Posts Tagged ‘feedback’

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Feedback Inside A CPA Firm (or Anywhere)

CPA firm partners, managers, and other inside focused professionals have lots of interactions with people working at the firm. Often a firm administrator alone has the opportunity to answer dozens of questions per day.

These firm leaders are sometimes going to get it wrong. They are going to be curt and short with people – often unaware of how they come across. If they are lucky, they will receive feedback from those who care about them to help them adjust.

If this is you and you are facing a somewhat embarrassing  situation – receiving the feedback graciously is important. If you are part of management avoid using “we” when acknowledging such personal feedback – – if you did it, say “I’m sorry” not “We’re sorry.”

Keep in mind that people giving you feedback are taking a risk. They don’t deserve excuses or sarcasm.

Here’s a good post on this topic from Seth Godin.

  • Feedback is the breakfast of champions.
  • Ken Blanchard

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Are You Fit To Lead?

photoBe sure to read an article in the Illinois CPA Society Insight Magazine by Derrick Lilly titled, Are You Fit to Lead? I feel honored to be quoted in parts of the article.

The article urges you to take a look at yourself. Look into the mirror.

“Comfort kills,” says Jody Michael, founder and CEO of career coaching firm Jody Michael Associates. “There’s such rapid change in this day and age that it’s imperative that leaders have the ability to shift perspectives, take in multiple points of reference, and make changes with nimbleness, agility and fluidity. You have to keep growing and developing, and shaping and crafting your lens and your capacity to lead; you never stop looking in the mirror.”

I usually find that nimbleness, agility and fluidity are not common words that describe leadership inside accounting firms.

Here’s how you get in leadership shape (follow the link above to read the entire article and explanation of each of these points):

  1. Get a healthy dose of objectivity
  2. Boost your E.I. factor
  3. Stretch your world view
  4. Train as a generational guru

“It used to be that leadership was about command and control, but today there’s a clear evolution into partnerships, collaboration and two-way dialogue as the means to leadership,” says Dr. Todd Dewett

Dr. Dewett finds feedback hilarious because it is one of the most useful things there is, and it’s also one of the most passionately avoided things there is in a professional life. He urges leaders to find two interesting people who are not afraid of you, who know you as a person and as a professional, and are willing to give you unfiltered, real feedback.

  • Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.
  • Brian Tracy

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

CPAs And Achieving Change

change-architect-sign1There is a conversation going on among several of my peers (consultants to the public accounting profession) about what significant changes we have actually seen in the last 20 or so years in public accounting. Of course, technology. But in regards to how the majority of CPAs run their public accounting business…… not much significant change has happened (just my opinion).

Why do I say this? Because when I pick up the phone and talk to a CPA seeking assistance for more efficiency, strategic planning, finding and keeping good people… I hear the same questions and challenges I heard nearly 30 years ago!!

CPAs are very smart people. Why haven’t they solved some of these fundamental running-a-practice challenges? My answer? They are comfortable, have become complacent and do not enjoy change.

Here’s something that might help if you are hiding from change. It is called the Intentional Change Theory developed by Richard Boyatzis, a professor at Case Western Reserve. He published it in 2006.

The theory outlines five common-sense steps that you need to follow if you want to make lasting change.

  1. Discover your ideal self – discard goals you don’t feel enthusiastic about.
  2. Discover your real self – ask for feedback.
  3. Create your learning agenda – identify your learning style.
  4. Experiment with and practice new habits – it’s time to practice.
  5. Get support – None of us gets far alone.

There is some great advice about each step on Mind Tools. The Mind Tools site offers many great tools and ideas.

  • Believe you can and you're halfway there.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, September 24th, 2012

What Are They Thinking?

Ever wonder what your people are thinking?

In my conversations with various groups of people who work in public accounting firms, I hear all kinds of stories.

Inside some firms they still use the Baby Boomer method of training new hires. I am talking about the way Baby Boomers were trained. It goes something like this….. a Baby Boomer joined a CPA firm in the late 70s or in the 80s. On his second or third day a partner (another “he”) walked up to his desk, dropped a legal size, thick file on the desk and casually said, “Follow what’s in this file and do what we did last year.”

Funny thing is, the Baby Boomers did just that and basically learned from trial and error. Maybe I should describe it as “try to do the work, receive extensive review notes addressing all your errors and then try again.” – – repeat, repeat, repeat.

What has evolved is that we have partners and managers who grew-up in public accounting this way and now they are attempting to manage Millennials who respond differently.

I find most of it is just poor communication. It is compounded by the fact that for years CPAs have spent lots of money on technical training for the people who are now partners and managers and very little on providing education on how to manage, coach and mentor people.

What can you do about this? Find out what your people think. Begin now to build an environment that builds trust between managers/partners and the team. Many experts tell us that to begin building this culture of trust you should begin with the people who know most – the ones being managed – and only then seek feedback from the leaders downward.

Here are some of the disturbing excuses (stories) I hear from people working in firms:

  • The partners refuse to do an upward survey – they don’t care what the people think.
  • Our partners are afraid of what will be said.
  • Our partners really don’t want to change so they don’t see the need for an upward survey.
  • Our managers really got upset when we once discussed asking for upward feedback about them and the partners backed off.

I firmly believe that we get better by a constant stream of helpful information from the people who are part of our accounting firm team. That is why I am pleased to be co-founder of a new survey company, along with Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory, formed to help CPA firms with the PEOPLE side of the business. Take a look at SurveyCPA and consider if it is time for the PEOPLE managing your PEOPLE to obtain some feedback that can help them improve their performance.

  • A telephone survey says that 51 percent of college students drink until they pass out at least once a month. The other 49 percent didn't answer the phone.
  • Craig Kilborn

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

CPA Leadership Survey

I’m not doing my normal blog post today. I am asking for your feedback if you are working in the accounting profession.

I have the honor of currently working with other consultants to study leadership in the CPA profession.

It would be greatly appreciated if you would complete a short survey to share your observations about the evolution of leadership by clicking here.

Thanks in advance for your feedback. It should take less than 10 minutes of your time.

  • If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
  • John Quincy Adams

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Is Your Accounting Firm Suffering From The Same Old Thing?

  • How are you evaluating your accounting firm team members?
  • How is your partner group evaluating each other?
  • How are your team members evaluating you?

People inside your accounting firm are working very hard right now. After all, it is March, one of the busiest months for most public accounting firms. Take a deep breath and ask yourself some questions.

Are you and your employees doing the same thing that you did in 2011? An even more interesting question is –  are you and your employees doing the same thing you were doing in 1999? Do you often wonder why your firm is not growing more rapidly and why much of your work seems like drudgery rather than joy?

Reflect on the old saying, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you have always gotten.”

Constant change is the operating model for today’s progressive firm. As for performance feedback, I encourage firm leaders to consider simplifying their feedback system. Develop a culture of continual feedback. Do you confront a puppy six months later after he has peed on the floor? Crucial confrontation is not hard nor is it being mean – it’s communication and then you move on. Praise is not something that you hoard. There is an endless supply – it’s communication and then you move on.

When you are evaluating performance this spring, try using three questions. What should I keep doing? What should I start doing? What should I stop doing?

Then use the big question – what are you doing this year that you were not able to do last year? This involves reflecting back on what you are reading, what continuing education classes did you attend, what educational conferences did you attend, what articles have you written?

When it is feedback time, your team is thinking about their pay increase. Usually, they earn it because they are still in the learning and building their skills mode. They are actually doing things this year they were not able to do last year. Does this apply to your managers and partners?

Because of all of the rapid change, if you and your team do what you have always done, you’ll actually get less than you have always gotten.


  • If you can't, you must. If you must, you can.
  • Anthony Robbins