Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Brag About Your Team

“If you done it, it ain’t bragging.” – Walt Whitman

Normally, I would say it’s not good manners to brag. That is not always true.

In the accounting profession, I often find that people DO NOT brag enough!

I especially urge women to “toot your own horn” because men tend to do it much more often than women. Be proud of what you have accomplished.

When it comes to your team, let them know they are very valuable to the firm. One way you can do this is to have a brag book in your lobby.

I am sure you have received compliments from clients about your team members. Some clients even send a letter to the firm communicating their appreciation of the people they work with at your firm. Maybe they send a personal email to individual partners about the good work done by the team.

Make it a project to gather all these types of compliments (in writing), print them out and make a scrapbook to put in your lobby. Give it a fancy cover and title. You might be surprised how many people will look at it. Even co-workers don’t often hear about these kinds of compliments.

Another way is to have the video screen in your lobby scroll through pictures of the team with quotes extracted from communications from clients. Such as, “Joe, was such a pleasure to work with.”

Why not do both… paper and digital communication that you are so proud of your team and want to brag about them.

  • Bragging is not an attractive trait, but let's be hones. A man who catches a big fish doesn't go home through an alley.
  • Ann Landers

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

Become a Chief Retention Officer

“People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.” – Marcus Buckingham

One way to solve the problem of finding and hiring top talent is to be sure you don’t lose the top talent you already have.

You are well aware of the time, effort and dollars you spend trying to find and hire a qualified candidate. That is why it just makes sense to focus on making all partners and managers Chief Retention Officers.

How do you do that? Have them all read First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The authors contend that employees leave managers, not companies. I strongly believe that this is the case in CPA firms. Buckingham and Coffman offer 12 questions that can be used to measure the core elements needed to attract, develop and retain the next generation of CPA firm leaders.

The questions are:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages both my personal and my career development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

After this fall busy season is over, equip your leaders with these questions and have them meet and talk with the people they supervise. In addition to the questions, be sure your partners/managers can describe what a talented professional’s career path looks like.

  • Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, your will be successful.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Transparency

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

A couple of basics that your staff desires are inclusion and transparency. They want to know about and be included in what is discussed behind-closed-doors in the partner meetings.

To attract and keep top talent, you need to figure out how to inform and involve them.

Daniel Hood of Accounting Today recently wrote a very informative article – 10 Staff Questions Firms Should Answer Right Now.

Here are the 10 Questions – be sure to read the article to learn more about each one. These are IMPORTANT questions!

  1. How is the firm doing?
  2. What is the firm doing?
  3. What does this mean for me?
  4. What can I do here?
  5. Hoe do I do that
  6. What does a partner make?
  7. How long does it take to make partner?
  8. Will the firm be around in 10 years?
  9. What will it look like? Can I make a suggestion?
  • Speak the truth. Transparency breeds legitimacy.
  • John Maxwell

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Build Your Brand – Be Visible

“The power of visibility can never be underestimated.” – Margaret Cho

You have heard it over and over in recent years, you have to be visible on social media to attract and retain clients.

Yes, I agree with that. But, I ask more of you!

Don’t forget the old fashioned way. You must be visible in your business community – up close and personal.

Each person working at your CPA firm helps build a reputation for the FIRM. Remember those elevator speeches (describing what you do in 30 seconds)? Are you still teaching your newest team members how to do that? Remember, when someone asks you where you work you don’t say, “I work for an accounting firm.” You say, “I work for Acme CPA firm, the fastest-growing, most knowledgeable and progressive CPA firm in town! I am on the tax team.” Each person crafts their own story.

All your partners and managers should be involved in a charitable or community organization and eventually take a leadership position in that organization.

A basic visibility activity that partners sometimes forget – you eat lunch outside the office every day. Eat lunch with a client, a banker, an attorney or with another person from the firm. Dine at the most popular business lunch place in town where you will be seen by clients, bankers, and attorneys.

An on-going motto for the firm – “Let’s get visible!”

  • A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is invisible labor.
  • Victor Hugo

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

Be A Great Manager

Bruce Tulgan tells us: Being a great manager requires a lot of time and effort. You cannot treat your management responsibilities as a low-commitment responsibility! You owe it to the people on your team to give them the support, guidance, and coaching they deserve. 

An important part of managing people involves one-on-one conversations. These one-on-one meetings help you create an upward spiral of performance.

There are four basic steps to creating an upward spiral of performance on your team:

1. Define performance standards

2. Spell out expectations

3. Collaborate on next steps

4. Follow up, revise, and adjust

Download Tulgan’s ebook here.

one one

  • It’s the most talented, not the least talented, who are continually trying to improve their dialogue skills. As is often the case, the rich get richer.
  • Kerry Patterson

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

They Like Working at The Firm BUT…..

“If you love your work, if you enjoy it, you’re already a success.” – Jack Canfield

Partners in many firms really try to provide a friendly and fun work environment. They care about providing value, offer competitive salaries and have 4-day workweeks in the summer, plus other perks.

These things are appreciated by staff. However, there are always a few things they would like to see improved:

  • Managers need to do a better job at delegating. Partners and managers are busy and staff are looking for work (this is an on-going theme I have blogged about several times).
  • Partners say they have an open-door policy but they really don’t welcome interruptions. Don’t tout it if you don’t mean it.
  • The partners are very competent but they struggle with understanding younger staff and their struggles. Things like commuting, two working parents, lack of on-going feedback on performance, etc.
  • They need to develop more work for after tax season. The firm needs to offer a wider range of services.
  • And, to me, the biggest issues in most firms – They need to improve communication, as a firm and as individuals.

There are many more positives and negatives but this is just a list that might be a wake-up call to leadership.

  • It is highly impossible for you to be successful at what you don't love. Do what you love and love what you do.
  • Israelmore Ayivor

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

No Negativity!

“Negativity is the enemy of creativity.” – David Lynch

I love these rules from Jon Gordon:

5 Ways to transform negativity on your team:

1. The No Complaining Rule.

2. Engage in Positive Conflict: Have difficult conversations to address issues.

3. Meet and talk about the negative effects of negativity.

4. No energy vampires.

5. Discuss ways to stay positive as a team.

  • When someone tells me "no," it doesn't mean I can't do it, it simply means I can't do it with them.
  • Karen E. Quinones Miller

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Flashback Friday – Silence Can Be Very Powerful

“Sometimes you don’t have to say anything. Silence speaks it all.” – Disha Patani

You are stopped in the hallway and asked for your opinion on a rather important matter. Don’t feel like you have to answer right away. But, when a staff member is waiting for an answer to complete a client engagement, don’t delay for days or weeks!

Read more about silence here.

  • Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech.
  • Plutarch

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Don’t Let Day-to-Day Take Over Your Retreat

“Strategic thinking starts with the end in mind.” – Pearl Zhu

If you are planning your fall retreat, plan your agenda carefully.

So many things are going on inside the firm such as issues with people and their performance, a renegade partner or secondary office, the progress on technology upgrades, the lack of new business coming in the door and so on.

Don’t let all the daily noise cloud your retreat. Put one thing on the agenda – strategic planning – then do it.

What are the big-picture items you need to address? Things that affect the future of the firm and things that will force partners to think of the firm before themselves.

Explore and discover what your firm is truly all about (vision/mission/purpose), identify (or review) your core values, uncover what needs to be done to prepare your firm for the next generation or for an upward merger. If your firm is not growing steadily, that is a huge issue to discuss. All partners must generate new business. Discuss and document the expectations for every partner. Actually talk, face-to-face, about issues within the partner group that everyone has always swept under the carpet. Address that elephant in the room!

If you don’t have a solid strategic plan to share with your team you will soon experience turnover. Talented people can easily move on to a firm that is transparent, forward-thinking, growing and creating a culture where they can see, in advance, where their career is heading.

 

  • Be strategic about productivity. Do less exceptionally well, instead of doing more in an average way.
  • Laurie Buchanan, PhD

Friday, August 9th, 2019

Flashback Friday – You Didn’t Act

How many times have you contemplated the fact that you should have done something but you didn’t?

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” – William James

Click here to read this flashback post from 2017.

  • Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.
  • Leo Buscaglia