Friday, June 11th, 2021

The Purpose of Your Firm

“A business enterprise has two basic functions: marketing and innovation.” – Peter F. Drucker

It’s Friday again and time for an enlightening Flashback Friday post. Peter F. Drucker’s view on the purpose of a business is something you should consider.  Click here.

  • "The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said."
  • Peter Drucker

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

Elevating & Embracing Your Role – Firm Administrators & Practice Managers

“Attitude is a choice. What you think you can do, whether positive or negative, confident or scared, will most likely happen.” – Pat Summitt

The newly formed Missouri Chapter of CPAFMA, supported by the Missouri Society of CPAs, has invited me to speak to their roundtable group virtually on Wednesday, June 16 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Central time). If you are outside of Missouri you are invited to attend. Contact Liz Schaetzel at the Missouri Society to register – lschaetzel@mocpa.org.

CPAFMA is so fortunate to have the support of so many state societies such as MOCPA. I know first-hand how much the Ohio and Indiana Societies help and support the Ohio and Indiana Chapters of CPAFMA.

This session (Elevating & Embracing Your Role) is especially helpful if you are new to the role and new to the CPA profession. It also works to motivate and inspire firm administrators even if you have been one for twenty years! I hope you will join me next Wednesday.

Here’s the invitation from the Missouri Society of CPAs:

During this roundtable, we will hear from Rita Keller, an award-winning and widely respected voice to CPA firm management, who will present Elevating and Embracing Your Role. She will discuss: who in your firm supports and encourages the managing partner? Who is the conscience of your firm, the person who always places the firm above their own personal agenda? Is there someone in the firm who enables the partners and staff to be better and more successful CPAs? Join Rita Keller and your peers to explore what a professional, well-trained firm administrator/practice manager can do. It’s time to elevate and embrace your important role.

Click here to register. We’d love to “see” you. Missouri members, as a reminder, you are invited to stay connected with your fellow firm administrators through MOCPA’s firm administrator online Connect Community and virtual roundtables. Click here for more details.

  • "None of us can change our yesterdays, but all of us can change our tomorrows."
  • Colin Powell

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

Communicate Your Thoughts On Hybrid

“Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.” – Linus Pauling

So many firms right now are sticking their toe into the hybrid work schedule waters. Do we or don’t we? How will it look? How will we keep communication and culture strong? Maybe we just go to a four-day workweek. If everyone works whatever schedule they want, will it create chaos? Will client service suffer over the long term? What will we do about the administrative team?

Many decisions need to be made and I hope you can make them quickly. The most important things is to communicate to your team. Don’t leave them wondering all summer long what the firm will do in the Fall.

Here’s a message Tim Cook of Apple sent to the team last week:

In an email to staff, Apple CEO Tim Cook has told office employees that they are expected to return to their workspace three days a week starting in September. The iPhone maker said it wants most office workers to show up Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with the option to work remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays. “For all that we’ve been able to achieve while many of us have been separated, the truth is that there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other,” he wrote in the email. “Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.”

What goes through my mind is how will this building look empty for the long term.

  • "For now, let me simply say that I look forward to seeing your faces."
  • Tim Cook

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

Your People Want to Tell You

“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.” – Sybil F. Stershic

Per Gallup, your people really want to tell you what they need and how they feel. So, it is up to you to ask them. In doing so, you can gain so much valuable information and receive guidance on how to proceed through the weeks and months ahead.

Great advice from Gallup:

  • Since no one can know how long a crisis will last or what the outcomes will be, the most sensible thing to do is address your employees’ current needs.
  • Gathering employee feedback sends a positive message in times of crisis.
  • Asking your workforce what they think and then taking no action after getting their answers is always the wrong move.
  • We live in counterintuitive times – – now is not the time to “go with your gut.”

Many accounting firms are now doing pulse surveys. A staff pulse survey is a short, quick survey that is sent out to employees on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly, etc.). This survey is essentially a check-in, providing a pulse check on topics such as employee satisfaction, job role, communication, relationships, and work environment.

Gallup says that garnering employee feedback through surveys or other channels benefits the organization and employees alike. Gallup has found that understanding and acting on employee feedback from engagement surveys is directly related to organizational resiliency. Teams perform better during tough times (i.e., recessions, disruptions) if they have:

  • clear expectations
  • the materials and equipment they need
  • the opportunity to do what they do best
  • coworkers across teams who are committed to quality

Here’s a link to the Gallup article.

  • "Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers."
  • Stephen R. Covey

Monday, June 7th, 2021

Fixing People

“Spend more time encouraging high performers. Most leaders spend too much time trying to fix low performers.” – Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak)

The above comment certainly made me think about all the time many CPA firms spend trying to fix people, meaning poor performers.

How many poor performers do you have inside your firm? I bet you can name more than one!

The comment I always hear from firm administrators, HR managers, etc. is “the partners won’t let her/him go. He/She has been here for 15 years.”

If you have a poor performer, they are taking up space that could be allotted to a bright, ambitious, up-and-comer. They are a faulty cog in the wheel of efficiency.

It is not being mean or hurtful to a person. It is about clearly defining expectations and monitoring a person’s progress toward meeting those expectations. This has become even more important with the enhanced need to be technologically savvy when working in the accounting world.

I hear the story over and over again. We need a development plan for Sally. Do you have a sample? I ask, “How long has she been with the firm?” The answer, “Ten years.”

The bright spot I am hearing is that, because of working remotely, many firms have increased the responsibility of their managers. Managers must provide feedback AT LEAST twice a month or even weekly. A person who is not meeting expectations should know that fact before they have been with the firm for years.

  • "Leaders set high standards. Refuse to tolerate mediocrity or poor performance"
  • Brian Tracy

Friday, June 4th, 2021

Talking & Writing

“The spoken word and the written — there is an astonishing gulf between them.” – Hercule Poirot 

Working in the CPA profession you do a lot of talking and writing. Are you even aware how you come across to others?

Here’a a Flashback post that address both of these activities.

Enjoy your weekend and do some reading!

  • "It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous."
  • Robert Benchley

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

Interesting Thoughts About Meetings

“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.” – Thomas Sowell, American Writer and Economist

I occasionally repost a blog in its entirety by Seth Godin. I think this one is something CPAs should think about.

My observation is that people working in a CPA firm would be afraid to NOT attend a meeting called by a partner and especially afraid to admit that a meeting would be a waste of time.

Godin’s post:

MEETING NULLIFICATION

Here are two policies it might be fun to try for a week:

Meeting abstention: Anyone invited to an internal meeting has the power to opt-out. “Send me the summary, please.” If someone abstains, they give up their ability to have a say in the meeting, but most meetings these days don’t actually give people a platform to have a say. And then that person can leave the Zoom room and get back to whatever it is they were doing that was actually productive.

Meeting nullification: If anyone in an internal meeting announces that the meeting is a pointless waste of time, it’s over. The meeting organizer is obligated to send everyone the memo that they probably should have sent in the first place.

If you discover that you’re calling meetings where people abstain, or worse, call for nullification, perhaps you should be more careful about which meetings you call and who you invite.

Does your organization have the guts to try this out? Do you, as an attendee, care enough to abstain?

The fact that even discussing this idea is stressful helps us understand status roles and power.

  • "Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better."
  • Peter Drucker

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

4,225

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” – Dr. Seuss

This is my 4,225th blog post. When I stop and think about it, I even wonder how I can have so much to say about managing an accounting firm. Yet, I haven’t said it all!

Today, go to my website and browse through the Categories. There are topics such as:

  • Communication
  • Client Service
  • Crafting Your Career
  • Culture
  • Firm Administrator
  • Generations
  • Leadership
  • Managers
  • Marketing
  • Mentoring
  • Mergers
  • Reading
  • And, the most important one – Partner Topics!

If you are reading my blog via your email, actually go to my website today and see if you can find the answer to something that is challenging you or your firm right now.

  • "Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers."
  • Tony Robbins

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

Surprise Them

“The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” – Harvey Mackay

If you want to retain clients, you need to really get to know them. I don’t mean getting know what services they want and need from your firm. I mean getting to know them as a person.

We have just been through graduation season for high school and college students. Do you know if your clients have a child (or grandchild) graduating this year? If so, did you surprise them by sending a congratulations card to the client acknowledging how proud they must be of their student?

Are some of your clients devoted fans to a sports team? Have you ever surprised them with a coffee mug, a hat or tee shirt for that sports team?

American businessman and author, Harvey Mackay, required his salespeople to find the answers to 66 Questions about each customer. You can see it here.

Maybe it is time for you to develop a similar questionnaire that is appropriate for your accounting firm and ask each relationship manager to discover more about the firm’s clients. Then use it to surprise them.

  • "Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding."
  • Harvey Mackay

Friday, May 28th, 2021

Which One Are You?

“Reading is departure and arrival.” —Terri Guillemets

Summer is on the way. This weekend is often referred to as our first summer holiday and to me summer means more reading.

For Flashback Friday this week read one of my posts that describes a book you should read. The post asks if you are a Linchpin or a Hurdle? Enjoy the 3-day weekend. Click here to read the post.

  • "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. "
  • Dr. Seuss