Leadership Series – Feeling All Feelings

Leadership Series – Feeling All Feelings

Leadership Series – Feeling All Feelings

One of the biggest misnomers in professional development in the accounting profession is that understanding your feelings is a “soft skill”.  Unfortunately, the belief that feelings have their place, but typically not at work, is incredibly shortsighted when it comes to the ability to lead others.

The issue is that most people do not make the important connection between how they feel and what they do or don’t do.  They don’t make the connection between the role that feelings play in the results they have and the success they achieve – whether it’s their success or others.

Most of the time we equate success with hard work and hustle, believing that there’s a time and a place for feelings, but not when there’s work to get done.  But the truth is that work could get done in a better, more effective, and more efficient way if leaders paid more attention to their emotional maturity and emotional intelligence.

The truth is that great leaders take 100% responsibility for how they feel.  They don’t blame circumstances for their feelings and they see their feelings as information, not problems.

Great leaders understand that feelings fuel actions, therefore, they choose the best fuel available to drive them towards the achievement of their goals.  They use their feelings as indicators instead of issues, allowing their feelings to propel themselves forward, or if applicable, choosing to stop and be curious if they’re not in the best space to take action.

There have been numerous studies that have shown that there is a significant statistical correlation between emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness.  When a leader encompasses emotional intelligence they not only understand themselves better, but they’re also able to understand others as well.

In order to be a better leader, you need to feel all feelings, stop blaming circumstances or people for how you feel, and take action from the best feeling place possible.  When you improve your emotional intelligence, everyone wins.  

Let’s be honest – the world needs better leaders at work and at home.  Are you ready to become a better leader?


Source – “The 15 Commitments Of Conscious Leadership”  

Leadership Series – Learning Through Curiosity

Leadership Series – Learning Through Curiosity

Leadership Series – Learning Through Curiosity

Knowledge is power, right?  Especially in the accounting profession. But in order to be a good leader you have to begin noticing when you are closed off to the idea that you don’t know, or could be wrong about something or someone.  It might be humbling, but it can also be inspiring as well, especially for those around you.

The ability to lead others, whether it’s an employee, a client, or a child, includes being open to learning and not being afraid of what others will think if you admit that you don’t know the answer.  More importantly though, the skill of learning through curiosity is less about your general knowledge and more about being committed to understanding and knowing yourself before anything else.

The key to being a better leader is about self-awareness.  It’s also about being open, curious, and committed to learning, versus being defensive, closed and committed to being right.  The truth is that being “right” doesn’t cause drama, but wanting, proving, and fighting to be “right” does.

Whether your leadership role is at work or at home, it’s important to recognize that even though good leaders get defensive like everyone else, they also regularly interrupt this natural reactivity by pausing to breathe, accept, and shift.  They recognize when they’re closed off; when they’re not being open and curious.

The best way to do this is to pay attention:

  • How are you feeling at this moment?  Are you frustrated, bored, or overwhelmed?
  • What do you typically do when you feel this way?  Do you distract yourself with work, social media, or food/alcohol?
  • Are you blaming situations or other people? (see Leadership Series – Taking 100% Responsibility)

Another benefit of being curious is that when you explore and satisfy your curiosity, your brain floods with dopamine, the feel good hormone that makes you feel happier.  This reward mechanism increases the likelihood that you’ll try and satisfy your curiosity again in the future.

In order to be a better leader, you need to pay more attention to yourself first and foremost.  When you practice curiosity more often, that’s when you can have the greatest impact on others.  When you learn through curiosity, everyone benefits.  

Let’s be honest – the world needs better leaders at work and at home.  Are you ready to become a better leader?


Source – “The 15 Commitments Of Conscious Leadership”  

Leadership Series – Taking 100% Responsibility

Leadership Series – Taking 100% Responsibility

Leadership Series – Taking 100% Responsibility

Whether you’re a leader at work or at home, leadership skills are incredibly important, both professionally and personally.  As you’ve probably experienced examples of good and bad leadership in your own life, you already understand that you’re either empowered and inspired, or you’re disempowered and discouraged.  A good leader can have a huge impact on a work environment as well as a home environment, just as a bad leader can have a detrimental effect on the people they lead.

While it’s incredibly easy to blame the people, places, and things in your life for the way you think, feel, and behave, this type of leadership just sets the tone for finger pointing, blame, and victimhood.  In order to be an effective leader, you need to start noticing when you’re blaming circumstances, and instead start taking 100% responsibility – for how you think, how you feel, how you act, how you react, and the results you ultimately create for yourself.

It’s important to understand that how you feel and then behave not only affects you, but how you act and react then becomes the circumstances that others are affected by as well.  Until you make the decision to take 100% responsibility, you’re just creating a vicious cycle of victimhood, for yourself and for others.

In order to start taking 100% responsibility, start by telling yourself “I feel (fill in the blank) because I’m thinking (fill in the blank).  For example:

  • I feel frustrated because I’m thinking that he should have taken care of that
  • I feel annoyed because I’m thinking that she shouldn’t ask so many questions
  • I feel stressed because I’m thinking that this will never get done in time

Once you stop blaming and take 100% responsibility as a leader, that’s when things change.  You begin to see that you have more power when you’re not in blame mode, and you then use that power to be better and to do better.  From this position you can begin taking charge.  For example:

  • I feel curious because I’m thinking that I wonder how I can help him take care of that
  • I feel open because I’m thinking that she values my opinion which is why she’s asking so many questions
  • I feel motivated because I’m thinking that I can totally get this done in time

As you begin to notice when you’re in victimhood, and instead choose to take 100% responsibility, that’s when you can become the leader you want to be.  That’s when others will be inspired to be and do their best as well.

Let’s be honest – the world needs better leaders at work and at home.  Are you ready to become a better leader?

Source: “The 15 Commitments Of Conscious Leadership” 

10 Must-Have Policies for 2022 – ADP

10 Must-Have Policies for 2022 – ADP

Some laws require employers to provide information to employees via a written policy. Policies are also important for communicating company expectations and requirements. Here are 10 policies that are considered must-have for 2022:


#1: COVID-19

By now, many employers have written policies that address masks, vaccination, social distancing, and other safety measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Employers should keep in mind that federal, state, and local governments have been rapidly adopting laws, regulations, and executive orders that may impact employer policies in these areas. Here are some examples:

  • A few states require employers to have a written policy/program on preventing the spread of COVID-19 and specify the elements the program must include.
  • Several states and local jurisdictions require masks for unvaccinated employees. Some require masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
  • Federal, state, and/or local rules require certain employees to be vaccinated.
  • Several states have rules that prohibit employers from enforcing vaccine mandates, unless they provide certain exemptions.

In some cases, federal, state, and local rules may even conflict. Employers should consult legal counsel to discuss the impact of recent federal, state, and local rules on their COVID-19 policies and practices.


#2: At-will employment

This statement reiterates that, absent certain exceptions such as an implied contract or public policy, either you or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, as long as the reason is a lawful one. It's a best practice to prominently display this statement in the beginning of your employee handbook (except in Montana, where at-will employment isn’t recognized). Reinforce at-will status in your handbook acknowledgment form as well.


#3: Anti-harassment

A growing number of jurisdictions are requiring employers to maintain a written policy on preventing harassment in the workplace, including:

  • California (all employers)
  • Connecticut (employers with three or more employees)
  • District of Columbia (employers of tipped employees)
  • Illinois (bars, restaurants, hotels, and casinos)
  • Maine (all employers)
  • Massachusetts (employers with six or more employees)
  • New York (all employers)
  • Oregon (all employers)
  • Rhode Island (employers with 50 or more employees)
  • Vermont (all employers)
  • Washington (hotel, motel, retail, and security guard entities, as well as property service contractors)

Note: Maine and Massachusetts also require annual distribution of the policy.

Keep in mind that your state or local law may require specific information to be included in the policy, such as how employees may file complaints with the state or local agency.

Even if your jurisdiction doesn't require a written policy, it's a best practice to have one. In several additional jurisdictions, state and local agencies and/or case law recommends employers adopt a written anti-harassment policy.


#4: Nondiscrimination

Federal, state, and local laws prohibit employers from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of certain protected characteristics, such as age, race, sex, and religion, among others. The list of protected characteristics and the list of covered individuals continues to grow as states and local jurisdictions enact new laws and government agencies and courts take new positions on existing laws. Some jurisdictions require a policy addressing discrimination. Even in the absence of a requirement, it's a best practice to have a policy that:

  • Includes all characteristics protected under federal, state, and/or local laws.
  • Addresses who is covered by the policy, such as applicants, employees, interns, and contractors (if applicable).
  • Prohibits retaliation against employees for filing a complaint or participating in an investigation.
  • Stresses that all employment decisions are based upon one's qualifications and capabilities to perform the essential functions of a particular job, without regard to protected characteristics.
  • Governs all aspects of employment, including but not limited to hiring, selection, training, benefits, promotions, compensation, discipline, and termination.
  • Urges employees to report all instances of discrimination and offers multiple avenues for them to do so.
  • States that appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including immediate termination, will be taken against any employee who violates the policy.


#5: Employment classifications

It's a best practice to clearly define employment classifications, such as full-time, part-time, exempt or non-exempt since an employee's classification can dictate eligibility for benefits and overtime pay.


#6: Leave and time off benefits

These policies address company rules and procedures related to holidays, vacation, or leave required by law (such as sick leave, voting leave, family leave, and domestic violence leave). Several state and local jurisdictions recently enacted laws requiring leave for COVID-related reasons. Some leave laws may require a written policy. In general, these policies should cover who is eligible, what reasons qualify for leave, how much leave will be granted, how the leave will accrue and carryover (if applicable), whether the leave is paid or unpaid, how much notice employees must give before taking leave, continuation of benefits during leave, the procedures for requesting leave, recordkeeping and employer notice requirements, and reinstatement at the end of the leave. Check your state and local law to ensure all leave requirements are included in your employee handbook.


#7: Meal and break periods

A policy on meal and break periods informs employees of the frequency and duration as well as any rules or restrictions related to break periods. Rest periods, lactation breaks, and meal periods must be provided in accordance with federal, state and local laws. Check back next week for our Tip of the Week on break periods.


#8: Timekeeping and pay

A timekeeping policy informs employees of the method for recording time worked and the importance of accurately recording their time. With many employees working remotely and/or on flexible schedules, employers should ensure the policy meets their needs. Among other the things, the policy should direct non-exempt employees to record all of the time they work and expressly prohibit off-the clock work (however, if they do perform off-the clock work, you must pay them for this time). Require non-exempt employees to confirm their work hours at the end of each pay period and inform them that they should report any errors in their time record immediately. A policy on paydays should let employees know the frequency of paydays, the methods available for receiving pay, and any special procedures for when a payday falls on a holiday or when an employee is absent from work.


#9: Employee conduct, attendance, and punctuality

Attendance policies make it clear that employees must be ready to work at their scheduled start time each day and provide procedures for informing the company of an unscheduled absence or late arrival. It's also a best practice to have policies on standards of conduct, drug and alcohol abuse, disciplinary action, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, and workplace violence.

Pay particular attention to your drug and alcohol policy in light of the evolving landscape regarding marijuana. Many states currently permit medical marijuana, and several states also permit recreational marijuana use. While none of these laws require employers to allow employees to use, possess, or be impaired by marijuana during work hours or in the workplace, some states have employment protections for employees who use marijuana outside of work. With this in mind, check your state and local law and work closely with legal counsel to review your policy and determine your rights and responsibilities.


#10: Reasonable accommodations

Under certain laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with a disability, or with sincerely held religious beliefs and practices, unless doing so would cause undue hardship. Some states have similar requirements that apply to smaller employers, and some states and local jurisdictions have laws that require accommodations in additional circumstances, such as when an employee has a pregnancy-related condition. Additionally, some of these laws require employers to have a written policy on reasonable accommodations, and it's a best practice to have a policy even if it isn't required.



When drafting and reviewing your employee handbook, make sure your policies comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and are consistent with current best practices.

This story originally published on HR Tip of the Week – a blog providing practical information on hiring, benefits, pay, and more – by ADP®.

Learn more about how ADP’s small business expertise and easy-to-use tools can simplify payroll & HR at adp.com.



Resource: 10 Must-Have Policies for 2022

Hiding a Pregnancy from an Employer

Hiding a Pregnancy from an Employer

How many of you have considered, or have actually, hidden your pregnancy from your employer? Maybe you had concerns about being fired, being looked over for a promotion, or  you were in the position of potentially being hired by a new employer and worried about your chances if the employer knew you were pregnant.. 

Although legally, employers are not allowed to discriminate against a woman for being pregnant, many women still face challenges such as being passed over for job opportunities and other career-halting situations related to becoming, as well as being, a mom. 

Some women are so concerned and have so much fear about how their pregnancy will affect their job, that they’ll completely hide their pregnancy from their employer, and then take the lie even further by continuing the secret even after their child is born. 

In an article by Huffington Post titled “I Hid My Pregnancy And The Existence Of My Second Child From My Job. Here’s Why”, the author discovered a woman who had been working remotely and hatched a plan to keep her employer out of her pregnancy loop.   She wanted to keep the job she had worked so hard to obtain and feared her employer would “lighten the load” if they found out.

She had seen similar things happen to other women within the company, where they had gone on maternity leave or were coming back to work after taking it.  She was well aware that firing her was not an option, but by making her a temp employee, they could easily stop contracting her for projects.

She worked for a city agency that started out as a temp position, but they ended up keeping her on. However, in the four years of working for them, they never offered her a permanent position, benefits, or paid time off. 

She made it through her first trimester and reached the point of announcing her pregnancy when she received an opportunity that would also include a raise, and without much forethought, took on the project, determining she would figure out the logistics later. The project was set to start around the same time she was expecting to be in labor.

At this time she decided she was not willing to risk them offering the opportunity to someone else, and continued to keep her pregnancy a secret. 

She discovered that it was pretty easy to keep the pregnancy a secret as a remote worker, with the help of clever camera placement. Several times she considered coming clean, but as the project was near launching, she just kept focusing on completing a successful project. 

Delivery day for her baby involved several emails to team members that she had a “family emergency” and would be unavailable for the day. 15-hour induction later, and a sweet baby boy was brought into the world. 

She explained in the article that hiding a pregnant belly was one thing, but hiding a crying new infant was a completely different thing altogether.  She wondered how she was going to keep the secret going as she navigated breastfeeding, nap time, a 4 year old, and work meetings. 

After the project was successfully underway, she once again considered coming clean to her secret, but she never did, just focusing on working hard in order to have a successful project.

Unfortunately, once the project ended, so did her employment as she was let go as a contractor for the agency.

Sadly, she never did reveal her pregnancy to her employer, but even more sad is the fear she had, that led her to keep it a secret in the first place. .

The U.S. Department of Labor says that nearly 85% of women will become mothers during their career, the Pregnancy Discrimnation Act that was passed in 1978 is meant to protect women in the workplace when they become pregnant, and yet tens of thousands of discrimination claims are filed every year with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC). 

The unfortunate reality is that many women face the same issues and fear the potential discrimination because they have seen it happen time and time again to other women. While pregnancy should not be viewed, or treated, as a career halting situation, many women’s experience says differently.

Thankfully the woman in the article was hired a year later, for a full-time position, by a family friendly company, with benefits and paid time off. Her new employer embraces parenthood, and supports mothers raising their children. 

What do you think of this mother’s story? Do you relate to her fears and insecurities? Does your employer support raising a family? You are not alone.

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/hidden-pregnancy-work-employment-rights_n_61083720e4b05ae33bf8ad28

Fighting Against Identity Theft

Fighting Against Identity Theft

Fighting Against Identity Theft

While the pandemic has brought several programs and much needed assistance during this unprecedented time, these helpful programs have also become a preying ground for cyber criminals. As cyber criminals have ramped up their efforts in identity theft, the IRS has also been initiating warnings and awareness about cyber security risks. 

This summer, the IRS and its partners have been pushing a public awareness campaign regarding cyber security risks that tax professionals need to pay attention to, especially in the area of identity theft. 

The campaign is called, “Boost Security Immunity: Fighting Against Identity Theft” and it’s asking professionals to take those necessary steps to avoid data breaches. 

The IRS states that more data thefts have been reported so far in 2021 than the previous year, and those numbers are on the rise.

It is important for tax professionals to take the appropriate steps to protect their clients and their businesses. Cyber criminals have taken advantage of the pandemic, and unfortunately the various assistance programs have added easier targets for scammers to steal data and money from victims. 

Now that the IRS knows some of the signs to detect identity theft, they are sharing those areas to keep a close eye on.

Tax professionals should look out for:

  • Rejected tax returns due to Social Security Number having previously filed
  • More e-file acknowledges than returns filed
  • Emails being responded to by clients that were not sent to them by their tax pro
  • Unusually long processing times
  • Changing numbers when not touching keyboard
  • Mouse cursor moving without being touched
  • Unexpected lock out of network or computer

Cyber criminals continue to become more creative in ways to scam individuals and businesses, and tax professionals are a good mark due to the sensitive nature of their business. Stolen data from a tax professional allows criminals to file false returns that are incredibly difficult to detect due to the fact that the information used is real financial information.

Tax professionals and business owners need to consider the strength of their cyber security, as an attack on their business could negatively impact their reputation, brand, and overall success.

A few IRS safeguarding tips for tax professionals are:

  • Multi-Factor authentication
  • Anti-Virus software
  • Strong passwords
  • Virtual private networks
  • Encourage Identity Protection PINs to clients

One of the largest scams tax pros should be conscious of is false unemployment filings. Many individuals received year-end state unemployment forms to report taxable unemployment income that they never filed for or received.

“Spear Phishing” is another scam often targeted towards tax professionals. Carefully curated emails are sent to tax professionals posing as interested clients. After several days of communication, they will send a link or attachment that once opened will download a software that will provide them remote access to the professionals systems. 

Tax professional should take note of what clients report to them such as:

  • Receiving IRS authentication letters when they have not filed a return
  • Tax refund received when they have not filed a return
  • Receivable of tax transcripts not requested by them
  • Emails from their tax professional not initiated by them
  • Phone calls from their tax professional not initiated by them
  • IRS online account notification without their consent
  • IRS disable their online account
  • Unexpected IRS notice that someone accessed their IRS online account

If a firm is breached, it is important to immediately report this to the local IRS Stakeholder Liaison. They will in turn report this to the IRS Criminal Investigation and other appropriate parties. The quicker the report is in, the sooner the IRS can take measures to stop any fraudulent filings.

Also, it is good practice to report identity theft to the Federation of Tax Administrators, and many states also require that the states attorney general be notified as well. 

It is more important than ever for accounting professionals to do their due diligence to protect themselves and their clients from the risk of cyber criminals.