Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Using Fear as a Motivator

“Everything I’ve ever done was out of fear of being mediocre.” – Chet Adkins

There are plenty of people who argue the pros and cons of using fear as a motivator. While I can’t imagine building an organization via motivation by fear, we are hearing a lot about it in the workplace these days.

I believe, in the CPA firm world, we see very little management by fear. Not, that it never existed. I have been around long enough to remember when it did. However, it has become a thing of the past in well-run firms. We have been able to attract and keep people who have the passion for public accounting, the work they do for clients and the pride they feel in being part of a winning team – all the things I hope to bring to you, on a regular basis, with this newsletter.

As I work with accounting firms around the country, I see both sides of the coin.  Many employees want to see a little more discipline and structure in their firm.  They feel the partners let things slide and do not address issues of poor performance.  A dose of fear for some employees would be an improvement.  A lack of discipline culture can be very demotivating.

On the other side of the coin, team members in other firms tell me that partners are always looking over their shoulder and providing feedback in a very critical style.  Each partner wants things done in a different manner.  The fear from employees comes from dreading the extensive, critical review notes issued by those in charge.

Striking the right balance of discipline, structure, coaching and recognition will go a long way to inspiring employees to work a little harder, demonstrate teamwork and even be more creative and helpful to clients.

  • One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do.
  • Henry Ford

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Performance Management

“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” – Anthony D’Angelo

In the world of CPA firm management, we often talk about performance reviews, performance evaluations or performance feedback. In firms, it has many names. Some call it Career Advancement Process and similar titles.

While giving feedback is an important part of the process, it is much more than that. If your firm simply gathers information and relays that information about their performance to the individual you have only taken one step in the process.

Also consider including some upward feedback or some peer-to-peer feedback.

Be sure to include:

Self-evaluations – Most people are very insightful into their own performance.

Mutual agreed upon goals – – the team member identifies goals and so does management. Then they negotiate to determine the two or three most important ones.

Periodic checking on the progress of goals. Set fewer goals with shorter timeframes. I like to see one goal for every 4-month period.

Everyday coaching. Walk around, talk to people, give them spot-checks on their performance. MBWA (Manage By Wandering Around). Today’s workforce wants feedback immediately.

 

  • Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.
  • Margaret Mead

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

The Importance of Your Ownership Structure

Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” – Hugh Prather

Firm governance is a very important issue and many CPA partner groups have not taken the time and made the effort to clearly define what firm governance means to their firm. Is is not a simple task. There are many topics that need to be addressed when documenting governance.

Brannon-PoeBrannon Poe of Poe Group Advisors, in a recent blog post, addresses the issue of veto power within an ownership group. Veto power in the wrong hands can literally make change, and therefore growth, impossible

If anyone can Veto anything, at any time, it an paralyze a firm.

Make sure your governance and ownership structure will help facilitate change.

Read more via Poe’s post here.

  • They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
  • Andy Warhol

Monday, August 7th, 2017

Observations on Change

“Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.” – Shaquille O’Neal

I have been urging CPAs to change for years. You might think I would get discouraged. Well, I sometimes do. That doesn’t mean I will quit reminding, urging and even nagging you about this important topic.

KoltinI recently looked back to see what I have written about change. Here’s something I featured in August 2008 – 9 years ago!  It was Allan Koltin’s “Dozen Observations on Change.” The sad part is they all still apply.

  1. Sometimes partners don’t want to change, but will say they do.
  2. Sometimes partners don’t want to change, and won’t change!
  3. Sometimes partners want to change, but can’t.
  4. Sometimes partners want to change and can (this is where electric shock may need to be applied).
  5. Sometimes partners want to change, but don’t know how to change.
  6. Sometimes partners can’t change due to conflicting goals/demands.
  7. Sometimes partners will change just enough to get you off their back!
  8. Sometimes partners will change, but only if another partner also changes.
  9. Sometimes partners will initially change, but are only doing it to ultimately prove you wrong.
  10. Sometimes partners won’t change, so don’t waste your time trying to change them.
  11. Sometimes partners will support the change, as long as they don’t actually have to change.
  12. Don’t forget that the value of information is not in what you know. It is in what you know that sometimes the other person doesn’t know that you know.
While some of these bring a smile to our faces, I know that we have all seen these behaviors first-hand.
  • If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
  • John Quincy Adams

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Women (and Men) In Accounting – Be Confident!

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” – Arthur Ashe

I have observed that many women, working in the accounting profession, say a lot with their body language. Many times they seem to withdraw, make themselves smaller, cross arms and legs signifying that they are shutting people out.

Here are some wonderful tips from Amy Cuddy to help females with job interviews. I think these tips can help women in accounting – no matter what the situation, as they build their careers.

I also believe these video tips apply to men in accounting. I know many male CPAs who do not always show self-confidence via their body language. My message to PEOPLE in accounting – you are powerful!

  • Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage and confidence in the doing.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Flashback Friday – Wow! You Are Doing Great!

“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” – G. B. Stern

It’s Friday and time to lighten-up and revisit a helpful blog post from the past.

In December of 2013, I wrote about showing your team members some appreciation when they are doing things well.

I liked to use WOW cards to convey my appreciation.

  • By appreciation, we make excellence in others our own property.
  • Voltaire

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

My Favorite Agreements

“First we will be best, then we will be first.” – – Unknown

Yesterday, I wrote about employment agreements and partner agreements. Neither are my favorite, however, I do have some favorite agreements – The Four Agreements.

fouragreementsThe Four Agreements is a book by Don Miguel Ruiz. I read this book years ago and still do my best to follow the agreements. I believe that these four simple statements can make a difference in the culture of your CPA firm. I hope you read this book this summer!


BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

  • There is nothing more likely to start disagreement among people or countries than an agreement.
  • E. B. White

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Sometimes It Is Very Hard To Say No

“The difference between successful people and really

successful people is that really successful people

say no to almost everything. – Warren Buffett

Yes, it can be difficult… saying no. But, for your career success and you sanity, it is a skill

that you should try hard to develop.

Many of us suffer from over-commitment. We don’t want to disappoint anyone

and we put our own well-being much lower on the list of important things.

Here is a great info graphic from GetVoIP.com.

How to Say No at Work

  • Focusing is about saying no.
  • Steve Jobs

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

How Do They See You?

“Leadership has less to do with position than it does disposition.” John C. Maxwell

You are a partner in a CPA firm. Maybe you are a manager in the firm. You are responsible for taking care of clients and leading, managing, inspiring, mentoring, nurturing, encouraging, correcting, inspiring others. That’s a pretty big responsibility!

The “others” watch you. What do they see? As the quote above tells us, they notice a lot about your disposition. Those bright, young new hires can quickly assess your disposition and act accordingly.

Here’s some actual quotes I have heard during my consultations and surveys with CPA firm citizens:

About a high-profile, managing partner of a very large firm: “If you want to be inspired or talk about a problem you DO NOT go to (name of partner).”

About a long-time, successful managing partner of a mid-size local firm: “We never encourage staff to go to (name of MP) with questions, he doesn’t like to be interrupted.”

About another managing partner of a large, local very successful firm: “Most staff people don’t know (name) at all. He is out and about so much that he is rarely at the firm during normal business hours.

As a leader, do you have a welcoming, congenial disposition, one that encourages people to like and respect you? Or are you too busy to even think about what disposition you are communicating?

Be sure to read the quote below (on my blog page if you are reading this in your email).

  • I've learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our disposition and not on our circumstances.”
  • Martha Washington

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Big 4 and Blockchain & Bitcoin

“I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” – Jack Kerouac

Last week I read an interesting article via Nasdaq titled, Big 4 Accounting Firms Are Experimenting with Blockchain And Bitcoin.

My mission is to always keep you informed, as best I can, about happenings that have an impact on CPA firm management.

So today, I simply provide you a link to the article in hopes you will take the time to read it.

The more I read, the more it all seems to be sinking in. Hope the same applies to you.

Here’s more help on Bitcoin.

(Follow me on Twitter!)

  • Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.
  • Isaac Newton