How many interruptions do you get each day?  Some CPA firm leaders tell me that there is often a line of people outside their door awaiting an audience.  Or, more likely, they want you to put out a fire.

More importantly, how many times do your team members – all of your highly-trained, extensively educated, extremely knowledgeable client service people – get interrupted each day?  On average, a worker in any industry can be interrupted every 11 minutes, according to studies by the University of California.

How many meetings in your firm are actually time wasters?  How many annual management retreats are two entire days of non-productive time?

I like to quote a managing partner in one of my workshops – “We should just make a video of our retreat, make copies and give them to each partner to watch in place of a retreat because we have been talking about the same things for the last five years!”

On a day-to-day basis, you and your people end up dealing with interruptions from 8 til 5 and then usually get the REAL work done before or after hours.  In a CPA firm people end up working 50 or 60 hours per week and the reality is there is NOT 50 or 60 hours worth of work to do.

To help control interruptions:

  • Be sure you know the communication style of the various generations.  For example, Baby Boomers like to talk face-to-face, Gen Xers extensively use email, and Millennials like to communicate via text, IM or Chat. When considering communication styles for both your team members and clients, communicate based on their preference you’ll be more efficient and productive.
  • Make sure your meetings produce well-defined solutions. Leave every meeting with a well-documented action plan. Everyone knows what they are supposed to do and by when. This eliminates all of the questions after the meeting. Also, be sure to contemplate how many firm meetings you can completely eliminate.
  • Be sure your managers are trained to manage people with minimal interruptions, yet frequent and open communication.  Millennials like feedback continually. Encourage your partners and managers to quickly touch base with their direct reports every day. Briefly ask how they are doing on their assignment(s). Don’t ask if they watched Dancing With The Stars last night!  Encourage team members to make a list of issues or questions when possible and come resolve several at once to help manage their time and yours.

If you adequately address the issue of interruptions, I bet you could close on Friday for the entire summer and production goals would be attained, clients would be well served and your team would be more fulfilled.


"The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work." - - W. Edwards Deming




Rita Keller is an award-winning and widely respected voice to CPA firm management.  Keller works with firms of all sizes, across the nation, to assist them with the inside-health of their firms.  Rita is a member of the CPA Consultants’ Alliance ( with Tamera and Jennifer.   Reach her at and follow her blog