Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Civility

“Play fair. Don’t hit people. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.” – Robert Fulghum, author of All I Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

As you become a manager and then a partner in your firm, if you want to be viewed as an inspiring leader, you better be practicing civility.

There is solid research behind this. This is from Christine Porath via HBR:

“For the last 20 years, I’ve studied the costs of incivility, as well as the benefits of civility. Across the board, I’ve found that civility pays. it enhances your influence and performance and is positively associated with being perceived as a leader.”

Leaders need to demonstrate respect. According to recent studies, being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition, appreciation, inspiring visions, or even learning opportunities.

Be sure to read the informative article.

  • Politeness is the art of choosing your thoughts.
  • Madame De Stael

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

Together or Apart?

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

In the world of CPA firm management in a multi-partner firm, the best possible thing that can happen is ALL partners are on the same page.

Sounds simple, right? If you live in a multi-partner firm, you know that it is a distant dream or even a fantasy. It is only natural that individuals have different wants and desires.

If you have two or three partners, things run fairly smoothly. If you have hundreds of partners, they stay out of management and focus on clients and mentoring staff. It is the six to 15 partner groups where I see the most discord.

For years consultants have been advising partner groups that if the majority is in favor of a certain initiative, those not in favor must leave the partner meeting or retreat and act as if they are fully on board with the decision. Does that happen? Rarely.

With two or three partners, decisions are made and acted upon. Four to 15, or so, partners, discord happens. Of course, as the firm expands, it is very important for leadership to know and understand the partners’ preferences and be able to lobby or politic to get the result that is best for the firm.

As the business world has changed, some partners are even outplaced or asked to retire early. I hope things are going smoothly at your firm. Don’t fear confrontation and deal with problems as they arise. The longer you ignore important issues, the quicker your firm will fall behind.

“May the 4th be with you.”

  • Do or do not. There is no try.
  • Yoda

Friday, April 29th, 2022

Too Much Technology – Friday Flashback

“I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.” – Lou Holtz

Sometimes it seems like technology dominates our life. We are in a state of communication overload.

Here’s a flashback post that gives you a partner’s perspective and also the staff’s perspective.

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

Thursday, April 28th, 2022

Another Season Unfolds

“Do not listen to those who weep and complain, for their disease is contagious.” Og Mandino

The team and partners have been very busy. Now, they have more time to think about what is going on around them. You might hear comments like:

  • I have a lot more charge hours than Joe. I wonder if I am paid more than Joe?
  • How can the firm expect us to do our best work when it is always so hot in the office?
  • How can the firm expect us to do our best work when it is always so cold in the office?
  • I mostly work from home, I miss out on the treats people bring into the office.
  • Sally is always late and then she eats breakfast in the lunchroom before she starts to work.
  • Ted actually exits out the rear entrance at 3:00 when the partners are away from the office.
  • The people working in the office get a lot more training than I do.
  • Why do I have to come into the office two days per week?
  • Susie and Joyce Admin chat at the front desk for a half-hour every morning!
  • The firm does so much for people with families. I am single. What special stuff do I get?
  • Joe Partner always leaves such a mess around the coffee machine.

Tax season is over (for now). It is the Dealing With People Season. It always makes me think of Seinfeld:

Elaine: I will NEVER understand people.

Jerry: They’re the worst.

Some of these complaints might seem extreme to you but I bet you can tell me even better “stories” about people complaining. Good luck with Dealing With People Season!

  • Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most do.
  • Dale Carnegie

Thursday, April 21st, 2022

Marketing – Defender of the Brand

“Marketing involves making a promise and keeping it.” – Seth Godin

A post from Seth Godin that, to me, is so important for CPAs. This is for all the dedicated, hardworking CPA firm marketers. Is the firm delivering what you expect? The following is his post from April 20th:

Defender of the brand

Some CMOs and marketing types simply do ads and promo. Give them average products for average people and some money, and they’ll do the ad thing.

And some are actually marketers. Marketing involves making a promise and keeping it. Marketers understand that your logo isn’t a brand, it’s simply a flag. The brand is the experience that people expect to have when they engage with you. It’s your benefit of the doubt.

If you’re that kind of marketer, you quickly come to learn that the single most important part of your job is being sure that you make great products and services. Because sooner or later, the experience is the brand. Sooner or later, the story you tell needs to be true.

Which means…

That your main job is persuading the people you work with to ship great stuff. No junk. No shortcuts.

If you are not the defender of the brand, who is?

  • Investigate. Innovate. And then communicate.
  • George Farris

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022

Keeping People

“But day in and day out, the most stimulating part of the work is being a member of a team of so many very bright, articulate and talented professionals.” – – Randy West

We are hearing so much about CPA firms losing people. I continue to hear about and read about the Great Resignation and also that women are often forced to make choices that put family ahead of career. Here’s an idea that may help you retain more females AND males.

Consider embracing a career lattice culture rather than a career ladder culture. Not everyone achieves success in the same way. Often there are many detours along the way.

Research has shown that public accounting loses a lot of good people (and many females) when they believe public accounting will not accommodate their personal and career choices. Women want to start a family so they think they must leave public accounting. Don’t let your young talent make this assumption. Most successful firms have already embraced flexibility offering remote and hybrid schedules as a formal part of their culture.

I urge you to paint a picture for your young professionals of a career lattice. Communicate to them: If there comes a time in your life whether you are male or female, when you need or want less (or more), a reduced schedule, more regular hours, less travel, more travel, less responsibility, or really want to accelerate your advancement in the firm – talk to us!

The lattice, as opposed to a career ladder, allows people to stay at a certain level, move sideways, or even step downwards for a time and still not put their career progression in danger.

  • Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energy moving forward together towards an answer.
  • Denis Waitley

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

Virtual Mentoring

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg

A Gallup survey last fall revealed that working from home — including various hybrid arrangements — is trending permanently. Last September, 45% of U.S. employees were working partly or fully remotely, and 91% of them planned to continue some level of remote work post-pandemic; in fact, 58% would consider leaving their current jobs if access to remote arrangements vanished.

By now, you have learned that remote/virtual training can be accomplished. You had no choice. I want to encourage you to continue your mentoring program that embraces a method of having a virtual mentor/mentee, someone you do not see face-to-face every working day. It can be done and while you have not been forced to do it, as with training, it can be done successfully.

Many people assume that mentoring relies on being physically together at least from time to time. However, that is not true. I will offer myself as an example.

I have successfully mentored, coached and guided CPA firm managing partners, HR directors, firm administrators, and even marketing directors for many years, most of them I have never met in person. Sometimes we use Zoom or Teams for our sessions but mostly it is simply via phone conversations. Of course, there is some structure to our conversations and action steps that are identified and achieved just like it is with in-person mentoring.

My advice to you, if you cannot be a mentor or mentee in person you can, just simply talk to each other. Often, it is easier to talk to a person via phone (not seeing their face). Think about helplines for people with various troubles and challenges. They do to see the person they are talking to but they soon learn that the person on the other end of the conversation cares, can be trusted, and has sound advice.

Don’t exclude your virtual employees from the benefit of mentoring. It is a fundamental part of building a career in public accounting – a more experienced person guides a less experienced person to help them achieve career success.

  • Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

Why Do You Stay?

“People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.” – Stephen Hawking

I have heard a similar story many times during my years of talking with CPA firm team members.

I am often asked to counsel an employee working in a CPA firm. They tell me things. Sometimes I hear things via an upward feedback survey interview or at a conference. It involves a certain team member sharing somewhat of a horror story with me.

They tell me that they never hear a partner say thank you. They are not recognized or appreciated for their hard work and dedication. Any kind of formal feedback never happens. Many leaders are unprofessional, distant, grumpy, unhappy, unappreciative, self-centered, short-tempered, greedy, weird, crazy, and sometimes even worse. They (the leaders/partner) will not change and embrace current trends.

When I ask the obvious question, “Why do you stay?” I get similar and somewhat surprising answers.

  • They don’t mean to be rude.
  • They are really very busy and can’t help themselves.
  • I like the location, it is close to my home.
  • They pay me fairly.
  • I like my co-workers.
  • I like my clients.
  • They do provide some flexibility,
  • I can’t make this much money somewhere else.

I wonder if they just like to complain. At one time, I had one of those “No Whining” signs in my office because I really heard more whining than complaining.

Has it just become part of the firm culture? And, the validity of those complaints can’t be serious or why would they stay?

Be sure to work on the culture at your firm. If you don’t focus on it and continually work on it, it will form on its own and might not be something you are proud of.

  • That I be not as those are who spend the day in complaining of headache and the night in drinking the wine which gives the headache!
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, April 1st, 2022

Be Proactive With Your Clients

“If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I admire firms that are proactive with their clients. Here is this week’s Flashback Friday post about a firm that is proactive.

It’s Friday. Quit working at 4:00 pm!

  • Simplify, simplify.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, March 24th, 2022

Gen Z Management

“Spend time advising and training your team. Be positive, patient, and practical.” – Mike Monroe

It seems you just got used to managing the Millennials and now you are faced with Gen Z. Gen Z is defined as those aged 10 – 25. Here’s a recap:

  • Gen Z – born 1997 – 2012 – Ages in 2022 10-25
  • Millennials – born 1981 – 1996 – Ages in 2022 26-41
  • Gen X – born 1965 – 1980 – Ages in 2022 42-57
  • Boomers II born 1955 – 1964 – Ages in 2022 58 – 67

*Please remember that there are slightly differing opinions as to the exact years but this recap gives you a general idea.

Some sources say that the disillusionment that has driven the Great Resignation has been caused by mediocre management. I think that is partially true. Not all managers are mediocre.

An interesting article by Mike Monroe via SmartBrief will help you understand all of this much better.

According to McKinsey & Co., employee-manager relationships are the top factor affecting employees’ job satisfaction. Workers will stay at a so-so position if their managers are great. But people won’t stick around for mediocre managers — even if the job is otherwise fantastic.

Monroe offers two mindsets that may help you be a better manager.

  1. Be the manager that you would have benefited from in your past.
  2. Check your narcissism at the door.

Read the brief article and see if anything applies inside your firm.

  • If you’re a middle manager, you’re one of the intangible benefits of working at your company. You need to learn how to attract, interview and supervise up-and-coming workers.
  • Mike Monroe