Archive for the ‘People/HR’ Category

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Flashback Friday – There is more you need to know

“The sooner, the better!” – Franklin W. Dixon, author of The Hardy Boys

If you are NOT a young CPA, I hope you will share this flashback post with a young CPA.

There is more to being a CPA than knowing the technical work!

Young CPAs – Start Sooner!

Much of this can certainly apply to more experienced CPAs, too.

  • Most people would sooner die than think, in fact, they do so.
  • Bertrand Russell

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

Be Prepared

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

If your are a CPA firm leader, you should always remember the Boy Scout motto:

Be Prepared – The Scout motto means that you are always ready to do what is necessary to help others. It also means you are ready, willing, and able to do what is necessary in any situation that comes along.

Peter Drucker told us – The manager will have to look at her task and ask, “What must I do to be prepared for danger, for opportunities, and above all for change?”

Recently, you have had to face danger and change yet not forget about opportunities. Some firms have done a commendable job of this because they were prepared. Some have struggled because they did not have strong enough technology and procedures.

Going forward it is a great time to make sure your firm is lean and can move fast as our new world of work evolves.

Employing the right talent is always an issue. As you have heard many times, you must have the right people on your bus and have them in the right seats. You must be able to trust your people.

Many of your people are skilled, experienced, and loyal. They can work remotely without someone looking over their shoulder. You can trust them. What are you going to do with the people you don’t trust?

  • For there to be betrayal, there would have to have been trust first.
  • Suzanne Collins

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

Let Go Of The Past

“Treat people with their strengths in mind, not their past offenses.” – Dan Rockwell

We hear and read about lots of different ways to build on your strengths. You should also be guiding others in your firm to do the same.

What really happens inside some CPA firms? The managers and partners have very long memories.

I have heard the stories for years. “Don’t give me Tony for this engagement. Remember how he messed up on that John Doe job?” “I don’t want Brenda for this assignment. She has no clue about (fill-in the blank).”

Tony messed up that job three years ago during his first year with the firm. Brenda had no clue about whatever five years ago!

I think it is somewhat part of human nature. Well, accountants’ nature anyway. People remember the bad things that happen and so often forget to recognize the good things.

Be more in tune with how people progress in your firm. Some beginners catch on fast and some not so fast. Don’t give up on them too quickly. Learn to build on people’s strengths and down-play their weaknesses. Even when giving feedback, don’t always make it constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is a term used all to often within CPA firms. Criticism is criticism and the person receiving the criticism only hears criticism (not constructive).

Take advantage of the great resource of strengths of the people working in your firm. Downplay, and even forget, past mistakes.

There are plenty of resources out there:

Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald Clifton

Here’s a good article via Forbes.

  • With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

Establish a Scholarship for Accounting Students

“If anything is going to change in accounting education, it’s going to have to come from practitioners.” – Jason Ackerman, CPA

For the long-term, public accounting firms still need to attract top talent. I have heard all kinds of stories about some firms cutting back on hiring and even laying-off or furloughing people. Sadly, some firms admit that they have used the need to tighten their belts to get rid of poor performers.

One great way to attract talented accounting students to your firm is to sponsor a scholarship program. If your firm hasn’t established one yet, here are some tips from Jason Ackerman of BNA CPAs & Advisors in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I have admired how Jason and Bernie Ackerman continually search for ways to improve their firm since I met them many years ago at an AICPA conference.

Here’s how BNA’s scholarship program works.

To qualify as a BNA scholar, students must want to have an internship and want to become CPAs. During the fall semester, the firm will interview students who are interested; the students selected will receive an internship for the following semester, during tax season. The students will be paid like normal interns; after the internship, if both the firm and the students want to continue, they will receive additional scholarships in the amount of $10,000 per student per year to help pay for CPA exam fees, CPA exam review courses, and college as a whole. In return, the students must agree to pass the CPA exam before graduating and to work for BNA for three years postgraduation.

Read Jason’s entire article, Creating a CPA Scholarship Program, via The CPA Journal.

  • A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
  • Bruce Lee

Friday, April 17th, 2020

Stale and Repetitive – Flashback Friday

“Repetition doesn’t create memories. New experiences do.” – Brian Chesky

Young accountants entering public accounting are often given the same type of work – it’s repetitive.

They are also asked to work on the same client engagement for several years in a row – it’s repetitive.

Managers often cling to the more challenging work because they need to be productive, too.

Don’t let this happen. Read more here.

  • If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.
  • Thomas Edison

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

Virtual Meeting Applications

“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly.” – Mark Sanborn

So many people are finding that meeting virtually really works well and during these unique times, it is a lifesaver. Several products are being used and have been discussed on the CPA Firm Management Association discussion board.

I have used Zoom, as have many others. Here’s what Lori Ellinger, Firm Administrator of Kirsch CPA Group with offices in Oxford and Hamilton, Ohio has to say about using Zoom. I am hoping her comments about how they are using virtual meetings will be helpful to you:

“We started using Zoom last week.  Our 30+ employees are all remote and Zoom works great.  You can see a picture of each person – they are even having fun with changing their background picture.  We started doing a 15-minute “water cooler” meeting just to catch up.  We pick a person ahead of time and do a get-to-know-you Q&A.  It’s a nice break and since we have several new people its good for them to get to know others.

We have not had problems with sound or delay on zoom.

Now, on regular phone lines, we are experiencing poor call quality.

We also use Microsoft Teams for meetings.  We use to use GoTo Meeting but that is going by the wayside lately.”

Don’t forget about your newer people. Communicate continually with your entire team and think of extra ways to “touch” your newbies.

  • Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.
  • Helen Keller

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

Interview Questions For Remote Workers

“The individual needs to be someone who can be successful with a level of independence.” – Jennifer Farris

At this point in time, almost all of us are remote workers. When we move into summer, hopefully, many of you will be returning to the office to work. Going forward, there will be a strong trend to hire remote workers.

From an article via Fast Company, former Google recruiter Jennifer Farris, who is currently the chief people officer at Terminal, a company that establishes teams of engineers for companies around the world, tells us:

“The biggest factor of being able to work remotely is if you can get work done without someone looking over your shoulder,” she says. “Sometimes a really talented worker can have a harder time adjusting to the new world of remote working arrangements. They might need extra support—someone physically close to them. It’s not for everyone.

Farris recommends some areas to thoroughly explore:

Previous Experience – Past experience is a good indicator of future behavior. It would also be helpful if they completed some of their education in a remote environment.

Communication Skills – They must be proactive in finding solutions or help. Ask them how they have done this in the past.

Also, find out how they like to be managed. What do they expect from management?

Be sure to read the entire article. It will help you ask the right questions when hiring remote workers in the future.

  • 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

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Your Staffing Model

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

I have been thinking that maybe CPA firms would be busier than ever in 2020. But, maybe I have been thinking wrong.

I read this morning that Friedman, a well-known Top 100 firm laid-off 50 people on March 26. You can read all about it here via goingconcern.  A recent survey found that 41% of accountants believe job cuts will happen at their firm because of COVID-19.

The article makes it sound like Friedman did not handle the situation very professionally. One person’s comment:

The person knew something was up when they were locked out of their computer on Thursday morning. So they called IT.

“They immediately slammed the phone down. I guess they knew I was on the fired list,” the person said.

What about your firm? Do you have a people plan ready for moving forward in 2020 after the tax crunch is over? I still believe that there will be so much work that needs to be done helping clients understand all the new rules and guidelines and also, helping them with budgeting and planning how they will survive into the future.

 

  • When I was 16, I worked in a pet store. And they fired me because they had three snakes in there, and one day I braided them.
  • Steven Wright

Friday, March 27th, 2020

Too Many At The Top

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

There are many CPA firm partners who are nearing retirement. They have always dreamed of passing their firm on to the next generation, dreamed of having it survive. Sorry to say, that is going to be an unfilled dream for many small to mid-size firms.

The reason? They are top-heavy. They are counting a few top performers to replace many, including some non-performing partners?

Read this post about the Upside Down Pyramid – it’s Flashback Friday!

Stay safe!

  • The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
  • William Shakespeare

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

Do You Have People Who Aren’t Self-Aware In Your Firm?

“I am dating a woman now who, evidently, is unaware of it.” – Gary Shandling

Research shows that although 95% of people think they are self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are.

In a recent article via HBR, you probably can find them in your office. It is my observation that you definitely find them in CPA firms!

These are people who have solid qualifications and are intelligent, yet they have no clue as to how they come across to their co-workers or employees. They are not only frustrating, but they can also cause increased stress and decreased motivation for others on the team.

Sometimes it is hard to identify that the real problem is lack of self-awareness. Some things to consider are that they don’t accept critical feedback, they lack empathy, they have an inflated opinion of their contributions and they are hurtful to others without realizing it.

Sometimes upward feedback surveys can bring the issues to the surface. In other cases, if you recognize it in others, you might have that crucial conversation with the person yourself.

Read the entire article. Plan to deal with these situations rather than sweep them under the carpet and risk driving top performers away from your firm.

 

  • There must be a happy medium somewhere between being totally informed and blissfully unaware.
  • Doug Larson