Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

Your People Want to Tell You

“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.” – Sybil F. Stershic

Per Gallup, your people really want to tell you what they need and how they feel. So, it is up to you to ask them. In doing so, you can gain so much valuable information and receive guidance on how to proceed through the weeks and months ahead.

Great advice from Gallup:

  • Since no one can know how long a crisis will last or what the outcomes will be, the most sensible thing to do is address your employees’ current needs.
  • Gathering employee feedback sends a positive message in times of crisis.
  • Asking your workforce what they think and then taking no action after getting their answers is always the wrong move.
  • We live in counterintuitive times – – now is not the time to “go with your gut.”

Many accounting firms are now doing pulse surveys. A staff pulse survey is a short, quick survey that is sent out to employees on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly, etc.). This survey is essentially a check-in, providing a pulse check on topics such as employee satisfaction, job role, communication, relationships, and work environment.

Gallup says that garnering employee feedback through surveys or other channels benefits the organization and employees alike. Gallup has found that understanding and acting on employee feedback from engagement surveys is directly related to organizational resiliency. Teams perform better during tough times (i.e., recessions, disruptions) if they have:

  • clear expectations
  • the materials and equipment they need
  • the opportunity to do what they do best
  • coworkers across teams who are committed to quality

Here’s a link to the Gallup article.

  • Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.
  • Stephen R. Covey

Friday, June 4th, 2021

Talking & Writing

“The spoken word and the written — there is an astonishing gulf between them.” – Hercule Poirot 

Working in the CPA profession you do a lot of talking and writing. Are you even aware how you come across to others?

Here’a a Flashback post that address both of these activities.

Enjoy your weekend and do some reading!

  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
  • Robert Benchley

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

Interesting Thoughts About Meetings

“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.” – Thomas Sowell, American Writer and Economist

I occasionally repost a blog in its entirety by Seth Godin. I think this one is something CPAs should think about.

My observation is that people working in a CPA firm would be afraid to NOT attend a meeting called by a partner and especially afraid to admit that a meeting would be a waste of time.

Godin’s post:

MEETING NULLIFICATION

Here are two policies it might be fun to try for a week:

Meeting abstention: Anyone invited to an internal meeting has the power to opt-out. “Send me the summary, please.” If someone abstains, they give up their ability to have a say in the meeting, but most meetings these days don’t actually give people a platform to have a say. And then that person can leave the Zoom room and get back to whatever it is they were doing that was actually productive.

Meeting nullification: If anyone in an internal meeting announces that the meeting is a pointless waste of time, it’s over. The meeting organizer is obligated to send everyone the memo that they probably should have sent in the first place.

If you discover that you’re calling meetings where people abstain, or worse, call for nullification, perhaps you should be more careful about which meetings you call and who you invite.

Does your organization have the guts to try this out? Do you, as an attendee, care enough to abstain?

The fact that even discussing this idea is stressful helps us understand status roles and power.

  • Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better.
  • Peter Drucker

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

Chill Out – Substitute Fascinated for Frustrated

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Working at a growing, busy CPA firm can be frustrating at times. That is not an earth-shaking statement. You know it all too well! I have a light-hearted story for you today.

What do you do to relieve the frustrations that come your way almost on a daily (or hourly) basis? I have a suggestion that might help.

Many years ago I learned a way to reduce the stress of frustrations from a colleague who always looked on the bright side of things. She continually inspired me to be a better leader and to be a better person. No matter the situation, she found a way to take positive value from the experience.

As we went through the ups and downs of our busiest season, I found myself facing way too many frustrations. During one of these moments, my colleague gave me some excellent advice.

She suggested I substitute the word fascinated for frustrated. It is very simple but when I started thinking in this way, it simply took the edge off!

“Isn’t it fascinating that Joe Client drops off his information every year at the last minute and expects us to have it completed within one or two days? I wonder what causes him to demonstrate that behavior? Maybe he struggles with an assistant (or spouse) who isn’t proactive in helping him prepare and organize.”

“It really fascinates me that Sally Sue always leaves a mess in the break room. Perhaps she was raised by a wicked aunt that made her scrub floors every week-end!”

Try working a fascinating story into your frustrations. Yes, I have actually tried this and it helps me smile and de-stress.

  • It is hardly possible to build anything if frustration, bitterness and a mood of helplessness prevail.
  • Lech Walesa

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021

Show Them

“Businesses that forget that their primary business is the people business will not last.” – Steve Keating

Steve Keating’s post on May 16 certainly struck a chord with me. He addressed the issue of companies establishing titles for people in hopes that a person with a title would make employees feel more included and appreciated. He says that there are too many “buzz word” titles floating around. I certainly see this in the CPA profession.

Keating says, “Instead of endowing people with fancy titles that say “we care” how about actually caring? How about showing you care for everyone equally instead of saying it again and again?”

Calling people “human capital” has always grated on my nerves and I have heard it too often from CPA firm leaders. I always try to remind CPA leaders that they are not in the numbers business, they are in the people business. Be sure to read Keating’s post.

  • When the company shows they care about their people, all their people, equally, they don’t need fancy titles.
  • Steve Keating

Friday, May 14th, 2021

Persistence

“What you have learned is never enough.” – – Cher Wang

This week for Flashback Friday I want to share what you can learn from a seven-year-old boy.

As a leader in an accounting firm, you should always encourage and demonstrate persistence.

The post about persistence was written in 2010 about my grandson. He was seven. This month he is eighteen and graduating from high school!

  • Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.
  • Bill Bradley

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

Passive Observers

“Passive observers don’t belong at the table.” – Dan Rockwell

Per Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak), once you’ve got 7 people in a decision-making group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.

I have observed, by attending a huge number of partner meetings and retreats, at my own firm and with my many clients, that there are way too many passive observers in those meetings.

When a delicate topic or a confrontation arises, the biggest percentage of the partners in attendance look at their laps. They look down so the facilitator cannot make eye contact and they might not be expected to take a stand.

The same thing happens in other types of meetings in accounting firms. I love the one brave soul on the team who will raise their hand and ask the dumb question. The remainder of the team has the same question in mind but they don’t want take a chance of embarassing themselves.

It is up to you, the leader of the meeting, to run a great meeting. As Rockwell says, “Poorly run meetings offend the talent at the table.”

Here are Rockwell’s 3 words that make meetings great:

#1 – Specific – Two or three action items are enough for most meeting agendas.

#2 – Shorter – Stick to the time allotted, don’t turn a 20-minute briefing into an hour lecture.

#3 – Smaller – No passive observers. Decide and deliver.

Read Rockwell’s post here.

  • Mediocre meetings reflect and produce mediocre organizations.
  • Dan Rockwell

Friday, May 7th, 2021

A Book For CPAs – Flashback Friday

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

I am assuming (and hoping) that, as a leader, you have read most of the prominent business books.

Here’s a flashback post about a book I think all people working in a public accounting firm should read – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

  • I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
  • Groucho Marx

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Contradictions

“The contradictions are what make human behavior so maddening and yet so fascinating, all at the same time.” – Joan D. Vinge

As you successfully manage your public accounting firm, you will encounter many contradictions. Here are a few I have observed:

  • You have to be more flexible.
  • You have to have more structure.
  • You must be able to talk in a way that is inspiring and motivating.
  • Don’t do all the talking, it’s important to be a good listener.
  • You must inspire young people to stay with the firm.
  • You should draw upon the experience of older accountants and not rush them out the door.
  • You have to provide quick turnaround for your clients.
  • You should take your time, you can’t risk making mistakes.
  • You want the team to achieve lots of billable hours.
  • You want the team to achieve great realization.
  • You want young people to be able to take on more challenging work.
  • You allow managers to cling to the most challenging work.
  • You expect the entire team to follow all the policies and procedures.
  • You, a leader, don’t set a good example by adhering to firm policies and procedures.

What I usually observe is that a great number of firms make it all too complicated. They spin their wheels, procrastinate, micro-manage, involve too many people in trivial decisions and make important decisions too slowly. They want the firm to grow and prosper by doing the same old things they have always done.

Make some changes now… before too much of 2021 passes by. Take some risk. It can be fun and exciting (and profitable).

  • I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money.
  • Pablo Picasso

Monday, May 3rd, 2021

Mission – Vision – Purpose

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren G. Bennis

I still encounter some confusion about how to write a meaningful mission, vision, or purpose statement for your firm or organization.

Some CPA partner retreats actually get bogged down in this endeavor while crafting their strategic plan.

purpose statement provides the reason or reasons you exist. It is about why you exist, whereas the mission is about what you do and for whom. … Some organizations find that a mission statement alone suits their needs, whereas others prefer to use a purpose statement.

Read more about the difference between these statements in this brief, informative article.

  • The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.
  • Helen Keller