Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Change And The Millennials Go Hand-In-Hand

IMG_1071“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” – Benjamin Franklin

We have been talking about the millennials for years now. Just as we talked about Gen-X when they became the youngest workers in our CPA firm offices. New generations bring change. The Baby Boomers sure brought change as they progressed through their lives, partly because of their massive numbers.

Pew Research tells us that more than 30% of American workers today are millennials. They recently passed Gen-X in becoming the largest share of the American workforce. Boomers are retiring and Millennials are filling in the gap. They range in age from 19 to 35 and those 35 year-olds are now in leadership roles in CPA firms.

With them comes some fairly drastic changes for public accounting. From a recent Inc. article by Elizabeth Dukes, the following are just some of the changes that long-time CPAs sometimes find challenging:

  • Email will no longer the primary communication tool.
  • Traditional office space designs will become extinct.
  • Strict office hours will  no longer exist.

Read more about each one of these points here. Begin taking action on how you will deal with each one these points at your firm.

  • Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

A New Way to Look at Leadership Development

2494727126_c8e57ee712_m“It is not the mountains we conquer but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary

Many firms, in the CPA profession, are very generous with training dollars and do invest in sending future leaders to leadership development training outside the firm.

What if you are doing it all wrong? Training away from the firm just might be the wrong road to travel. How real is the “world away from the office” as compared to everyday life inside the firm?

Consider creating a culture where leadership training happens by example and by real-life, daily experiences at your firm.

In her article on the HBR site, Deborah Rowland explains, Why Leadership Development Isn’t Developing Leaders.

Consider making your leadership training more experimental and influence future leaders’ “being,” not just their “doing.”

We just might need the educational equivalent of Sherpas, people able to carry part of the load in order to guide future leaders toward their personal and organizational summits.

Do you have some Sherpas already inside your firm? Take the time to read the article and apply it to your firm.

(Photo: ilker ender via Flickr Creative Commons)

  • It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
  • J. K. Rowling

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Approach Performance Feedback With A Growth Mindset

In case you haven’t heard GE (General Electric) is changing their performance feedback system. Many large companies are doing the same thing. The are looking at a fresh approach to feedback that is more continuous and helpful.

GE has been known for it’s “rank and yank” system made famous by long-time CEO Jack Welch. You rate and rank your employees from top to bottom and then get rid of the bottom players – year after year.

Gone are those days thanks to the Millennials. Now, employers are focusing on growth (career growth and helping people get there).

Companies are doing something I have been urging CPAs to do for several years now…. set-up shorter goal periods and have fewer goals, then change the dialogue to growth conversations that are not tied to compensation.

Millennials, because of technology, are accustomed to having continual feedback – it’s a fact of life for them and employers are getting wise to that fact.

For your firm, it might mean a culture change and a plan on how to implement that change. You have to help partners and managers make the transition from a competitive process to one that is identified by its emphasis on growth.

GE’s slogan…. “inspire connection and develop people.”

Not a bad thing to consider for your firm and your people.

Read more about the GE transition here.

  • The people who get on in the world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Monday, October 31st, 2016

Finding & Keeping Top Talent Sometimes Comes Down To How Many Benefits You Offer

CPA firms and many other companies are seeking talented workers. The competition is especially fierce among accounting firms.

I noticed an Associated Press story in my Sunday newspaper that headlined: Employers spice up benefits, offer help with pets, debt. I have heard from several firms that they have taken a serious look at their benefits in an effort to stay competitive. It seems that Millennials want more choice and customization while Baby Boomers want more certainty (good health and dental coverage).

Many employers are offering programs that monitor for identity theft, help with mortgage payments, assistance with repaying college loans and even unexpected veterinary bills. Many of these “extras” are offered and available but that doesn’t necessarily mean the firm foots the entire bill.

Here’s some information from SHRM:

Employee Benefits Have Exploded

  • SHRM now tracks 350 fringe benefits
  • 20 years ago it was 60 and 10 years ago it was 219
  • Most increases have been in larger corporations
  • Smaller businesses struggle to keep up
  • Biggest gain was telecommuting – in 1996 it was offered by 20% and it has grown to 60%

Maybe it’s time to review your benefit package. I have found that many firms haven’t kept pace with maternity and paternity leave programs.

  • I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.
  • Maya Angelou

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Pros And Cons – Longevity

“I love the gray area between right and wrong.” – Dan Brown, author

The baby boomers are usually amazed and dismayed when they hear that millennials have five or six different jobs (or even career changes) before they reach the age of 30 or so. To them, that is a huge disadvantage.

My challenge for them: Consider the benefits that come along with the fact that you have exposure to several different methods of working, different styles of bosses and a wide variety of peer experiences that will guide your career in the future.

The millennials tell me they are amazed and dismayed when they learn that some of the partners in their firm have NEVER worked anywhere except at the firm. To them, that is a huge disadvantage.

My challenge for them: Consider the amount of experience and consistency they have accumulated in growing an accounting firm that is founded on dedication, continuous improvement, loyalty, and long-term financial growth.

Who’s to say what is right or wrong?

 

  • The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.
  • Carl Jung

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Don’t Procrastinate When Providing Performance Feedback

No wonder so many firms are beginning to explore the option of doing away with formal, annual performance sessions with all of their individual team members.

I have observed that many firms can’t seem to get them done within the publicized timeline. Leaders procrastinate. Something else is always more important. So, they think that if they do away with the once-a-year system it will be easier with fewer hassles. Wrong.

Nothing is more important!

We can’t find people…. We have had more turnover this year than we have ever had…. One of our brightest up-and-comers just left the firm….

I hear these phrases and many variations of the same, day after day, from firm after firm.

Here it is September and you are scrambling to get the formal performance feedback task completed. Your guidelines say that the feedback should be communicated to your team members in June, yet here it is September. And, in all reality, you probably won’t complete the process with everyone until November.

I can offer you all kinds of suggestions on different methods to provide feedback to your team. It can be a formal rating system once per year with a periodic follow-up to check on the achievement of goals. It can be quarterly feedback meetings involving more casual feedback. It can be a simplified Keep Stop Start process. And, it can be a system of continuous feedback that requires better trained and equipped managers.

Whatever your system be sure you fulfill your obligation to do it timely and correctly. It’s not just your millennials that crave feedback, nurturing and support, it’s all of your team members.

 

  • Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.
  • Pablo Picasso

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Saying Good Things

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein

Ever wonder what your valuable team members are saying about your firm? I wonder what they say to their friends. I wonder what they say to their parents. I wonder what they say to strangers. And, I wonder what they say to each other!

You should be wondering, too.

In the most progressive firms they are saying things like this:

I can see opportunity here.

They give me ownership of my projects.

I am encouraged to develop myself technically.

I am encouraged to be involved in the community.

This firm is a place for high performers.

They listen to us, we have influence here.

Early in my career, I was given opportunities to have face time with clients.

When something significant happens in your personal life, you get great support from the firm.

I have the feeling I am involved in something special and not just getting a paycheck.

They empower us and give us control over our own schedules.

I love being involved in our Staff Advisory Board.

When I moved to the area, I found the firm online and submitted an application.

These comments come from two, large, progressive, locally owned firms. They didn’t develop millennial-friendly cultures overnight. More and more firms are finding it extremely difficult to compete for top talent. You have to build the culture, the brand, the vision and purpose and… they will come.

  • Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

An Important Step In Staff Development

“Mentoring is easy and natural; it does not have to be just another dreaded task on your to-do list.” – Rita Keller

Thanks so much to Accounting Today and Sean McCabe for featuring many of my comments in the article, Molding the Future of the Profession – Mentoring young staff should be a crucial part of the recruiting and retention toolkit of more accounting firms.” 

Follow the link to read the entire article. And, thanks to Edi Osborne for all of her great comments in the article.

Here are some bullet point highlights:

  • Mentoring is just as important as salary and technology.
  • Mentoring requires an investment of time and money.
  • It is about attracting and strengthening future leaders for the profession.
  • Young people will buy into the vision of what it means to be a CPA and stay in the profession longer if they make a solid connection with someone who has already been down that road.
  • CPAs are great at teaching young people the technical skills but fail to impart knowledge about relationship-building and career-building skills.
  • Showing and not telling is vital to the mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Effective mentoring has become a strategic focus for the most progressive and successful firms.
  • You have to water the flowers you want to grow.
  • Stephen Covey

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Digital Tools Are Part Of Onboarding

“The future depends on what you do today.” – Gandhi

It’s a new world and if you are not keeping pace, your new hires will notice immediately.

It is also a digital world and online activities and resources are such an important part of your firm. Keep this in mind as you overhaul your orientation process. Orientation has evolved into onboarding and onboarding is a process that can last up to a year or more.

I believe that first impressions STILL make a difference in how you are perceived. I always stress this with students aiming to make accounting their career.

While a prospective employee strives to make a good first impression, the firm is also being viewed with a magnifying glass. Be aware of the first impression your firm is making with prospects. I still hear horror stories of new hires arriving on their first day and it seems like almost a surprise. Their cubicle is not ready, they have no computer, etc.

To move from orientation to onboarding, begin with automating all of the initial paperwork. Most of it can be completed online before the new hire even arrives at the office.

Next, review what a new hire experiences in their first year. How can you make it more enriching? How can you convince the new hire that their career development is a top priority? You are probably doing many of the necessary things to help them succeed but you have not formalized it and communicated it very well.

Young professionals want to know immediately what their career path will look like and what it takes to succeed at the firm.

  • Share the steps involved for initial training.
  • Explain the formal CPE they will receive during the first year.
  • Communicate how the Guide, Coach, Mentor, and Sponsor Program works and what it means to them during the first year.
  • Provide an explanation of all of the firm’s services.
  • Explain how they will rotate through working in many types of service areas.
  • Explain how they will rotate working with a variety of people – partners and managers.
  • Provide them job descriptions for all levels of staff at the firm.

This is just a beginning list. Determine all of the activities, assignments, and learning experiences that a new hire will experience at your firm. Now is the time to rebrand from orientation to onboarding.

  • Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right.
  • Henry Ford

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Millennials And Job-Hopping

Accounting firm leaders and HR directors are talking about it and they have almost come to expect it. They don’t shy away from a new hire just because they have had two other jobs in the last five years. I’m talking about the job-hopping trend that has become the new normal for millennials.

According to studies, the biggest job hoppers work in media, entertainment, government and non-profits. They tend to stay longer in industries where they make things like autos, manufacturing, and oil.

As for the accounting profession, think back to a comment we have heard over and over again in the CPA profession. The new recruits repeatedly tell us that their professors urged them to accept an offer from the big four, stick it out for two years and then leave so that they have big four experience on your resume.

It seems like they are programmed to job hop from the time they are majoring in accounting at a university.

This is a big topic but one aspect is compensation. My advice to you, don’t lose an all-star performer because the firm down the street is offering them a $5,000 or even $10,000 salary increase to jump ship. This happens all the time! Consider your own firm. I bet you have paid similar “increases” to lure a top performer from a competing firm. You will pay an outside top performer a premium wage but shy away from paying the same to a top performer already working for your firm.

CPA firm leaders often worry that if they pay a certain person more money it will upset their compensation apple cart.

Keep in mind: Top performers should get top pay. Average performers should get average pay. If your average performers complain to you simply explain to them exactly what they have to do to become a top performer.

  • If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it you almost don't have to manage them.
  • Jack Welch