Archive for the ‘Millennials’ Category

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

CPA Managers – Make Time For Face Time

Many of you attended Winning Is Everything in January in Las Vegas. The best part, to me, was the chance to hear and meet Bruce Tulgan in person.

Yesterday, Mr. Tulgan was a contributor to a great article in the WSJ titled, Managers Need to Make Time For Face time.

Accounting is not the only profession/business where it has become difficult to find time to actually meet, face-to-face, with the people you supervise and manage.

Hands-off management carries risks. One high-profile CEO left his corporation amid criticism that he was too detached from his top team.

Sometime I talk to firms where some managers and partners are actually located on a different floor or even a different building. Just my opinion, but I think the managing partner needs to be with the troops.

There is a difference between micro-managing and being hands-on. In these times of talent wars in the CPA profession, your people want to know you care about them. They want access to their leaders (partners and managers).

One of the biggest complaints I see in the upward surveys I facilitate via SurveyCPA is the fact that staffers want more access to the leaders. They are always on the phone, out of the office or have their office door closed – they tell me. Another comment I hear: I give them work to review and it sometimes takes weeks to hear feedback on how I did, if I hear at all.

Be sure to read the article and determine how, as a manager of people, you might be more involved with your people.

  • There are more of them than us.
  • Herb Caen

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Young Women In Accounting

This week, I have been focusing on the young, valuable talent working at CPA firms. Some very important people in that group are young, career-focused women.

My message to you:  Don’t give up on public accounting! Don’t think you cannot continue your CPA career in public and also enjoy the rewards of personal life.

During the last 10 years, public accounting has become even more flexible. Flexible work arrangements are very common for both females and males.

If you don’t “jive” with your current CPA firm, try another firm before you give up on public accounting.

I firmly believe that choosing public accounting is one of the smartest decisions a female accounting major can make. Being a CPA and working with business owners is challenging, interesting, flexible, well-respected and financially rewarding.

Don’t give-up too easily!

  • If you're offered a eat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat! Just get on.
  • Sheryl Sandberg

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Most People Need Quiet Time

Inside most accounting firms, there is an area that is called the “bullpen.” It is usually an open area containing 10 to 20 cubicles. Many firms I visit have a “tax bullpen” and an “audit bullpen”.

I don’t have a big problem with this arrangement. Younger, newer accountants need to talk to each other as they learn the ropes. Plus, they now use ear buds to keep out excessive noise and listen to music of their choice.

I even like the open office arrangements that some companies have embraced. I like contemporary, so the open, clean look of an Apple store looks great to me, although I’m not sure it lends itself to the concentration often needed in public accounting.

So, if you have a lot of people working in open office space, cubicles or not, maybe they need a micro retreat. In NYC and a few other cities, you can rent a quiet, space to think, write or work for 30 minutes or all day. You can see what I mean at Breather.com. Sometimes you just need to be alone and to stay focused. Call it a micro retreat.

My suggestion is for your firm to set-up a couple of rooms like this at your firm – clean, quiet and sparsely furnished. The people in your firm who do not have an office, can book it for an hour or two if they really need to focus (allow no interruptions). Of course, you will have to have some guidelines so that it is shared and one person doesn’t book it every day!

I use this concept when I travel on business. I try to arrive a half-day early because I can get so much done while I am alone in a hotel room.

  • What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.
  • Ellen Burstyn

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

They Want Feedback!

This post is about young people wanting feedback – BUT – it is not just about young people. Everyone on your CPA firm team wants feedback from their boss (make that plural inside a CPA firm, where almost everyone has several bosses).

In an article on HBR, NBA hall-of-famer Grant Hill talks about his college coach, the legendary Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski). Hill forgot his shoes for an important away game. Did he get a lecture, did he get yelled at? No, the team lost and there was an ice cream sundae party and another practice to help the team recover from the humiliation of the loss. Coach K’s focus was on teambuilding, not defeat.

According to a 2014 global survey, Millennials said they wanted MORE feedback. They also disclosed that their manager was their #1 source of development, but only 46% agreed that their managers delivered on their expectations for feedback.

Sound familiar? I see this playing out in numerous accounting firms across the country.

Younger workers (under age 35) in your firm want a few simple things:

  • Inspire me
  • Surround me with great people
  • Be authentic

According to author, Tim Gallwey, coaching is about unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their performance. Inside your accounting firm, it is about helping your less-experienced people achieve what they are capable of doing.

  • Leaders have to search for the heart on a team, because the person who has it can bring out the best in everybody else.
  • Mike Krzyzewski

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Amazing Things Can Happen

I grew up in a hard-working family. Both of my parents worked so they could provide the type of life-style they thought was beneficial to our family and also enjoyable for them. When I observe how young families live now it seems very lavish compared to what I experienced as a child.

My parents just expected (no doubt about it) that when I got out of school, I would work hard and never take advantage of any employer.

Maybe that’s why it puzzles me when I hear accounting firm employees whine about, what I call, hard work. Mostly, I think they are whining about the longer hours necessary during certain times of the year. All professions have “busy” times

My personal story is a success story about hard work (and perseverance). I found a position, a job, a career that I loved and I worked hard to improve. It paid off. Simple as that.

If you are in the early part of your career in public accounting, it can be a glorious time – you are in demand! Firms are hiring. Firms are doing many great things to be sure they retain top talent. The work is challenging and interesting and becoming a CPA means you become “a most trusted advisor” to so many interesting businesses and people.

Think about this from Conan O’Brien:

“All I ask is one thing, and I’m asking this particularly of young people: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” – – Conan O’Brien

  • I just want to say to the kids out there watching. You can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it too.
  • Conan O'Brien

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Key CPA Firm Issue – Retention. Are You Doing The Right Things Or Just Things?

For years now, in the CPA profession, we have been doing all kinds of warm and fuzzy stuff for our employees.

  • Let’s use Starbucks coffee rather than the grocery store variety.
  • Let’s give them flex hours and core hours so they can sleep late or stay late – their choice.
  • Let’s give them really nice portfolios with the firm logo.
  • Let’s give them firm logo jackets, sweatshirts, t-shirts and coffee mugs.
  • Let’s give them an extra week of vacation.
  • Let’s subsidize their health club dues.
  • Let’s pay them for referral leads.
  • Let’s buy a real popcorn machine for the break room.

Get the picture? Sound all too familiar?

Want to truly engage your people? First step:  Observe, research and solicit information to determine what motivates your BEST performers.

Many studies tell us that engaging millennial employees it is simply being more inclusive. Millennial top performers want to be in the loop, they want transparency AND opportunity. Older, experienced employees in your accounting firm have become accustomed to all the mystery, secrecy and complacency.

Major change is difficult for some CPAs. I like to recommend taking baby steps to improve things inside your firm. It can be a small step but at least TAKE THAT SMALL STEP.

Do this: Take one of your high-profile engagements, one that is challenging and interesting, away from one of your long-time managers (who has had it for years) and assign it to a not-so-long-time millennial (that’s someone under 35 years of age).

That will do more to engage an up-and-comer than all the free bagels you can buy.

 

  • When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.
  • Simon Sinek

Friday, January 30th, 2015

It’s Okay….. It’s Bruce Tulgan

IMG_4694I began blogging every business day in 2006.

On January 20th 2006 I mentioned Bruce Tulgan in a blog post. That was 9 years ago…. a lot of blog posts have followed. Since then I have continued to feature Tulgan and his message. My mission is to provide relevant resources to those working in the CPA profession via Tulgan’s books, newsletters and videos.

His findings, based on extensive research and interviews with young workers just beginning their careers, are exactly what CPA firm leaders need to hear to help guide them through the people management minefield.

Yesterday, I finally got to hear him speak LIVE and talk with him afterwards at Winning Is Everything in Las Vegas. I was not disappointed.  He was nice enough to sign my well-worn copy of It’s Okay To Be the Boss and pose for a picture.

More importantly, here are some bullet point highlights of his talk.

  • 31% of the workforce are millennials
  • The second wave of young workers, born 1999 and forward are called Gen Z.
  • Too many managers/supervisors are not managing
  • The first day on the job is SO important – be ready for them. Don’t fall into the “first day disconnect.”
  • Do young people have higher expectations? – – Yes!
  • They will do grunt work but not for VAGUE promises of long-term rewards.
  • Think short-term and transactional.
  • They walk in with more information than any generation before.
  • Myth: We have to humor them. No, they want to add value
  • Myth of fairness: You do not need to treat everyone alike.
  • In accounting firms, they face the multiple boss problem (my advice – sketch out the chain of command for them).
  • They are high maintenance, learn to deal with it.
  • If you hire low-maintenance talent, they will “hide-out” in your firm for years and just be mediocre.

Here’s the autograph on my copy of It’s Okay To Be The Boss. Thanks, Bruce!

IMG_4697

  • Performance coaching... it is the constant banter of focus, improvement and accountability.
  • Bruce Tulgan

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

This Post Is For Accounting Majors & Interns

Man DonkeyConsider your future. Don’t just let it happen because of various circumstances. Your professors and maybe even your parents are pushing you to take the job that pays the most money. They want you to work for a firm with great name recognition that will eventually look good on your resume down the road.

Is that how you want begin your career? Will that make YOU happy? Think about where and how you want to work. Not everyone is content with being a grinder. Many young people want to work where they have more freedom and a bigger voice in their workplace.

If you are an accounting major and interested in public accounting (I hope you are because there are great rewards in public accounting), be sure to explore all of your options.

If you are a top student and have a decent personality and work ethic – EVERY CPA firm wants you and will court you.

Be sure to consider, research and talk to small to mid-size firms. Contemplate what you want your day to look like. You’ll be spending a lot of hours at work.

You will need a lot of guidance and hand-holding during the first couple of years. Just being a good student with good grades won’t lead to success. You need help. Large national and huge regional firms have “universities” to train you. That’s nice and I am glad but sometimes you just feel like one of the herd. Look those firm over and determine if that fits YOU. Also, seek to find a firm that will help you, give you more personal attention, guide you… but not smother you nor pigeon-hole you.

My observation after many years working in and with CPA firms is that you will more quickly gain knowledge, experience, and expertise in a very wide range of duties/tasks/projects at a firm that is small to mid-size. You will get exposed to a broader view of how to serve SMEs.

If you are wondering about size of firms, here is how the AICPA classifies them for their Top Issues Survey:

  1. Sole Practitioners
  2. Firms with 2 to 5 professionals
  3. Firms with 6 to 10 professionals
  4. Firms with 11 to 20 professionals
  5. Firms with 21 or more professionals

I consider 1 thru 4 as small to mid-size. Just a qualifier, it’s not only size, it has a lot to do with the vision of the owners. I know 2 partner firms that are vibrant, exciting, growing and their small team loves it there. I know firms with 12 partners who are stuck in the past.

Do your home work before you accept an offer.

  • Work to become, not to acquire.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Helping Your New Accounting Recruits & Interns Rock Their New Job

Have you checked-out Slideshare? If you are in a leadership position in a CPA firm, you need all the resources you can get. I’m always on the prowl for things that will be helpful to you to build a winning culture and a winning firm.

I really like this slide deck (My First 90 Days), on LinkedIn Pulse that is intended to help newbies make the most of their first 90 days on the job.

Starting a new job can be daunting. It’s time to meet your colleagues, impress your boss, get into the rhythm of your new role. So how should a newbie navigate those first 90 days?

There are only 14 slides that provide links to 8 posts on advice aimed a surviving a new job. The eight titles:

  1. Start working before Day One
  2. You can’t fix it right away
  3. Say yes to everything
  4. Ask your coworkers to lunch
  5. Listen to everyone you meet
  6. Make your boss look good (includes quote from Guy Kawasaki: “Either you rise to the top together, or crash and burn together.”)
  7. Take care of yourself first
  8. Don’t try to be the golden child

This is not just for newbies. CPA partners and managers need to read these posts, too. I frequently remind partners in accounting firms, “Don’t forget what it was like to be the new kid!” Most experienced partners admit they were lost, confused and clueless.

  • Make yourself available, work hard, and over time you will make yourself indispensable.
  • Richard Branson

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Hiring Tends For 2015

According to a recent article on Fast Company, 70% of today’s workforce is actively looking for another job or is open to hearing about a new job opportunity.

Another study tells us that a recent college graduate will hold between 15 to 20 jobs in their career. That means they are going to change jobs every three to four years. They will always be looking.

This certainly does not paint a rosy picture for CPA firm leaders. Growing firms hire extensively from the college campus and invest significant dollars in the first three years of their career in training and development. For them to leave at the end of three years is an expensive scenario. At three years, they are just at the point where they can be really productive.

Here are some trends:

Job boards are no longer the primary source used by job seekers. Job seekers, along with employers, are looking via social networking sites. Even the recruiters (the ones your firm has relied on) are finding their candidates via LinkedIn. According to a recent survey, 79% of recruiters said they found candidates via LinkedIn. 26% through Facebook and 14% via Twitter. Firm leaders are telling me that the recruiters are presenting to them the same people that they can find on LinkedIn themselves.

Here’s an important trend to follow for CPA firms. Employers will target marketing to job seekers. Accounting firms must invest in building an employer brand, just like they invest in building a brand to attract new tax and accounting clients. CPA firms can develop action steps for retention by surveying their people and talking to their people to determine what they need to do to become the CPA firm employer of choice in their market. What kind of impression does your website make on a potential new hire? It seems that the investment in, and focus on, building a unique career page on accounting firm websites no longer has the attention it had several years ago.

In-person networking is back. Since the social media space is so crowded, it’s now unique to network in person. Young people intent on building their careers and finding career opportunities are focused on building a base of “people they know.”

Do they know you and your firm? Are your people “out there” networking to identify future new hires as well as potential new clients?

In the world of public accounting it is all about the number of people you know. Using social media is key but so is face-to-face networking.

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