Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category
Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
As I have worked with accountants over many years, I have truly come to realize that meeting and talking to people can be difficult, awkward and yes, even scary. All that is foreign to me because I love people and I love to talk (those of you who know me are smiling… maybe laughing… right now).
So, you may be an introvert but that doesn’t mean you can’t begin to enjoy meeting and talking with people. The huge chamber networking events are sometimes scary for experienced networkers, so don’t feel like you have to begin there. Make the networking you do fit your style.
I attended Accountants’ Bootcamp many years ago. We learned many great things there…. but one thing I liked was a way to help accountants feel comfortable with a form of networking.
Have your partners (maybe the ones who aren’t so comfortable in big groups) invite a banker, an attorney, an insurance person, a client and maybe two potential clients and form a breakfast group to simply discuss business issues relevant to your community. Set the ground rules – - this is not a meeting to “sell” to each other, it is more like a self-help group. Referral sources and business owners are likely to participate because YOU are the CPA and YOU know a lot that can help them!
Host it every month or every other month, in your office, serve a continental breakfast (or late after noon snack) and talk in round-table format for an hour or so. Ask each other questions about business issues and get to know each other personally. The members of the group will quickly begin looking forward to the meetings and begin to rely on each other’s opinions.
Don’t limit it to just partners. Have your up-and-comers host their own networking groups. Many CPAs across the country are doing exactly this or something very similar. It works!
Also, read this article on the HBR Blog network titled: Networking for Introverts. It’s all about doing this where you are comfortable not stressed-out.
Talk to someone about themselves and they will listen for hours.
Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
I don’t care if you are a male or a female, the role of the firm administrator is to be a jack-of-all trades, a fire fighter, and basically a Superman or Superwoman.
I saw this testimonial to mothers and thought immediately of firm administrators inside a busy CPA firm.
Here is the accounting firm version:
When your mother asks, 'Do you want a piece of advice?' it's a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway.
Saturday, September 13th, 2014
If you have been to a CPA conference in recent years, you have been asked to tweet about it using that particular conference’s hashtag. What I find is that most people attending CPA conferences do not tweet, so what’s the point!
Want to know more about hashtags? Visit the hashtags.org site.
For this weekend, lighten-up and enjoy Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake demonstrating what a Twitter conversation sounds like in real life.
Love your family, work super hard, live your passion.
Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
A week or so ago, I had the good fortune to spend about a half hour talking MAP TALK (management of an accounting Practice) with David Cristello, founder of Jetpack Workflow.
As a follower of this blog, you know I love to talk MAP talk! I hope you will gather your team around and listen to the interview together.
We touch on:
- How to increase employee engagement
- The advantages of being a one-firm firm
- Being more involved in practice growth
- Determine “your firm” way (or method) of doing things
- Urging young people to stay in public accounting
- How to make your firm healthy on the inside
CLICK HERE to listen to the full interview. Thanks so much to David and Jetpack Workflow.
Knowing what's right doesn't mean much unless you do what's right.
Friday, September 5th, 2014
Communication is one of my “soap box” topics for CPA firms. From my personal observations, communication is at the root of most of the challenging issues inside an accounting firm.
People inside firms talk but they don’t REALLY talk.
I like to encourage CPA firm managers (and partners) to talk to the people they are responsible for….. to talk, talk, talk about the work. Usually, it seems so much easier to talk about a new movie, sports team, favorite TV show or popular Facebook post. After all, feedback about their work might lead to some uncomfortable conversations and most CPA firm bosses shy away from those. It is important to give your direct-reports meaningful, on-going feedback about their progress in the profession of public accounting.
Then there is the male/female communication issue. Men are comfortable talking about the surface issues…. nothing too deep or emotional. Women like to talk about what men call the “touchy-feely” stuff. Most men hate it. So, it is important to work at these challenges, not be afraid of confrontation if that is what it takes to truly be open and honest.
Here’s a quote from a book I am reading (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn) about a married couple (from the husband):
“She asked me twice if I wanted to talk. In truth I wanted her to read my mind so I didn’t have to stoop to the womanly art of articulation.”
That passage got me to thinking about some comments I have heard over the years.
Many times I have heard female firm administrators, HR directors, marketing directors and administrative assistants say, about male leaders, “The partners always want to be reminded, it’s almost like they rely on our nagging to get them to do what they are suppose to do. They think we can read their minds!” Sound familiar?
But wait. I don’t want the men to think it is all their fault. It’s about genders and it is about generations. Boomers need to talk more openly and frequently to the millennials and vice versa. GenXers need to weigh-in on the conversations.
Being inclusive when discussing firm issues and initiatives is so important. Do lots of talking with lots of people about challenging issues and you will solve them faster and probably easier.
Men and women belong to different species, and communication between them is a science still in its infancy.
Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014
I read one of Harvard Business Reviews (HBR) management tips that reminded me of an issue that I haven’t seen many CPA firms address.
Here’s the title (follow the link to read the entire Tip):
Engage Employees by Sharing Your Financials
“Why are owners more engaged in the business? It’s not just because they’re in charge; it’s because they’re players in the game – they know the rules, they make decisions, and they watch the numbers (score).”
The topic of sharing financial information has often been discussed in CPA management circles. I have talked to firms that share all financial information with some team members (usually not ALL team members), but they steer away from how profitable the firm is and how much the owners actually make.
Would your firm’s top talent want to work hard and become a partner in a firm where the owners make $145,000, or would they prefer to work very hard and become a partner in a firm where the owners make $545,000?
Share more information with your team. At least give them some key financial numbers to track firm success over a period of time. They ARE interested.
The entrepreneur builds an enterprise; the technician builds a job.
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Inside your busy accounting firm, how do your people really feel? Do they trust the firm’s leaders? Do they feel valued? Do they feel like a team…. a family?
I was watching CBS Sunday Morning last weekend and they did a segment on the challenges faced by a supermarket chain in New England when employees walked out because the boss they liked was fired by Chairman of the Board (his cousin) who wanted more money to go to shareholders and less to employees. Guess what? The employees won the battle. One of the signs carried by employees on the picket line said, “Don’t reward greed.”
But, more than that, this segment features companies that continually make the Fortune magazine 100 Best Places to Work list. These companies are consistently more profitable than other companies. Robert Levering, one of the creators of the list says, “too many companies are mediocre.” The segment went go on to feature Whole Foods – a company that has made the list every year since it was created in 1998 and Radio Flyer, the maker of the little red wagons.
It’s worth your time to watch this video.
I meet and talk to representatives of many, many firms every year. There are some who really work at employee engagement and many more where it’s still about chargeable time, realization and hitting deadlines.
By the way, accounting firm Plante Moran has made the list for 16 years. In 2014, they rank #23, up from #25 in 2013.
Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost U.S. businesses up to $550 billion dollars per year. Gallup says that only 3 out of 10 employees are engaged.
I like the story in the video about the Radio Flyer wagon company. They ask employees to live by the Little Red Rule: Every time we touch people’s lives they will feel great about Radio Flyer.
Their employees, called Flyers, have a good time (fun and games). But, the point is to make sure that nothing gets in the way of the business of fun and games.
So, think about your firm. Do your team members think the partners are greedy? (I have heard this mentioned numerous times among groups of CPA firm employees.) Do your team member feel like they get enough recognition? Many simply want to hear the words “thank you” more often.
I have always thought that accounting firms really are great places to work. However, I think owners need to be more open and active in engaging their workforce and focusing on positives and downplaying the negatives.
When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.
Friday, August 29th, 2014
After this weekend, accounting firms will roll into mini-busy-season, dealing with all of those corporate extensions that have lagged since spring.
When you arrive at the office on Tuesday, take note of the people you hang-out with at work. Maybe even the people who sit nearby.
It’s almost like school. If you sit with the goof-offs, you become like them and adopt an “I don’t care” attitude. You just get-by with doing the minimum required.
If you are surrounded by people who keep focused, work quickly, are friendly yet don’t waste time, they are probably the ones going home at 5:30 rather than burning the midnight oil to hit the deadline. They are also the ones getting the best assignments.
Choosing who you want to be at work also flows downward to those watching you. What do they see? Who do they want to be around?
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them
Thursday, August 28th, 2014
My newsletter went out yesterday. Did you get your copy?
It’s official name is “Solutions For CPA Firm Leaders” but I’m rethinking that.
I like to call it CPA MAP Talk (with Rita Keller).
Why? Because my newsletter, this blog (every business day for almost 10 years), my business Facebook page (and some of my personal page), My Google+ posts, my tweets, my LinkedIn posts and the message in all my in-person presentations is all about MAP.
By the way, how are you doing with Managing an Accounting Practice?
I hear stories. Oh boy, do I hear stories!! Many of you are puzzled, confused, stressed, disgusted – yet… passionate, determined, ambitious and caring.
I hope you will sign-up for my newsletter and follow me on the other venues. I lived through what you are living through. Never a dull moment when you are dealing with MAP. Believe it or not, most of what you are experiencing (successes and challenges) haven’t changed that much over my many years working in the profession – that’s what makes me sad. Use all of these free resources to help you PUSH your firm forward.
Twitter – @cpamanagement
Facebook – business page
Facebook – I have lots of personal and business FRIENDS.
Instagram (mostly for fun).
Also, check out my Flickr page. Click on Albums to find “Is That You With Rita?” Maybe you will see a picture of YOU.
As Margaret Mead said:
We all agree that your theory is crazy, but is it crazy enough?
Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
I talk about WTTMSW during many of my presentations. It is a Tom Peters’ thing – Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins – - I’ve blogged about it before.
When you are facing challenges inside your growing accounting firm, I urge you to try things, experiment, test it! So what if it fails, you simply say, “Oh, well – that didn’t work, let’s try something else!” The most successful CPA firms are always exploring new ways to accomplish their goals.
Right now there is a huge challenge facing firms – We need people! is the battle cry and firms are working diligently to hire top talent.
I received an email from my friends at Wiss & Company, a large New Jersey-based accounting firm. They are hiring, just like most CPA firms I know. Yet, they are trying something different. They are offering a reward to all their contacts. Here’s a copy of the email:
They have it on their website, too.
At your firm, are you coming up with creative ways to find great talent? Are you experimenting with new and different ideas to enhance efficiency, improve communication and RETAIN top talent? If not, get busy!
Also, check out the Periodic Table from their website.
A person's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.
Oliver Wendell Holmes