Saturday, February 15th, 2020

Lighten-Up, It’s the Weekend

“If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” – Will Rogers

Lighten-up this weekend and enjoy some positives vibes from your social media feeds.

Follow UPS Dogs on Facebook and UPS Dogs on Instagram. UPS Dogs is also on Twitter.

When I see these every day, it makes my day brighter.

  • "The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs."
  • Charles De Gaulle

Friday, February 14th, 2020

Building An Inclusive Culture

“Exclusion is always dangerous. Inclusion is the only safety if we are to have a peaceful world.” – Pearl S. Buck

Over my years in the public accounting arena, I have found that to motivate your team you must develop a culture of inclusion. Young people, and new hires, want to be in on things. So, I am including today’s post from Seth Godin in its entirety.

Apply this to your CPA firm:

YOU CAN’T SAY YOU CAN’T PLAY

Lenny Levine was a great kindergarten teacher. And he ran his class by this one rule.

It means that if another kid comes along, you need to include them in your game.

That’s it.

It changes everything. It puts an emphasis on connection, not exclusivity. It changes the dynamics of belonging. It weaves together a foundation that crosses traditional boundaries.

It’s a bit like giving every kid in the class a valentine’s day card. Some say that it cheapens the sentiment because it’s not about selection, it’s about inclusion. I think we’ve got plenty of selection already.

In the adult world, open doors create possibility and that leads to insight and productivity.

 

  • "Inclusion and fairness in the workplace is not simply the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do."
  • Alexis Herman

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

Every Firm is Hiring

It is common knowledge in the profession of public accounting, every firm is hiring.

They are looking for top, young talent. It seems every firm is looking for the exact same candidates.

Here’s something from Peter F. Drucker that you should think about:

“Determine whether your organization is betting on young people, older people, or immigrants. Make sure you have a plan for the gradual decrease in the youth market and the increase in newcomers and the aged.” – Peter F. Drucker

What is your plan for the future? If you are a partner, you should be developing two talented people to replace you. That should be your number one priority. Or, your partner group needs to admit that selling-out or merging-up are on the horizon.

Either way, you must have an attractive culture and be progressive and efficient. No one wants a firm that is not thriving and growing.

  • "The best way to predict the future is to create it."
  • Peter F. Drucker

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

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

What Are You Reading?

Even if you are always busy, find time to read. Of course, read the most beneficial and motivational business books. But, don’t stop there. Read for enjoyment and meaning.

While on a winter get-away, I found a copy of Tuesdays With Morrie in the villa we rented. I’m sure you have heard of it. I hadn’t read it in years so I re-read it. It’s an easy read.

Here is just one takeaway:

“Find someone to share your heart, give to your community, be at peace with yourself, try to be as human as you can be.”

If you are “too busy” to read the book, read these 14 inspiring quotes.

  • "If you really want it, then you’ll make your dream happen."
  • Morrie Schwartz

Monday, February 10th, 2020

Allow Your Team to Set Their Own Goals

“Focusing on strengths is the surest way to greater job satisfaction, team performance and organizational excellence.” – Marcus Buckingham

Does your CPA firm, as part of the performance feedback system, give employees certain goals to attain? Sometimes it makes sense but not always.

One firm told me they have one goal for all new college graduates entering the firm. That one goal, until it is achieved, is to pass the CPA exam. Maybe, even this one important goal, doesn’t make sense any longer.

According to Marcus Buckingham, goals that are pushed down from on high are un-goals. Goals should have meaning for the individual and, thus, should be created by that individual for themselves.

Firms should be creating meaning for everyone in the firm. Do your people know and understand what the firm is trying to achieve and where it is going in the future? Do they realize that the firm is a service organization focused on improving the lives and financial success of their clients? Do they understand the firm’s purpose? More importantly, have you effectively communicated the firm’s purpose?

If your people truly understand the purpose of the firm and buy-in to that journey, they will be able to set meaningful goals for themselves.

Read this interesting article about goals via Marcus Buckingham titled, “The best leaders do not set goals. Here’s what they do instead.”

  • "You will excel only by maximizing your strengths, never by fixing your weaknesses."
  • Marcus Buckingham

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

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

Consequences

“Unresolved offenses become excuses for poor performance.” – Leadership Freak, Dan Rockwell

Leaders in CPA firms often establish rules and guidelines for employees of their firm. Then, when someone ignores the rules/guidelines what happens? Usually, nothing!

At a full team meeting, the managing partner introduced a new rule – something about documentation. One experienced manager asked THE question, “What are the consequences if people ignore this step?” The leaders basically side-stepped the question.

One time an experienced Director of Technology in a firm said to me, “We adopt guidelines but we actually manage by exception.”

Ignoring offenses says volumes about your leadership style. Addressing an offense doesn’t always mean some sort of punishment. You can forgive an offense but don’t ignore it.

 

  • "When you can’t resolve offenses, YOU become toxic. The Dead Sea is dead because it hangs on to everything."
  • Dan Rockwell