“What’s The Matter With Kids Today?

Children with communication devices in business clothingThere isn’t a generation of middle-aged adults who have not wondered what the heck is the matter with these kids today. Whatever the complaint, it always comes down to one thing: they aren’t like us. True. So why is that a problem?

Today’s Millennials are bright, educated, energetic and technically savvy.  They manage the details of projects using tools that some partners and colleagues have never tried. However, for all their strengths, they often lack the soft skills needed to fit into many organizations.

Many are not good communicators – they seem aloof or brash or unprofessional. Sometimes they seem immature, fixated on cell phones, tablets and devices rather than people. They lack the soft skills necessary to succeed in most business environments.

So what can you do?  Bring soft skills training into your firm today. Not as a one-off workshop but as part of a strategy to strengthen skills for all associates. Mentoring new talent has always been the role of seasoned partners. It’s true that millennials may need stronger communication and presentation skills than previous generations. But there has always been something the matter with these kids today!

Differentiate your firm from the competition – embrace the many advantages of working with millennials and welcome the opportunity to help them grow and succeed.

 

Social Media for Accountants

OSCPA-logo_blue_rev2_12Every business should use social media to transmit their message to clients and staff, even very conservative and traditional accounting firms.  Recently the Ohio Society of CPAs was featured in the Accounting Today “8 Examples of Accountants Innovating in Social Media.” The article says in part:

“Major kudos to the Ohio Society of CPAs for putting on a professional, top-notch show on YouTube. Their well-designed channel features a “Spotlight Series,” with a bimonthly discussion with newsmakers and thought-leaders in the business community about issues important to Ohio CPAs.”

Effectively communicating with current and potential clients is even more critical today – messages are sent in rapid fire rates to all of us. Staying in touch, sharing valuable information and creating a feedback opportunity helps you stay connected with clients. It’s really networking – you’re using technology to advance your message. With so many tools available, all firms need to decide which they want to use and develop a plan to create content and deliver it.

Great job, OSCPA! Full disclosure: I am a member of the OSCPA and a past chair of its executive board.

They Are Not Listening

I dont want to listenEver think that “they” are not paying attention, not being reasonable, not listening and certainly not helping a project move forward? Of course you have. But what if you turn that around. What if  you decide that no matter how unreasonable their demands may seem initially you will take the higher road. You will open up communication; listen and then talk. You will travel on the “Yes, and…” road.

Say you have a client that is demanding more of your firm’s resources – maybe more meeting time or more reports, a change of staff or more of whatever you find unreasonable. You could dig in for a battle of wills – they are wrong, you are right and you will prove it to them. Chances are you will damage the relationship, possibly lose the client. Even if you convince the client to back down, you’ve lost the trust of someone who should consider you a partner rather than a contentious outsider.

What if you take the “Yes, and…” road. Focus on expanding the conversation, discovering the why behind the demand. The principles of improvisation that are part of my presentations and work with business leaders are respect, trust, support, listening, focus and adaptability. Improv can create positive outcomes, better results and improve relationships ( personal and business).

A recent Forbes article says “In fact, studies have shown that people can improve their communication skills and lower their anxiety with regular practice. Improv’s low-stakes training increases the likelihood that team members will feel comfortable communicating in a variety of work situations. “Yes, and” is the key.”

Being critical, over-analytical and convinced of your correctness leads to difficult relationships. “Yes, and…” takes practice both in the business world and in personal life. The payoff is the opportunity to achieve greater results through mutual understanding of goals.

 

What’s Keeping You Up At Night?

Frustrated or angry man in bed awakeIf you are like most accounting firm partners, the problem that is interrupting your sleep is recruiting and retaining qualified staff. According to the AICPA biennial Top Issues Survey, whether you are sole practitioner or have 21+ professionals on your team, it’s all about the staff.

From Succession Planning to Bringing in New Clients, Retaining and Sourcing Qualified Staff, the “soft skills” in accounting management are creating anxiety.

Question is: What are you doing about it?

Professional skills training allows you to invest in your staff, providing important education and training that can, in turn, improve retention, develop tomorrow’s leaders and improve client relationships. You may want to start with an easy survey, nothing too complicated or cumbersome.

•  Offer 4 or 5 continuing education options and allow your staff to rank them in importance.

•  If you have exit interviews on file, review them to better understand why high potential staff are leaving your firm and joining another.

•  Talk to industry insiders, like your state’s society of CPAs, to learn more about the key issues in your area.

Develop a plan for continuing education in accounting and soft skills for your staff that is updated annually. A good night’s sleep is right around the corner!

 

You ARE A Superhero

Peter Margaritis with OSCPA Caped Crusaders!
Peter Margaritis with OSCPA Caped Crusaders!

Recently I was the Keynote Speaker at the Oklahoma Society of CPAs Annual Meeting, sharing Embrace Your Inner Superhero.

The OSCPAs team took my message to heart, building their entire meeting around the Superhero theme. Check out these caped crusaders – each and every one a CPA Superhero!

I had the opportunity to be the Keynote Speaker at the Missouri Society of CPAs and they were great, too.  Thank you to both for such wonderful experiences.  Hope to see you again soon!

 

Peter Margaritis at the Oklahoma Society of CPAs Annual Meeting.