Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Monday, March 18th, 2019

Ghosting

“Our feet are planted in the real world, but we dance with angels and ghosts.” – John Cameron Mitchell

Maybe your firm has done it. I know a lot of firms where it happens. Someone interviews with the firm for an accounting position. You interview them and end with the normal “We’ll get back to you” comment. But no one does get back with them. You have made the decision to hire another candidate but you don’t get back with every one you interviewed to let them know. Someone dropped the ball.

Maybe payback can be expected. Applicants and employees are now ghosting their employers in greater numbers. Per USA Today:

Workers are ‘ghosting‘ interviews, blowing off work in a strong job market. … A growing number are “ghosting” their jobs: blowing off scheduled job interviews, accepting offers but not showing up the first day and even vanishing from existing positions – all without giving notice.

I have heard some amazing stories from firms. Many of the cases are people in administrative positions. They report for the first day and then never show up again. One firm even told me a new admin person left at lunch on the first day and never came back. It sounds amusing (when you are not involved) but it is not that unusual any longer.

Here’s a great article via Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady.

Make sure your firm has systems in place to facilitate the interview and selection process so no one feels ghosted.

  • Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.
  • Stephen King

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

The Impression You Make

Did you know the phrase, “the clothes make the man” is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet?

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius tells his son Laertes to dress well because “apparel oft proclaims the man“; this phrase is now expressed in modern parlance as “the clothes maketh the man“.

I think the phrase could be construed to fit both males and females in accounting – “how you are dressed often speaks volumes before you utter a single word”.

Several years ago I was the featured speaker for a state society. It was a luncheon to honor women of influence in the CPA profession in that state. Four women were being honored. They were different ages and from different employers or self-employed. One was a sole proprietor, one worked for a mid-size firm, one from corporate and one from the big four.

I met and chatted with them before the event and then I watched as the room began to fill for the luncheon. Because of the nature of the event, most gentlemen were in coats and ties and the women were also dressed professionally.

One gentleman entered the room and immediately I thought “he’s a big four partner”. He, too, was dressed professionally. His haircut, his posture, his expressions, and the quality of his clothing clearly stated professionalism that was above any other person I had noticed in the room. Yes, I was right. He greeted the lady from the big four firm and he was later introduced as a partner at XXX firm.

That impression has stayed with me for many years. What do people think when I walk into a room? What do they think about you?

  • A good first impression can work wonders.
  • J. K. Rowling

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

The Welcome Letter

“To me, a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.” – Helen Keller

A new client is landed by one of the firm’s partners. They met several years ago at Chamber of Commerce business event. The client knows the partner but how much does he/she know about the firm?

It is important that clients become attached to the firm and not just the partner – for various reasons that some of you know all too well. You don’t want clients to leave the firm just because one person leaves.

Begin building the relationship with the firm at the beginning. In some firms, the first written piece of information a client gets fro the firm is an invoice.

Progressive firms, after a new client is added to the client list, send out a warm and friendly welcome letter. Make it different, put it in writing, on paper and mailed (USPS) to them. It should have a real, written signature on it.

It should come from the managing partner or firm administrator. This helps the client know that there is another person they can contact right away if needed. Eventually, they will get acquainted with the engagement team and build relationships with several people at the firm. However, in the very beginning, they may have many questions and not feel somewhat lost.

Express your appreciation for them joining the firm. It is also a great time to make sure they are aware of your billing and collection policies. Most new clients always wonder about that but have been hesitant to ask.

If you are not doing this or something similar and need a sample, let me know.

  • The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.
  • Emily Dickinson

Monday, March 4th, 2019

Write About It

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Terry Pratchett

You are a CPA. You work in public accounting. You have several years of experience. You have done many things, big and small, that have helped many of your clients.

Write about it.

Your firm administrator or marketing person begs you to write an article for your firm newsletter or for a blog post. Simply write one of your success stories each month – keep it simple and it won’t be such a chore!

  • You can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page.
  • Jodi Picoult

Friday, March 1st, 2019

Procrastination Might Have Paid Off

In 2015, I did a post about the new trend of having an open office environment. During that year and in years prior, I featured more posts about the increased collaboration that happens with an open office.

Scratch that.

Things change. Researchers are now telling us that open offices kill teamwork. It seems that a large percentage of people working in open offices cocoon themselves with headphones and they simply text each other.

“If you’ve ever sought refuge from the goldfish bowl of an open-plan office environment by cocooning yourself with headphones, or if you’ve decided you’d rather not have that challenging conversation with a colleague in front of a large group of your peers, and opted to email them instead, then these findings will come as little surprise.” – Christian Jarrett

So, if you procrastinated on adopting an open office plan it might have just paid off. Please don’t procrastinate on other important decisions!

Read more about the findings here.

  • Give yourself more opportunities for privacy, when you are not bombarded with duties and obligations. Privacy is not a rejection of those you love; it is your deserved respite for recharging your batteries.
  • Wayne Dwyer

Monday, February 25th, 2019

Have A Grateful Week

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I remind you often to remember to simply say, “thank-you” to your team members. No matter what your role in the firm, say it to each other. It means a lot from the boss but it also means a lot from a peer. Sometimes, it is even shocking when an employee says thanks to the boss.

On a recent blog post by Grammarly, they noted that it’s nice to form a thank-you in a different way, rather than the usual thanks or thanks so much.

Here are some alternatives, use them this week.

  • Thank you for all your hard work on this.
  • Thanks again we couldn’t have pulled this off without you.
  • Thank you, you’re amazing!
  • I’m so thankful for everything you bring to the table.
  • Thank you kindly.
  • Thanks a million.
  • Many thanks.
  • Warmest thanks.
  • I truly appreciate your hard work.
  • I truly appreciate you.

Plus, there are more. Read them here.

I am “beyond grateful” that you read this blog!

  • Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
  • Aesop

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Personal Connection

“Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.” – Tony Robbins

Many studies are now telling us that the way to fully engage employees is all the usual things like compensation and flexible work hours and also human connection.

Maybe you have observed that accountants are not always the “warm and fuzzy” type. Most are technical, traditional, knowledgeable, professional and conservative in their actions and words.

As firm leaders, it is up to you to help develop a firm culture of caring and trust. Don’t forget to have some fun in your culture, too.

CPAs in public practice are very concerned with time. This sometimes leads to them not devoting enough time to develop a personal connection with their own employees. They seem to do better with relationships with clients because they see that as part of their job.

Often, new college graduates enter a firm and they immediately begin on a regime of grinding out work and putting in the hours it takes in busy season.

There is no time for the warm and fuzzy stuff. Leaders must get past this scenario. That’s one reason why firms need to immediately focus on mentoring relationships with new hires. Each employee needs someone who cares about them professionally and personally.

Fulfillment is the new standard for employee engagement, according to a separate PwC report. The results showed that the hallmark of a positive employee experience is a sense of belonging, progress toward a goal and personal growth.

Read more about this topic and about various studies that support it.

  • It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.
  • Denis Waitley

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Twitter – Use it to learn and gain knowledge

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” – David Alston

I first began using Twitter in April 2008. Hard to believe that it has been that long ago.

I continue to use Twitter every business day. Why? Because I find it very helpful and, hopefully, my followers find that what I tweet helps them. As of yesterday, I had made 16,641 tweets.

I believe that a constant stream of informative and positive tweets helps me know more, learn more and stay connected to current events in the CPA profession.

I try to tweet about 6 or 7 times per day and I read tweets only 2 or 3 times per day – usually early morning and late afternoon. When I see a tweet that is relevant and helpful to CPAs, I often retweet it.

My advice is to not follow TOO many people. Select people who are involved in the CPA profession. I also like to follow people who communicate about leadership. I follow a news source (NPR) but not many others because news becomes so negative. Still, you need to be aware of current events. Of course, I also follow some friends and family.

Try using a tool like Hootsuite to consolidate your Twitter streams. It makes it easy to quickly scan through the Twitter users you follow and retweet them if you like.

I know, you don’t want another distraction, but used cautiously it can keep you in the know. I often follow various management conferences and I feel like I am actually there.

So, if you do not have a Twitter account, sign-up now. You don’t have to tweet anything, just use it to read what others are saying. I never follow anyone who is negative or political – I strictly use it to keep up with current trends in leadership and the CPA profession. Visit my Twitter page and you can see who I follow.

I hope if you do have a Twitter account that you will follow me@cpamanagement.

  • Conversations are happening whether you are there or not.
  • Kim Garst

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

It’s Still True – Happy Valentine’s Day!

“If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.” – Maya Angelou

On Valentine’s Day, you will be thinking of someone you love. Hopefully, you will be thinking of several someones you love. People love other people, dogs, cats, horses, Spring, Summer, the mountains, the beach, the nighttime sky and much more.

I love all of that (and much more). But, unlike most people, I have a special love and it has been going on for decades! Yes, I love CPAs!

Fill your Valentine’s Day with love!

Photo on 2-13-13 at 2.58 PM

  • All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.
  • Charles M. Schulz

Monday, February 11th, 2019

Performance Standards

“Performance standards help to set expectations and provide consistency.” – Sharlyn Lauby

When a new hire enters your firm or even if it is a short-term intern, do they really understand what is expected of them?

Of course, you provide a detailed job description, maybe not to an intern but to a full-time new hire. What if you communicated even more clearly?

I believe some clearly defined Standards of Performance are in order. Why not rename and reformat your job descriptions into performance standards?

If you want a sample of Standards of Performance for accountants working in a CPA firm, just let me know, I am happy to share.

Here’s a good article titled, Employees Become Successful When They Know What Success Looks Like, from Sharlyn Lauby, @hrbartender.

  • The true measure of any business leader and manager is performance.
  • Brian Tracy