I believe in three to five years, we will get rid of that space. The metric will drop down to 150 square feet per person. We will redesign offices for what we want them to be — a center for collaboration and training, a place to have meetings — and build it out accordingly. It’s a difficult conversation — some of you think that after the vaccine, we will come back to 2019.”

  • I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.
  • Lawrence Bossidy

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

Six Things You Need to Do When You Become a Partner

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”  – Michael Jordan

I have heard Sam Allred, Founder of Upstream Academy, speak numerous times during my many years working in public accounting and it has always been inspiring.

At a CPAFMA conference several years ago, Allred shared his Six Things Leaders Need to Do. I heard this presentation back in 2009 and the six things still apply today (and maybe even more so).

When you become a partner:

Give up The Right to Remain Silent – when you become a partner, you must speak up at THE meeting (the partner meeting) – not nod your head and then go door-to-door after the meeting talking to the other partners. Not speaking up, in the proper forum, creates artificial harmony.

Keep an Open Mind – I relate this one to “seek first to understand and then be understood.”

You Give Up The Right to Make All Decisions – Sole-practitioners have this right. When you make the decision to be part of A FIRM, you give up that right.

Learn to Make the Proper Commitment – Saying/thinking, “I will stay out of the way” is not making a commitment. It’s a case of “grudging compliance” vs. “spirited commitment.”

Willingness to Get Outside Your Comfort Zone – You cannot stand still. Becoming a partner doesn’t mean you “made it” and now you can coast.

You Become A Leader for Change, Not an Anchor – You are helping row the boat, not sitting in the back, and throwing out anchors when something doesn’t go your way.

  • None of us is as smart as all of us.
  • Ken Blanchard

Monday, December 21st, 2020

The Ordeal

“The only way you motivate people and change them is one-on-one. Everything else is window dressing.” – David Maister

This is the time of year when CPA firm compensation committees meet and determine “the year-end split.”

You know what I am talking about. Some call it the Compensation Committee Process. I call it An Ordeal!

Here is a post I did several years ago on this topic – The PCO (Partner Comp Ordeal).

I have several friends in the CPA firm consulting world who have some great tips about determining partner comp. They are featured in the post. I hope you find it helpful!

  • If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it you almost don't have to manage them.
  • Jack Welch

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Client Service

“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” – Arnold Glasow

All accounting firms say that they provide good client service, great client service, or even awesome client service. Awesome is the goal. Few reach it.

Client service is made up of some big things (like accuracy when it comes to their taxes or projects). It is also made up of many small things. That is why I have always stressed to my clients and readers…. the little things can make the biggest difference!

If a client has to call you to check on the status of their tax returns, that is poor client service. You should be calling them. If they have to call more than once, word will spread about the firm’s lack of urgency. People like to talk about bad service more than they like to talk about good service.

Getting work out the door means it can be billed and that enhances the firm’s cash flow.

In the “old days” we had to search to find where a client project had stalled. Now, with document management systems, you can easily see where there are backlogs. You can tell where things get stuck.

Too often, staff are pressured to get the work completed. It goes to the manager or partner for review and it might languish for weeks! Then it becomes a fire drill for admin.

This is a sad story that is repeated day after day, year after year in accounting firms. Don’t let it happen in your firm. It will not get you the reputation for providing awesome client service!

  • There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
  • Sam Walton

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Who Challenges You?

“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run towards it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your foot.” – Nadia Comaneci

You are a leader in your firm. You may be new to the role or perhaps you have been in a position of power for quite a while. Especially, if you are the managing partner, you need a challenging cheerleader.

This person cares enough about you to tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear.

If you are a team leader (head of tax, audit, or operations), you need someone for the same reason. As you move up the leadership ladder it becomes difficult and even awkward for your team members to be brutally honest with you. Find your challenging cheerleader.

In many firms, this person for the managing partner is the firm administrator, practice manager or chief operating officer. They know enough about the firm and the profession to give you valuable feedback. Plus, they will usually have a different approach to some of the problems you face. They will keep you grounded and take the risk of telling you exactly where you may be wrong.

I know many CPA firm CEOs and COOs who have worked this relationship well over many years. The bottom-line is that the firm has benefitted from their collaboration.

Many firms are now welcoming new managing partners. The baby boomers are retiring and passing the torch. If you are a new leader, find that person who will challenge you, be brutally honest and do it because they care about you and the firm.

Good article on this topic here.

  • The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.
  • Chinese Proverb