Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

Thursday, September 17th, 2015


My crowd, as a teenager, had many favorite expressions that we used on each other. I’m sure today’s young folks do the same but I wouldn’t know, or understand, what they mean. Anyway, a favorite was if someone said, “Huh?” you would quickly respond: “Huh, Hell, pay attention!” You can’t imagine how many times I wanted to utter that phrase in my business life, but didn’t.

I’m sure you have experienced the frustration first-hand. Most firms have the partner famous for constantly checking their computer screen when they are in a direct conversation with you. I bet there are many people in your office who walk down the hall, faced glued to their mobile device, ignoring everyone around them and maybe not even looking up if you ask them a direct question.

How many times do you check your email when you are deeply involved working on a task or project? In the accounting world, you are not alone when it comes to the challenges of attention span.

Per Attention span is the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted. Most educators and psychologists agree that the ability to focus attention on a task is crucial for the achievement of one’s goals. It’s no surprise attention spans have been decreasing over the past decade with the increase in external stimulation. Questions: What is the average human attention span? How long in seconds is the average attention span?

The average attention span in 2015 – 8.25 seconds

The average attention span in 2000 – 12 seconds

The average attention span of a gold fish – 9 seconds

Average number of times per hour an office worker checks their email inbox – 30

See more statistics on attention span here.

Some firms have tried having two hours per day of “no interruption” time. Maybe that’s something you need to experiment with at your firm.

  • Don't listen to their words, fix your attention on their deeds.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Generations In The Workplace

Understanding the generations in the workplace has always been a passion of mine.

My first involvement was with helping Baby Boomers, and the older Veteran generation understand Gen-Xers. They were the radical bunch at that time. My first presentation about Gen-X was in May, 2000. A lot has changed since then.

Things going on around us when we are young, play a major role in forming how we look at the world.

Thanks to Scott D. Wiley, CAE (via his tweet) for directing me to a list of events and happenings that shape perspectives for this year’s entering college freshmen (Class of 2019). It’s called The Mindset List published by Beloit College.

I think you will find the list interesting, maybe even entertaining. Click here.

  • Young people need models, not critics.
  • John Wooden

Friday, September 4th, 2015

What If Your Managing Partner Acted Like A Marching Band Director?

fhsTeenagers across America are entering a special season. It goes along with football but I’m not talking about football season. I’m talking about marching band season.

Often young people, especially millennials, are misrepresented as being lazy, irresponsible, clueless and so on. Not marching band members… these kids are focused, driven and continually learning essential lessons that will go on to assist them in every walk of life.

Who instills these values in them? The marching band director.

Here are some marching band lessons that just might apply to the young (and old) people working inside your accounting firm.

Early is on time; on time is late. – Players need time to prep on their own prior to rehearsal. Do your accounting firm “players” arrive a few minutes ahead of time to prep on their own before work begins?

Time management is everything. – Band students practice countless hours in the summer and fall. They must learn to set aside time for homework, personal practice and family.  How many of your team members are always “too busy” to get things accomplished? When did you last offer your team some formal time management classes?

Kindness and generosity go far. – Band directors teach that there’s no room for selfishness in marching band. Each band applauds each other as they finish. “Good job” is repeated often.

Teamwork makes the dream work. – Wouldn’t this be a great motto (or battle cry) for your accounting team? Marching band involves a team of hundreds of players all performing individual parts that make-up a beautiful whole. They don’t have a “varsity” and a “B-team” they are all in it together. I find many partner groups that need to adopt this slogan… teamwork makes the dream work.

Criticism is a natural part of life. – Band students are taught to take critical feedback from judges and use the information to make a better, more creative show. Begin today to infuse your culture with the fact that feedback, even if critical, is to be put to good use. Don’t forget that upward feedback to partners is also a key component.

This post was inspired by a tweet by my son, the band director, that took me to this site.

  • You know, if I can survive marching band, I can survive anything.
  • Nellie McKay

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

CPA Consultants’ Alliance Newsletter

The CPA Consultants’ Alliance released their summer recap newsletter this week. It contains the following timely articles:

A Winning Culture is an Intentional Culture by Tamera Loerzel

A Simple Way to Dissolve the Gap by Rick Solomon

Eliminate The Mystery Through Communication And Inclusion by Rita Keller

Read the newsletter here.

Sign-up for future issues on our website!

  • Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as your please.
  • Mark Twain

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


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