Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Friday, November 15th, 2019

Words Are Currency – Spend Them Wisely

“A fool is made more of a fool when their mouth is more open than their mind.” – Anthony Liccione

Have you ever been in a meeting where someone spews words in a never-ending dialogue that is pretty much meaningless? It seems they just enjoy hearing themselves talk.

I believe that communication within CPA firms needs to be continuous and enlightening but that doesn’t mean too many meetings where certain people ramble on and on. I recently read the following and realized how meaningful it is to CPA firm meetings.

Joe had always considered individual words as finite units of currency, and he believed in savings. He never wanted to waste or unnecessarily expend words. To Joe, words meant things. They should be spent wisely.

That’s why Joe despised meetings where he felt the participants acted as if they were paid by the number of words spoken and, as a result, the words began to cheapen by the minute until they meant nothing at all. In Joe’s experience, the person who talked the most often had the least to say. (C. J. Box, author)

Does this apply to someone at your firm? Is it you?

  • Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about themselves, and small people talk about others.
  • John C. Maxwell

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

Tone It Down

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” – Zig Ziglar

You are in a firm meeting. It could be a partner meeting, a staff meeting, a committee meeting or an admin meeting. Someone complains (gripes.. bitches…) and another person joins in and soon there are several on the bandwagon.

Think about it. It probably happens all too frequently. In some cases, the person running the meeting (a manager, partner, firm administrator) actually joins in. They feel like they are sympathizing and showing support for the concerns.

If you are leading a meeting that suddenly turns into a gripe session, don’t join in. Tone it down! You might think you are building camaraderie but you are actually undermining your own credibility.

Take immediate steps to turn these bitch sessions into productive, problem-solving meetings. You might simply say, “Wait a minute, I hear the problem. Let’s talk about solutions.” Enlist the entire group into voicing possible solutions.

  • Everyone has to make their own decisions. I still believe in that. You just have to be able to accept the consequences without complaining.
  • Grace Jones

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Accountants & Emotional Intelligence

“Emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness.” – Justin Bariso

There has been a lot of talk and many things written about accountants having a fairly low EQ (Emotional Intelligence). CPAs are often cautious, conservative, reserved and hesitant to show any emotion. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on raising your level of emotional intelligence.

Last December I did a post titled, You Are Business Smart. Are You Feelings Smart? I mentioned Justin Bariso and his 3-Second Trick (to help with EQ).

Bariso recently wrote another article to help with EQ in his column via Inc. Take This 5-Minute Test to See if You Have High Emotional Intelligence. I hope you will take 5 minutes to see where you stand. Do you think before you speak? Do you learn from negative feedback? –and several more good questions to ask yourself.

  • Paying attention to body language, eye movement, and tone of voice helps emotionally intelligent people to distinguish what's going on in others.
  • Justin Bariso

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

Tune-In To Individuals

“The way management treats associates is exactly how the associates will treat the customers.” – Sam Walton

I follow Bruce Tulgan on Twitter. I have read his books and heard him speak in person. He speaks my language! If you are working in a CPA firm and manage people, he speaks your language, too.

Last week, I sent a copy of It’s Okay To Be The Boss to a young millennial who was just promoted to Manager in one of the “big” firms. She is charged with managing other millennials (even younger) and already realizes the challenges she is facing. So, it is not only baby boomers and GenX who wonder how to manage younger workers.

I hope you follow him on Twitter, also. I hope you also follow me on Twitter!

Here’s a recent tweet from Tulgan:

Customization is the holy grail of effective management today. The more you can tune in to the individual wants, needs, strengths, and weaknesses of each individual, the better you are able to guide and support them.
tulgan

  • Management is nothing more than motivating other people.
  • Lee Iacocca

Monday, November 4th, 2019

Be Clear About Your Purpose

“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.”  Winston Churchill

The partners go away for a couple of days and come back with a firm mission statement. Does that inspire you? I doubt it. In many firms, it is just another “flavor of the month” and soon no one will even be able to recite it.

I like the new trend in calling it (mission statement) a statement of purpose. What is the purpose of your firm? What are you trying to achieve?

Many owner groups struggle with defining and living, their purpose. Some even copy a purpose from another firm and roll it out to their team as if it has real meaning to the owners.

Per an interesting article via Harvard Business Review, a truly powerful purpose statement is one that achieves two objectives: clearly articulating strategic goals and motivating your workforce.

If you want to find and retain top talent, they must know and understand your firm’s purpose – I mean really, not just some fancy words.

Surveys tell us that a large percentage of employees don’t feel fully connected to their firm’s purpose, they don’t see the value they create and that their jobs don’t allow them to fully leverage their strengths.

This adds up to a crisis of purpose. And, what follows along is a communication crisis. As I continue to say – most problems I encounter inside accounting firms can be traced back to poor, or lack of, communication.

Read and share the HBR article with your firm leaders. It is titled, Why Are We Here? Good question.

  • Workers feel lost. And over time, a lack of direction saps motivation; people begin backing away from the challenges required to achieve the firm’s articulated goals.
  • Sally Blount & Paul Leinwand, authors HBR

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Find Time to Laugh

“If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.” – Robert Frost

My husband and I frequently watch British comedy shows. He, not me, is a huge fan of the movie Month Python and the Holy Grail. He and my son can quote most of the script. Recently, we have watched The Detectorists via Acorn TV. The comedy is very subtle and we find it hilarious. We also love Doc Martin.

Anyway, it is healthy to laugh. Inside accounting firms, there is a lot of drama but I find that there is also much to laugh about. Look for the humor and spread it. Observe the drama and don’t take part in it!

Here’s a quote from John Cleese of Monty Python:

“I used to think comedy was a luxury, but now I see it’s much more important. As I’ve aged, I’ve found the world far, far more ridiculous than I used to think. I think some of us reach a point when we look at the world and think, This place is so crazy that I really can’t take it very seriously anymore.”

Honestly, in my consulting work, I often hear stories of happenings inside an accounting firm that are so serious and unbelievable that I just have to laugh!

Laugh inside your firm….. not at your firm.

 

  • The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
  • Mark Twain

Monday, October 28th, 2019

Where Is Your Bus Going?

“Good is the enemy of great.” – Jim Collins

We hear it and read about it often – get the right people on the bus!

Getting the right people on the bus comes from the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus.

The question is, where is the bus going? Wouldn’t you rather know where the bus was going before you get on?

I like a recent post by Seth Godin. I have included it below. It mentions something that CPA firms deal with all the time. The leader(s) seek to build consensus and try not to leave anyone out. Why not announce where your bus is going first and those who don’t want to go can get on another bus!

From Godin:

Where Does This Bus go?

One approach, which is tempting in the short run, is to wait until people are on the bus and then ask each person where they want to go. Seek to build consensus. Try not to leave anyone out.

The other approach, which works far better if you have a fleet of available buses, is to announce in advance where the bus is going. That way, anyone who wants to go where you’re headed can get onboard.

Enrollment is critical. Enrollment allows leaders to lead. Not by endlessly querying those that they seek to serve, but by announcing their destination and then heading there, with all deliberate speed.

  • Bad decisions made with good intentions, are still bad decisions.
  • Jim Collins

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

Disappointed & Embarrassed

“She overcame everything that was meant to destroy her.” Sylvester McNutt III

Women have been slowly but surely gaining ground within the CPA profession. I have been very proud of associations and firms that have made the commitment to provide the leadership development assistance and other resources women need to advance in their careers. These organizations follow through on those commitments.

Then there are others. The news this week is very disheartening. I was disappointed and embarrassed for the CPA profession. I was not shocked that this happened at one of the “big” firms. But I was shocked at what was presented to a group of female executives.

It is my observation that women are a foundational piece in almost every public accounting firm. Here’s the Male/Female professional staff breakdown via the Rosenberg survey:

  • Firms over $20M: 48%/52%.
  • $10-20M firms: 45%/55%
  • $5-10M firms: 43%/57%
  • $2-5M firms: 41%/59%
  • Under $2M: 35%/65%

Here are two different news articles covering the fiasco.

Empowerment Seminar Tells women They Have Small, Pancake-Like Brains

Ernst & Young training seminar told women not to “flaunt” bodies

  • The most dangerous woman of all is the one who refuses to rely on your sword to save her because she carries her own.
  • R. H. Sin

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

More Advice on Handling Email

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” – Harvey Mackay

I blog about it often, but I want to keep offering you solutions to your email misery. Don’t brag (or moan) about how many emails you get each day. Take positive steps to decrease the time you spend reading emails.

Matt Plummer gives us some good advice on how to spend less time on email every day in his article via HBR. A simple solution is to simply check email less often. His research says most professionals check their email 15 times per day. I believe that CPAs and their employees check email more often than that!

Keep in mind that most emails DO NOT need your immediate response. Set the expectations with your clients and let them know that you check email at 9:00, 11:00, 2:00 and 4:00. When you don’t respond right away, they will soon learn to expect your answer in a few hours.

I believe that your staff deserves a slightly higher priority. If you are a partner or a manager and you don’t reply to a staff question within a reasonable length of time, you may be damaging their productivity and halting workflow. I still hear stories of partners who may take days to answer an inquiry from staff!

Read the article and learn about the five ways we unnecessarily lose time dealing with emails.

  • I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.
  • William Shakespeare

Friday, October 18th, 2019

Use Twitter to Keep You Current

“LinkedIn is for the people you know. Facebook is for the people you used to know. Twitter is for people you want to know” ~ Source unknown

I can’t remember much about my first tweets. I do know that I did not hesitate, contemplate, or question my reasoning – I just jumped in. I had so much I wanted to share with people in the CPA profession. I joined in 2008 and have now tweeted over 18,000 times.

CPAs are more tentative in adopting something new. Twitter is no longer something new. It is a major force in society today. I also observe that very few CPAs actually Tweet. It’s not too late to get started.  I urge you to jump-in, set-up an account and pick a few people/organizations to follow so you can understand how it works and figure out how you can use it for efficiency – Yes, I said efficiency.

Here’s my approach – – I follow a few people/organizations because I want to use Twitter to keep me informed. I selected a few news sources and CPA management resources (and some family members) and I check Twitter every morning – very early – to get the latest world and national news. I can keep current much quicker than reading a newspaper or watching TV.

I check it only two or three times during the day (takes 30 seconds) and I tweet throughout the day, especially if I am attending an event that is of interest to CPAs. I want to share information (that’s the whole point).

To me, CPAs are in the best possible position to tweet. They have unbelievable knowledge to share, especially with clients. Many CPAs who do tweet use a service that does it for them. I hope that you will tweet yourself and express your own views and share the extensive knowledge you possess.

Think about it as 2020 approaches – – Right now is a great time to start a blog or begin tweeting tidbits of information for your clients about year-end tax planning. Once you begin, promote it and educate your clients (so they know that important business thoughts are available to them if they just join Twitter and follow YOUR tweets).

A word of warning. Don’t get sucked into spending too much time on Twitter or any social media. There is so much hate out there – be sure to only follow people who inspire you or provide positive information. I do not follow very many people. Read my tweets and follow me here.

  • The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
  • George Bernard Shaw