Tax Season Complaining Mantra: Idiots, Fools, and Loons

It never fails. Beginning in January, the professional trade press followed soon thereafter by the associations, then by firm leaders, and finally team members, the complaining about tax (or busy if you prefer) season begins. Then for about 10 weeks, emails, Twitter posts, Facebook status updates, water cooler conversations, to frequently center on the (perceived) misery of the day. I don’t get it. Is our (and My) profession just a bunch of wining wimps and complainers? I mean, get a life people.

Lets look at this issue. One – you (assuming at least this applies to you) are a Professional that freely chose the CPA related Profession. And like a mall-based retailer, this is our Christmas Season. It happens every year and if it didn’t you probably wouldn’t have a job, or a house, or a car. You might be simply another beggar along the exit ramp with a sign – of will work for food. Tax season is our harvest. It is our opportunity to meet with and perform wonderful services for a vast percentage of our citizens and communities.

Yes you may work more then during other months. Yes, you may have more people clamoring for attention then you like.

So What!

Get over it. Grow up and stop complaining about the most profitable and positive cash flow 10 weeks of your year. Yes, Congress adds to compression issues. That is why we have outsourcing. That is why we hire additional team members. That is why we have the opportunity to assist those around us. But complaining harms this entire process.

First – it signals that you are too busy to help your best customers. I have listened to too many CPAs tell their best customers that they are unable to assist until after Tax Day that I want to upchuck when I hear that. Listen to the message: “I am too busy for you”. If you are – fire some customers but never never never ignore, delay, shun, or avoid a good customer when they reach out to you.

Second – it leads people to mope, cry, complain, bitch, articulate, and think about how miserable they are when in fact they should be exhilarated about the prospect of success. Now some CPAs I know – actually love this time of year, kind of like playoff Hockey – the best rise to the top and the mediocre fail to advance.

Third – it limits our future pool of talent in as much as the depression associated with the mantra of no-life for 10 weeks has the effect of driving talent to other opportunities.

Fourth – it is plain tiring

Fifth – it is another demonstration of the lack of leadership in our Profession.

i believe it is possible to work a busy season without working Sundays and most if not all Saturdays. People can ski and vacation during busy season and not feel guilty about it. Children’s events don’t have to missed either. These are simply choices on how you do what you do. Ways to improve busy season include (but not limited to):

– Firing your volume of low profit time wasting customers – scary concept that generates ever expanding profits.

– Project management skills – coordinate in advance what you will do, how you will do it and leave capacity in your day/week for unexpected opportunities that drive future growth of the firm

– Lead and don’t just supervise – communicate regularly with and assist your team. Be a leader.

– Drop your time sheets – they are useless in this environment and waste at least an hour a day and lead to ATMD (accelerated team member depression) because a 12 hour day leads too many professionals trying to figure out what they really did and where to put their time as the fantasy of actively tracking it in real time is just that…..fantasy

– Educate and school your customers about timing and quality of their participation

– Learn to love the Extension –

– Allow your team members the opportunity to decide how/when/where they want to work to complete their tasks.

– Don’t punish the organized because the disorganized fail to keep up. (I once overheard a female construction project manager respond to her boss about her not working Saturday’s was looking bad since all the men were working Saturdays with the following “If I were as disorganized as they are, I too would be working Saturdays.” – what a response.) Pay for performance and not efforts. Working long is not the leading metric, working smart is.

– Don’t add fuel to the fire. Stop your own complaining.

– Take time to be with family and friends. And don’t forget about yourself. Get a massage. Go to Hawaii. Take in a ballgame. You deserve it. Death will come soon enough – so why rush it by adding stress and avoiding the pleasures.

If our Profession wants to be taken seriously – we have to be Professional. We start that by leading by example and engage these opportunities to shine.

Now – take a break, enjoy a cookie, call up your spouse, partner, or friend, and go on a date.

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