Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Don’t Discount Older Workers

“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” – Aldous Huxley

This is a reprint of an article I received and was given permission to use. I think it is important. Accounting firms are always looking for talented people but most hesitate to even consider an older person.

3 Reasons Why Hiring Older Employees Is A Smart Decision

In the 2015 movie The Intern, Robert DeNiro starred as a 70-year-old widower who returns to the workforce as an under-appreciated and seemingly out-of-step intern working for a young boss played by Anne Hathaway.

Initially, Hathaway’s character can’t quite relate to this baby boomer who ditched retirement out of boredom, but by the film’s finale, she comes to appreciate his skills and experience.

In real life, you’re unlikely to encounter many septuagenarian interns, but it’s not unusual for people to re-enter the labor market or launch new careers when they are well into what was once considered retirement age.

And that can be good for businesses that are willing to take advantage of all those decades of hard-earned experience, says Andrew Simon, a partner in Simon Associate Management Consultants (www.simonassociates.net) who himself is in his 70s.

“Starting a new career after 60 is not for everyone,” Simon says. “But it can be rewarding for those with energy and commitment levels that are high, and who are willing to learn new skills and keep up with the constantly evolving technology.”

The question is whether businesses will balk at hiring workers who, in many cases, are old enough to be the parents of the people supervising them. Sure there are downsides, Simon says, but the upsides can be tremendous when it’s the right fit for the right person.

He says a few things businesses should keep in mind as they weigh whether to hire older workers include:

  • Experience counts. Baby boomers come to the table with a whole set of experiences, including 30 or 40 years of interpersonal people skills that make them more adept at dealing with unique situations or different types of people. “On the flip side,” Simon says, “some of them could lack the technical skills that we take for granted in today’s workforce. So, be careful what you are asking them to do.”
  • Self-motivation. The odds are older employees will be self-motivated. “If these potential workers would like to join an organization or start a new career after 60, they probably like the idea of work,” Simon says. “They need to do something every day. Perhaps they view their job as intellectually stimulating.” You do need to make sure of their motivation, though, he says. If they’re just working for a paycheck, that might not cut it.
  • Different age groups have their own behaviors. Baby boomers often have a very different set of values than millennials. “Different things motivate them,” Simon says. “The culture of an organization is very important and can be tricky. You want to make sure these older workers have an opportunity to thrive in your new environment.” While it’s best to avoid stereotyping the generations too much, in general, baby boomers tend to be productive, loyal to the company, willing to put in long hours to get the job done and prefer to have conversations in person.

“Companies that pass on hiring older workers risk missing out on people who could become some of their most valuable employees,” Simon says. “Age shouldn’t be the issue. Instead, as with any hire, the issue is what skills and experiences each of these people can bring to the workforce.”

About Andrew Simon

Andrew Simon, a partner in Simon Associate Management Consultants (www.simonassociates.net), has had a 50-year career as a senior executive. He founded and ran Questar Assessment Inc., the fifth largest K-12 summative assessment company in the U.S. As a serial entrepreneur, Simon also developed and ran businesses in real estate development and did start-ups inside larger corporations, such as Citibank, Bankers Trust, Norcliff-Thayer and Lederle Labs. Earlier in his career, he was part of a team that launched L’Oréal into the consumer products arena. Simon also is a trained and certified Innovation Games® facilitator and has conducted more than 50 client engagements using Innovation Games methods.

 

 

  • I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.
  • Francis Bacon

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

Don’t Waste Your Vacation

“A vacation is what you t ake when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” – Earl Wilson

So many people in CPA firms do not take the vacation they have been awarded. I hope you are not one of them!

According to an article, I read recently, every year more than half of Americans fail to use all their time off, creating a stockpile of 662 million unused vacation days.

I bet if you counted all the unused vacation days of your entire team (including partners), it would be a significant number.

DSC03008Most firms allow you to carry over a certain number of hours but few allow you to carryover all of it.

Studies show that “planners” have an advantage over non-planners. If you plan your vacations in advance you will more than likely use more of your allotted vacation time and take longer vacations.

Winter is a perfect time to think about warm beaches, national parks, mountain retreats and cruises. Rather than going home at night and venting about your day at work, talk about and plan your vacations for 2018.

I took the picture on one of our trips to Hilton Head. Nothing like watching the sun come up out of the ocean.

  • Laughter is an instant vacation.
  • Milton Berle

Monday, February 5th, 2018

There is No One to Replace You

“Leadership Tip: Develop leaders or your vision will die when you die.” – Dan Rockwell

On my mind today. CPA partners have been saying it for several years now, “There’s no one to replace me.”

When I hear it I cringe. When I hear it, I usually ask, “Whose fault is that?”

Have you really been that deficient in training and mentoring your employees? Or, are you telling yourself that there is no one qualified to replace you because you are going to merge up, get your pay-out and don’t want to feel guilty about disappointing some key employees?

  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
  • Will Durant

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Doing The Work

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money, it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Have you examined how work is actually prepared, processed and completed inside your firm lately? You better put it on your list!

Lots of firms have embraced the Lean Six Sigma process and not only improved their workflow and efficiency but have also ignited more passion for the work in their team members.

So many people in CPA firms do things because “that’s the way Joe (partner) wants it” or “Rebecca wants it done this way.”

Today’s workforce wants to be challenged and not simply repeat the same work, the same way, year after year after year.

Managers, and sometimes even partners, cling to work that they have done for years because it’s easy for them and it helps them accumulate billable hours. Identify a less experienced team member and delegate that work. It might not be easy for them but it will help them grow in their career and that’s what builds a top performing team.

Read this great article via HBR – Why People Really Quit Their Jobs.

  • Who you are tomorrow begins with what you do today.
  • Tim Fargo

Friday, December 29th, 2017

Next Year

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost

How many times have you said those two words, “next year”?

Maybe to your kids, “You’ll be old enough to do that next year.”

Maybe to your spouse, “Honey, we’ll take that special vacation trip next year.”

Maybe to yourself, “I’m going to lose 25 pounds next year!”

How about inside your firm?

“We will work on it and become COMPLETELY paperless next year.”

“We can’t do it this year, but next year we will out-place those five clients that drive our staff nuts.”

“We promise to be more timely with our feedback process next year.”

“We will add a few more employee benefits next year.”

“We have to update our website next year.”

“We will look into all this new digital stuff like blockchain and artificial intelligence, next year.”

“I’ll pass the CPA exam next year.”

For all these “next years” relating to your firm: Monday is NEXT YEAR.

For NOW – have a happy and safe New Years’ weekend!

  • It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and the broken promises.
  • Chief Joseph

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Searching For A Manager

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle

Accounting firms are hiring. That is an under-statement. Most of the firms I work with are almost desperate for an experienced manager. Throughout this year I have heard this statement over and over again, “We really need a tax manager and they are impossible to find.”

Perhaps, someone already working at your firm is the answer. Top talent joins a firm where they believe opportunities for advancement exists. They don’t want to work at entry-level for years, then as a Senior for a few more years. Then, maybe in the partners’ minds they are seasoned enough to become a manager. That is why it is so important that you have documented career paths available.

If your firm is content with status quo and not experiencing impressive growth, top talent won’t join up. To become a manager, the firm has to need a manager.

You don’t need a manager if:

  • Your firm is not dynamic, growing and generating new opportunities.
  • Your firm has a level of managers in place who are not dynamic and growing.
  • Your young people see your current managers as roadblocks

Keep in mind that promotions are no longer based on seniority. So many firms have current managers that were promoted to manager to reward them for longevity and productivity, not because they had proven ability to manage and inspire other people. In many cases, it is the opposite.

So, the next time you need a manager, look inside and ask a top performing senior or supervisor to stretch. They may be tired of waiting and already searching for another job. Bringing in someone unproven over them might be the last straw.

  • The future depends on what you do today.
  • Gandhi

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Moving Past “Engagement”

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become” – C. G. Jung

Some progressive companies are now moving beyond the over-worked term, employee engagement.

It’s no longer just about how they feel about their role and your firm. It involves the complete employee experience. Is your firm focused on the employee experience? You can bet that other accounting firms in your market are initiating ways to attract YOUR people!

Per a recent article on Entrepreneur, there are four key pillars to the employee experience:

  1. Connection
  2. Meaning
  3. Impact
  4. Appreciation

To me, these are fairly self-explanatory. However, it would be a good exercise for firm leaders to explore these four topics and define what they mean relating to your firm and your people.

I often think about a slogan from one of the car companies a while back….. “Enjoy the Ride!” Are your people enjoying the ride at your firm?

  • Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Encouragement

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” – Goethe

When those young, accounting majors graduate and enter a CPA firm, they sometimes procrastinate on taking the CPA exam.

Often, firms let them procrastinate. Don’t do it!

Studies show that a huge factor in young people passing the CPA exam is encouragement. Tell them boldly, “We are a CPA firm. We need CPAs. We will help you.”

Then be sure you back-up your words with action. Revamp your CPA exam policy (if you have one). Be generous with monetary support. The firm pays for study aids and courses, all fees associated with the exam. Provide generous work time for study time.

When they actually pass the exam, celebrate! When they received their official certificate, have it professionally framed for them. Sometimes, little things make the biggest difference.

  • Nine tenths of education is encouragement.
  • Anatole France

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Hard Driver Versus Non-Confrontational

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” – George Orwell

I have observed that CPA firms, over a period of many years, seem to develop cultures that encourage almost opposite behaviors.

As you probably know, I have been working in the CPA profession long enough to observe how changes in leadership drives culture.

I entered the profession when the Silent Generation was still in control. Traditionalists, known as the Silent Generation (because children of this generation were expected to be seen and not heard) were born during the mid-1920s to 1945. There are some (age over 72) still active in the profession but most have now retired.

The traditional era managing partner was a hard driver. He (and almost always it was a he) believed you make your own way through hard work which included long, grueling hours. Promotions and advancement was the result of tenure and proven productivity. They did not listen to the opinions of their staff before making decisions – it never occurred to them.

I observed that when this type of managing partner finally retired, the next generation (baby boomers) made a fairly significant swing towards not being hard on people. They avoided confrontation of any kind. They didn’t want to be the tyrant-type leader they had observed. Yet, they still believed that hard-work was the foundation of their culture.

Over time, baby boomers have mellowed and have realized that if you want to retain top talent you have to be flexible and willing to listen to the desires and needs of your employees.

Because they are still very non-confrontational they do not address situations that need to be addressed. Many retain employees that should have been out placed years ago. If one person complains about a new policy or procedure they almost panic and react too quickly. Some, to me, appear almost skittish.

I always suggest that you don’t want your CPA firm to be a sweat-shop culture nor do you want it to be a country club culture. Where do you fit?

  • World War II brought the Greatest Generation together. Vietnam tore the Baby Boomers apart.
  • Jim Webb

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

You Don’t Always Have to “Give In”

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas A. Edison

Accounting firms, in recent years, have gone to great lengths to be more flexible, to be more understanding, to be more tolerant, compassionate and caring towards their valuable workforce.

All that is good. However, firm leaders, and accountants, in general, are non-confrontational so it seems like they eventually give in to almost any request.

arrow-down-4-xxlYou dumb things down, you go to great lengths to make things simple and easy. You strive to eliminate any discomfort and stress. You want people to have fun and enjoy their work.

I have observed that this fear of offending any team member leads to more work getting done by those at a more experienced level in the firm. Leaders not only fail to set high expectations, they fail to set any expectations. An environment evolves where partners and managers are doing the work and the staff are looking for work.

Many experts tell us that young people want to know exactly what is expected of them. Thus, they can judge when they are making progress on their career path.

I believe that there are still talented people working in the CPA profession who want to be challenged, who want to learn more and do better. They want assignments that are not boring and cause them to stretch to a higher level of performance.

Develop a culture of high performance and high expectations. Create a reputation of being extremely professional, well-disciplined and knowledgeable. You don’t always have to give in to lowering your standards. It is a downward spiral.

  • Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable.
  • Joe Biden