Friday, February 27, 2009

The Art of Saying No ... continued

OK, so in another post I talked about the need to simply practice saying no if you want to get better at it. That suggestion sounded painfully obvious yet many of us do not do it. We feel we should just somehow get real good at it so we can say no, and if we are not real good at it, we will not even try.

So let's talk more about this common problem accountants face. Saying no is not always easy, so maybe the best thing to do is in situations where you feel lots of tension and you must say no, see if you can manage the situation where you don't have to! OK, here are two questions/considerations for you...

1.) Do you want to help this person but cannot? Tell them that. Maybe there is a work-around or a smaller way you can contribute. Maybe you do not have to say no, but say you want to help but cannot commit enough resources to get the job done they want so is there something else you could do?

2.) Do you expect (be careful about assumptions) they will fight you on anything but a "yes"? Try turning the onus on them. Make it a team thing. Tell them your general priorities and time constraints and SHOW them that there is no way it is fair for you to say yes TO THEM.

For the next "Saying No" post, we'll discuss always starting with "NO" ... confidently!

Friday, February 20, 2009

"SMART" goals are missing something

You have probably heard of the "smart" acronym tool that can be used to help you create better goals.

S = specific
M = measurable
A = attainable
R = reasonable
T = time-based

What is missing? The WHY! Why does this goal matter? Where does it bring me (or my team)? Now maybe that is not the goal of using this tool, and I have seen some people expand the "m" to mean "motivational", and the "s" to mean significant, which sounds good. If you are setting a team goal specifically and you are leading the goal-setting process, make sure you ask WHY, not only from your perspective, not only from the team's perspective, but also from each individual member's perspective!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Good listening is not just WHAT, but also WHY

The other night my wife was talking about her next workday. She had a big deadline so we were talking and I volunteered to take our kid to daycare the next day to help. She agreed.

Later that night, after I had fallen asleep watching a ball game on the couch, she approaches me and mentioned that she cleaned the dishes while I was asleep (something I usually do) and she prepared our kid's food for the next day. Then she says, "So that makes us even."

What was my reaction? It was about me. I said, "I do not always worry about us being even."

I was not listening to the WHY. Why was she saying what she said? If I had been thinking about what she was saying from her point of view (instead of my own) all she was looking for was appreciation. That's it. Simple.

So what is the point beyond learning from this blogger's mishaps? Listen to others so intently that you not only hear the what but you feel the why, THEIR WHY, not your why. It will help you become a much better listener and speed up your communications because you understand the "Why."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My day was "very busy"

How was your day?


What does that typically mean? I'll make a lot of assumptions but for many of us -- busy does not equal productive. You would think it should be the opposite. If one is "busy" that should mean they are "busy getting stuff done." But typically it doesn't. Busy may mean a lot of things: multi-tasking, fire-fighting, interruptions, unscheduled meetings, and generally running around and doing lots of things, though maybe not completing lots of things.

Let' do this again ....

How was your day?


For many "productive" is about completion and discipline. I was productive because I completed something that was hanging over my head (usually because I said no to other tasks or distractions).

So what is the difference for you between PRODUCTIVE and BUSY and how do you start with that tomorrow morning?

Friday, February 13, 2009

"One thing leads to another"

That was a song by the Fixx that was released in 1983. For the young readers on this blog you have probably heard some sort of remix of the song in the last 5 years. It has been re-released many times in many different ways.

So, what does that saying have to do with accountants? I am sometimes shocked how accountants do not always see the interconnectedness of their "personal" time management with those around them.

If your colleague manages his time real poorly, does that affect you?
If your staff or boss manages their time badly, does that affect you?
If you are bad at project/client management, does that affect your personal time management?

It is all connected ... one thing does lead to another. So how do you improve others' time management skills? You can't! Only they can. What you can do is ask yourself questions, such as:

1.) What behaviors am I reinforcing? Specifically, when someone else does a great job in managing their time and the results are obvious, do I reinforce that through specific praise?
2.) Do I make others aware that we are all part of a team and the efficiency and effectiveness of a team helps or hurts all of us? Do I encourage group accountability and feedback?

One last point -- you start asking questions like this and pretty soon one thing will lead to another -- your teams will start asking them too.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Leadership Questions - the series - post I

Based on some feedback I am going to try a new series of posts (they will be interwoven in all the other posts we make here) specifically on topics of Leadership for Accountants. They will be provided in the series of questions. As with all our posts, the aim is for them to be (1) brief, and (2) thought provoking.

This weeks' two questions:

1.) Have you ever defined what the word leadership means to you? ... Truly spent some real carved out time (and space) and documented your thoughts?
2.) Have you ever asked others around you if they see you as a leader, and if so, specifically "why", "how", and "when"?