Posts Tagged ‘success’

I once had a younger team member ask me, “What can I do to make sure I have a successful tax season”? Aside from having the technical knowledge needed to do our jobs, the essence of a successful tax season is effective communication, whether internally to our peers or supervisors, or externally to clients. Some clients prefer we only send emails; others need us to spend time on the phone; most effective is to meet in person. Regardless of our clients’ preferred mode of contact, keep in mind the following tips on being an effective communicator. In addition, effective communication with fellow engagement team members will improve the efficiency of the engagement and enhance “world class client service.”

  • First, you have to remember that good communication starts with being a good listener. Always be prepared to patiently listen to your client or teammate and never interrupt them. A simple way to be sure you understand their point or questions is to rephrase it and ask them to confirm that you didn’t misunderstand him or her.
  • Second, try to focus on being self-confident and positive. By projecting the right attitude, your words also become more positive – affirmation and encouragement will help get the best out of people, and clients will get more from the conversation. A good tip in this regard is to smile even while you are speaking on the phone and can’t be seen. This helps project a positive tone.
  • Third, understand who your audience is. When speaking with clients, it generally is not necessary to be technical in nature. Tax clients don’t really care what the code section is that allows the deduction; they only care that they can take advantage of it. Be sure to speak in your clients’ terms.
  • And lastly, you don’t always have to be right – sometimes it is better to “let it go.” There will be times during tax season when conflict with a client or fellow team member will occur. It’s generally best to hear each other out and allow time to cool off before addressing it. Remember that there is normally a compromise that is possible, and you just need to approach the conflict with a cool and rational state of mind. If you do make a mistake or find your previous position on a subject is no longer accurate, your clients and colleagues are likely to be forgiving when you are honest and up front about it.

Always feel free to seek advice from your peers or supervisor if you are not clear on something. Not only will it help you work more productively, it will minimize any potential pitfalls with our clients, particularly during this stressful time of year.


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Today, I’d like to share a message regarding “ownership of your work,” crediting John Mortenson, Partner-in-Charge of our Firm’s New Brunswick office, who shared this sage advice…

Ownership of your work

For staff at every level, the common theme which distinguishes whether someone is excelling or just collecting a pay check revolves around taking “ownership” to the work we do.  We use this phrase over and over but what it comes down to is assuming responsibility to ensure we provide world class client service.  Every day, I hear of examples of staff who really do understand what it means, but every now and then I hear examples of us not executing properly.  For us to be successful, we need everyone to assume ownership, which includes the following:

  • Assume responsibility for an engagement from the second it comes in, until the moment it goes out the door.  This would include not just the part of the project you are working on, but the entire engagement. 
  • Take it upon yourself to be sure that every member of the engagement team (that includes staff below and above your level) provides world class client service and not assume that someone else will do it.  
  • Do not wait until the last second to deliver the project, and yes, that may mean burning the midnight oil on occasion.  That also means you need to know the due date of the project.  It means each member of the engagement team needs to hold up their end.  When one person fails, the burden falls upon the others on the job which is not fair.  However, we also need to step up and help other staff when the situation arises.
  • Follow up with other team members on the status once you have complete your portion of the project.  Don’t wash your hands of the project just because you finished your assigned task.  Make sure the project gets completed and see if there is anything you can do help.
  • In summary, take it upon yourself to make sure we under-promise and over-deliver on every job and hold those that do not accountable. 


This is great advice for everyone.  Owning your work means to have the instinct and the drive to take on its responsibilities – completely.  Do it the best you can; do it the best it can be done.  And if you have to work a couple of extra nights to get the work done, then you need to do it.  Demonstrating this level of dedication to your job is how you convert from a person going to work every day to one that is spending every day building a career. That is how you win client loyalty.

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I am a big fan of reading books and articles on leadership and the psychology behind what drives people to succeed. I’d like to share an article I read via Yahoo.com’s Small Business Advisor website, offering some valuable gems of advice: 9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People.  Here’s the list; the article offers full descriptions of each point:

1. Time doesn’t fill me. I fill time.

2. The people around me are the people I chose. Successful people are naturally drawn to successful people.

3. I have never paid my dues. Dues aren’t paid, past tense. Dues get paid, each and every day.

4. Experience is irrelevant. Accomplishments are everything.

5. Failure is something I accomplish; it doesn’t just happen to me.

6. Volunteers always win.

7. As long as I’m paid well, it’s all good.

8. People who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do.

9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland… full of opportunity.

After reading this list, it occurred to me that there is an underlying personality trait held by those who can embrace such ideals… having a great attitude.  It’s about keeping a positive outlook on things, even when in tough situations.  Enthusiasm is infectious, and a smile and a pleasant attitude can work wonders.  Successful people perpetually keep in mind that life is good.  Whether with your clients, co-workers, or even your own family or circle of friends, demonstrating a positive, cooperative attitude will help you reach your own personal pinnacle of success.

Have a great week.

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As we enter March and all the St Patrick’s Day celebrations starting as early as this weekend, I can’t help but be reminded about how important it is to celebrate as individuals and as companies. Because who celebrates better than the Irish do their heritage?


One of the qualities that make many leaders and their organizations successful is their ability to stay focused and on task. This focus, however, doesn’t make it easy to sit back and review our accomplishments, thank those who worked hard to accomplish the success and learn from what was achieved.


Many of us wait for the end of the year to reflect, however, our young people today require constant feedback.  One way to accomplish that is to plan events that will give everyone a chance to celebrate as an organization. For the month of March, each of our offices will plan a half day bowling outing.  This gives us all a chance to take a breather in the middle of tax season and thank our staff for the effort so far, and recharge our batteries for the final run of busy season.


So, join the Irish this month and allow yourself to celebrate!  Isn’t everyone a little Irish in March, anyway?

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