Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

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

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Focus On Next Generation Clients

“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

Firm leaders are always faced with multiple priorities. Probably, two of the most prominent are hiring and retaining top talent and taking great care of current clients. Leaders are also often deeply engaged with a new client pursuit. Your rainmaker partners truly love the pursuit and sometimes pay more attention to prospects and new clients than they do to their long-time loyal clients.

There is another priority that needs attention. In a recent article via the AICPA CPA Insider, How to engage next-generation clients, Jennifer Wilson of Convergence Coaching, reminds practitioners of the massive generational shift that is happening over the next several years within their own client community. Many firm leaders have not developed strategies to deal with this client leadership transition to a younger, more tech savvy generation.

It is time for firm leaders to add this priority to their list – more focus on next generation clients.

Wilson not only addresses what next-gen clients value, she also gives practitioners six “first steps” to begin appealing to and attracting these clients.

Be sure to read the entire article.

  • First we are children to our parents, then parents to our children, then parents to our parents, then children to our children.
  • Milton Greenblatt

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Too Lazy?

“I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you. I don’t want to understand you.” – Kobe Bryant

During these lazy days of summer, maybe you and your team have gotten too lazy, too comfortable, too laid-back. Now is the perfect time for everyone to get back to basics – the basics of advancing your career in public accounting.

Move the firm (and yourself) along by doing more of these things:

  • Volunteering for firm internal projects
  • Being a visible and hands-on manager of people
  • Developing a personal marketing plan and tracking progress via a marketing report
  • Attending charitable and business community events
  • Scheduling frequent lunches with referral sources
  • Picking up the phone and calling clients just to chat
  • Improving your time management and organizational skills
  • Passing the CPA exam quickly
  • Mentoring and coaching the future leaders in your firm
  • Volunteering to help with recruiting and campus activities
  • Working hard is great, being lazy sometimes is great, but failed potential is the worst.
  • Campbell Scott

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Flashback Friday – Goals

“Elegance is the only beauty that never fades.” – Audrey Hepburn

Here’s a post from 2015 – Check-in With Your Team – How Are They Doing With Their Goals?

I hope everyone in your firm, including admin and partners, are making progress in 2017 on their self-improvement goals!

  • They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays.
  • Ted Williams

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Providing Leadership Training Is A Must

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

There are a lot of good leadership training programs out there for managers and new partners in the CPA profession. Today, I want to make you aware of a great one from ConvergenceCoaching, LLC.

It is a future leaders development program called theTransformational Leadership ProgramTM.  The typical participant is a manager, senior manager or newer partner and the one-year program focuses on leadership behavior and mindset first, then management skills and knowledge of the profession, too.  Convergence runs “public” programs where any firm can send their up-and-comers and they also offer private versions of the program for specific firms and/or associations.

The program is unique from others in that they help participants understand the power of their mindset and the “internal dialogue” we all have that holds us back, or causes us to say or do things we shouldn’t.  It is only after participants understand themselves better that they can then help them develop new leadership, management and practice development skills.  And, participants are personally coached by a ConvergenceCoaching, LLC coach and their accountability to the program, their commitment to change and grow and their leaps forward are greater than in an education-only program.

There is a program beginning in mid-September and information about that program can be found at:

http://www.convergencecoaching.com/what-we-do/transformational-leadership-program/

Testimonials on the program can be found at:  http://www.convergencecoaching.com/who-we-serve/testimonials/

  • An army of a thousand is easy to find but ah how difficult to find a general.
  • Chinese Proverb

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Flashback Friday – The Generations

“Aging only happens to people who lose their lust for getting better and disconnect from their natural base of curiosity.” – Robin Sharma

There is a lot of info out there about the generations in the workforce. The Boomers are disappearing and the Millennials now number Gen-X.

For this Friday, here is a blog post flashback that will give you a picture of the generations.

Many of you will not be working Monday – so have a great expanded 4th of July weekend!

 

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

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Do What You Love

I am very lucky. I found a career that I simply love and it has evolved into a real purpose in life for me.

When I was younger, I knew many people who actually hated their job, yet they continued to work at the same place for many years. It always puzzled me. What a miserable way to spend your life!

I believe that the profession of public accounting would be an excellent choice for many young people just beginning their careers. Not every firm is alike, so I strongly warn young professionals, it may not be public accounting you dislike, it may just be the firm you are currently with.

If you are thinking about leaving your firm, please give another CPA firm a try before you leave public accounting altogether. My career growth has been a joy to me without a single boring minute. I have learned so much and, hopefully, have matured quite nicely. And, while I have been working in public accounting for decades, I still love it and enjoy the ways I can strive to help others succeed.

As Steve Jobs said:

You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” 

I love a recent post by Rebecca Tamsen of Self Development Secrets. It is titled, Do what you love. Find your purpose in life.

Here’s an excerpt:

When you don’t know what you’re passionate about and aren’t doing what you love, your life lacks a deeper meaning. There are several other reasons why you need to do what you love:

  1. You will know no stress
  2. Your productivity will increase
  3. You will remain motivated
  4. Your work will have a touch of passion
  5. You will push yourself to be more successful
  6. You will enjoy a gratifying life
  7. You will always be ready to face new challenges
  8. You will always be learning
  9. Procrastination won’t be your cup of tea
  10. You will be an efficient leader

I feel like all of these apply to me! Be sure to follow the link, above, and read about each of these points. Then find YOUR purpose and do what you LOVE.

  • Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.
  • Aristotle

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Accounting Firm Interns

fullsizeoutput_4028“If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.” – Chinese Proverb

The larger firms, who can afford full time HR professionals, have programs dealing with interns fairly well developed. However, mid- to small firms, if they hire an intern, often treat them like an extra administrative person.

Here are some tips and ideas regarding interns:

  • Treat them like full time hires.
  • Give them structured orientation (like a new hire).
  • Provide a job description – expose them to both tax and A&A.
  • Keep in mind that they don’t know the CPA lingo – teach them.
  • Give them real work – it has always been amazing to me how quickly interns can get up to speed on individual tax returns and even smaller business tax returns.
  • They love going in the field. Expose them to visits to the clients’ sites, in person.
  • Praise their efforts and keep in mind they are beginners – what they learn in college doesn’t relate to what they will do inside your firm.
  • Don’t give them administrative work – no shredding, no mindless data entry.
  • Provide them with business cards and take their picture when presenting the cards to them (after all, it is usually their FIRST business card). Send the picture to them and suggest they share it with their parents.
  • Challenge them to give away their business cards and keep track of the efforts. This makes them aware, right from the beginning, that marketing is important. At my firm, we had a give your card away game – you need at least two interns for this game. They give them to whoever…. grandma, mom, dad, dentist, college friends – how many can they give away in five days. They must keep good records. The winner gets a gift card.
  • Teach them to put their business card in restaurant fish bowls when they go to lunch – and place them in the bowl so the firm name shows!
  • I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way.
  • Lee Iacocca