The younger generation was a popular talking point during the recent Winning Is Everything conference in Las Vegas.

Nearly every panelist and speaker spoke about the challenges of recruiting, retaining and engaging Generation Y. But as some of the few attendees from that generation tweeted during the sessions, why weren’t those oft-discussed Millennials on stage?

Perhaps then the other trendy topic of social media would have earned a longer conversation during the State of the Profession Panel than it did.

As short as the discussion was, though, the viewpoint was interesting.

David Sibits, president of business services provider CBIZ Financial Services, posited that social media is the fastest way to find out who you have disappointed.

As easy as it would be to dismiss this cynical perspective as yet another “get off my lawn” sentiment from across the generational divide, it’s also very true.

During his inspiring closing keynote, TaylorMade-adidas Golf CEO Mark King mentioned one especially perturbed blogger who, when King overhauled the company’s product schedule to better match golfers’ habits, wrote that King was “single-handedly ruining the golf industry.”

Though King went on to overtake TaylorMade’s biggest competitor, Callaway, 36 months after becoming CEO and in large part due to this shake-up, it’s telling that he still remembers the exact words of that unnamed Internet pundit.

This holding on to the negative is a very human condition that afflicts even the most famous and funny.

When Tina Fey won her Golden Globe for “30 Rock,” she quoted a few comments from her harshest online critics in her acceptance speech before publicly telling them off.  

I’m sure many accountants can relate, recalling their more disappointed clients just as readily as those they satisfied. And, at a time when restaurant customers can write a scathing review before the plates have even been cleared, these complaints reside in a place far murkier than the minds of management—that wide, worldly Web.

Since the sheer volume of these honest (though often overly harsh or aggressive) criticisms that live forever in the unforgiving annals of the Internet won’t be diminishing anytime soon, proper corporate response is a necessity.

Recent examples range from the good to the bad to the in-between and as-yet-undetermined, though in some cases the best response is none at all.

Just as King’s company “responded” with a 13 percent increase in market share, positive numbers can, quite appropriately, be the accounting profession’s best shield—both in the number (and ratio) of happy clients and revenue.

Because some people—as author, professional service management expert and Advisory Board Hall of Fame inductee David Maister put it during the conference—will never be content.

“There are clients out there that are unpleaseable,” he explained. “Part of moving forward is getting rid of the idiots.”

Or at least exercising judgment when reading their feedback in comment sections, message boards, blogs, tweets, status updates and reviews.

It might even be helpful to holler a hearty, “Get off my Internet!” from the safety of your closed-door office. But then all you can do is close your browser and do your best to keep your side of the lawn clean.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access