Art of Accounting: The middle of the war

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Tax season can be one of your best opportunities or a miserable war. To me it has always been a fantastic period. To many of my colleagues it is a continuous losing battle. The shame of this is that both feelings are transmitted to staff.

The unreasonable workload compression causes much overtime, some rush work, a harried atmosphere, schedule juggling and switching, loss of sleep, and some poor-nutrition meals. Yet, in some firms, there is an overall upbeat attitude, positive feelings and great camaraderie, while in others, the exact opposite.

I could identify many reasons, including good processes, well-trained staff, coordinated scheduling between the client, preparer and reviewer, efficient use of software and artificial intelligence, effective review processes, a continuous learning atmosphere, and a dozen other best practices. However, there is one element that completely separates the successful firms from those with unhappy partners and staff. That is the positive upbeat outlook of the partners or owners as opposed to the negative defeatist attitude of the partners or owners.

Seeing the opportunity or experiencing the drudgery is up to the owners and partners. It costs nothing, takes no added time, and violates no culture goals for the owners to be happy, appear to be calm, not push staff unnecessarily, and assure the firm’s processes and procedures are followed and are available to make decisions on the spot.

It’s not a war; it’s a necessary part of your practice.

Be calm. Be happy. Be appreciative of your staff. Be nice when referring to annoying clients.

Be smart! How you act will determine how your staff reacts to tax season. Be a winner…and smile!

Do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com with your practice management questions.

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 along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. 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) 743-4582 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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Tax season Tax practice Practice management Ed Mendlowitz Practice structure