10 Ways to Hold Partners Accountable

business meeting of a woman and two menDo your firm’s core values mean anything?

By Marc Rosenberg
The Role of the Managing Partner

We have addressed the techniques managing partners use to manage the partners. One of the most effective tactics to show leadership in working with partners – and managing the firm – is to create ways to establish accountability for their behavior and conduct. In this post, we drill down on this.

MORE: Five Ways to Evaluate Partners | Compensation Is No Way to Manage Partners | Clarify Partner Expectations | Exceptional Managing Partners Offer Their Advice
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I have had the privilege of working with dozens of highly effective managing partners during my career. These leaders are the CPA profession’s equivalent of rock stars. One question I always ask them: What makes your firm so successful? They almost never cite the obvious suspects: Great at bringing in business. Lots of billable hours. High rates. Expertise. Long work hours.
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Five Ways to Evaluate Partners

Woman conducting evaluationBONUS: Two forms you can use.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

Why do firms conduct performance evaluations of partners?

  • To clarify what is expected of the partner
  • To improve performance
  • To provide management with information to use in allocating partner income, which should be linked to performance

MORE: Compensation Is No Way to Manage Partners | Make Sure Partners Focus on Two Things | Entitled Rainmakers and Other Practice Development Errors | Breaking It Down: Marketing Job Descriptions | How and Why to Hire a Marketing Director | How to Brand and Differentiate Your Firm
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Five types of partner evaluations

  1. Self-evaluation
  2. Upward evaluations of the partners by the staff
  3. Client satisfaction and loyalty surveys
  4. Peer evaluations
  5. Traditional one-on-one appraisal sessions, same as for staff

Larger firms use evaluations more than smaller firms. This is because larger firms tend to have more sophisticated management practices, including partner accountability, which is one of several techniques for managing partner behavior and conduct. Smaller firms often avoid partner evaluations because they struggle with partner accountability. That’s not good, but that’s the life they lead.
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Compensation Is No Way to Manage Partners

Man counting $100 bills into three piles6 ways to combine it with personal interventions.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Role of the Managing Partner

Too many firms’ primary way to manage partner performance and hold them accountable is with compensation. Their reasoning is this:

MORE: Make Sure Partners Focus on Two Things | Manage Partners with Goal Setting | Overarching Authority That Managing Partners Must Have | Herding Cats: Advice for Managing Partners
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If partners perform well, they will see their reward in the form of higher compensation. If partners perform below expectations, they will get the message in the form of a disappointing compensation number. Other methods are not necessary. It’s all about the money.
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4 Big Issues That Firms Face

Purple No. 4 billiard ballPLUS: How the merger picture HASN’T changed.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg MAP Survey

An extraordinarily perfect storm was experienced by CPA firms in 2020: the endless tax season plus the virus. In mid-July, five months after the virus’s onset, no one knew anything for sure going forward – neither the science of the virus and people’s health nor the economic impact of the virus on the business world.

MORE: Pandemic Highlights Value of Digital Files | Remote Work Success Helps Solve Staffing Shortages | You Like Being Remote, But What About Your Clients? | COVID-19 Shakes Up M&A Activity | We Adapted to Remote Work … Now What?
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Here is data from a survey we took of 61 CPA firms in mid-June. Virtually all firms had annual revenue of $35 million or less, with the average being about $10 million. It is important to understand these firm sizes because the top 25-50 firms were making more drastic operational moves (mainly layoffs and partner draw reductions) than typical local CPA firms.
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Make Sure Partners Focus on Two Things

Mentor showing project presentation to mentee9 ways to help partners manage their clients.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Role of the Managing Partner

CPA firm partners have a tendency to get sucked in to many activities. There is a macho aspect to their personalities that says, “Bring it on, I can handle it.”

MORE: Manage Partners with Goal Setting | Clarify Partner Expectations | How the Managing Partner Manages the Partners | Overarching Authority That Managing Partners Must Have | Exceptional Managing Partners Offer Their Advice | Why Management Is the #1 Key to the Firm’s Success
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No. No. No. They cannot handle it well. The notion that multitasking is an efficient, desirable mode of conduct is pure myth and has been debunked by numerous studies.
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Pandemic Highlights Value of Digital Files

Post with two signs, "same" and "change"CPE and training needs are evolving.

By Roman Kepczyk

Last year’s extension to July 15 made for a very drawn-out busy season but did allow firms to shift resources to assist clients with PPP loans and other compliance. Second, the move to remote/cloud was forced rapidly and pointed out the advantage of firms already utilizing cloud vendors and hosting providers as their transition was seamless.

MORE: Pandemic Lesson: Innovate Faster | Remote Work Success Helps Solve Staffing Shortages | Firms Face Business Realities | More Complex Work = Higher Fees, Right? | You Like Being Remote, But What About Your Clients? | Remote Work Is More Productive
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Third, the difficulty and caution in physically meeting firm members and clients face to face forced adoption of virtual solutions such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams and pointed out the value of having a digital workflow tool as well as the importance of having all files in a digital format accessible remotely.
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Stop Trying to Get ‘Back to Normal’

You’ll be missing opportunities if you do.

By Art Kuesel

The thirst for knowledge about how to manage and lead a firm in difficult times has gone through the roof, as has the focus from important to urgent. Firms took a while to adjust to a fully remote work force, but many of the related challenges such as productivity and team development were met with creative and effective solutions.

MORE: Pandemic Lesson: Innovate Faster | More Complex Work = Higher Fees, Right? | Advisory Services: Real Commitment or Just Talk? | 2021: You’ll Never See ‘Normal’ Again | COVID Brought Us More and Better Client Communication
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It’s my opinion that several challenges have yet to be tackled, including managing 100 percent remote client engagements effectively, virtual business development and achieving a sustainable and less disruptive approach to “daily” life within the firm. Everyone is dealing with so much change, and it is nearly impossible to plan long-term. We are still very much dealing with urgent issues daily, leaving important ones for another day.
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How to Prosper in a Pandemic

Crisis brings needed change and new opportunity.

By Allan Koltin

The most significant changes our profession have seen so far are remote workplaces and, not surprisingly, remote client service. I think the dust has settled at this point and firms understand that these are not flavors of the month, but rather permanent changes to the landscape of our profession.

MORE: Pandemic Lesson: Innovate Faster | Remote Work Success Helps Solve Staffing Shortages | You Like Being Remote, But What About Your Clients? | COVID-19 Shakes Up M&A Activity | SURVEY: We Adapted to Remote Work … Now What?
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It’s fascinating that the COVID pandemic was responsible for speeding up what otherwise would have taken 5-10 years into 5-10 weeks.
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Pandemic Lesson: Innovate Faster

"Opportunity just ahead" road sign in desertBe prepared to seize unexpected opportunities.

By Kristen Rampe
The Rosenberg MAP Survey

COVID proved which firms were up to date on their technology and ability to manage via strong relationships and trust. It was fascinating (and occasionally tragic) to watch, and an eye opener for those on the less-prepared end.

MORE: Remote Work Is More Productive | COVID-19 Shakes Up M&A Activity | 2021: You’ll Never See ‘Normal’ Again | We Adapted to Remote Work … Now What? | 2020’s Disruptions Are Only the Beginning
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Most significant changes we noted:

  • CPAs gained confidence in their ability to work remotely. It may not have been pretty, but they did it! Some firm leaders even said they may never go back to their old commute.
  • Increased consulting engagements. This was driven because it was forced on firms (e.g., PPP loan assistance). However, the fact that many firms were willing and able to charge clients (when appropriate) for this work demonstrated their ability to be in the game beyond compliance work.

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