Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category
Thursday, February 27th, 2014
The CPA profession is facing a very challenging talent shortage. There is no end in sight. With each passing day it becomes more and more important to retain your valuable employees.
Here’s some great ideas I picked up at the annual CPA Consultants’ Alliance meeting yesterday in Nashville. The meeting continues today.
- There are different generations working inside your firm but please don’t put them in a box! There are some Boomers who think like Millennials and vice versa. There are Gen-Xers who act like millennials and so on. People are people and breaking down the walls between generations is a valuable step to take.
- Be sure to communicate! That is one of the biggest issues inside CPA firms. Many leaders think they have communicated but in reality they haven’t. Make use of Stay Interviews – - What would have to happen for you to commit to staying at our firm and building your career?
- Have your managers form groups for communication. Suggest each manager form a Table of Eight (or if you are a smaller firm a Table of Three). These groups get together periodically just to talk about issues and about their careers. A manager leads the discussion and it could be a manager that people rarely work with. Be creative with these groups.
Before you leave this page, look to the right. I have added two new pictures to – Is That You With Rita? Terry Putney of Transition Advisors and Carrie Steffen of The Whetstone Group. We are having a great time in Nashville.
I come from this really small town near Nashville, Tennessee where everything was la-di-da and normal.
Friday, February 21st, 2014
There is a lot of confusion inside some CPA firms about the role of a mentor and the difference between coaching and mentoring.
This might help:
- Coaching is task oriented.
- Mentoring is relationship oriented.
- Coaching is short-term.
- Mentoring is long-term.
- Coaching is performance driven.
- Mentoring is development driven.
Read more on the Management Mentors site.
Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.
Thursday, February 13th, 2014
I recently read a tweet by my son regarding his 5th grade musicians. “My 5th grade flutes and clarinets just exhaust me. They have so much energy and ask sooooo many questions.”
In case you don’t know or have forgotten, 5th grade is when children select their first band instrument and began learning from scratch. Of course they will be excited and have lots of questions. While my son might be exhausted, I know he’s very happy about their enthusiasm.
In January and February inside your CPA firm you have quite a few 5th graders. These are the new college graduates going through their very first busy season and your interns who “have so much energy and ask soooo many questions.
As an experienced CPA – a senior, a manager/supervisor or a partner – you might feel absolutely exhausted because of the attention theses newbies demand and need.
A band director invests in the 5th & 6th graders so that when they gradually become very proficient and reach high school age, the band director has a group of very impressive, skilled musicians in the high school marching and concert bands. All along the way, while they work very hard they also have lots of fun.
This is the same investment that CPA managers (at all levels) are making – answer your beginners’ questions with a smile, get them excited and educated about public accounting and 3 to 4 years down the road you will have an impressive, skilled, professional accounting team that works very hard and has lots of fun along the way.
Yes, it is exhausting.
If a baseball player strikes out two times, but hits the ball on the third try every time he goes to bat, he's still a great baseball player. But hitting the mark 33 percent of the time isn't good enough for band. In band you have to hit the mark every time you step up.
Friday, January 17th, 2014
I wasn’t able to attend Winning Is Everything this year in Las Vegas. It was held this week and I followed the comments vis Twitter #WIE2014.
Tom Hood did a presentation – High-Performing Firms-Growth Through A Winning Culture – and shared his slides via SlideShare. He always does such a great job and shares valuable insights.
I thought I would share his comments about The Next Gen CPA Leaders….
- Are proactive, flexible, adaptive and collaborative by nature
- Have regained the trust of their clients and the public at large
- Have successfully bridged the profession’s “leadership gap” by focusing on succession planning, personal growth, and generational cooperation
- Have created the profession’s premier global industry standards and best practices
- Have redefined the profession through work / life integration, collaboration, and a team-first approach
- Have earned a reputation as technological innovators
How are they doing this?
- Professional unity
- Work / life integration
- The evolving nature of leadership and new leadership models
- Proactive, goal-focused planning
- Networked collaboration
- Embracing and adopting new technologies
- Moving from: Hierarchy To: Network
- Moving from: Transactions To: Relationships
- Moving from: Efficient To: Effective
- Moving from: Well managed To: Well led
- Moving from: Command & Control To: Connect & Collaborate
- Moving from: Push To: Pull
- Moving from: Good To: Great
If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.
Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
If I ask CPA firm partner groups this question, the answer is, “Of course not.”
If I ask CPA firm employees this question, they say something like this, “Oh boy, are they ever!”
If I ask firm administrators, marketing directors/coordinators, HR managers, and network administrators this question why do I so often received a return question? – - “Rita, why don’t the partners ‘get it’?”
As I have noted over and over again in my writings and in my speaking engagements, partners meet and meet, partners and managers often meet and meet…… the rest of the team feels isolated and left out.
Just a few of the many suggestions I could offer:
- MBWA (manage by wandering around)
- MBWA 8 (as you MBWA, ask.. What do you think? How can I help?)
- Have your MP host a meeting ONLY attended by those employees below manager level. Just a Q&A type session and do it 3 or 4 times per year.
- If you are multi-office, all internal managers/leaders should visit the other offices on a regular schedule.
- Have your 2 year to 5 year people elect a senior or associate to attend 1/2 day of your annual partner retreat.
- Always be thinking….. How can we include more diverse viewpoints into our decision-making (young people and more women).
Our pleasures were simple - they included survival.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
While this is a huge topic inside CPA firms, I just want to cover it in very brief terms today.
The following quote that I read on Brad Lea’s Twitter feed was intended to be motivating, I’m sure. However, it sums up the feelings of many aging CPAs and accountants and it is not always a positive situation for younger partners and staff members at the firm:
“If I ain’t dead…. I ain’t done.”
I hope that your partner group has a plan to deal with this.
Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.
Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
This morning I am in Hannibal, Missouri. I hope it is familiar to many of you as the boyhood home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain).
If you are a follower of this blog, you know that I often use quotations from the writings of Mark Twain. I think many of them apply to those of you working in the CPA profession.
Right now, as you are facing the challenge of many of your leaders approaching retirement age, I think this one applies:
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. the greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young.” – - Mark Twain
If you are a Baby Boomer partner in a CPA firm, please keep this quote in mind. I continue to hear from so many people working in firms that senior leadership is very slow to embrace change, to adopt new ways of doing things, new methods of communication and new ways of pursuing practice growth.
Don’t get stuck in the past, rather use it to evolve and build a bright future. Many of Mark Twain’s famous stories were based upon memories of his childhood. Don’t forget what it felt like when you were a young accountant just out of college.
Think back to your very first day in public accounting. How did you feel? What were your expectations? Were you more or less on your own to learn and develop? What steps did you take to gain success?
Put yourself in the place of this fall’s new-hires as they enter the door of your firm. Take proactive steps to help them succeed.
(Photo: Mark Twain boyhood home by Rita Keller)
If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.
Monday, September 23rd, 2013
In the business world today, there is a lot of debate and discussion around the topic of multitasking. Some experts tell us that Millennials are good at it and Baby Boomers are not. That’s a very broad statement and dumps a lot of people into the same bucket.
As you study the work habits of the various generations inside your accounting firm, I urge you NOT to do that. You do need to understand the various, general characteristics of the generations working at your firm but always keep in mind….. people are people. Some Boomers have traits common to Millennials and Gen-Xers and vice versa.
On the topic of multi-tasking, recent research has demonstrated that switching from one task to the next takes a serious toll on productivity. To learn more about this, you have to also better define the word “multitasking.”
If you are over-whelmed by your own to do list and believe you have so many things that are equally important, you might want to check out a book I read recently titled, The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller. Keller is the chairman of the board and cofounder of Keller Williams Realty, Inc.
Keller tells his story of trying to do so many things, trying to keep so many balls in the air that he finally ended up hitting a wall. He was failing. Finally, out of desperation, he went small as he could. He asked himself, “What’s the ONE thing I can do this week that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?” He tracked his results and he was much more successful when he narrowed his concentration to one thing.
To achieve more, you need to focus. It’s about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right.
If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.
Friday, September 6th, 2013
I hear it all the time, CPA firm partners and managers talking out of both sides of their mouth.
On Delegating Work:
Left side of mouth: “These young people, they don’t realize that you have to work hard to serve clients. I give them a job to do. They get it partially done and then they send it back my way (and they go home).”
Right side of mouth: “Our young staff is just too green. They seem unsure and take too long to get something done. It’s so much quicker just to do it myself. My billing rate might be twice as much as theirs but I can do it twice as fast.”
On Performing Administrative Duties:
Left side of mouth: “I don’t try too hard to bring in new clients. I don’t go to many business-networking events. I just don’t have time. If I got a new client, I don’t have time to serve them properly. It would just mean that I would have to work more hours.”
Right side of mouth: “I am the one who takes care of all of our facilities management. I make sure our building HVAC works properly and that our conference room décor makes the proper first impression. I’m the one who has always done it, I can’t give that up.” – - or – - “I’m on the technology committee and have always been responsible for decisions relating to our website and the kind of laptops we purchase.”
I am sure, if you contemplate all of the activities of your firm’s partners and managers, you could add several more examples to this list.
On Delegating Work – It is every partner’s responsibility to train, mentor, coach, nurture, and encourage their replacement(s). Managers need to manage. This is not done very well inside CPA firms. Managers (and some partners) are high-priced technicians. They cling to the client work because they enjoy it, it’s safe and it is in their comfort zone.
On Performing Administrative Duties – The big issue with this is that you are paying someone (a partner or several partners at about $300,000 each), to do the job that a professional, experienced, qualified firm administrator (HR Director, IT Manager, Marketing Director) could do at a significantly lower salary. Again, for some partners, performing administrative responsibilities is an excuse not to market, sell and bring new work and new clients into the firm. They cling to the administrative work because they enjoy it, it’s safe, and it is in their comfort zone.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.
Thursday, September 5th, 2013
In this time of intense competition for attracting the best and brightest accounting graduates to feed your firm’s talent pipeline, you might need to update your employee benefit program. One of the most important ones is how your firm supports its CPA candidates.
I find that CPA exam policies vary greatly. They range from very little support to extremely generous support.
I urge you to be generous but to also set high expectations. Several years ago when the number of candidates taking the Exam dwindled, many firms re-wrote their policies. Have you kept pace with current trends?
To me, the expectation is: “We are a CPA firm. We need CPAs.”
Here’s an example of a generous policy. In exchange for this generosity, the firm required that new hires pass the exam within two years.
CPA Examination Policy
The firm will pay for 100% of Becker or another review course approved by the firm. This will be paid up front and will be refundable to the firm if you do not complete the review course. Firm provides four hours paid time off, per part, to study the day(s) prior to the exam up to a maximum of 32 hours per year. Exam time will be 100% firm paid with no limit. The firm will pay 50% of exam fees with no maximum. Firm pays $1,000 bonus upon certification from state licensing agency and professionally frames the team member’s certificate.
I think it is important to have your CPA Exam policy actually posted on your website. Firms that are very successful in recruiting the best candidates always do this.
I especially like the information provided by Maloney + Novotny. Also, here’s examples from Warren Averett and Rothstein Kass. The AICPA provides great resources, too.
An important question to ask yourself: What is our competition doing?
It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.