Best Practices for One-on-One Communication

4 winning habits of top accountants.

Component parts of how the other person perceives your in-person communication
Component parts of how the other person perceives your in-person communication

By Martin Bissett

I’ve had the benefit of meeting, speaking and observing hundreds of very successful and unsuccessful partners over the last two decades and there is indeed a set of differentiating factors that set a partner apart from the chasing pack.

MORE ON THE PASSPORT TO PARTNERSHIP: 3 Questions to Evaluate Your Firm Culture | Learn to Read Your Firm’s Culture | 5 Ways to Get Buy-In for Firm Culture | Competence: More Than Technical Skills | Experts Advise What Partnership Takes | Partnership: Competence Is Just the Foot in the Door | Are You Partner Material? Maybe Not

Here are the four “best-selling behaviors” that I’ve observed:

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7 Levels of Communication Management

Chart showing Passport to Partnership's 7 levels of communication management4 reasons that senior managers struggle.

By Martin Bissett

Ultimately, when we have to interact with clients, subordinates, superiors or peers, the questions are always the same: Who do I need to deliver this information to and what approach would they respond most favorably to?

MORE ON THE PASSPORT TO PARTNERSHIP: 3 Questions to Evaluate Your Firm Culture | Learn to Read Your Firm’s Culture | Competence: More Than Technical Skills | Experts Advise What Partnership Takes | Partnership: Competence Is Just the Foot in the Door

In arriving at “Communication” we come to the most intangible of all the components to obtain a “passport to partnership.”
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5 Ways to Measure Partner Potential

Learn to read your firm’s ‘cultural blueprint.’PTP_2ndC

By Martin Bissett
Passport to Partnership

What conclusions can you draw from your knowledge of how the promotion system works in your firm that you need to keep in mind?

MORE ON THE PASSPORT TO PARTNERSHIP: 3 Questions to Evaluate Your Firm Culture | Learn to Read Your Firm’s Culture | 5 Ways to Get Buy-In for Firm Culture | Competence: More Than Technical Skills | Experts Advise What Partnership Takes | Partnership: Competence Is Just the Foot in the Door | Are You Partner Material? Maybe Not

In terms of firm culture, you need to understand the four navigational points of the compass:

  1. Who do I need to stay on the right side of?
  2. What are the unwritten rules in my firm?
  3. Whose opinions can be trusted?
  4. What really impresses the partners?

And here’s a five-part analysis to see how you measure up:

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3 Questions to Evaluate Your Firm Culture

Silhouettes of three business partners talking against a window in an officeYou have to gauge this to effectively move toward partnership.

By Martin Bissett

This second C is a stormy and choppy one, often fraught with political icebergs but navigated diplomatically and with maturity, will lead you through.

MORE ON THE PASSPORT TO PARTNERSHIP: Learn to Read Your Firm’s Culture | 5 Ways to Get Buy-In for Firm Culture | Competence: More Than Technical Skills | Partnership: Competence Is Just the Foot in the Door | Are You Partner Material? Maybe Not

Case study on culture

Deborah had done well. She was bridging the firm’s culture gap and fulfilling its desire to be seen as an equal opportunities employer by becoming the practice’s standout rising star.
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Learn to Read Your Firm’s Culture

Four young business people chatting outside office buildingBonus: 3 outlooks from our exclusive expert council.

By Martin Bissett

The Passport to Partnership study collated a number of responses from existing partners of accounting practices in a conversational style.

 

MORE ON THE PASSPORT TO PARTNERSHIP: 5 Ways to Get Buy-In for Firm Culture | Competence: More Than Technical Skills | Partnership: Competence Is Just the Foot in the Door | Are You Partner Material? Maybe Not

Examples that really stood out on the realities of individual variances in firm culture are showcased below.

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5 Ways to Get Buy-In for Firm Culture

Industrial metal number 5Change management is one of the keys.

By Martin Bissett

Cultural issues are dynamic, very broad and unique in each firm. As such it is a challenge to summarize them accurately and comprehensively.

MORE ON THE PASSPORT TO PARTNERSHIP: Competence: More Than Technical Skills | Experts Advise What Partnership Takes | Partnership: Competence Is Just the Foot in the Door | Are You Partner Material? Maybe Not

From our research, however, the wise choice for anyone wishing to get their passport to partnership appears to be to study

  • their firm’s existing culture,
  • that of its senior individuals and
  • that of those who have the ear of those senior individuals

to understand not only the route to partnership, but the terrain that they need to cross too.
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Competence: More Than Technical Skills

Businessman correcting an underling12 ways to determine your competence.

By Martin Bissett

The Passport to Partnership study collated a number of responses in a conversational style. Two brief but succinct examples that really stood out on the realities of how a firm assesses an individual’s “competence” to lead are showcased below.

MORE ON THE PASSPORT TO PARTNERSHIP: Experts Advise What Partnership Takes | Partnership: Competence Is Just the Foot in the Door | Are You Partner Material? Maybe Not

  1. They need to explain technical data to me in a way that I know they understand it.
  2. What kind of lifestyle does this person have outside of work? We’ll be looking at Facebook, Twitter and Google to find out.

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Experts Advise What Partnership Takes

back view of a businessman holding a briefcase and walking forward on white backgroundDefining what competence means for partners.

By Martin Bissett

The skill in producing financial reports is limited by the quality of the information presented to the CPA by the client. Motivation of the client to influence that financial information comes in many forms, some intentional and some unintentional. Competence comes first in being able to resist pressure and present a true and accurate position of the client’s organization.

MORE ON THE PASSPORT TO PARTNERSHIP: Are You Partner Material? Maybe Not | Communication: Putting It All Together | What Does the Next Generation of Practice Leaders Face? | Businesses Place Value on Expertise

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But there’s a twist.
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Rick Dreher Innovates Wipfli for Clients, Younger Workers

Dreher
Dreher

‘Clients have budgets, and it’s part of our responsibility to deliver a high-quality, value-add solution within those budgets.’

By CPA Trendlines Staff

The CPA profession faces a crossroads at which firms will have to make some fundamental changes in their dealings with clients and staff, according to Rick Dreher, managing partner and chairman of Wipfli.

Wipfli logoMORE from THE CORNER OFFICE: How Blain Heckaman Drives Value at Kaufman Rossin | WeiserMazars MP Blake Charts U.S. Expansion | Frank Longobardi: CohnReznick’s Battle for Top Talent | The Robo-CPA: Jim Sikich Prepares for Disruptive Technologies | Exclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

Wipfli is a Milwaukee-based accounting and consulting that generated $203.2 million in revenues for the 12 months ended May 2015. It ranks among the top firms in the nation at $181 million in revenue.
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