Posts Tagged ‘training’

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

LinkedIn And Public Accounting

When it comes to social media, accountants in public practice have been somewhat slow to embrace it and use it effectively.

However, I have observed that one tool they have embraced is LinkedIn. I can find almost every CPA or CPA firm team member I search for on LinkedIn.

When it comes to using it effectively, that’s another story. Barry MacQuarrie of KAF CPAs, provides training for their firm clients and for other CPA firms. Check-out his brochure here.

Wayne Breitbarth is also a LinkedIn trainer and writes an interesting blog with lots of tips and tricks for getting the most out of LinkedIn. Breitbarth does an annual survey of LinkedIn users and has provided this very interesting infographic.

Keep in mind, the profession of public accounting is a people business. Continually enhance your connections with people and use as many tools as possible to do so.

Linkedin Infographic

Via: PowerFormula for Linkedin Success

  • A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.
  • John Lennon

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

So, You Are On LinkedIn. Now What?

When I am looking for someone, individually, the first place I go is LinkedIn. After all there are about 100 million users. If I am looking for a particular CPA firm, I Google it. That’s how I know so much about CPA firm websites. Some are great and some are horrible.

The same goes for LinkedIn – some people have great profiles and some are horrible. First of all, if you don’t have a picture, people will think you must be creepy (or extremely ugly) or both. What usually happens is that most users create an account, add a couple of connections and then ignore their site. Research substantiates the fact that most users rarely or never USE the site.

Here’s an example of valuable dialogue on LinkedIn. It was started by Dan Hood of Accounting TodayDoes Every Firm Need A Marketing Director. Read through it to get some valuable insight into this topic.

When I am visiting CPA websites, I often follow their link to the firm’s LinkedIn page. Usually it is just some profile information about the firm. It’s like they are just holding the LinkedIn spot for future development. Here’s a link to Freed Maxick CPAs LinkedIn page. Notice how current and active it is.

barrySo, perhaps you don’t know enough about how to use LinkedIn or how to set up meaningful profiles. Get someone to train the entire firm.

I was talking with my good friend, Barry MacQuarrie, last week. Barry provides training to his firm’s clients and to other CPA firms on the in’s & out’s of LinkedIn. Here’s a link to Barry’s brochure. 

You might consider hiring Barry to conduct a training session for your entire team or to host a seminar for your clients – what a valuable offering. I bet your competition isn’t doing it.

 

 

  • If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough.
  • Mario Andretti

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Being A Good Manager

Inside CPA firms, the word “manager” is not very clearly defined.

For many firms it is a name they give a person who has developed solid technical accounting, auditing or tax skills over a period of time. I believe the term “manager” applies to partners, managers, supervisors and even seniors inside an accounting firm. After all, they are expected to manage the client engagement and the work of people who are more junior than themselves. They are the boss in many situations.

Google, inside their own organization, decided to explore the question, “What makes a good boss?” and called the the study Project Oxygen.

They discovered that what you might think would be the top characteristic, the ability to write computer code in your sleep, came in last. I imagine that inside an accounting firm, being a great tax mind or having extremely advanced auditing skills would also come in last as an indicator of being a great boss.

Here’s Project Oxygen‘s findings, Google’s “Eight Good Behaviors” of top managers, ranked in order of importance:

  1. Be a good coach. Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive. Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employees’ specific strengths.
  2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage. Balance giving freedom to your employees, while still being available for advice. Make “stretch” assignments to help the team tackle big problems.
  3. Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being. Get to know your employees as people, with lives outside of work. Make new members of your team feel welcome and help ease their transition.
  4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented. Focus on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it. Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks.
  5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team. Communication is two-way: you both listen and share information. Hold all-hands meetings and be straightforward about the messages and goals of the team. Help the team connect the dots. Encourage open dialogue and listen to the issues and concerns of your employees.
  6. Help your employees with career development.
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team. Even in the midst of turmoil, keep the team focused on goals and strategy. Involve the team in setting and evolving the team’s vision and making progress toward it.
  8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team. Roll up your sleeves and conduct work side by side with the team, when needed. Understand the specific challenges of the work.

CPA firms focus so much time and so many dollars on training their youngest team members. They are sent to Level I, II, III and maybe more for audit training. The firm funds their education in “beginning tax,” “advanced tax” and more. Managers and partners review their work and critique their skills in tax preparation, auditing and accounting. Why not invest in helping accountants become better bosses?

An idea:  Firm owners, why not consider devoting this year’s partner retreat to the topic of how you are going to spend dollars and time training yourselves, your managers and even your seniors on how to be better managers of people? Develop an action plan outlining steps you need to take to become better leaders, as partners, and how you will develop future leaders inside your firm. Some call it succession planning; I call it running a good firm.

In public accounting firms, true leadership training rarely happens. I strongly urge you, plead with you, even beg you – begin leadership training from Day One – just like you do with tax and accounting training.  Contact me if you need help.

 

  • No man goes before his time; unless the boss leaves early.
  • Groucho Marx

Friday, April 20th, 2012

AICPA Top Talent Survey

It is becoming more and more important every day for CPAs to actively engage the bright, young and talented people working inside their firm. Futurists and researchers continue to stress how important it is to focus on your people.

There is a lot of great information in the new AICPA Top Talent Survey. Yasmine EL-Ramly, CPA/CITP, Project Manager at AICPA PCPS, gives us highlights via the Journal of Accountancy:

Foster a culture of trust and open access to management – The survey reported decreased trust in firm leadership among 40% of high-potential CPAs.

Make work/life balance a firm priority. – The brightest young CPAs are much more focused on successfully integrating their professional and personal lives than their predecessors were.

Provide a competitive compensation package. – Salary is the top factor in retaining high-potential CPAs and the second most important factor in attracting them, the survey found.

Transform each engagement into a training opportunity. – Involve top young talent from start to finish, ensuring they grasp the breadth and complexity of each engagement.

Implement diversity initiatives for women and minorities. – Such programs can have a substantial effect on attracting and retaining women and minorities by enhancing their sense of belonging and recognition.

Identify emerging partners as early as possible. – With career growth high on the high potentials’ priority list, it is important to establish a career road map with top talent.

The respondents, as profiled, are an ambitious, experienced and well-educated bunch. The top talent studied represent all staff/seniors/managers who have been identified, either formally or informally, as future leaders.

On average, high potential CPAs:

  • Have nearly 14 years of experience as a CPA.
  • Have been with the current employer for more than 10 years.
  • Are committed to the profession; two-thirds say they would make the same career choice – to be a CPA – all over again.
  • Believe they are being groomed for leadership in their firm (63.7%).
  • Would like to be partners or senior leaders in their firms (62%).

I often hear from owners, “Our managers don’t want to be partner.” Do you know this for sure at your firm? What kinds of communication and conversations are happening in relation to future leaders?

Be sure to explore the survey results. The full report is available online.

For firm leaders and future leaders, I hope you adopt the following quote as something to live by.

  • Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.
  • Albert Schweitzer