Organizational Change Starts and Ends with People

What is your firm’s social contract?

By Steven E. Sacks
The NEW Fundamentals

You read about companies every day: those that separate themselves from the competition by disrupting the norms and those that remain steadfast, much to their detriment. For the former, think about Amazon, Uber, Netflix and other “change agents.” Now, think about the latter: JCPenney, Kmart and Sears.

MORE: SWOT’s the Purpose? | Another Meeting?!?! … Sigh | Organizational Trust: Top-Down and Bottom-Up | How Can Change Management Really Produce Change? | Trust: One Building Block of Success
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As the late chairman and CEO of Intel, Andy Grove said, “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”
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SWOT’s the Purpose?

Don’t just go through the motions.

By Steven E. Sacks
The NEW Fundamentals

CPA firms that seek to position themselves for the future must be brutally honest and self-aware. They might normally start with a top-down or bottom-up analysis of their operations. One tool that has been around forever is the SWOT analysis.

MORE: Another Meeting?!?! … Sigh | Busyness Isn’t the Same as Productivity | Staff Orientation: A Little Investment Goes a Long Way | Managing Information Overload | 6 Types of Non-Listeners
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SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. There are benefits to this tool because it serves as a motivator to examine a situation (e.g., operational, cultural, financial), assess core competencies and capabilities, identify the need to (and key drivers of) change and enable – if conducted correctly – an organizational cross-section of input and insight.
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Another Meeting?!?! … Sigh

Business meeting with people around table facing forwardIf they’re necessary, so be it. But set some guidelines.

By Steven E. Sacks
The NEW Fundamentals

When in doubt, call a meeting. Jeez! How many hours in the U.S. are cumulatively wasted on a daily basis with meetings? Are they really necessary?

MORE: Busyness Isn’t the Same as Productivity | Is Your Firm’s Culture a Magnet or a Repellent? | Building Teamwork under COVID Pressure | Make Your Writing Count | Etiquette Never Goes Out of Style | Make News, Not Noise | Take That Extra Breath with Email | Effective Communications in the Age of COVID |The New COVID-19 Workplace: Are You Prepared?
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If yes, do you employ rules of courtesy, such as strongly encouraging punctuality? Do you have a clearly articulated agenda that was distributed in advance of the meeting? If yes, did it provide advance notice about any preparatory work or research expected to be done by the participants? Finally, will the meeting be structured in such a way that it will allow for participation by the complete group?
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Busyness Isn’t the Same as Productivity

Stacks of papers on the corner of a deskDo you really need to go to that meeting?

By Steven E. Sacks
The NEW Fundamentals

Did you ever notice when you call an associate, a friend or a business of any type, more often than not he or she will always respond with “I’m really busy” or “I’ve been jammed up”? It does not matter the time of the year, much less the time of week or day.

MORE: Is Your Firm’s Culture a Magnet or a Repellent? | Organizational Trust: Top-Down and Bottom-Up | How Can Change Management Really Produce Change? | Trust: One Building Block of Success | Make Your Presentations Memorable | Have a Real-Life Conversation | Is Your Message Open to Interpretation?
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Has busy become too colloquial and is simply a throwaway line? What is actually meant by “busy”? Or, more specifically, what is the condition of “busyness”?
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Is Your Firm’s Culture a Magnet or a Repellent?

Magnet drawing in three peopleThe partners want the money; the younger professionals want the meaning.

By Steven E. Sacks
The NEW Fundamentals

In the famous words of management guru Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Accounting firms are starting to get this message because now they are instituting initiatives that would have been laughed at years ago: a) every day is jeans day, b) shorts when there is no client meeting, c) work from home and d) reduced Saturday hours during busy season. And on it goes …

MORE: Organizational Trust: Top-Down and Bottom-Up | Staff Orientation: A Little Investment Goes a Long Way | Managing Information Overload | 6 Types of Non-Listeners | Political Correctness or Just Common Courtesy? | Syncing Up for the COVID Era
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Attracting and retaining quality staff has become one of the top concerns for CPA firms that want to grow and remain competitive. Salary is no longer the number one concern for today’s younger professionals. Opportunity, responsibility, accountability and a well-defined career path are the motivators. Firms are pulling out all the stops to attract professionals who will be viewed as tomorrow’s leaders.
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Organizational Trust: Top-Down and Bottom-Up

Businesspeople chatting around a water coolerAre employees angry? Take time to listen.

By Steven E. Sacks
The NEW Fundamentals

There should be trust among individuals, trust among teams and finally, trust within an organization. The first two have their particular challenges, but when you consider establishing trust across an entire organization, you have to address issues that have been wider impact such as how to communicate pending layoffs, changes in employee benefit packages, or the sale or merger of the firm or organization.

MORE: Staff Orientation: A Little Investment Goes a Long Way | Building Teamwork under COVID Pressure | Make Your Writing Count | Etiquette Never Goes Out of Style | Make News, Not Noise | Take That Extra Breath with Email | Effective Communications in the Age of COVID | The New COVID-19 Workplace: Are You Prepared? | Does Your Firm’s Board Know Its Role? | Are Executive Performance Reviews Dangerous? | There Is No Leadership Without Integrity
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A firm or company must explain the how as well as the what and the why when informing employees. Change can be shocking, it can be demoralizing and it can raise stress to unhealthy levels. It can also increase feelings of hurt and betrayal. We are in a state of flux because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has only added to the tough challenges of globalization, technology and competition. These and other change agents have long been a source of angst well before the pandemic appeared on our radar screens.
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Staff Orientation: A Little Investment Goes a Long Way

Businesswoman shaking hands with someone out of viewWhat do you wish you had known your first week?

By Steven E. Sacks
The NEW Fundamentals

Staff retention and onboarding in CPA firms are ongoing problems. A critical component of retention is staff orientation.

MORE: Building Teamwork under COVID Pressure | How Can Change Management Really Produce Change? | Trust: One Building Block of Success | Make Your Presentations Memorable | Have a Real-Life Conversation | Is Your Message Open to Interpretation? | Why Proper Communication Is Critical
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Because of the accounting profession’s regulatory nature, firms have provided CPE in accounting, auditing and tax updates. Why? Because adherence to rules and standards is mandatory. But what about other areas to ensure that the firm’s professionals are given the tools and knowledge to perform at their optimal level?
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The Myth of Multitasking

More activity doesn’t mean better productivity.

By Steven E. Sacks
The NEW Fundamentals

How many people believe they thrive on doing at least two things at a time and believe that they are achieving optimal results? When you are on the phone, do you ever hear the clack, clack, clack of the keyboard in the background of the other party? Or if you are in the middle of a conversation do you sense that the other party has to put you on hold because there was someone who may have entered his or her office? Or, finally, you use a hands-free device for your conference call, do you put it on mute and then conduct in-person conversations in your office, or go through your email?

MORE: Building Teamwork under COVID Pressure | How Can Change Management Really Produce Change? | Trust: One Building Block of Success | Make Your Presentations Memorable | Exchanging Knowledge Has No Downside | Political Correctness or Just Common Courtesy?
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What happens? You lose the essence of the conference call; you may have been given an assignment you missed or you did not respond to questions that were directed toward you. What does this tell the host of the call or the other participants? Not only are you rude, but you may be the person who will throw a wrench into the spokes of an initiative that everyone is invested in.
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Building Teamwork under COVID Pressure

Handshake at an office meetingThe pandemic only highlights problems that existed before the office buildings were bolted shut.

By Steven E. Sacks
The NEW Fundamentals

With the COVID outbreak, businesses of all types have had their teams work remotely while trying to ensure that the team structure was secure.

MORE: How Can Change Management Really Produce Change? | Managing Information Overload | 6 Types of Non-Listeners | Listening: How a Conversation Works | Exchanging Knowledge Has No Downside | Political Correctness or Just Common Courtesy? | Syncing Up for the COVID Era
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How to communicate with and ensure trust with each team member has presented challenges – some having to do with issues that normally occur even in an in-person setting, in pre-pandemic times.

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