“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford
Over the years, I have spoken to so many groups of CPAs and groups of people who work for them.
I have to admit that I am disappointed that so many people always want to sit in the back of the room. Is it because they want an easy escape route in case I am overly boring? Is it because they actually want a place to sit and surf on their mobile device? Is it because they know it all already?
Actually, I think it is one of those weird human nature things. Just like going to church, the back pews always fill-up before the front pews.
I urge my session attendees to always set up front when they are attending CPE sessions or other learning opportunity sessions. I have actually observed some of them taking my advice the next time they are in one of my sessions.
Why sit up front? I have always done this because I want to observe the speaker up close. I want to hear every word. I want to contemplate their body language. I want to have them look me in the eye. Afterwards, I always would introduce myself to the speaker, maybe ask a question and always thank them for sharing their thoughts.
Why do I do this? Because they will remember me. And maybe if I have a question when I return to the office, they will answer my email. Maybe the next time they see me they will remember my name and face. Maybe they will enjoy having a one-off conversation with me and just maybe they will ask my opinion on some topic.
Want to be known as an expert? Hang out and get to know other experts.
Build your personal brand, one opportunity at a time. Sit in the front.
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
There are some firms that just “get it. For several years now I have admired how Lumsden McCormick, in Buffalo, appreciates their people and goes that extra step in developing a culture of inclusiveness and career advancement.
Congratulations to two Lumsden McCormick newlyweds!
Pat & Amanda (Moses) Meyers and Robert & Jillian Torella were married on the same day – September 17!
It’s a little thing, but I bet it made these two couples feel special. Lumsden McCormick also always posts about people passing the CPA exam and other life events. Check out their Facebook page. Be sure to notice the Recruitment Open House post.
What’s your firm doing?
I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
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.
“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins
Everyone wants to work for a firm that “gets it.” If you can create that special culture within your CPA firm that really understands today’s current workforce, you will be a winner.
While millennials are the focus for most firms, it involves other team members, too. Experienced people will leave firms that are stuck in the past and move on to a high-profile firm with a vibrant culture.
LBMC, headquartered in Nashville, is a shining example.
“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.
“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.
Maybe you have noticed, recruiting and retaining efforts have become even more intense and complicated.
No longer are recruiting and retaining enough to guarantee that talented professionals will want to come to your firm and remain there to build their professional career.
Tom Hood, President & CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs, tells us that in this fast changing world we have moved from an environment of recruit and retain to a strategy of attract and develop.
So, keep this in mind: Recruit and Retain no longer applies, it is now Attract and Develop.
For years, I have been urging you to make your firm a talent magnet. My long-standing advice has evolved from “you should” make your firm a magnet for talent to “you must” make your firm a magnet for talent. Develop your strategy now to create an “I want to work there!” kind of firm.
“Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.” – Steve Wynn
We all know the talent wars are raging in public accounting. You have identified a top student and you landed them. They have accepted your offer. Begin the onboarding process immediately. After all, you not only want to hire the best and brightest, you want to RETAIN them, long-term. Onboarding is different from orientation. Orientation is the formal, get me signed-up, type activities. Onboarding is a year-long process to facilitate a new hire’s success and build a positive working relationship with the firm and other team members.
Here are some little things you can do, as part of onboarding, that can make a big difference. Let’s say the candidate/new hire is named Robert and he’s finishing up his last year of college.
Send a gift basket to his parent’s home welcoming Robert and his family to your firm’s family.
Provide an advance on Robert’s salary ($1,500 or so) to buy new clothes, to use for a deposit on an apartment or down payment on a new car.
Connect with Robert immediately via social media. He probably already has an online presence. Use it to introduce him to all of the firm’s online communities and keep him connected to people at the firm while he awaits his actual starting date.
Have his Guidetext him periodically just to touch base.
Let technology handle many aspects of onboarding. Let Robert complete all of the hiring paperwork online. This is not only what young people are used to; it is what we have all become comfortable with.
The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.
“Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.” – Machiavelli
Most of you know, I worked for 30 years at a growing, profitable CPA firm. Most of those years, I believed that the CPA profession was a world of professional men and women who had the great responsibility of advising successful business people. I believed that I worked in a professional office and was delighted to dress in what the world then called professional dress. Our offices were beautiful, tasteful, high-class. I believed in making a great first impression. Why wouldn’t we, as individuals, want to be viewed the same?
Of course, years ago, the firm moved to business casual. We called it “dress appropriate” which meant the same thing that is being talked about now… dress for your day. But then business casual meant no jeans and always a collared shirt for days in the office and professional dress for client/prospect meetings, business networking events, etc.
Of course, business casual slowly became more casual and we had to enforce our dress code. That was certainly not a fun task!
I held out for years about females not wearing panty hose with skirts and dresses. A wonderful mentor of mine finally said to me, “Rita, get over it” and I did. That being said, I still cringe when I see an overweight, young female attorney walking down the street in a suit or short skirt with pasty-white legs. Oh, well.
Now, guess what? I’m “over it” with a lot of things. The world is more casual and the professional business world is more casual and I am certainly more casual in my dress.
It is all about what I continually urge you to do… embrace change! Institute a “dress for your day” policy that allows jeans. Close your office on Friday. Times have changed and CPAs must adapt more quickly than they have in the past.
If you want to attract and keep talented people, stay abreast of current trends and make changes quickly, as needed. Crowe did a survey of their workforce last fall, casual attire was ranked the most important workforce amenity.
One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.