BY L. GARY BOOMER
Want to change your results?
Change your culture
Gary Boomer, CPA, is the president of
Boomer Consulting, in Manhattan, Kan.
Your firm’s culture produces the re- sults you are getting! Not happy with your results? Don’t blame it all on the
economy. Perhaps your firm doesn’t have
the right culture to produce the results that
In their new book Change the Culture
— Change the Game, Roger Connors and
Tom Smith address the connection between
culture and results. This is very applicable
to CPA firms and their clients in today’s rapidly changing environment driven by the microchip. Your firm must be on the right side
of technology and ensure that your culture
aligns with the desired results.
You will notice that I use the term results,
rather than goals. Goals give the connotation
that a firm is going to try, while results are
more confident and action-oriented.
The economy and the Internet have exposed the fact that firms are playing a different game today than they were in the past.
Change management and accountability
are two of the primary challenges that firm
leaders face, along with growing revenue.
Accountability is generally misconstrued,
and especially by accountants, to indicate
punishment for under-performance, rather
than enabling talent to excel and utilize their
unique abilities in a team environment.
Simply changing attitudes and beliefs
can foster new behaviors that will produce
improved results. Connors and Smith offer
a simple model, which explains how most
firms operate. According to Dan Sullivan,
founder of The Strategic Coach, simplicity
is the key to breaking through the level of
complexity in order to reach a level of higher
The formula is based on experiences, be-
liefs, actions and results: Experiences drive
beliefs, beliefs drive actions and actions drive
results. Therefore, it is very important for ev-
eryone in a firm to understand the vision and
desired results, if the firm expects its talent to
perform at a high level. From my consulting
experience, often the majority of staff, man-
agers and partners are out of alignment with
the leader’s vision. In fact, it is quite common
for many partners and managers to not even
understand the economic engine (or model)
of the firm. Too often they only see a portion
of the entire operation.
FOCUS ON DEVELOPING TALENT
Firm leaders continue to say that they are in
the talent business and that talent is their No.
1 asset. However, their focus is generally on
retention and attraction, rather than on development of talent.
The “Best Places to Work” awards have become so prevalent recently that they are becoming less meaningful, and in some cases
are nothing more than ploys to gain advertising dollars or attendance at conferences.
An award for the development of talent is far
more relevant, important and transformational. Think about it: Employers who have
a reputation for developing talent don’t have
to worry about attraction and retention. They
are able to attract and retain the best and
brightest. Their employees remain employable throughout their careers.
Some firms are starting to wake up to the
fact that the abundance of people will be
short-lived and many of the people currently
on the market do not have the skills required
to meet client demands. Other employees are
becoming obsolete due to the fact that they
have not maintained their skills, especially in
technology and management. I did not say
they don’t have the capability, but rather the
focus has not been on lifelong learning and
talent development. Firms should become
training and learning cultures where every-
one is a teacher and a learner. The training/
learning culture promotes excellence, rather
A CULTURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Let’s go back to the importance of accountability and how it is the major factor in determining results and is vital to your culture.
Your firm’s culture produces your results. The
most effective culture is a culture of accountability. The change process breaks down
quickly if there is not accountability. With
accountability, people will embrace their
roles in the facilitation of change and demonstrate ownership of their responsibilities. The
attitude of “It’s not my job” will be replaced
with “What can I do to make the firm more
successful?” It is the firm leadership’s responsibility to shift the culture based upon the defined results. The chief executive or managing
partner’s biggest challenge is managing and
holding partners accountable.
Clearly articulating the expected results
in a clear, concise and consistent manner is
extremely important. When it comes to metrics, accountants tend to over-complicate
the message by providing too much information. A few clearly stated results will improve
thinking, actions and results.
Here are some of the more important re-
sults firm leadership should communicate
to the entire firm:
Net revenue growth over the next three
years. (This can be fluid, but should be de-
Revenue per full-time equivalent (
defined as 2,080 total hours).