Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

A Job Description Is Important – But, There Is More

“Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.” – Margaret Walker

Offering individualized job descriptions to your staff is definitely something you should be doing. I find that in smaller firms, job descriptions are something that is not always offered. Employees just learn what they should do and they do it.

The next-gen workforce (Gen Z) wants to know exactly what will be expected of them. Career development is a must. They are ambitious and desire opportunities for advancing in their careers. Set clear, concise expectations for them.

There are probably several people on your team who might bristle when asked to do a certain task. They are thinking, and probably don’t say it out loud, “that’s not in my job description!”

The truth is, there are many things that you must do in an office environment that are not spelled out on your job description.

Seth Godin, in one of his blog posts, listed things that are missing from your job description if you work in an office. Below, are a few (read the entire list here.)

  • Ask why
  • Treat customers better than they expect
  • Feed the plants
  • Highlight good work from your peers
  • Cut costs
  • Organize a bookshelf
  • Smile a lot
  • Leave things more organized than you found them
  • and many more

Here are some that apply to an accounting office. I bet you can add more!

  • Never leave a mess at the coffee station
  • Don’t mess with the thermostat
  • Don’t eat someone else’s lunch that is in the frig
  • Greet every client who might be sitting in the lobby
  • Always offer a visitor a coffee or soft drink
  • If you have an issue with a peer, talk to them about it and no one else
  • and many more!

Read about my CPA Firm Courtesy Policy here.

  • "Good manners and graciousness pave the way for future favors. Bad manners crumble the road. "
  • Terri Guillemets

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

Offering Client Accounting Services

“Technology is, of course, a double-edged sword. Fire can cook our food but also burn us.” – Jason Silva

It has been a really hot service offering for many firms over the last couple of years. I am talking about CAS (or whatever name your firm calls it).

You can’t provide CAS without the technology to support it. Make sure you are budgeting properly for technology in 2020.

I was reading over my list of current trends in the accounting profession for 2019 and this one caught my attention. I hope it captures yours, too.

Developing Client Accounting Services – The firm that assembles the numbers will see the advisory opportunities first, and that firm will likely be the most trusted business advisor in the long term.

  • "Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation."
  • Dean Kamen

Monday, November 18th, 2019

If Mom Says No – Ask Dad

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

Beware of the age-old behavior that kids use – They want something and they ask their mother. Then, if Mom vetoes the activity, they go behind her back and ask their father (without telling him they already asked Mom). Maybe, just maybe, Dad will say yes and they are very happy and proceed to move ahead.

This occurs in accounting firms. An employee wants to do something a certain way. The partner on the project says, “No, do it according to the firm procedures.” The employee seeks out a different partner, perhaps one they work for more often, and whines about having to do the client project a certain way when they can do it faster “the old way.” The second partner, not wanting to get into a big discussion, just says “Do it however you think is best.”

Owners should be united in many ways even in how work is processed. Of course, they should discuss the processes, modify if necessary but then commit to the processes they helped establish.

Partner unity (in all things) is important in becoming a one-firm firm rather than a group sole-practitioners under one roof. I call those firms silo firms. You can be a silo firm and make decent money but don’t call yourself a one-firm firm if you really aren’t one.

 

 

  • "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
  • Vince Lombardi

Friday, November 15th, 2019

Words Are Currency – Spend Them Wisely

“A fool is made more of a fool when their mouth is more open than their mind.” – Anthony Liccione

Have you ever been in a meeting where someone spews words in a never-ending dialogue that is pretty much meaningless? It seems they just enjoy hearing themselves talk.

I believe that communication within CPA firms needs to be continuous and enlightening but that doesn’t mean too many meetings where certain people ramble on and on. I recently read the following and realized how meaningful it is to CPA firm meetings.

Joe had always considered individual words as finite units of currency, and he believed in savings. He never wanted to waste or unnecessarily expend words. To Joe, words meant things. They should be spent wisely.

That’s why Joe despised meetings where he felt the participants acted as if they were paid by the number of words spoken and, as a result, the words began to cheapen by the minute until they meant nothing at all. In Joe’s experience, the person who talked the most often had the least to say. (C. J. Box, author)

Does this apply to someone at your firm? Is it you?

  • "Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about themselves, and small people talk about others."
  • John C. Maxwell

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

Tone It Down

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” – Zig Ziglar

You are in a firm meeting. It could be a partner meeting, a staff meeting, a committee meeting or an admin meeting. Someone complains (gripes.. bitches…) and another person joins in and soon there are several on the bandwagon.

Think about it. It probably happens all too frequently. In some cases, the person running the meeting (a manager, partner, firm administrator) actually joins in. They feel like they are sympathizing and showing support for the concerns.

If you are leading a meeting that suddenly turns into a gripe session, don’t join in. Tone it down! You might think you are building camaraderie but you are actually undermining your own credibility.

Take immediate steps to turn these bitch sessions into productive, problem-solving meetings. You might simply say, “Wait a minute, I hear the problem. Let’s talk about solutions.” Enlist the entire group into voicing possible solutions.

  • "Everyone has to make their own decisions. I still believe in that. You just have to be able to accept the consequences without complaining."
  • Grace Jones

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Solutions Rather Than Problems

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”–Jim Collins

CPAs, along with all others who are hiring, are looking to hire people who bring solutions rather than problems. As amazing as it seems, CPAs tend to keep people for years who are definitely problems.

Per FAST Company, when asked nearly half of recruiters and hiring managers cited potential as the number-one factor, beating out experience (37%), personality (16%), and education (2%).

When you are hiring, are you looking for potential? I have observed that CPA hiring managers are usually looking for experience. The fact is experienced accountants, no matter what their level, are very hard to find and even more difficult to keep. Plus, they always bring “baggage” with them.

Hopefully, you have a strong intern program and are hiring from that pool of talent in an effort to build your firm for the future.  In this day and age, you need to look for candidates who have the willingness and ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances. The best employees are lifelong learners and are always seeking new experiences. Does that sound like the accountants on your staff? I doubt it. Many CPAs, not all, are known for avoiding change (and new experiences).

As you hire the new generation of accountants, I think you will find candidates who have the willingness and ability to grow and adapt. Maybe it is time to update your interview and selection process. (I have an Interview & Selection Guide that is available for purchase. Contact me if you are interested.)

 

  • "You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb it."
  • Andrew Carnegie

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Should Sole Practitioners Have Retreats?

“Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities.” – Terry Josephson

If you are part of a smaller firm, with one owner or two partners and are reading this blog – my answer is a resounding YES!

Just because you don’t have a multi-partner firm doesn’t mean you should not devote a special time and place for strategic planning. Try involving your entire team in the planning session. When I have facilitated these types of planning sessions, the employees contribute an amazing amount of relevant ideas and suggestions.

Sole practitioners who include their entire team in sculpting the firm’s future are making a positive difference for their firms. I believe it is a tactic that smaller firms should embrace wholeheartedly. It’s not too late to have this type of session in December or early January. It could even be a half-day event with a follow-up session in late April.

  • "Take a chance! All life is a chance. A person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare."
  • Dale Carnegie

Monday, November 11th, 2019

The Problem Might Be You

“Influence means your behaviors matter. The people around you – to some degree – reflect you.” – Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak

If you are a partner in the firm and it bothers you when people are not punctual yet, you often come into the office late, others think it is okay.

If you are the manager on a review engagement and because you are experienced, you cut a corner or two, others think it is okay.

If you are at the Senior level in a firm and you are not completely accurate and punctual recording your time on jobs, others think it is okay.

If you are the firm administrator and you occasionally take an extended lunch hour for no particular reason, others think it is okay.

No matter what your title, your peers and others observe what you do and are influenced by your actions. What you do and the behaviors you adopt make a difference – you are an influencer.

You can also strive to be a GOOD example. That also influences others.

 

  • "Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing."
  • Albert Schweitzer

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Accountants & Emotional Intelligence

“Emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness.” – Justin Bariso

There has been a lot of talk and many things written about accountants having a fairly low EQ (Emotional Intelligence). CPAs are often cautious, conservative, reserved and hesitant to show any emotion. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on raising your level of emotional intelligence.

Last December I did a post titled, You Are Business Smart. Are You Feelings Smart? I mentioned Justin Bariso and his 3-Second Trick (to help with EQ).

Bariso recently wrote another article to help with EQ in his column via Inc. Take This 5-Minute Test to See if You Have High Emotional Intelligence. I hope you will take 5 minutes to see where you stand. Do you think before you speak? Do you learn from negative feedback? –and several more good questions to ask yourself.

  • "Paying attention to body language, eye movement, and tone of voice helps emotionally intelligent people to distinguish what's going on in others. "
  • Justin Bariso

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

Tune-In To Individuals

“The way management treats associates is exactly how the associates will treat the customers.” – Sam Walton

I follow Bruce Tulgan on Twitter. I have read his books and heard him speak in person. He speaks my language! If you are working in a CPA firm and manage people, he speaks your language, too.

Last week, I sent a copy of It’s Okay To Be The Boss to a young millennial who was just promoted to Manager in one of the “big” firms. She is charged with managing other millennials (even younger) and already realizes the challenges she is facing. So, it is not only baby boomers and GenX who wonder how to manage younger workers.

I hope you follow him on Twitter, also. I hope you also follow me on Twitter!

Here’s a recent tweet from Tulgan:

Customization is the holy grail of effective management today. The more you can tune in to the individual wants, needs, strengths, and weaknesses of each individual, the better you are able to guide and support them.
tulgan

  • "Management is nothing more than motivating other people."
  • Lee Iacocca