Posts Tagged ‘praise’

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Lack of Communication In An Accounting Firm

It’s summer. Hopefully, inside your CPA firm, people are more relaxed. Many might be away from the office for vacation and continuing education sessions. It’s only natural that you might not be communicating with your team (and with your clients) as much as you do during the first four months of the year.

In the spring, Accountemps released a survey that documented that lack of communication is the TOP management mistake. I hate to say it (not really), but I told you so!

Need some summer reading? Look at the right-side of this blog page at the categories. Click on Communication and scan through all of the blog posts I’ve done that involve communication in CPA firms.

Almost every time I survey a firm’s team members prior to a partner retreat, communication is at the root of most of the problems. Almost every time I get a call from a managing partner who wants to talk about their firm and some challenges they are facing, it involves communication.

Per the Accountemps survey, CFOs were asked, “What one mistake do companies make most in managing their employees?” The response:

  • Lack of communication between staff and management – 41%
  • Lack of recognition and praise – 28%
  • Lack of training, development and other educational opportunities – 11%
  • Lack of flexibility in work schedules – 8%
  • Lack of authority given to employees – 6%
  • Don’t know/No answer – 6%

Many CPA firm team members feel like they are kept in the dark. This causes them to wonder, worry and fret when they see a lot of closed-door activity among the partner group. Partners, when you close your door, the team thinks that you are talking about them. Staff members, when the partners close their door it usually means that they need to talk on the phone to a client or simply need some uninterrupted time.

Proactive communication with your people can take so much of the mystery out of an accounting firm culture. Look at the top two responses, above. Team members simply want to be kept in the loop and feel appreciated.

Firm leaders (see today’s quote below), you can do it! – It’s easy, it’s cheap and it’s also fun.

By the way, this also applies to your clients. Don’t drop the communication ball during the summer months.

  • The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.
  • General Colin Powell

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