Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category
Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
I have mentioned this before…. for some of the population, email is dying out. I’m not convinced it is going away anytime soon but you should be aware that your new hires might not be as adept at email as your more experienced people.
As I talk to practitioners and their teams around the country, I hear the constant lament – “I am swamped by email!” It often becomes a bragging contest: I had 100 emails today. Oh yeah, I had 200! That’s nothing, I usually get 300 per day.
Since email is a primary tool of the CPA profession, it might be helpful to learn 10 Trigger Words to Ban From Your Emails. I found them in an article on Inc. Here they are…. but follow the link to read more about them.
Unfortunately – it’s dismissive
But – it’s jarring and too informal for business
Sincerely – a common signature word has become meaningless
Regrettably – the sender doesn’t usually feel regret
Best – don’t use it if you don’t have data to back it up
Amazing – just as “best” it is better to skip such words
Statistically – be specific with statistics
Formally – what does “formally introduce myself” really mean anyway?
Interestingly – it’s a filler word, skip it.
Remotely – what does it mean to work remotely? Iceland is remote. Just say you’ll be working offsite.
I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made the right.
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
Monday, March 3rd, 2014
I really enjoyed the recent article by Andrew Argue of The Bean Counter.
He notes that as a child he would daydream about a “hero” coming along to save him from his routine life or an unknown person giving him a million dollars. Then life would be easy.
Think about Hagrid entering Harry Potter’s life and changing it forever – taking him into a life of magical mystery.
Argue notes, as he got older he realized no one was going to make his adventure for him. Sure other people might help make your dream come true. There are mentors and sponsors along the way but no one can create the life you want but you.
You have to create your own dream or adventure then take action and work hard to make it come true.
I think you’ll enjoy reading the entire article.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
Thursday, February 27th, 2014
The CPA profession is facing a very challenging talent shortage. There is no end in sight. With each passing day it becomes more and more important to retain your valuable employees.
Here’s some great ideas I picked up at the annual CPA Consultants’ Alliance meeting yesterday in Nashville. The meeting continues today.
- There are different generations working inside your firm but please don’t put them in a box! There are some Boomers who think like Millennials and vice versa. There are Gen-Xers who act like millennials and so on. People are people and breaking down the walls between generations is a valuable step to take.
- Be sure to communicate! That is one of the biggest issues inside CPA firms. Many leaders think they have communicated but in reality they haven’t. Make use of Stay Interviews – - What would have to happen for you to commit to staying at our firm and building your career?
- Have your managers form groups for communication. Suggest each manager form a Table of Eight (or if you are a smaller firm a Table of Three). These groups get together periodically just to talk about issues and about their careers. A manager leads the discussion and it could be a manager that people rarely work with. Be creative with these groups.
Before you leave this page, look to the right. I have added two new pictures to – Is That You With Rita? Terry Putney of Transition Advisors and Carrie Steffen of The Whetstone Group. We are having a great time in Nashville.
I come from this really small town near Nashville, Tennessee where everything was la-di-da and normal.
Monday, February 24th, 2014
I made my first trip to Key West last week. It was hot and humid. Quite a change from the often sub-zero of Ohio this winter.
The AICPA HR Forum attracted an amazing group this year. The purpose is to gather a small group of HR Directors, Learning Directors, COOs and some partners that are focused on the human resource area of their firm.
We had 31 (just the right size for networking and getting to know each other) people in attendance. The largest firm represented has 7,000 people and the smallest has 8. Guess what? Many of the same challenges, issues and frustrations. While there are challenges, these firms are focused on making their firms a place where people will want to stay and build their career in public accounting.
Thanks to PCPS for allowing me to be a part of this for the third consecutive year. Most of us attended the group dinner on Thursday evening and then enjoyed a stroll on Duval Street.
I drink to make other people more interesting.
Friday, February 21st, 2014
There is a lot of confusion inside some CPA firms about the role of a mentor and the difference between coaching and mentoring.
This might help:
- Coaching is task oriented.
- Mentoring is relationship oriented.
- Coaching is short-term.
- Mentoring is long-term.
- Coaching is performance driven.
- Mentoring is development driven.
Read more on the Management Mentors site.
Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.
Thursday, February 20th, 2014
I was reading the Delta Airlines magazine while flying to Key West yesterday. I enjoy reading the airline magazines. I find all of them to contain interesting news items and articles about a variety of topics.
In the opening editorial, written by the CEO Richard Anderson, he made a statement that CPA firms could certainly utilize: “At Delta, we take great pride in our culture of hard work, creativity, teamwork and a simple commitment to get the job done right.”
Did you notice those two words… hard work? The CEO communicates it clearly – they are not ashamed of their culture of hard work. They take pride in it.
Public accounting is hard work. If you work hard you can become very successful.
Do you communicate that to your people? Are you proud of your culture of hard work?
(Picture: Enjoyed my visit to the Hemingway House.)
A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.
Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Never, never, never give up.
Sometimes you feel like the Lone Ranger.
Most of the time it seems that YOU are the only one who wants your CPA firm to grow, expand, be more efficient, be more productive, be more profitable, be more respected, be sought-out more by prospective clients, be more creative, be more unique, and most of all be more attractive to top talent.
Don’t feel lonely, most of the successful firms – the progressive ones, continually making progress and embracing change are sparked by one or two individuals who feel like Lone Rangers in their desire to make their firm special.
Beginning today, strike those two words (give up) from your vocabulary, from your thoughts – forget you even know how to spell them.
During the many years I worked inside a growing, successful firm, my mantra was: Perseverance. Definition: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
Below is one of my very favorite quotes.
If you are going through Hell, keep going.
Monday, February 17th, 2014
CPA firm partners, owners, and other firm leaders hear it over and over again from speakers and authors focused on the profession of public accounting.
Think big picture. Be a visionary. Stay out of the day-to-day, be more strategic.
I, too, have written about it and talked about it. I do believe there is a time and place for contemplating the bigger picture.
However, much of what you do is about the here and now. If you are honest, most of what you do inside your firm and to help clients is about the here and now. And, it is important.
I was reminded of this when I heard a passage in a Wallander episode. I have also read all of the Wallander novels by Henning Mankell. If you are not familiar… Wallander is a brooding, dark character. A Swedish detective who investigates violent and terrifying murders. Kenneth Branagh is amazing in the role.
Here’s the passage:
“I don’t really think there is a bigger picture. This is where we live, here and now. These are our lives. They are fragile and precarious…. and miraculous. They are all we have.”
The majority of you and the people who work for you are living in the here and now.
Think about the big picture, the future but please don’t forget that the majority of life is in the here and now. How can you make life, the here and now, better for yourself and for all the people in your firm who depend on you. After all, life is all you have.
It's only when we can work with something that brings out our strengths that we're of any real use.
Henning Mankell, author The Fifth Woman
Monday, February 10th, 2014
CPA firms are dynamic, fast-moving, high-productivity workplaces. That’s the fun part.
Often, various factions inside the firm have misunderstandings. For example, the CPAs think the IT people are weird AND, vice-versa. Partners think the admin team could spend their time more productively AND, vice-versa! These nagging issues are the not-so-fun part.
The situations above are just a couple of examples of typical workplace challenges inside an accounting firm.
I have a hand-out I share that could possibly alleviate some of the classic misunderstandings between the professional administrative team and the partners they serve. It’s called a Commitment Statement for Assistant and Partner.
Here’s how I describe it:
About this sample: Administrative assistants in a CPA firm must work for multiple partners. However, I recommend each partner have a specific assistant they go to when they want or need something out of the routine workflow. One administrative assistant can be assigned to two, three or four partners. This assignment is just for miscellaneous duties (NOT personal errands). When the admin assistant and the partner work together for a while the admin assistant can absorb admin work the partner should not be doing. One year, as the result of an administrative team retreat, one team I worked with took on the project of an Assistant and Partner Commitment Statement – things that they owed each other. They found it really helped communication and set some much needed expectations. It was an enjoyable exercise for both sides.
Each side came up with about 20 bullet points, as commitments. Some examples this group came up with:
I, as partner, commit to:
- Giving you all the information needed to answer questions and handle problems.
- Telling you where I can be reached and when I will return, when not in the office.
- Working with you to establish a plan for controlling calls and drop-in visitors.
I, as your assistant, commit to:
- Working hard to always make you look good.
- Getting to know the clients you serve and help them in any way I can on your behalf.
- Take the initiative. I won’t wait to be told to do a job. I will handle problems and learn which ones should be referred to you or a supervisor.
Just having each admin person talking with each partner they serve to come up with the commitments is a great exercise in communication.
If you want a copy of the complete sample fill-out the contact form on my website and put Assistant/Partner Commitment Statement in the “Other” box – or, just email me.
Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.
Peter F. Drucker
Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
The Spring 2014 National Meet The Firms Week is February 3-7, 2014.
It is an online event that connects accounting students with the firm in their state. Participation is free for both students and firms. The event is sponsored by CollegeFrog. Learn about them here.
Learn more from this short video:
The important thing is to not stop questioning.