Archive for the ‘People/HR’ Category

Monday, November 21st, 2022

Keeping Your Employees

“Be thankful for problems. If they were less difficult, someone with less ability might have your job.” – Jim Lovell

I recently read an article suggesting ways to keep your best employees. I found it not to be very helpful. It mentioned things we have all heard before.

It suggested:

  • Improve compensation
  • Increase flexibility
  • Evaluate your benefits
  • Encourage professional development

All of the many firms I talk to and read about are doing all of this. I am sure most of you want to know more. What else can you do?

In 2022, I have observed more and more firms are actually disengaging from many clients simply because they cannot hire enough people to take care of them. Quality service matters more than the number of clients.

Add this to the list above – Don’t punish your staff by keeping clients that are ranked C and D. Shrink our client list to keep your best employees.

  • Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.
  • Helen Keller

Thursday, November 17th, 2022

Relentless Problems

“Relentless problems feel like driving around with garbage in the backseat. You wonder if the journey’s worth it.” – Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak)

Do you have ongoing, relentless problems that seem never to get solved? If you work in a CPA firm, I bet you do.

Dan Rockwell recently did a post titled, Don’t pretend things smell good when they stink – Instead Shift Focus.

I have observed that people inside a CPA firm, including leaders, seem to aggressively avoid dealing with these problems. They don’t seem to mind “driving around with garbage in the backseat”.

Read the article. It gives you a lot of good solutions on how to deal with stinky problems. Don’t pretend things smell good when they stink.

  • When someone walks into your office with a bag of garbage ask, “What strengths do you have that enable you to seize this opportunity?"
  • Dan Rockwell

Friday, November 4th, 2022

Need A Raise? Flashback Friday

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” – Jim Rohn

The firm should be prepared to paint a picture of the future for you.

Here’s a flashback post from 2015.

  • I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

Giving Feedback

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” – Harvey S. Firestone

I have heard some real horror stories about performance feedback over my years in the CPA profession. Most of it happens relating to client engagements. I always warn new college graduates entering the profession that they should keep in mind that accountants have a critical nature.

Think about it. CPAs are trained to find mistakes!

Older, more experienced accountants “train” newer ones by giving them review notes. Review notes are usually in writing and communicate to the new person everything they did wrong. Firms often seem like a “find the mistake” culture. Auditors are looking for mistakes. Tax accountants are looking for mistakes made by the prior CPA.

When it comes to the more formal performance evaluation (quarterly, semi-annually), accountants do a better job. I think they have learned over the years that these sessions need to be given more thought, scripted, and delivered in an encouraging manner.

Suzanne Lucas (@realevilhrlady), in an article via Inc., gives us some examples of “12 Horrible Things Found In Performance Appraisals.” Thank goodness, I don’t think these things happen in CPA firms. That being said, I imagine some staff members in some firms can give you some eye-opening stories about their performance evaluation sessions.

Lucas advises that every performance review should contain information that meets three criteria:

  • Actionable
  • Relevant
  • Measurable

Be sure to read the article for what these three things really mean.

  • Strive for continuous improvement instead of perfection.
  • Kim Collins

Tuesday, November 1st, 2022

Billable Hours

“It’s not that there’s a lack of credible, successful and even intelligent candidates out there looking for work. It’s the fact that CPA firms haven’t changed their models.” – Lorrine Beste

I hope you have read a recent article via Accounting Today. It is titled Confessions of a tax manager: CPA firms just aren’t getting it.

If not, here’s what it is all about. Like most experienced tax managers, the author, Lorraine Beste, has been inundated with contacts from various recruiters. She works for a small firm and has enjoyed work/life balance for many years. The unbelievable salaries being offered inspired her to do some research.

The recruiters seemed absolutely overjoyed when she replied. The firms seeking a tax manager seemed to offer all the “bells and whistles” that make their firm a great place to work.

The one question they did not divulge, but Beste sought out, was – How many billable hours do you require? She was shocked by the consistent answer – 55 to 60 (or higher) in tax season and early fall.

She will stay at her small firm. Be sure to follow the link above, and read the interesting article. Consider what work/life balance really means at your own firm.

  • You can't do a good job is your job is all you do.
  • Katie Thurmes

Thursday, October 27th, 2022


“The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.” – Benjamin E. Mays

It seems that many CPA firms have learned that people working remotely are very productive.

Yet, many CPAs want everyone to return to the office. It makes more sense to ask the individual.

Some people are happier and more productive in the office, while others are happier and more productive working remotely. Ask the individual and support them in the work style that suits them best.

Simply set the expectation for productivity and let people choose.

  • Lost time is never found again.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Monday, October 24th, 2022


“Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded, not dwelled upon and stored.” – Tim Fargo

Here’s a real-life story from inside a CPA firm.

Tim was going through his first tax season with the firm. He was doing well, and then on one client engagement, he made a fairly significant (and stupid) mistake. From that day on, managers and partners in the firm just couldn’t forget about Tim’s mistake. He would be assigned to a project, and the comment would be, “Remember when he made that stupid mistake!” Regarding scheduling, a manager would say to the scheduler, “I need a Senior on this job, but don’t give me Tim.”

Tim went on to be successful and stayed at the firm, but probably for five years; his first-year mistake would come up in conversations. CPAs have long memories.

I have heard similar stories from multiple firms. Has this ever happened at your firm? That is why today’s quote at the beginning of this post made me think of a CPA firm.

  • To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Friday, October 21st, 2022

Another Season – Flashback Friday

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most do.” – Dale Carnegie

This week you put another tax season behind you. October 17 concluded the extension season for individual income tax returns. Now that Fall busy season is over, you will have more time to focus on “the good of the firm.” I call it the Dealing With People Season. Click here.

Have a great weekend.

  • We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  • Albert Einstein

Thursday, October 20th, 2022

Feedback – Then What?

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard

In a CPA firm, the staff would receive performance feedback annually. Thank goodness we have advanced to where feedback is quarterly, monthly, and, as it should be, daily. The new workforce wants to know how they are doing immediately.

Firms are better at giving ongoing feedback, but most firms still have an annual or semi-annual, more formal feedback system.

No matter how you give feedback, what follows? If there is no system of follow-up, the feedback is worthless. I like to see goal-setting as part of any feedback session. What steps are necessary for them to expand what they are good at and enjoy? What steps are necessary for them to improve in some weaker areas? What has happened as a result of their last feedback session? What suggestions and advice (mentoring) accompany feedback sessions?

Give feedback often. Make giving feedback an important of every manager’s performance standards. Your managers are on the front line with staff. They should have meaningful feedback to give.

  • Make feedback normal. Not a performance review.
  • Ed Batista

Thursday, October 13th, 2022

Now It’s Non-Linear Work

“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they [are] at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.” – Richard Branson

All of these new terms for the workforce just keep expanding. Flexible, remote, hybrid, off-shore, on-shore, the great resignation, quiet quitting, and there are probably more!

Here’s one I just read about; maybe your team is already utilizing it. They probably are if they are fully remote.

It is called the non-linear workday. We have been so used to and comfortable with the regular 8 to 5 workday. Some employees are expected to be online and available during those hours even if they are working from home.

Remote work has given rise to all sorts of new working patterns, including the ‘non-linear workday.’ Employees in this arrangement can do their jobs outside the traditional rigid nine-to-five block, often whenever works best for them.

Some of your employees might be much more productive if they work very early in the morning and end their workday early afternoon. Another employee might prefer to work a couple of hours in the morning and return to work after dinner or after the kids go to bed. The day can be broken up in many different ways that suit the work style of the individual.

“It’s no longer really about effort and time spent, it’s about creating the best outcomes. As the nature of work has shifted, so too has the way workers want to optimize how they do that work.” – Aaron De Smet

Read more about it in this informative article via the BBC. Of course, I know that CPAs will be thinking, “How do we keep track of it all?”

  • I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
  • Thomas Edison