Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Motivate By Individualizing

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

The Golden Rule, which is a good rule, for the most part, doesn’t always apply in today’s complex workplace environment.

Not everyone wants to be treated like “I” want to be treated.

These days training and development are all about, “One size fits one.”

The Association for Talent Development explains it this way: One size fits one is a movement toward providing learning to employees, clients, or children in a way that makes sense to the learner and not to the trainer, teacher or instructional designer.

CPA firm managers are often not very in-tune with the best ways to motivate and engage the people they supervise. In many CPA firms, everyone is trained the same and it is often a very long-standing aspect of the firm culture. Also, accounting firms do not spend enough money on educating and training their managers on how to manage PEOPLE.

One size fits one, acknowledges that people are motivated by immensely different things. For example, one person loves to be recognized publicly and another dreads being the center of attention.

Qualified managers (and partners) are good at understanding people and they adjust their supervisory style accordingly.


  • Don't let yesterday take up too much of today.
  • Will Rogers

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Skill Gap

Do we have a skill gap in public accounting? Yes, I believe we have SOMEWHAT of a skill gap in that CPAs with more longevity are not as nimble with technology. They are certainly not slugs either.

The bigger issue is that they have an aversion to change. Often forming a major roadblock to change inside their own firm. One managing partner told me, “We LIKE paper.”

With younger accountants, the skills gap seems to be mostly with communication.

Watch the short video, below, via IFAC, as Mark Koziel, Executive Vice President, Firm Services, AICPA expertly explains these gaps.


  • A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want.
  • Madonna

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

For Your CPA Firm & For Your Clients – Take Sexual Harassment Seriously

“Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.” – George Washington

Well-managed CPA firms got the sexual harassment message a long time ago. But, have you continually educated your new team members and your long-time team members about the importance of a sexual harassment policy and how it works?

Your CPAs are advising your small business clients on many topics and making them aware of the need for a sexual harassment policy should be one of those topics.

david-lewis-headshotSometimes small businesses (like CPA firms and their clients) have a very casual, almost collegiate culture. There is nothing casual about sexual harassment.

David Lewis, President/CEO of OperationsInc, one of the Northeast’s largest Human Resources Outsourcing and Consulting firms, was recently interviewed about sexual harassment policies on MSNBC.

Lewis suggests:

  • Start with awareness and training.
  • Adopt a policy and be sure it is well communicated.
  • Be sure your people understand what sexual harassment is and what is suppose to happen if it occurs.
  • Always follow your policy.

Address sexual harassment before it occurs and you must adopt a zero tolerance policy. Many small businesses don’t want to upset their casual culture and try to ease into some sort of sexual harassment policy. There is no easing in – no middle ground. Let everyone know that going forward there will be zero tolerance for sexual harassment.

If you have a policy and don’t follow it, it is a killer – lawyers love it.

Watch the brief, informative interview here.

  • Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

CPAs Should Be Writing

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

You are smart. You are educated. You have so much inside your brain to share! Why is it so difficult for you to WRITE?

  • Write a blog.
  • Write a note to a client.
  • Write a note to a team member
  • Write an article for the firm newsletter (rather than buying articles)
  • Write an article for your local business newspaper

Share your knowledge so that people know you…..

  1. Are smart
  2. Want to share
  3. Want to help them know more
  4. Want to save them money

I wrote all that so I could share my Grammarly stats for 2016.

Here’s my message from Grammarly:

Wow, what a year you’ve had. Based on our calculations we see that you had 103,390 words checked with Grammarly this year. Good job!

That’s not all. You made 143 corrections. That’s a rate of only 0.13% mistakes per words written. Good stuff indeed. Oh, and by the way, 5 of these corrections were advanced
(Premium) mistakes.

  • Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  • Unknown

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

To Begin This New Year – Be Kind

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

This week, I am celebrating completing ELEVEN years of blogging every business day on the topic of CPA firm management. Here’s an introduction I did on January 5, 2006 – my third blog post. Notice how many of the publications I recommended no longer exist.

My theme, behind all of the practical information I share, began in 2006 and will continue into 2017:  Be kind and practice civility.

From his book, Choosing Civility, Pier Massimo Forni says:

“Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another. It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing thoughtfulness, and fostering effective self-expression and communication. Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good health.”

  • Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
  • Mark Twain

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

Don’t Get Stuck!

Best holiday wishes to all of my clients, accounting profession friends and all followers of my daily blog. I sincerely appreciate the many, many people in my life who keep me challenged, engaged, happy and so blessed to be working (and knowing) the wonderful people in the CPA profession.

As we go into 2017, be sure NOT to get STUCK in the past. Instead, embrace and welcome the many challenges of the future. I triple-dog dare you to make future-focused changes in your firm and in your life this coming year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Three Little Words

Don’t you feel wonderful when you hear those three little words?

Sure you do, everyone wants to hear “I love you.” I hope you hear them and say them daily. But wait, that’s not the “three little words” I’m talking about.

The three little words I’m referring to are three you do not want to hear. You probably hide from them and deny them.

I hear this saga very often from CPA firm managing partners, “We don’t have a succession plan. There is just no one at our firm who can take over from us. There is no one here that can do what WE do.”  My question is “Whose fault is that?” – – – Baby It’s You.

If you are the managing partner at a firm (or a sole proprietor), you are in charge. The future of the firm is in your hands.

  • If your people are not good managers, relationship builders or passionate about the firm…
  • If they don’t show up at the appointed time….
  • If they spend too much time on the web and social media for personal reasons during the day…..
  • If they put too much time in a job because they don’t have a budget….
  • If they make you cringe some days because of the way they are dressed….

Who is responsible for these behaviors? The responsibility for all of these kinds of issues comes back to you…. the leader. Baby, it’s you. 

Enjoy the Shirelles singing Baby It’s You.


  • Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
  • Charles R. Swindoll

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Put It In Writing

Someone at your firm:

  • Is doing an extraordinary job.
  • Never hesitates to go above and beyond to better serve the client (and make you look good).
  • Never misses a day of work.
  • Is the first to volunteer to guide and improve the skills of less experienced team members.

There is a very meaningful way to recognize them and thank them. Personally, handwrite a note to them.

photo (1)This is a great time of year to write a note inside a Christmas card and put it on their desk. Or, buy a pack of Christmas thank-you notes and write a personal message inside and give them to people you want to recognize.

A few written words can speak volumes.

When I worked at a growing firm, I liked to use little notecards called WOW cards. If someone deserved an extra bit of recognition, I would write a brief message on the small card and place it on their keyboard or desk.

The message is appreciated but so is the fact that you actually took some time to think of them and write some personal words of encouragement.


  • Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.
  • G. B. Stern

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

All I Want For Christmas Is You

christmas-tree-2016Unless you are living in the Dark Ages you have probably heard “All I Want for Christmas is You,” Mariah Carey’s big Christmas hit. A special treat this year is James Corden doing Carpool Karaoke to the song with a variety of big-name stars, including Mariah herself (plus Adele, Elton John, Selena Gomes and so on).

How does this relate to you and your leadership role in an accounting firm? Whether you are a managing partner, any partner, firm administrator, marketing director, IT director, human resources director, CPA manager, senior or even a beginning staff member – people look to you for help. Staff members help each other, admin help staff, managers and seniors help teach and coach less experienced people and partners lead the entire parade by setting the example for everyone.

Partners often struggle with what to give their employees for Christmas. Year after year it becomes a bigger challenge in trying to be thoughtful and unique. I’m sure they appreciate a ham, fruit basket, gift cards and cash but what they also want is YOU.

Some partners often skip the holiday lunch in the office or the after-work holiday gathering. Maybe the partners in your office skip most of the in-office CPE sessions or rarely attend the full-staff meetings. Are some absent at the after tax season party?

Many employees want you to talk to them. They want you available to answer questions. They want you to share success stories. They want to interact with you in a more casual environment (like a party or reception). They want you to provide review notes more quickly. They want you to recognize their efforts.

All they want for Christmas is YOU.

  • For it is in giving that we receive.
  • Francis of Assisi

Monday, December 19th, 2016

The Goal of Your Website

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that you cannot sincerely try to help another without helping yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A great client recommends your firm to a friend. A well-respected banker or attorney gives your firm’s name to one of their clients (probably along with two other firm names).

The first thing that person does is Google your firm. Isn’t that what you would do? Of course, it is.

Your website must impress them. It must be modern looking and up-to-date and it must immediately give them information.

The goal of your website is to convert visitors into clients. Make it easy for them by having your contact information easily available. Most visitors will immediately want to know where you are located. If you have only one office, put the street address at the bottom of the home page.

Clients and prospects want to see pictures of real people and be able to email them for more information. So, don’t make your email address a mystery.

Many practitioners tell me they don’t list staff emails or use their pictures because headhunters will find them. Headhunters will find them anyway so why not make it easy for your clients and prospective clients to connect with your team members?

Be sure the commonly used social media icons are on your home page: Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Blog, etc. Prospective clients want to know as much as possible about your accounting firm.

But, remember they want to know how you can help THEM. So don’t make the website all about YOU – communicate how you can help clients save tax dollars, etc. Testimonials from current clients are a great way to communicate the value of your firm.

  • They might not need me; but they might. I'll let my head be just in sight. A smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity.
  • Emily Dickinson