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Fall Firm Challenge: 5 Strategies For Strength

Posted By Sandra Wiley, Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This post was first published at http://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/blog/10778642/fall-firm-challenge-5-strategies-for-strength

We are in the final 4 months of 2012. I’m issuing a challenge to everyone out there to strengthen your firm’s culture by implementing the following 5 strategies in your firm. 

Don't criticize the team. It is super easy to walk around and see things that you would like to change and believe that you have all of the answers that will solve the issues within your firm. Stop criticizing and blaming and start looking for ideas and solutions. There are likely things that need to change but if you choose the path of criticism, you will come off as rude and the team will feel compelled to defend themselves.

Ask "Name one thing that we should stop doing immediately to make us more effective?" Your staff does not want more work -- and "give me your ideas!" always seems to result in someone having to do more work. This question will get people talking and the ideas flying. You'll also find out a lot about what individuals are probably saying anyway, you just may not have heard the ideas directly.

Listen. Duh. Of course you're planning to listen. But I mean actually listen. If you're in a staff meeting and someone actually is brave enough to flout cultural norms and give an idea, listen to it. Take notes on it. Ask non-threatening follow-up questions, questions that don't require the person to do extra work or implies in any way that the idea is a bad one. Thank the person profusely. Then actually look into the suggestion. 

Respond to all ideas. The quality of the ideas don’t matter at first -- your staff may be subconsciously testing your resolve anyway -- respond in a positive manner. Thank people for sharing. Implement where possible. You may actually have a better idea, but if you want to train your employees to speak up, you may have to accept less than perfect in order to encourage more ideas.

Hold regular 1:1 and staff meetings. When you want to open the lines of communication, you need to carve out time to talk with them. Your staff will not really trust you if they don't know you. These meetings will give opportunities to share ideas. Keep them short and sweet, though. Nobody wants to spend their life in a meeting.

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VIDEO: Making Expense Reports Easy

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Recorded January 2012.

1 minute

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Tags:  2012  Apps  Blog  L. Gary Boomer 

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VIDEO: Access Your Notes Anywhere

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Recorded January 2012.

1 minute

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Tags:  2012  Apps  Blog  L. Gary Boomer 

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VIDEO: Succession Planning

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2 minutes

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Tags:  2012  Blog  L. Gary Boomer  succession planning 

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VIDEO: Expensify App

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2 minutes

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Tags:  2012  Apps  Blog  Jim Boomer 

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VIDEO: The Best HR Policy

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012

1 minute

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Tags:  2012  Blog  HR Policy  Sandra Wiley 

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VIDEO: Effective and Efficient Processes

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2 minutes

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Tags:  2012  Blog  L. Gary Boomer  processes 

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Revenue Growth Through Collaboration

Posted By L. Gary Boomer, Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012

by L. Gary Boomer, CEO, Boomer Consulting, Inc. 

There are multiple ways to grow your firm, from expanding service lines to mergers and acquisitions. While these are both viable strategies, it is often easy to overlook opportunities associated with existing services and clients. Tax planning and compliance is a great example and an area that almost all firms currently provide services. However, due to the increasing complexity of ever changing legislation at the Federal and State levels plus the importance of international tax; I believe firms often discount the opportunities. Granted, there is a high degree of complexity and some firms may not have the internal resources or a large enough client base to justify acquiring the capabilities required to offer some of the more sophisticated services related to tax credits (jobs, energy, enterprise zones, etc.) as well as cost segregation.

There is a simple management strategy that is often overlooked when it comes to complexity and many accounting firms get caught in the trap. In order to break through the ceiling of complexity you must first step back and simplify the approach. The purpose of this post is to demonstrate a proven process to simplification and allow CPAs and firms to think differently about matching opportunities with capabilities. By thinking differently, you will probably challenge some of the existing strategies and perhaps even some of the processes that have made you successful. The old saying that what got you to this level of success won’t get you to the next level is often true when dealing with increased complexity.

We are talking about the development or access to the required capabilities necessary to leverage current and future opportunities. If you don’t have those capabilities or access to them, your firm will miss opportunities. If you do have the capabilities, but not the opportunities, you will generally underperform and have trouble retaining and attracting quality talent due to the lack of growth opportunities. Internal discussions often evolve into the chicken or the egg arguments.

Let’s take one step back from what most firms are doing today and assess how to develop talent and capabilities based upon today’s opportunities. Most firm’s think in terms of internal resources, especially larger firms, but this may not make the most sense economically. Think big (10 times) and how you can leverage this opportunity with little or no additional investment in labor or technology!

In our profession, talent provides capabilities and the market provides the opportunities. Talent is developed primarily with three key components:

  1. Self-motivation and life-long learning 
  2. Access to experts and experience
  3. Relationships with peers

This approach may be different than the rugged individual approach many seasoned professionals are accustomed to.  Today, the complexity and breadth of knowledge requires a team approach in order to scale.

Here are some basic questions CPAs and firms should ask when evaluating new or expanded services.

  1. Will this service provide value to the client?
  2. Who is going to champion this service?
  3. Does the champion have the passion, time, team and budget to be successful?
  4. Does the firm have the necessary capabilities or should we source with an external expert?
  5. Does the firm know how to name, package, brand and price this service?
  6. Is there a community of peers we can join in order to accelerate our ability to balance capabilities with opportunities?
The tendency is to short-cut the planning and start charging hours to a project.  This often results in large write-offs and poor client service.  Taking the time to think, plan and grow will increase the probability and level of success. 

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VIDEO: What is the CIO Advantage?

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 19, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012

1 minute

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Tags:  2012  Blog  CIO Advantage  Jim Boomer 

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VIDEO: Books That Impact Management

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 12, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2 minutes

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Tags:  2012  Blog  Book Recommendation  Bruce Tulgan  Management  Sandra Wiley 

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