Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Clear and Unclear

“No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.” – Gandhi

Studies tell us that accounting graduates are looking for an employer that can show them a well-defined career path. They want a firm that clearly communicates expectations.

Your firm has worked very hard at doing all of that. When new people join the firm you have documentation that shows them career paths. Your performance evaluation system gives them frequent feedback and sets expectations.

Leaders are pleased and assume all of effort put into developing and communicating career paths and expectations is working effectively. Everything is clear.

But, what about the grapevine? What about the unwritten ground rules that thrive inside every office? What about the things that are unclear?

Leaders tell new people to speak-up, make their opinions known. Peers may tell them to “be careful what you say when Nancy is in the room.” So, it is not always safe to speak-up?

Once again, it is all about your firm culture. If you have a culture that is productive and positive, one where there are few, if any, mixed messages, you will have better employee engagement and enhanced productivity.

Firm culture needs to be a strategic focus and continually fostered throughout the firm.

 

  • A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.
  • Gandhi

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Older People Might Not Be As Outdated As Young People Think

“When an elder dies, it’s like a library has burned down.” – Old Saying

I recently read a very interesting article on the HBR site: I Joined Airbnb at 52, and Here’s What I Learned About Age, Wisdom, and the Tech Industry by Chip Conley.

Just think about the vast knowledge and experience the accounting profession has among those often pushed-out-the-door Boomers. Here are just a few excerpts from the article. I hope they inspire you to read the entire article.

–I’ll offer you some emotional intelligence for your digital intelligence.

–Many young people can read the face of their iPhone better than the face of the person sitting next to them.

–I was surrounded by folks who were tech-savvy — but were perhaps unaware that being “emo-savvy” could be just the thing to help them grow into great leaders. I realized that we expect young digital-era leaders to miraculously embody relationship wisdoms, with very little training, that we elders had twice as long to learn.

–Boomers and Millennials have a lot to offer, and learn from, each other. Enter the “Modern Elder,” who serves and learns, as both mentor and intern, and relishes being both student and sage.

  • Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Friday, April 21st, 2017

International Understanding

“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” – Peter Drucker

Not that many years ago, CPA firms in the U.S.A. didn’t need to know much about international affairs. In fact, most people in firms never even thought about international implications.

All that has changed. Even some very small firms now have international clients and U.S. clients operating internationally.

If you work for a large corporation, accepting international assignments is expected if you want to advance your career.

Reading an article on HBR – Will refusing an International Assignment Derail Your Career? – made me think about what CPA firms are doing to educate their workforce about the business aspects of international operations.

In many firms there are partners who are well versed in international business. But, how far down the ladder does this type of knowledge go?

My questions for millennial CPAs, will the lack of international business knowledge and experience derail your career?

  • If people like you, they'll listen to you, but if they trust you, they'll do business with you.
  • Zig Ziglar

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Retire or Get Retired?

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.” – Doug Larson

I recently read an interview with actor Christopher Walken. He is 73.

He talked about taking any acting job that came his way these days because he is aging and not that many do come his way. As an actor, any job can be your last job.

It made me think of the many aging CPAs working in firms right now. As the baby boomers age, more and more are over the age of 65 and I encounter quite a few who are 70 – or nearing that age.

I also realize that many younger CPAs in these firms really want the older partners to retire. They are thinking the older partners should play the retirement card – just do it! Eventually, some will be forced out. Sure, it might be gently or it might not.

I don’t personally feel that partners should be forced out just because of age. It should be based on how productive they are and what contributions they make to the success of the firm. I continually hear of partners in their 40s and 50s who are NOT productive and don’t really contribute that much to the success of the firm.

However, if you are a more senior partner, is it time? Do you feel the unverbalized pressure? Wouldn’t you rather retire than “get retired”?

  • There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want.
  • Bill Watterson

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Quit Worrying About Millennials – Focus On Generation C

“There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age — I missed it coming and going.”  ~J.B. Priestly

I have been studying, speaking about and writing about Millennials and other generations in the workplace for years. I think it is time to move on and I have come to realize that putting people in generational boxes is a waste of time.

holmesI recommend that you read this article by Ryan Holmes on the Inc. site titled: Move Over, Millennials: 5 Things You Need to Know About Generation C.

Holmes (he’s the founder and CEO of Hootsuite) notes that you don’t have to be a Millennial to live on your iPhone or embrace social media. The group that HR professionals should focus on is Generation C – the “Connected Consumer” – it is everyone who integrates technology into their daily routine, regardless of age. This group share certain qualities.

Here are the topics included in the article:

  1. What is Generation C?  (Gen C stands for Connectivity.)
  2. What age groups make up Gen C? (It isn’t an age group at all.)
  3. How does Gen C interact with the world? (They live on digital media.)
  4. What’s the key to reaching Gen C? (Where they live – traditional media don’t cut it.)
  5. How big is Gen C? (The numbers are vast.)

I like the closing…..

Let’s give it a rest. For marketing, for hiring, for connecting: Age is increasingly arbitrary.

  • The Millennial era is ending (and not a moment too soon).
  • Long live Generation C.
  • Each contact with a human being is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it.
  • Anais Nin

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

It’s No Longer “When” The Millennials Will Be In Control

“The elastic heart of youth cannot be compressed into one constrained shape long at a time.” – Mark Twain

Just an observation today about things that are actually happening at growing mid-size CPA firms.

On the “I am not surprised” side of things:

  • A firm has had a long time policy of partner retirement age at 65. Recently, the 63 and 64 year-old partners changed that policy to 70 years of age.

On the “I’m so glad to see this” side of things:

  • A mid-size, very successful firm has a new managing partner, he is 28 years old.
  • Another local firm has a new managing partner who is 36 years old.

Both of these individuals fall into the millennial category.

We are no longer talking about what will happen WHEN the millennials are in control. It is more like, NOW the millennials are in control. Yes, change is happening and the change train is moving very quickly down the track.

Be sure your firm is preparing and ready for change.

  • To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.
  • Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Show Appreciation by Utilizing Stay Interviews

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving forward.” – Albert Einstein

Some accounting firms have been utilizing stay interviews for a while. However, I have observed that there are still many firms that haven’t embraced this excellent tool.

Anytime you devote individualized attention to one of your team members, asking them for advice and feedback, it’s a positive exercise for both sides – management and staff.

Elizabeth (Bitsy) Watson, PHR, the HR Manager for Mahoney, Ulbrich, Christiansen & Russ shared the process they use for stay interviews. It would be a good best practice for you to emulate. Her comments follow:

BitsyWe started out with results from our recent engagement survey and identified about five areas where we wanted more insight, such as, if we felt our scores for recognition could be stronger or we wanted more insights into what aspects of compensation were most important to staff.

We then came up with some questions related to these areas and others (about 10 total). A few examples were:

  • What types of recognition are most meaningful to you?
  • What opportunities for development would you like that you may not be getting?
  • What type of work do you find most motivating or interesting?
  • Of the compensation and benefits we offer, what aspects are most important to you and what could be improved in this area?

We used a representative sample of our employees to participate in the stay interviews. I kept the names confidential. After the meetings were completed, our next steps were to summarize the overall themes and share the summary with the partners, not sharing names. I also included three recommendations for changes or new programs to implement. We’ll then share these new initiatives with the interview group. We want them to know that we really valued their opinions.

I tried to be as transparent as possible with everyone involved on what we were trying to accomplish and how valuable their feedback is. We received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the interviewees. They mentioned feeling like it was helpful to have a channel to be asked questions they might never have been asked. I think the most interesting thing that came from this was bringing to light some wrong assumptions we, as management, had been making.

Our plan is to do this annually utilizing a different group of employees each year.

  • Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
  • Thomas Edison

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

I Can Do It A Lot Faster

“Deciding what not to do is an important as deciding what to do.” – Jessica Jackley

CPAs who have reached the manager level in a public accounting firm are not always great managers.

They have reached the manager level (usually the level just below partner) because they have worked very hard and been with the firm for several years. They are good at managing the client work. They have been trained and trained for that job. The firm has invested significant dollars in their technical knowledge advancement. They are great technicians.

Firm leaders then expect them to naturally be great managers of people – great trainers, mentors and delegators. Yet, the firm has not spent any money on teaching them how to be motivators and leaders.

Perhaps you have heard this story inside your own firm – Sally is a great manager. She brings the job in on time and under budget. She works an almost unreal amount of hours to get it done. She has an engagement team to help her. Young Bill on her team struggles with a particular part of the work. Sally takes the work back and does it herself. Her excuse is, “I know my billing rate is much higher than Bill’s but I can do it in half the time.” Thus, Bill never learns and Sally is tired and stressed.

Ask you younger people to stretch – they might just surprise you in how much they can accomplish if they are taught, managed and encouraged.

  • No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.
  • Andrew Carnegie

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Parental Leave

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock, M.D.

A few months ago I surveyed a small number of CPA firms across the country. I was curious about the kind of parental leave they offered as an employee benefit.

To my dismay, paid maternity leave is almost non-existent. CPA firms seem to approach it with a combination of actions. The employee (the mother) is encouraged to save and/or carry over PTO to be used and they combine it with short term disability options.

As far as any type of paid leave for new Dads, it seems truly non-existent.

Here is a good article from FAST Company – How Paid Parental Leave Changed in 2016. 

Some progress has been made, in general, but 2016 was not an impressive year for paid parental leave. A quarter of new mothers go back to work just 10 days after giving birth.

Just so you know, in 2016, EY announced a new policy to expand its parental benefits to over 35,000 U.S. employees. Both new mothers and fathers are eligible for up to 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave for birth, adoption, surrogacy, foster care, or legal guardianship.

If you want to attract and retain young, top talent. An impressive paid parental leave policy might just be the answer.

 

Monday, January 9th, 2017

The Modern Workplace

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

It is definitely not the same old workplace where many of us “grew up” in the business world.

At my first job, in the accounting department of a major manufacturing company, we were not allowed to leave our desks except at our specified “break” time. They ran the office much like they did the manufacturing floor.

60Minutes and Vanity Fair conducted a poll in 2016 to explore the modern workplace. It has changed dramatically and is still evolving as we deal with more tech-savvy young workers who have joined our knowledge-based economy. They are demanding more.

Here are the polling questions:

What’s the most important thing to look for in a new job?

What’s the best way to keep an employee motivated?

Which business practice would you most like to bring back?

How much more than their workers should CEOs earn?

Which job perk would be the hardest to explain to your grandfather?

Which industry is the most unethical?

What is the worst thing about your job?

Check out the results here. Maybe you should ask some of these questions to your own accounting firm team. As a firm leader, you need to know all you can about your young workforce.

  • Diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their job.
  • Malcolm Forbes