Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Generalizations

“Very few of us are what we seem.” – Agatha Christie

Early this morning, in the dark, I was reading an Agatha Christie novel. A brief passage from the book caused me to pause and think about life in a CPA firm. Also, about life in general in our current world.

Generalization can be described as the act of making vague or indefinite statements. Read the passage, below. Think about it. Do you ever attempt to address problems in your firm by making generalizations?

I often wonder why the whole world is so prone to generalize. Generalizations are seldom if ever true are usually utterly inaccurate. – from Agatha Christie’s novel, Murder at the Vicarage.

Maybe you can find 30 minutes to read this weekend.

  • I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
  • Agatha Christie

Friday, March 16th, 2018

Social Media Leaderboard

top socialThanks so much to Avalara for researching and publishing the Accounting Top 100 Social Media Leaderboard. I am so pleased and humbled to be on the list at No. 38.

Be sure to review the entire list to find people you might not know about in the accounting world. The list if full of some amazing people.

I know may CPAs do not use Twitter. If you do not have a Twitter account, please get one. You do not have to tweet anything. Just follow some of the people on this list, scan through your stream a couple times a day and keep current on many happenings and important news relevant to the CPA profession.

  • The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
  • Socrates

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Do You Listen?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey

My favorite Habit from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits is Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.

In years gone by, when I was trying to initiate change, I couldn’t understand why people just didn’t “get it” and get on board with the new idea.

I still see a lot of this type of behavior in my consulting work.

I had a coach who used much of Covey’s work and she made me see the light… and it is so simple. It is natural for you to try to get people to understand, you want to get your point across and you probably expend great effort in doing so.

You have no way of knowing what is going on in someone else’s mind and life. Try to learn more about their viewpoint, their apprehensions, and fears and it will help you understand. You do this by becoming a better listener.

How do you get better? Read some books, schedule some training and, most importantly… practice!

 

  • I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.
  • Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Find Reasons to Celebrate

“At the end of the day, the fact we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.” – Meredith Grey

Inside accounting firms, mid-March is a milestone of sorts. The March 15th due date passes and there is only one more month until the mid-April deadline is history.

It is time to celebrate and do some special things before those last few, intense weeks, such as:

—Some firms require their people to work on Saturdays during tax season. What if you gave everyone a REAL weekend on the first Saturday after March 15? The office is closed and no one works! We did for years at my firm and everyone really appreciated have a REAL weekend.

—Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! This year it is on a Saturday, so do some fun things on Friday. Everyone wears green! There will be green bagels and cupcakes in the employee lounge.

—Have green cupcakes or bagels delivered to your best clients.

—It is also March Madness time. During the first games on Thursday and Friday that are played during the afternoon, host an open house for referral sources and clients to watch the games while enjoying some refreshments throughout the afternoon. Guests can come at lunchtime, right after work or anytime during the afternoon. I know a firm that did this every year and it was a very big deal in the business community.

—Send a personal letter (not an email) from the partners to the family of your team members thanking the family for the patience and support for their special person during this time of extended hours.

  • Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet.
  • Sarah Louise Delany

Monday, March 12th, 2018

A Meaningful Tagline

“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions.” – Edward R. Morrow

As I was driving the other day, a van passed me. It belonged to a plumbing company and on the side and back of the van was their tagline: Got a leak? Don’t freak.

I thought that it really conveyed a lot of meaning if you need a plumber. Of course, then I thought about all of the various CPA firm taglines I have encountered over the years. I did some browsing and a list is below.

Most of these don’t convey a lot of meaning to me, but a few did. I also found that many firms do not have a tagline at all or at least they don’t have it on their homepage.

What does your firm tagline convey?

  • Always On.
  • Our Strength is in our Numbers.
  • Big Thinking. Personal Focus.
  • Working Together Sets Us Apart.
  • Smart decisions. Lasting value.
  • Candor. Insight. Results.
  • Make Progress Here.
  • Solutions Beyond Traditional Accounting.
  • Making Lives Better.
  • Numbers Count. But Relationships Make the Difference.
  • Knowledge, Reliability and Integrity.

It is always a fun exercise to get your team involved in exploring possible taglines. Some suggestions you probably wouldn’t want to use but you would find them entertaining!

 

  • Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
  • Thomas Jefferson

Friday, March 9th, 2018

It’s Friday – A Brief Message

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Believe it or not, because it is a very busy time of year for most of my readers, I am striving to keep my daily blog posts shorter. It is because I want you to read them!

My husband recently mentioned a phrase (or slogan) that was used when he was in the Army. While most of the things he tells me they said in the Army are not appropriate for me to repeat, this one actually seemed to apply to some accounting firms. He calls it the Six Ps:

Prior planning prevents piss poor performance.

  • Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.
  • Peter Drucker

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Accountants As Skilled Writers

“Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total control.” -Jeffrey Gitomer

Many accountants say, “I’m a numbers person, I can’t really worry so much about grammar and spelling.” I have heard this phrase and very similar ones from CPAs for years!

Sometimes I am absolutely amazed by the misspellings and poor grammar emails I receive from accountants.

As a professional, it is so important for you to share your knowledge so that clients know you…..

  1. Are smart
  2. Want to share your knowledge
  3. Want to help them be successful
  4. Want to save them money

If you send them an email that doesn’t convey these messages, you could be influencing them to go elsewhere. Clients will think that if you are careless with your writing you might be careless preparing their taxes!

Some hints:

  • Don’t make your emails too long.
  • Be sure you use paragraph breaks.
  • Don’t use run-on sentences.
  • Don’t use slang words or crude language.
  • Strive to be clear, concise and brief.
  • If you have a long message – please, please just call the client!
  • You are college-educated – don’t misspell.
  • Use Grammarly.
  • If you have an important topic to convey to a client and must put it in writing, have someone proof it for you before you hit the send button.
  • Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  • Unknown

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Want To Be More Profitable?

“A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.” – Joseph Joubert

Per Paul Epperlein of ADP:  Organizations with high employee engagement experience 22% higher profitability.

This is a big statement that applies to your firm. Do you really have employee engagement? You might think you do because you offer free coffee and soft drinks. You offer 9 or more holidays. You have an attractive lunch room with lots of amenities. You have a relaxed dress code and many other little things that make a big difference.

But… also per Epperlein: 60% of people leave their job due to a lack of relationship with their front line manager.

People like to feel connected to the people they work for. They want to feel like they are noticed, included and cared about by their boss.

How good are your firm’s partners and managers at building and nurturing caring relationships with your people? You might want to focus on that more this year. Make it a performance expectation.

  • The simple act of caring is heroic.
  • Edward Albert

Monday, February 26th, 2018

It Is More Than Performance Review

“Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded; not dwelled upon and stored.” – Tim Fargo

You have read about them, the firms that have abolished the annual performance feedback session. I can understand why. In many firms, they have become a dreaded exercise, dreaded by the person being reviewed and also by the reviewer.

Something that you may have missed is that doing away with the actual face-to-face formal session does not mean you do not provide feedback. That meeting is only one part of a performance management system!

Performance feedback sets the stage for promotions and compensation adjustments, too. If you don’t have the traditional feedback system you must train your managers (and partners) to provide performance feedback on an on-going basis. If carried out properly, I think it is absolutely the best way to provide feedback – immediate and continual. It’s called managing people and CPA firms haven’t been very good at it in the past.

Here is an excellent article by Sharlyn Lauby, @HRBartender. Be sure to read item #3, about training managers!

  • Make feedback normal. Not a performance review.
  • Ed Batista

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Being Positive Can Be a Boost To Your Health

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

It’s that time of year inside busy accounting firms. Everyone is focused and working very hard. Some are also working long hours and even the best clients sometimes cause frustration, not to mention the frustrations emitting from your co-workers and bosses.

Let it go! Be a positive person, in thought and deed.

I have always been an optimist and a positive thinker. I never think that things can go wrong or that something terrible will happen. Of course, there are times when things do go wrong and terrible things happen! But, you simply deal with it and move on with life. I know, it sounds easy but it’s not!

Helen Sanders, chief editor at Health Ambition has written a very helpful article to put you in a positive mood and understand the benefits – 9 Positive Thinking Tips: the Power of Positivity On Your Health. 

Every time you find yourself in a new situation, what are your first thoughts?

  • Are you the kind of person that thinks, “Oh God, this is horrible!”
  • Are you the kind of person that thinks, “Awesome, something new!”

Honestly, in my consulting work with accountants over many years, I see more of the first type of person!

Let’s say you’ve just found yourself stuck at the office on a Saturday, doing extra paperwork:

  • A negative person will grumble about their boss having it out for them, and how they always get stuck with the bad job.
  • A positive person will just get the work done because it’s “something that has to be done, and I’m the one doing it”.

I would like to see you fall into the second category in this scenario. Set a good example. Positive people can make a real difference in your firm!

Read her article and you will learn about the physical symptoms of negativity and also the benefits of positive thinking.

  • If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.
  • Zig Ziglar