You can read volumes on how to manage an accounting practice. But if you want the quick version, just read the following four points. Everything else is just commentary. (These points come out of the 1997 book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, by Don Miguel Ruiz.)
- Speaking with Impeccable Truth
Listen carefully at the next meeting you attend among your professionals. How much interaction is really necessary and addresses the topics at hand? Are you using agendas that respect the time of your attendees? Are jokes or informal conversation done in a way that meets everyone's comfort zone? Is everyone engaged and are questions being asked?
The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth: Look at your brochures and your firm website. Read your latest newsletter and review some of your professional profiles that you use on LinkedIn or in your proposals. Are they honest, complete depictions? Are you effectively communicating enough about the client experience that your target audience can truly expect? Irene Valverde, director of marketing at Gumbiner Savett Inc., in Santa Monica, California, offers, "I am focused on 'speaking with impeccable truth' as I update our website and brochure, in order to really make our company culture and personality come through in the content."
- Never Take it Personally
If you were to hear "Can I see you in my office?" would you cringe? If you were to ask subordinates that question, would they feel nervous or pleasantly waltz over to see you with smiles on their faces?
If someone exhibits what could be interpreted as negative or inappropriate behavior, can this be stated in an observational way as a mirror: "It seems to me that you're feeling agitated this morning." Simply mirroring what you perceive can provide the objective feedback that helps someone to "snap out of it" or open up a helpful discussion about their feelings.
Do you ask for—and diligently obtain—client feedback on a regular basis?
- Don't Assume
If you're in a conversation with prospect or referral sources and you feel lost because they are using unfamiliar initials to address an organization or a term that is industry "lingo" and unknown to you, what do you do? Are you confident in asking "What do you mean by that?" One way to say 'I don't know' with confidence is "Tell me more…"
Read your latest proposal from the perspective of buyers—would they really want to hear about your firm first, or what you are proposing to do for them?
Do you clarify well-formed expectations of all you do? Are you completely sure that you are aware of—and are currently meeting—all of your client's needs? Have you asked them lately?
- Always Do Your Best
How do you define and sustain your best at work? Do you step back objectively and honestly evaluate your contribution to the firm? (Are bi-annual reviews frequent enough to accomplish this?) Consider writing up a report of your effectiveness once or twice a month; you can share this with your colleagues or keep it to yourself.
Keep in mind that your best will vary from day to day, even from hour to hour. Try to stay aware of when it "feels" best to perform certain tasks that are required of you; sometimes it might be better to ask "Can I get back to you on that?" Fight the urge to react throughout the day to emails, phone calls, questions. Give yourself permission to close your door or take a walk to recharge your batteries during the workday.
About the author:
Lisa Tierney is a certified life strategies coach and consultant to the accounting profession. TIERNEY Coaching & Consulting, Inc. serves CPA firms across the country, developing and strengthening teams and groups – as well as individuals – through a unique combination of coaching and consulting. Lisa can be reached at (267) 470-4250 or at [email protected]. You can follow Lisa's blog at http://cpamarketingconsultant.com/professional-services-blog/