Art of Accounting: Firing season

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Many firms fire staff after tax season. The reason being that they feel they needed to get through tax season and those who are not good are let go as soon as practical. I did it differently.

If someone was no good, I let them go when I realized that. If that left me shorthanded during tax season, so be it. But I never saw how it was profitable to keep people who were not doing good work just so I had someone working on tax returns. I never saw logic in this.

When you have an active practice, you have staff coming and going. We hired out of school, trained our staff and were good at it. We had strong systems and hired smart people who listened and followed instructions, and we got good work from them. If we saw some staff people were not capable of following our instructions, we let them go. It did not matter what the date was. I would rather have no one than someone who did lousy or unacceptable work. In the long run, my working harder was preferable to paying someone who caused 40 or 50 percent (at least) additional time correcting and fixing what they did.

Yet many firms subject themselves to these subpar employees who do not have a clue, are disruptive and cause managers and partners to work harder at unscheduled times making up for the incompetent work being done by people costing them money. Dealing with reality is what good leaders and managers do. Every delayed firing is a failure of management. I’ve been there. I’ve been subjected to it. I think (and hope) I’ve figured it out. And I hope I am getting my point across.

Yes, post-tax season is firing season. Make this your last firing season.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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Tax season Tax practice Employee retention Ed Mendlowitz