Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Meetings Are Important – Make Them Matter

“The problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred.” – Sigmund Freud

We have all thought it and probably said it out loud, “Oh no, not another meeting! I don’t have time for this.”

I recently read an interview by Skip Prichard of Paul Axtell about his new book – Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversations. As Prichard notes, he thought it would be a snooze but he actually even re-read it. The book goes far beyond meetings, it is great advice on how to be more effective.

In the interview, Axtell explains:

  • Our time in ineffective meetings far outweighs our time in powerful meetings. No wonder we moan and groan.
  • Meetings are actually at the heart of an effective organization. They are a place and situation where clarity can be achieved, decisions made, alignment garnered and actions identified. (Don’t you wish your partner meetings and retreats could be described like that?)
  • Conversations matter. Here are the 4 C’s of a Conversation: Clarity, Candor, Commitment, and Completion. (Read more about each one in the interview.)

I’m going to read the book. I hope you read both the interview and the book. Set a 2019 goal to have more productive and interesting meetings.

  • If I'm not happy in this time and place, I'm not paying attention.
  • Jodi Hills

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Managing an Accounting Practice Newsletter

“In case of news, we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation.” – Voltaire

My October newsletter went out last week. If you did not receive a copy you can sign-up here.

Gmail - Practice Management Newsletter - Rita Keller - October 11, 2018_

 

 

 

 

  • Live news teaches you some incredibly strong lessons: that every day is a new day, and it's never too late to fix something.
  • Nancy Dubuc

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Don’t Make Excuses

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” —Benjamin Franklin

In my consulting work, I hear about it all too frequently. In the workplace, there is a troublesome employee. I have heard many stories involving both males and females being the culprit.

This troublesome employee (often it is a partner in the firm) is well known for being difficult. He/She has been with the firm a very long time and is set in his/her ways. He/She might provide good client service but he/she is not a team player. For the people working with them, it means continually giving in to their wishes or risk their wrath. Even leaders back away from the situation.

The common excuse said many, many times over the years to a multitude of people who complain about him/her is: “That’s just the way he/she is.” Letting this go on too long will take a toll on firm morale.

Strong leadership is needed to keep an accounting firm on the track to profitability and success in the future. Quit making excuses for these renegades and take appropriate action. A lot of people will thank you.

  • Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.
  • John Wooden

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

Plan Ahead & Don’t Disappoint

“Punctuality is the politeness of kings.” – Louis XVIII

Life inside an accounting firm can be very hectic at times. When you arrive at the office, you have great plans for your day and expectations of what you will accomplish.

Then, you-know-what happens.

Suddenly, you realize you probably can’t make that meeting with a client, a team member or an employee. You will just have to reschedule that phone conference with the Chair of a committee you are on at a non-profit organization.

Rather than disappoint and cancel on someone at the last minute, make time toward the end of the week to look ahead at the following week’s schedule. Are you over-scheduled? Can you realistically squeeze in that client visit or meeting with the tax committee? Don’t over schedule yourself. If you must cancel or reschedule, give them plenty of notice.

People count on you. Their time is valuable, too. Don’t be a Last Minute Larry or a Procrastinating Polly.

  • Tardiness often robs us opportunity, and the dispatch of our forces.
  • Machiavelli

Friday, September 28th, 2018

The Firm Name

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare

I read an article in the news this morning about Macedonia’s upcoming vote on whether to change the country’s name. If you are a Macedonian, it is a very big deal.

Of course, to me, it brought to mind the name issue within CPA firms especially in this time of merger after merger.

Two things to remember:

  1. If you are in merger discussions with another firm – talk about the name issue early on in those discussions.
  2. Keep it short and simple.

Some firms have adopted names that do not even reflect a partner’s name, such as Apiro and Fluence.

Here’s some explanation about the Apiro name and here’s some insight about Fluence.

Recently, I heard about a firm that actually used six partners names. If your firm name is something like – Smith, Jones, Adams, Brown & Black – I bet your clients call you Smith Jones. Why not brand it?

  • Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.
  • Oscar Wilde

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

There Is A Difference

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens

Many firms have done a great job of focusing on employee engagement. But, there is more to the story.

Employee engagement and employee experience are not the same.

Employee experience is how the firm provides the employee with an environment, culture, and systems that meet their needs and enables them to do their work efficiently. Employee engagement is an element of employee experience and involves two-way communication.

Research tells us that there are workplace practices that are critical to creating a positive employee experience. They are:

  • Organizational Trust
  • Co-Worker Relationships
  • Meaningful Work
  • Feedback and Growth
  • Empowerment and Voice
  • Work-Life Balance

Here’s a great article posted on CMSWire by David Roe that will give you some interesting details and help you create an effective employee experience for your people.

  • It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.
  • Napolean Hill

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Painful Procrastination

“Even if you’re on the right track – you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Arthur Godfrey

You continually face due dates. The major ones are painful.

You end up in a fire-drill mode to serve those last-minute clients. Sometimes the fire drills are even caused by you because of improper processes, procedures, and staffing.

Don’t let procrastination become a part of your firm culture and your daily life.

According to a post via Cornerstone University, procrastination can also affect us emotionally. For humans to maintain a fulfilling existence, we must have a sense of purpose and generate ongoing accomplishments. Failure here may lead to low self-esteem and a lack of ambition.

Read the entire post – Delay, Delay, Delay: How to Manage and Overcome Procrastination so it Doesn’t Manage You.

When it comes to those procrastinating clients, share this article with them. Explain how their tardiness has a negative effect on your entire team. Ask for their understanding and help. (It’s called training the client!). If they don’t co-operate, find them another accountant. Life is too short for all the stress these clients cause.

  • Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
  • Jim Rohn

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Your Mentor

“Do your little bit of good where you are. It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

If you are working in the CPA profession, should have a mentor. I don’t care if you are a 50-something partner (or 60-something), find someone who will tell you the trust and work on improving yourself.

Don’t rely on your mentor. You should seek out their help if you need it. I love this story from Stephen R. Covey:

“When I was just 20 years old, I served as an assistant to the president of an organization. One time I asked him, “Why don’t you ever give me any feedback? You never tell me if you like my speeches.” And he said, “Do you want to be dependent upon me? You know within yourself what’s happening. If you want some help, you just ask me. I’m here. “From then on, I was free of the president. I didn’t have to worry about his reaction. He never praised me or blamed me, but if I wanted help, he’d give it. So I would ask him, “What do you think of this.” He served me as a source of help.”

 

  • The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
  • Gandhi

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

Improve Your Writing

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain

Accountants must be good at numbers and they also need to be good writers.

According to a recent post by Grammarly, many writers use filler words and phrases and they also use hedging words because they don’t want to appear demanding and bossy.

I am guilty of using hedging words and I never realized it. I also observe that many accountants do the same.

Here are some good examples via Grammarly:

Slightly

I’m slightly annoyed by Kate’s repeated tardiness.

Sort of, Kind of

Their plan was kind of short-sighted.

Rather, somewhat

The play was rather interesting.

Quite

His car is quite fast.

Probably

We should probably wait to send that email until we have final approval.

If you need to learn more ways to improve your writing, read the entire post.

  • Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
  • Mark Twain

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

Silence

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

During each day, you get an enormous amount of questions.

You are the firm administrator. It seems like people are lined up outside your office door continually as the day evolves.

You are the managing partner. A client calls and expects an answer on the spot. A partner stops you in the hall and asks a question. Your firm administrator needs an answer right away!

Partners and managers get questions from staff. Staff members get questions from each other. It seems everyone asking questions think YOU must have an easy and quick answer.

Try a little silence. In appropriate situations, just remain silent and the person asking the question just might answer it themselves.

If you are stopped in the hallway and asked a question say: “Let me think about that and I’ll get back to you.” Often, people catch you off guard and it is much safer to deflect, think and then reply.

Delay doesn’t mean days or weeks, it means minutes or hours.

One of the main insights I receive from staff is that they often wait on answers from partners (mostly regarding client work) for days, weeks and sometimes months.

  • He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.
  • Elbert Hubbard