Posts Tagged ‘trust’

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

How About Some “Speed” Relationship-Building?

IMG_1099Annually, at the Association For Accounting Administration National MAP Conference, just before the opening reception with the vendors, they host a speed-networking session (immediately following the First Timers’ Session.

The session is open to anyone attending the conference and the members of the Board of Directors and more experienced participants take part, as well as, newer, less experienced people.

Here’s how it works:

One side of the table (in this case a very long table) sits permanently while the other side, after 5 minutes, moves to the next seat. They talk about “whatever” for five minutes and then the moderator shuts them down and has them move on.

Yesterday, I just observed and took these pictures.  What is amazing is that people who don’t know each other simply can’t stop talking.  It is difficult to get them to shut-up and move on because they are enjoying the conversations so much. As they continue, it seems they get louder and louder and it creates quite a buzz and a good time was had by all.

This morning I was thinking, why not try this inside your CPA firm? How well do your partners and managers really know ALL of the people working at the firm.  Nothing is off-limits, the point is to talk about personal interests, what they are reading, what apps they use and on and on.

At first, people say…. oh, I don’t want to get involved in that sort of speed-networking thing…. once they try it, they love it.

Give it a try. Help your people get to know each other better. When people know each other better, they begin to trust each other more.  It’s a start.



  • Trust your hunches. They're usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.
  • Dr. Joyce Brothers

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Book Week Friday – Five Dysfunctions of a Team

When I first read Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, I thought to myself…. It is just like this was written specifically for accountants. It wasn’t, although several firms have embraced it and worked through the exercises as a leadership group.  There is a companion guide titled, Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Here are the five dysfunctions:


The foundation is Absence of Trust. I believe that trust is the skeleton in the closet of many CPA firms. Has the following statement (or one very similar) been uttered inside your partner group?

“I know Joe is trying to do more financial planning with our clients, but you know Joe. I’m afraid my client won’t like him and I might lose the client because Joe just doesn’t focus enough on detail.”

I just want you to begin by working on the 2 foundational dysfunctions – Absence of Trust and Fear of Conflict. Absence of trust is when team members are not comfortable being vulnerable, open and honest with each other.  The next dysfunction of a team, if there is no trust, is Fear of Conflict, because people on a team should be comfortable engaging in good, healthy conflict around ideas. This is one I see again and again during partner retreats and partner meetings. There might be one partner who will say, “I’ll play Devil’s advocate here….” and voice their opinion. Most of the other partners say NOTHING and even avoid eye contact by looking at their laps!

Take a few minutes to watch this video by the author, Patrick Lencioni:

Thanks for reading all my posts during “Book Week” and happy reading.

Monday – Why Must There Be Dragons

Tuesday – Lean In

Wednesday – True Professionalism

Thursday – Leadership and Self-DeceptionPhoto on 5-20-13 at 7.33 AM

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