Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

Keep Trying To Engage Employees

“I’m hearing that quiet quitting is about employees setting boundaries.” – Sharlyn Lauby

I am still on the Quiet Quitting topic!

Here is an excerpt from a post by Sharlyn Lauby (@HRBartender).

To me, quiet quitting sounds like what happens when organizations don’t plan and communicate then dump work on employees. Then employees push back against how they are treated. Remember that old saying, “A lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.”? Employees are smart. They don’t want to be taken for granted or taken advantage of.

This one paragraph describes what I have observed happening in CPA firms for years.

Per Lauby, there are some things you can do if you truly want to address quiet quitting:

  • Plan better
  • Communicate earlier
  • Ask for help
  • Be flexible
  • Say thanks and mean it

These should be easy things to do. Read her entire article (a short read) to learn more about each of these things you can do.

  • If employees aren’t meeting the performance standard, then you coach and counsel them.
  • Sharlyn Lauby

Monday, August 29th, 2022

If You Care, Confront.

“Confrontation is not a verbal hit-and-run; rather, it is used constructively to bring about change.” – Donald Collins

I have observed that CPAs are very uncomfortable with confrontation.

They will let things slide for a long time before they dare to have a crucial conversation.

Sometimes these conversations need to happen with staff members, sometimes with clients, and sometimes with their own partners. In these cases, silence is not golden.

I received this advice once, and I want to share it with you. “If you care, confront! Don’t let them piss and moan!”

You have got a lot to do this week, so you don’t have to work (or have your team work) on Labor Day. It is a holiday!

  • Remember, confrontation is about reconciliation and awareness, not judgement or anger.
  • Dale Partridge

Thursday, August 11th, 2022

Talking Points

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” – Maya Angelou

  • The partners have just returned from their retreat. Everyone is wondering what significant decisions were made if any. What new initiatives were agreed upon? Has the strategic plan been updated?
  • A new performance evaluation system has been researched, studied, modified, and will soon be unveiled to the staff.
  • Betty, a long-time manager with the firm, has decided to take a position with a competing firm across town.
  • Some new software has been selected. Everyone in the firm will need to know about it and will be expected to use it. What training will be offered? When will it go into effect?

When something happens or changes are made at the firm and the partners and other leaders have been involved in the decision or activity, and it has now been announced to the team, there will be questions. Certain people will go to certain partners and want to know all about it and what is “really” going on.

That is the time to have your talking points ready and distributed to all partners (and other leaders if they are involved). You want everyone to get the same message.

Often, in firms, Joe Tax Partner, Diane Audit Partner, Frank Long Time Partner, and Terry the Managing Partner will have different ways of communicating with team members individually when they are asked probing questions. A brief list of talking points will take a lot of pressure off the partners and help spread the message in a positive, consistent, and informative way.

  • Consistency is always the best teacher.
  • Stephon Marbury

Monday, August 8th, 2022

Be Aware of Your Lingo

“The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” – Ronald Reagan

What is lingo? It is a way of speaking that’s shared by a particular group of people — it’s their own personal slang or jargon. CPAs and those who work for/with them have their own lingo. Think about it.

It is a number type of lingo: 1040, 1040ES, 1065, 1120, 1120s, 941 1099, W-2, W-4, and many more. There is also lingo involving letters: FASB, EBP, GAAP, and so on.

Just remember, your clients do not understand this lingo. Your new hires do not understand this lingo (at first). So, be careful and explain yourself thoroughly when communicating.

I know some tech guys who always observed International Talk Like a Pirate Day (This year, Monday, September 19, 2022) by trying to speak only pirate lingo.

Maybe you can have your own Talk Like An Accountant Day.

  • Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.
  • Walt Disney

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

Parameters

“I write the music; produce it, and the band plays within the parameters that I set.” – Sting

CPA firms have become VERY flexible and allow employees to do just about anything they want to do regarding how and where they work.

What your team members really need is simply some guidance and boundaries. Communicate to them! Help everyone understand expectations by setting some parameters.

If you do not communicate and leave them to their own devices, life at your firm could become chaotic. One mentor told me long ago: “Most people don’t do what we tell them to. They do what we let them get away with.”

I like to call it setting some boundaries. Of course, with today’s workforce, we must allow a great deal of freedom. But I also think we need to let them know there is a line they do not cross.

It goes back to the fact that young people entering your firm want to know what is expected of them. They want to know what their career path looks like and how they can advance as quickly as possible. Be sure you have defined career paths so you can talk to new hires during their orientation.

Many firms have been adopting remote work policies. These policies set some parameters for working remotely. I hope you have yours in writing by now.

  • I don't control the movies that are offered to me, but I make choices based on certain parameters.
  • Andy Garcia

Friday, July 29th, 2022

Flashback Friday – Maister-isms

“Professional is not a label you give yourself – it’s a description you hope others will apply to you.” – David Maister

This Friday, reflect on some advice from David Maister. His comments never seem to get old, and he’s been retired for quite a few years now. Read the Maister-isms here.

Have a great weekend.

  • If your clients aren't actively telling their friends about you, maybe your work isn't as great as you think it is.
  • David Maister

Thursday, July 28th, 2022

Disconnect

“Disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other.” – Rosemary Wixom

WilkinGuttenplan is a great firm. I am honored to know Ed Guttenplan personally and am always impressed with the progressive way he manages the firm.

They have been named a New Jersey Best Place to Work, Best Firms to Work For by Accounting Today, and Best of the Best Firms by Inside Public Accounting.

To cultivate a healthy work-life balance, the firm will be providing Days of Disconnect – July 29 – August 1. See the announcement below. What are you doing for your people?

To our valued clients and members of our community,

WG takes pride in cultivating a healthy work-life balance and in an effort to acknowledge the hard work and dedication exemplified by our employees, we will be providing our staff with a well-deserved break to fully disconnect and recharge. We will be closing our offices from July 29th through August 1st. We will resume regular business hours on Tuesday, August 2nd. Staff will not be available during this time, however, if an emergency occurs, please reach out to the Partner on your account.

We appreciate your ongoing support of our team and our firm and look forward to continued success together.

Thank you,

WilkinGuttenplan

  • Work is important, but you also need to disconnect, to unplug at times, in order to be even more concentrated when you do work.
  • Massimiliano Allegri

Monday, July 25th, 2022

The Mystery About Compensation

“When it comes to landing a good job, many people focus on the role. Although finding the right title, position, and salary is important, there’s another consideration that matters just as much: culture.” – Adam Grant

Why is there so much mystery surrounding compensation inside accounting firms? I don’t have a good answer to this question. Probably, “because that is how we have always handled it.”

I still find CPA firms that declare their staff should not discuss compensation. Yeah, right. Times have definitely changed regarding the confidentiality of salaries. The internet took that confidentiality away.

If you think your team members don’t know, in general, what each makes, you are fooling yourself.

Be more open, and embrace transparency. You don’t have to be exactly specific. Publicize salary ranges. If you are a beginner, you will make somewhere between $XX,XXX and $XX,XXX per year. If you are a Senior the range is (fill in the blanks). Supervisor, Manager, Senior Manager, etc.

In the past, disclosing the salary was something that happened in the 2nd interview. Now, talking about salary ranges early on in the interview process is helpful to the candidate. They can decide if they want to continue the interview and 2nd interview process early on and save everybody some time.

  • There's no way I can justify my salary level, but I'm learning to live with it.
  • Drew Carey

Thursday, July 14th, 2022

Using Initials For Your Firm Name

“If names are not correct, language will not be in accordance with the truth of things.” – Confucius

It has been a huge trend for CPA firms during the last 15 to 20 years. They modify their name and end up using just initials.

I must admit, I have found it rather confusing as I work and network with many small to mid-size firms in the USA. Using a fake firm, my mind goes with something like this…. JBG, what does that stand for? Is it the firm that used to be Jones Brown & Green?

This all comes to mind as I read an article by Fishman Marketing in the National Law Review titled, Why Do CPA Firms Use Initials Instead of Names? Part 2. You can read Part 1 by following the link to Fishman Marketing.

I agree with the author. Why not use a name, something people can remember more easily? Like, Jones Brown? As you read the article you will see how the author proves their point.

You might think, well KPMG uses initials. The author also explains why huge, international firms can more easily get away with it.

I think you will find it an interesting read, especially if you are thinking of rebranding.

I apologize if the name of your firm is Jones Brown or JBG. I just used it as an example.

  • Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • Dale Carnegie

Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

What To Wear

“Is there anything in the world more annoyingly creepy than an unspoken dress code?” – Douglas Coupland

Remember the TV show What Not To Wear? I always enjoyed it and was often amazed at how sloppy, untidy, and inappropriate the person was “before.” They looked pretty good “after.”

You might now be facing the challenge of what to wear as you return to the office. Even if it is only for two or three days per week, your at-home work fashions, sweat pants, shorts and t-shirts probably will not do.

NPR offers some advice recently in a post titled: The pandemic has changed workplace fashion. What does that mean for you?

Check out the article and see a picture of the leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations in their official group photo recently. They all ditched their ties for the photo for the first time in 40 years.

Dress codes for CPA firms have certainly relaxed over the years. Still, your team needs some guidance on what your “relaxed” dress code means. Ties and high-heels are out. Now a button-down shirt (probably with jeans) and comfortable flats are in.

  • Yes, we have a dress code. You have to dress.
  • Scott McNealy