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The best people to ask about your performance are your team

Stop the madness! How not to repeat last tax season

How are you making your Firm its #1 Client?

Hello.  I presented a webinar to a group of firms last week which included a polling question asking them to respond to the question about which Profit Driver they need to focus on the most.

Interestingly, 60% (Wow!)of the firms responded we need to work on Making our Firm the #1 Client, which leads me to a question for you and your firm as you think about and prepare for next tax season:

  • What practices are you employing that are Making the Firm the #1 Client?
  • What practices are you employing that are NOT Making the Firm the #1 Client?

As a reminder, the best people to ask are your team members!

Related article: Stop the madness! How NOT to repeat last tax season!

Stop the madness! How NOT to repeat last tax season!

Time to put a stop to tax season madness!

Time to put a stop to tax season madness!

4/15 and 9/15 have been some of the most stressful in years for tax practitioners.

To get on top of that, we know many firms who held tax season debriefs to get some things off their chests and develop actionable items around the issues of clients, technology, team and creating value.

Thinking about the forthcoming tax season, one of the matters to focus on is how CPA firms allocate their time in a way that reflects their values, strengths and vision for their life and firm, and examining if they might be holding onto old ways of thinking, or doing business that limits their abilities.

Thankfully, there are some questions that CPAs can ask now

This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list, but will get the conversation moving and help determine how your firm might be better equipped:  Read More…

Do not let bad customers drive out your good team members!

Do not work unprofitably.

Do not work unprofitably.

You may have heard me quote Ron Baker, “Do not let your bad customers drive out your good customers”. That statement is still relevant today.

We now need to be extremely mindful and action oriented that we do not allow bad customers to drive out good team members.

Let me explain.

The past 4 business days I have been contacted by 4 firms where the Partner asked me for advice regarding a team member who came to them after 9/16 (word on the street is it was very painful) and said, “Mr. or Mrs. Partner. I can’t work the hours anymore.”

Here are key variables:  Read More…

Adapting to and methodically embracing technology

Technology will continue to displace jobs and if we want to excel we need to continue to adapt and methodically embrace!

Technology continues to displace jobs. If we want to excel we need to continue to adapt and methodically embrace it!

I attended the Xero conference in San Francisco last week and a number of firm leaders have gone back to their firms gung-ho to implement!

However, what they are finding is resistance from their team members (sometimes this is disguised as “our clients won’t like it.”)

My suggestion is to take one small step back and make change a core value or core competency in your firm.  Read More…

It’s Summer! To avoid the Summer Doldrums we need to engage our people

Hello.  I am re-reading a great book (and one that I recommend) by Dan Ariely (James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University),  Predictably Irrational.

predictably irrationalThe book is about decision making (behavior and economics).  Ariely has some very powerful examples on Price Anchoring and Price Relativity that I will share on our August call.  Ariely also has a free course which a CPA/CFO friend of mine has taken and said it is very good.

Finally, Ariely’s work led me to an interesting (TEDTalk) he did titled “What Makes Us Feel Good About our Work”.

Ariely has, not surprisingly, some very relevant findings about what makes us more productive and happier at work which is the reason for my post.  I believe his themes below are very consistent with our ongoing dialogue about how to engage our team members at more productive and higher levels. Read More…

Technology, labor supply and attitude shift impacts accounting firms and the roles people play

Technology, supply of labor, and a shift in traditional attitudes has dramatically impacted the accounting firm and, most importantly, the roles people play at all levels.

Accounting firms do more with less meaning at all levels accountants do varied things from varied locations. People do their work from home, the office, client sites and the coffee shop.

NICA suits

The new world of a flat accounting firm, along with a rapidly changing business climate, punishes fixed skills and rewards flexible ones. What those in accounting firms do stretches across functional boundaries including client service, sales, project management and workflow driven almost exclusively with technology.

In short, everyone in a firm must do everything. Read More…

Moving forward in tax ‘off season’

Congratulations again on the end of tax season! 

Tax 'Off Season'

Tax ‘Off Season’ kicks off right now

I hope it was successful and that you have a few days off (if not more) planned in the very near future!

Going into the “off season” one of the matters we are going to be focusing on and dialoguing about is how we allocate our time in a way that reflects our values, strengths and vision for our life and our firm?

We will also examine if we are holding onto old ways of thinking, or doing business that limits our abilities.

Just a few thoughts to ponder as you have some time to think!

Planning a tax season debrief with your team?

Hello and Congratulations on the end of tax season!

Office workers in meeting

Let your team get things off their chest

I know many of you are planning a tax season debrief with your team. The outcomes are typically two-fold:

  1. Let your team get some things off their chest.
  2. Develop an action item list.

Of course, the session needs to be constructive and do not let the team focus on the negative.  In order, to keep it positive always ask what went well with the function and ask that your team be constructive.

Here are some questions that you can ask.  This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list. It will get the conversation moving and you need to customize for your firm. Read More…

Complaining

Complaining is unhelpful and draining

Complaining is unhelpful and draining

Sadly complaining has been become a way of life for many people.

I have sat in on several tax season debriefs, some with only partners and some with team members with the partners.  No matter how I position negative observations as unhelpful and we are looking for suggestions to improve there is still a fair amount of complaining.

Complaining is unhelpful and draining.

So what can do we do to reduce the amount of complaining? Read More…

Key Accounting Firm Insights

  • To succeed in the future we need to start to re-think the sacred cows (the old way to profitability is more hours and face time).
  • If one of our biggest issues is time why do we continue to work on unprofitable clients (the ones where we don’t achieve our target Average Hourly Charge Rates or Gross Profit Margins).
  • Your ideal firm will be easier to run than the one you are running today.
  • The difference between where you are today and where you can be in the future is discipline.
  • We are our own worst negotiator.
  • The fish stinks from the head down.
  • Real Value is in the form of communication (goals, objectives, emotions not financials or tax returns).
  • Do not take what you know for granted (i.e. it isn’t basic and do not under-sell it).
  • Working remotely is not diluted work.  It is working.  Drop the word remote.
  • Team members do things for their reasons not ours.
  • Perspective is hard to obtain in the office.
  • The traditional ownership model is becoming obsolete.
  • Partners need to stop owning the relationship.
  • Need to stop viewing confrontation as negative.
  • We need to evaluate where we are inconveniencing our clients.
  • Clients pay dearly for what they value dearly.