Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

Friday, August 28th, 2015

What They Hate The Most – Long Hours

Nick Page photo - FlickrI read lots of articles that mention how much people working in accounting firms, below the partner level, hate the long hours.

When I survey employees and talk to them, they rarely mention the extended office hours during January through April or the occasions when a client really needs to be served.

One thing they don’t like is the emails they receive from partners at 5:00 a.m. or 11:00 p.m. all year long. They read into this that they should be working at 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. They certainly don’t want to be a partner if that is part of the drill. They might not even want to stay very long at your firm at all.

Another long hours challenge is the fact that technology has put the office just a few taps away and I observe that most accountants, at all levels, certainly are tied to their mobile device.

In an article on HBR – “The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies” – the basic question is: “Does it work?”

I believe that during busy season, more time is wasted than during other time of they year. The mindset seems to be, “I have to log 55 billable hours so I will take my time to be sure I can get 55 billable hours in”.

What if the entire team was working at their utmost efficiency? If your firm has effectively trained people, improved and streamlined the audit tasks and the tax processes, and if partners and managers were managing, coaching and inspiring people, perhaps what actually gets done in 55 hours could be done in 45 or even 35 and the team members could go home earlier.

Beware of the old-fashioned mindset that if we have billed a client for 22 hours of work on their job each year and now we can get it done in 12, we will only be billing for 12 and our revenue will go down!

(Photo by Nick Page – Flickr)

  • Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.
  • Dion Boucicault

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

If You Engage Them Maybe They Will Stay.

IMG_1109Most firms do a wide variety of things to keep great people at their firms. It, definitely has become more difficult during the recent talent wars. Every firm you compete with wants your people. Firms across the country want your people. And, these other firms will pay them more.

You have to do the chair massages, special coffee, ice cream socials, bowling events, mini-golf in the hallways….. the list goes on. Oh yes, your real employee benefit menu has to be up-to-date and generous…. great pay, plenty of PTO, holidays and insurance coverage and so on.

Many studies tell us they like all that but what they really want is communication and recognition. They want to know what is going on, what you expect and what their career path really looks like. They want to know someone cares about their development.

Asking one simple question can provide your firm with some very valuable information. Ask them in an individual conversation – What is the one thing we could change that would help you be more successful at your job?

  • You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Why People Stay

One of the answers I receive most often when I ask CPA firm team members why they stay with their firm is, “My work. I like the work that I do”

When I ask CPA firm team members what they would say to partners by finishing this sentence: “I wish you would (fill in the blank).” They say, “….give me more challenging work.”

Yet, in firm after firm I observe partners doing manager work, managers doing senior work and seniors looking for work.  Young, bright accountants progress in their careers by being assigned to more challenging engagements.

They won’t like their work if they continue doing the same engagements year after year. They won’t get more challenging work if partners and managers continue to hoard work.

To keep people at your firm, maybe it is time to revisit your scheduling system.

  • Share everything. Don't take things that aren't yours. Put things back where you found them.
  • Robert Fulghum

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Bridging The Gap

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I am a member of The CPA Consultants’ Alliance.

During 2015, our membership has taken on a project of publishing a series of 15 blogs, written by individual members, around the central theme of Bridging the Gap-Strengthening the Connection Between Current and Emerging Leaders.

In her August 11th blog post, A Winning Culture Is An Intentional Culture, CPACA member Tamera Loerzel asks you to explore the following primary areas where Millennials are driving (and expect) change in firm culture:

  • Clear vision and direction
  • Engagement by upper-management
  • Leaders willing to change
  • Feedback and the desire to give it
  • Increased transparency – they want to know what, why and how
  • A 100% commitment towork efficiently using the latest IT and standard processes
  • An expectation that they’ll benefit from a learning and development investment
  • Flexibility and anytime, anywhere work (moving away from the time and place paradigm)

Be sure to read this entire blog post and the others in the series. The posts feature real stories from real CPA firms.

  • Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Stay With It!

I recently read a quote by Albert Einstein, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

This statement is the key to success for many CPAs firms that are struggling to “get to the next level.” That’s what we used to call the journey to becoming a more profitable, successful, leading firm… getting to the next level. Now we call it becoming a “firm of the future”. Jody Padar, in her new book, calls it becoming The Radical CPA.

All of these terms are similar, but somewhat different. They do mean that a firm is embracing change and welcoming new solutions.

What happens is so many firm leaders, after discovering a challenging situation fail to “…stay with problems longer”. Status quo is comfortable and they put the initiative on the list for “next year” again and again.

I don’t believe it is all about aging partners being comfortable. I find many younger partners and even experienced staff members that still want to cling to what they already know.

Inside your firm, constantly push for life-long learning – – not just for new hires but also for older partners. If you have something that needs fixed, updated, modified, someone has to own it or nothing will happen.

  • Good intentions might sound nice, but its positive actions that matter.
  • Tim Fargo

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Organized, Professional, No Nonsense

Because I love CPAs – old, young, middle-aged – I am thrilled when I get a call to go into a firm and provide some common sense advice on many of the little things that helps build a career in public accounting. It amazes me at the stories I hear about professional CPAs who do not dress the part or know how to host a business lunch!

Yes, for young accountants, “professional and organized” is about building, for middle-aged accountants it’s about enhancing and for older CPAs with lots of experience, it’s about not being embarrassed.

If you are not organized in your personal life, it sure bleeds over into your professional life.

One comment I hear from accountants that are under 40 – especially females – is the fact that partners have stay-at-home wives who “take care of all the little things at home”.

Younger accountants, working very hard to build their careers almost always have a working spouse, who is working very hard to build their own career. These young couples also often have children and they manage home-life as a true 2-person team. Each person has to know how to do a variety of things. Then there are the young accountants, just out of college and living the single life, on their own away from Mom and Dad, and learning to maintain a home life as well as a business life.

Organized at home helps being organized at the office. That’s why this video makes me smile and may help you fold the laundry!

 

  • Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions.
  • Barbara Hemphill

Monday, May 18th, 2015

A Light-Hearted Look At Working Too Many Hours At Your CPA Firm

3045715-slide-s-3-these-sleeping-pods-are-designed-to-let-you-live-at-work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, here’s an idea for many CPA firms….. sleeping pods that are designed to let you live at work.. it’s one way to address work/life balance, just eliminate it entirely! You could replace your standard cubicles with these.

Seriously, these pods are in a new space for entrepreneurship built at the University of Utah where students working on a startup have the option to live in a sleeping pod in the middle of a larger collaborative workspace as they work on a project.

Here’s my take on this (you were expecting this, right?) – –

CPA partners will immediately think this is a great idea for staff. Staffers will immediately think this is a great idea for partners. It’s one of the GDs (great disconnects) between CPA firm leaders and CPA firm younger team members and future leaders.

CPA partner thoughts: The staff needs to work so much during busy season, let’s make it easier for them. They won’t need to go home at all.

CPA young staffers thoughts: All the partners like to do is work, work, work. With these they could just live at the office and be happy.

Of course, this is an idea for college campuses.. but could it catch on elsewhere? Did you know the employees at Google already informally compete to see how long someone can live at the office, using company showers, food, and sleeping pods? The record is supposedly around two years!  Read more about these pods here.

(Image via Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design)

  • Happiness is good health and a bad memory.
  • Ingrid Bergman

Monday, April 27th, 2015

One Of The Youngest CPAs

It’s amazing what you might accomplish if you work hard and pursue your dreams.

I enjoy success stories and was fascinated as I read about Belicia Cespedes, CPA. She’s 17 years old and passed the CPA exam last summer.

After graduating from high school at 13, Belicia took a QuickBooks course and enjoyed bookkeeping so much she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree and study accounting.

As of January 8, 2015, she became the youngest voting member of the AICPA.

Be sure you are challenging and coaching the youngest members of your CPA team. They do not want to be ignored; they crave your attention. Who knows what they might accomplish.

Read more about this amazing young lady’s story on the AICPA site.

  • The person who is waiting for something to turn up might start with their shirt sleeves.
  • Garth Henrichs

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Beginner At Your Firm? How To Get Noticed.

No excusesMaybe you just joined the firm and maybe you have just survived your first busy season. Are you getting noticed? Are you being assigned to some high-profile clients? Are you being sought out to work with the managers and partners who seem to “get it”?

It’s always important to make a good first impression and often inside CPA firms it might take a year to do that. You might think it is safe to keep your head down and grind through the work. That’s what you have heard gets your noticed by the partners. That’s part of it but not the most important part.

You want the partners and managers to notice you. What I have heard, time and time again from partners, is that they can teach bright, new people accounting and tax, but they want more than that.

Be visible, friendly and respectful – Ask questions but don’t interrupt them constantly. Don’t shy away from a partner when you have a chance to just be friendly.

Pay attention. Be a good listener – Out of the starting gate, don’t get the reputation of “being glued to her mobile device.” Seek conversations and advice where you can look them in the eye and soak it all in.

No matter what you think – how you look matters (especially in public accounting). – Looking professional is one of the easy things you can do to help bridge the generation gap with Boomers and Xers. No, you don’t have to wear a coat and tie (or a pantsuit) to look professional.

Speak-up in meetings. – If you are in a training session inside the firm, don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for more detailed instructions, if you need them.

Show them that millennials are not afraid of hard work. – This is a big misconception with Boomers and GenXers. Research has shown that millennials are willing to devote extraordinary efforts to their work – they just want to do it differently with more flexibility. Explain how you feel and show them with results.

Ask them questions about building your career. – This will show them that you value their experience and want to make the most of being a CPA. If your firm doesn’t have an official mentoring program, informally seek one out. Pick the one you think can help you the most and just ask them.

Be prepared. – Yes, the old Boy Scout motto. Be ready to discuss the review comments you receive on your work. Speak clearly and concisely. Use eye contact and show that you are confident and are willing to absorb feedback and advice.

Be Genuine – This one applies every day. The best possible way to win people over, regardless of their age, is to be yourself. Find ways to open dialogue with all the different partners and managers. Absorb their good habits and build on yours.

  • Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.
  • Jim Rohn

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Millennials Are No Longer Something New To Worry About

Millennials are now mature, experienced and ready to take control.

I have been talking about Millennials for years and urging Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers to embrace them, nurture them and learn from them.

There is some great information for CPA firm leaders in this article on Forbes.  Here’s an excerpt:

Companies have also felt the pressure by millennials to evolve, especially because about one in every three employees in the U.S. will be a millennial by next year, and by 2025 they will become 75 percent of the global workforce.  At some companies, such as EY, millennials already make up 60% of their workforce. Technology has ended the nine to five workday, crushed global communication barriers and create transparent offices. They have forced companies to rethink flexibility, meetings and cubicles. They also believe that business should focus on a societal purpose, not just be in business to make a profit. This is why you see so many millennial become social entrepreneurs or support their local non-profit – they always need to feel like they are touching someone and making an impact, regardless of their job title.

Accounting firms have always recruited on college campuses, sought out the young career beginners to become part of the CPA firm team. Be sure your firm is taking advantage of the millennial goldmine you already have.

  • It takes a very long time to become young.
  • Pablo Picasso