Building a great CPA firm culture doesn’t happen automatically. Leaders must work at it and give culture-building a lot of attention. Managers must do their part and everyone down the line must be fostering the firm culture.

Improving culture is not “flip the switch” type of activity. You build it bit-by-bit, over time and embracing consistency.

This quote by Stephen Covey brought an example to mind: “I believe in the concept that you learn by teaching.”

Are your managers (and partners) teaching? I certainly hope they are mentoring but I am talking about teaching a class on something they have learned at a CPE session or online course.

At my firm, we had even the youngest accountants give a verbal report on what they learned at any CPE session they attended or took online. We asked managers to teach classes on a new tax or audit initiative.

Yes, many of them dreaded it and the managers used every possible excuse to not teach something in a more formal setting. “I am too busy to prepare.” “I have the Big Shot audit I am working on.” “I’m not really good at teaching.

Don’t accept excuses. Make teaching part of your firm culture, not only the everyday individual teaching sessions with staff but also 2-hour workshops on an important topic.

Teaching is part of being a CPA. It also helps you practice your public speaking skills so you are ready when asked to speak at Rotary or another community event. It also helps you get better at communicating complex accounting approaches to your clients. Most of all, it helps you get over the fear of speaking and realize you often gain more from it than the students.


About the Author

RitaRita Keller is the Founder of Keller Advisors, LLC. She is a widely respected voice to CPA firm management. Through her presentations and workshops, she interacts with thousands of accountants annually.  Named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People In Accounting and one of The Most Powerful Women In Accounting, she acts as an advisor and coach to CPA firm leaders across the country.  She can be reached at