Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

Speak Their Language

“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” – Oliver Wendall Holmes

I have a new family physician. I recently met with her for an annual check-up and to get acquainted.

As we talked about various health topics and she mentioned a piriformis stretch. I asked, “What is piriformis?” She noted that she was sorry and that she should have explained the term. It is a muscle that runs diagonally from the lower spine to the upper surface of the femur, with the sciatic nerve running underneath or through the muscle.

Knowing that I work with CPAs, she said that she realizes how I must have felt not knowing the term because when she meets with her CPA he talks in a language that she does not at all understand!

That conversation resulted in me writing this blog post to remind you that your clients don’t always know what you are talking about! Encourage them to ask questions and to interrupt you if they do not understand something you are saying.

Here’s a post from 2018 that also addresses this topic.

  • Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.
  • Jim Rohn

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

A Manager’s Life

“The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.” – Warren Bennis

How are your managers coping with life during COVID? Have you wondered or even asked them recently?

Of course, firm leaders have been concerned about their entire team and how working remotely has impacted production. But how has it specifically challenged your managers?

Recently, I heard from a Manager at a very large firm express the challenges of his role. Meetings! He said that all day long it is meetings, Zoom meetings and other meetings (conference calls) and then he has to work until 9:00 p.m. to get his work done.

Now is the time to plan how working remotely will work more efficiently and effectively going into the future. A remote workforce will be part of your culture probably forever. Establish a task force, if you haven’t already, to determine how you can make it more palatable for everyone.

  • If you are not in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?
  • T. S. Eliot

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

Difficult People

“If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.” – John W. Gardner

In my firm, I remember people asking to attend those personal improvement seminars that were advertised by flyers arriving in the U.S. Mail.

They were one-day seminars sponsored by some seminar organization. It was usually focused on things like improving your communication skills, how to supervise people if you were a first-time supervisor, time management techniques, etc. They were very affordable and many people did gain some benefit.

There was one that always caught the attention of my admin team and some beginning staff members – – How To Work With Difficult People!

The team would say, “This is one we really need to attend!” It was more or less a joke for them but I believe they were really trying to express the frustration they felt with some partners/managers.

I wonder how the people feel in your firm. Maybe you need a lunch and learn on this topic!

  • When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.
  • Dale Carnegie

Monday, August 31st, 2020

What People Think About Working From Home

“No one on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time in the office.'” – Paul Tsongas

Here are some interesting stats from a recent survey of people working from home. I wonder what your accounting firm team members think about the new normal?

JDP recently surveyed more than 2,000 Americans who typically work in offices who are now working from home full-time to try and learn more about this pandemic-spurred era of remote work.

Here’s what they found:

  • 77% of those surveyed said they are working different hours from home than they would at the office. 66% said they are more likely to work nights and weekends than before. 
  • 67% of Americans surveyed said their productivity is the same or better when working from home, although 54% reported more distractions working from home. 
  • 42% said they are working less than usual from home. 33% reported working more. 25% reported working the same. 
  • Those who are working more said it was hard to keep boundaries between work and home life as the main reason why. Those working less reported having less work to do. 
  • A whopping 92% of respondents said they believe their boss trusts them working from home…and 86% say they’ve taken advantage of their freedom while working remotely. 

Learn more from the full report.

  • You will never be truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.
  • Heather Schuck

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Maybe You Don’t Get It?

“I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.” – Socrates

Here’s a Friday Flashback Post. It is a reminder that maybe some people think you just don’t get it.

Partners might not realize how long it actually takes to do a certain engagement. They “don’t get it.”

A 20-something staff person doesn’t realize how important it is for CPA professionals to be able to write a memo without misspellings and poor grammar. They “don’t get it.”

Read more here.

Have a nice weekend!

  • Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance.
  • Robert Quillen

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

A Zoom Agreement

“I don’t do meetings.” – Karl Lagerfeld

Here’s a post from Seth Godin that I just had to share. Zoom meetings are an important communication tool but I bet you have been on some that are disorganized and tiresome. Maybe this will help guide your meetings:

TOWARD A ZOOM AGREEEMNT

If you promise not to check your email while we’re talking, we promise to not waste your time.

If you agree to look me in the eye and try to absorb the gist of what I’m saying, I agree to be crisp, cogent and on point.

If you are clear about which meetings are a waste of time for you to attend, we can be sure to have them without you.

If you can egg me on and bring enthusiasm to the interaction, I can lean into the work and reflect back even more energy than you’re contributing.

The purpose of a meeting is not to fill the allocated slot on the Google calendar invite. The purpose is to communicate an idea and the emotions that go with it, and to find out what’s missing via engaged conversation.

If we can’t do that, let’s not meet.

Multi-tasking isn’t productive, respectful or healthy.

  • If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings.'
  • Dave Barry

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Know It All

“The dumbest people I know are those who know it all.” – Malcolm Forbes

As a leader in your firm, you might think you have to know it all. Partners and managers cannot possibly know it all!

Of course, you have to understand the business of public accounting and how to obtain new clients and provide awesome service to your current ones.

You can never know all the answers. Some things will puzzle you. It is an on-going occurrence and it never ends. To be a skilled leader of people, you need help from others.

Adopt a coaching method of building relationships with your team. Ask for their input and insight and then listen. While you will never know it all, others will help you know a lot more!

  • The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.
  • Stephen Hawking

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

Rejection Letters

“To the old, the new is usually bad news.” – Eric Hofer

I often get requests from my clients (and others) for samples of various types of letters. I have observed that CPAs are much more open to new ideas, processes, etc. if they can see samples.

That’s why a recent article via HBR seemed an important one to share. It is titled, Writing a Rejection Letter (with Samples).

I am sure there are many instances where you must turn someone down. You know, let them down gently. I believe it is the proper thing to to when you have interviewed a job candidate and decided they were not the best fit for the job. It can often be an unpleansant task so do not put it off!

Keep in mind that you don’t have write a long or detailed explanation. The article suggests four steps:

  1. Say thanks.
  2. Deliver the news.
  3. Give the main reason.
  4. Offer hope.

Read the entire article. The samples are very helpful.

  • Bad news isn't wine. It doesn't improve with age.
  • Colin Powell

Friday, July 31st, 2020

Are You Talking?

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools talk because they have to say something.” – Plato

If things are not going so well at a firm, if the partner group is not on the same page and there are undercurrents of discord, it is usually a lapse in communication. The partners have skipped or canceled their partner meetings.

Read this Friday Flashback post. Partner communication is key to the success of the firm.

  • Most people talk too much, and what they do say is often just noise or irrelevant gibberish designed to keep themselves entertained.
  • Stuart Wilde

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

Lack of Communication

“Communication works for those who work at it.” – John Powell

July is winding down. Maybe you aren’t as inspired and invigorated as you were a few weeks ago. You have relaxed after the July due date and maybe taken a few days off.

It seems really difficult to focus on what to do next. Don’t let this temporary lag result in a lack of communication. Your team and your peers still need to hear from you and see you (via video).

When communication disappears or lags, a positive culture can quickly turn into a negative one. Guard against this at your firm. Communicate and inspire your team. Give them some good news. Compliment them. Thank them. Challenge them. Inspire them. And, never stop doing it.

  • Communication is your ticket to success, if you pay attention and learn to do it effectively.
  • Theo Gold