Archive for the ‘Millennials’ Category

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

What Are Your CPA Firm Employees Saying

Glassdoor has revealed the winners of its 7th annual Employees’ Choice Awards. The awards honor the 50 Best Places to Work in 2015. While these awards are for employers with 1,000 employees or more, there are lessons to be learned by even the smallest accounting firm.

The results are entirely based on employee feedback. Here’s a sampling (click here for the entire list):

#1 – Google “Great people, great value.”

The benefits and care of employees is obviously world class, and compensation is almost unmatchable. But the company attracts some of the best talent and best people to work with in the world, which is the most important bit.

#2 – Bain & Company “Hands down awesome”

Incredible culture – people work really hard, but they enjoy doing it; Incredible people – mix of intelligence but also humility that you don’t find at the other top consulting firms; Amazing exit opportunities – the Bain network is not only big, it’s incredibly strong. Ex-Bainies will almost always help out another Bainie without fail. This is truly a remarkable place.

#3 – Nestle – “Best place I have ever worked”

The corporate culture is second to none. Strong midwestern roots, stability and friendly environment; coupled with the vast opportunities that come with an international giant parent company. There is a tremendous amount of mutual trust and respect for others within Nestle. A drawback is that no one leaves so it limits upward mobility somewhat.

#9 – McKinsey & Co. – “Rigorous focus on professional development”

No other organization places as much emphasis on professional development. It is a really amazing set of people – caring, challenging and whip smart

#22 – Apple – “Paradise of jobs”

Apple offers crazy benefits, and competitive salary. By competitive I don’t mean a couple grand more in a year, I’m talking about a 2X / 2.5X salary. This place is a sea of knowledge. Never seen a more dedicated group.

#23 – LinkedIn – “Genuinely thrilled to work here”

I work with some of the smartest, most collaborative, and humble people in the world. I relish every day I get to enjoy coming to work at LinkedIn. Great perks, but more importantly great people!

The only Big Four firm to make it was EY at #49 (out of 50).

My questions for accounting firms (and some things for you to consider):

Do you have a rigorous focus on professional development? Maybe this is why there is so much worry about succession. Why not be more generous with education dollars for your younger staff.

Have you attracted and retained the smartest (best) people? Many of the comments were appreciative of working with smart, successful, creative, hard-working people. Do the majority of your people fit this description? Do you keep too many mediocre performers?

Do your young all-stars have vast opportunities? Or, do they have to wait 10 years to become a manager?

Do you reward your best performers with salaries beyond being competitive? Or, do you try to get by with the minimum of just keeping pace with average firms?

  • Transparency. Trust. Compassion. Food
  • Comment about working for Facebook

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Identify Future Leaders Early – Part II

Gary & Jim Boomer, is that you with Rita?If you haven’t read yesterday’s post (December 2, 2014) read it first.

I provided my thoughts along with some from Gary Boomer on the importance of identifying future leaders of the firm, and involving them, early in their careers.

In an article in a recent issue of Accounting Today, Boomer provided 10 characteristics to look for in identifying future leaders. Here’s the list:

  1. Look for people who have a tolerance for and can manage risk.
  2. Avoid those who spend too much time in consensus-building. (While consensus is important in a professional service organization, it is time-consuming and doesn’t always lead to good decisions.)
  3. Look for those who can manage a diverse group of people. An appreciation of others’ unique abilities is the sign of a good leader.
  4. Avoid weighing a person’s ability to be a good implementer and problem-solver too heavily. These abilities don’t necessarily make great leaders. Their tendency is to over-analyze and delay making decisions.
  5. Look closely at personal integrity and the ability to trust others; this is of utmost importance.
  6. Look for the ability to turn dangers into opportunities.
  7. Avoid those who are overly competitive and lack humility.
  8. Look for those with the ability to engage, inspire and convince others.
  9. Identify those who have an instinct to know which problems to solve – not just how to solve problems.
  10. Look for those who have excellent one-on-one social skills, as they are just as important as public speaking.
  • A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.
  • Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Identify Future Leaders Early – Part I

Gary Boomer, is that you with Rita?Gary Boomer’s recent article in Accounting Today “hits the nail on the head,” so to speak. As usual, Boomer and I are on the same wave-length. His insight into what accounting firms should be doing and not doing is always right on-target. The theme of his recent article is “leaders should be identified early in their careers….”

Current firm leaders often tend to wait way too long to identify future leaders. They may be thinking to themselves, “Young Ted is really sharp. He grasps things so quickly and he can talk to clients in an enlightened and mature manner.” 

The trouble is, firm leaders don’t communicate to young Ted that he has what it takes to be a major player in the game of public accounting, along with an earnings potential to match.

Meanwhile, young Ted is restless. He wants more responsibility, he wants to mentor the new hires and interns, he wants to be assigned to the firm’s premier clients, he wants to learn directly from the best performing partners and he would like the chance to accompany a partner to a client meeting or lunch.

If Ted’s expectations are not met, he will move on to find career fulfillment elsewhere. Your competitors will hire him in a heart beat!

My theory is that most experienced accountants can almost immediately assess the future potential of a young person entering the accounting profession. Yet, they wait and often suffer through failures with struggling employees for way too long and hesitate to invest very quickly in education and development of all-stars.

Read Boomer’s article and see what you think. Check back tomorrow and I’ll list Boomer’s 10 characteristics to look for in identifying future leaders.

 

  • None of us is as smart as all of us.
  • Ken Blanchard

Monday, December 1st, 2014

CPAs Will Leave Your Firm – No Matter What Time Of Year

Back in the day (referring to the 1990s and earlier), a CPA working in public accounting would NEVER leave a public accounting firm during busy season. Nor, would they leave late in the prior year, mid-November through December. It would put the firm in a serious bind to replace them. It would be unprofessional.

Those days are gone. Get over it.

People now move on when the opportunity presents itself or when they are simply fed up with their current firm’s leadership. Many of my clients have been very successful in hiring this fall. Why? Because people are leaving other firms, firms they have stayed with during the economic downturn, they are looking for greener pastures.

Just to drive this point home – so that you are truly aware of the talent wars going on in public accounting, here’s a news tidbit from a recent issue of Accounting Today:

Big Four firm Ernst & Young announced that it plans to recruit approximately 6,500 experienced professionals in the U.S. in its 2015 fiscal year, which started on July 1, 2014, along with early 9,000 students, for a total of 15,500 anticipated recruits in the U.S. The firm noted that the 6,500 positions it plans to hire this fiscal year represent an increase of nearly 50 percent from two years ago.

How will you retain your top talent? Do they actually know that you care about them and their career? Do you actually care about their career? Is retaining top talent on the goal sheet of every partner?

There’s a quote attributed to Peter Drucker that is meaningful for CPA firm leaders right now:  “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

  • Take responsibility for decisions.
  • Peter Drucker

Monday, November 17th, 2014

What If You Gave Them A Choice

Studies tell us that the ability to choose what you work on, as well as how, when and where you perform your work is a growing priority for talented professionals across sectors and industries, and one of the core elements of a fulfilling career – via Harvard Business Review

What if, when scheduling your upcoming busy season work, you gave your people a voice in their assignments? You will probably need to experiment with it the first year and tweak it going forward… but simply ask them – What engagements did you enjoy the most last year? What engagements would you immediately pass along to someone else if given the opportunity? Use the data as you schedule.

What if, this busy season, since CPA professionals need to work some extended hours and often on Saturdays, you allowed them to work from home one entire day during the week?

Some companies are giving their people the perk of using 4 weeks per year (20 days) to work remotely (from home or where ever). What if your firm provided this perk for your experienced people?

Gather your leaders and discuss what other choices you could easily give your valuable team members. Never forget… it’s all about retaining top talent.

  • Be miserable. Or, motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice.
  • Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Millennials – Don’t Overreact

10352910_10152827659781535_751124781211827779_nI do talk about Millennials quite a bit. Especially, because accounting firms hire a lot of new college graduates as entry-level staffers.

Currently, the new college graduates are called Millennials because they were born from 1980 onward. That means many of them in your accounting firm are in their early 30s.

I think the biggest deal about Millennials inside accounting firms is that they are so much more savvy about technology and the social media world most of us live in these days.

I really like millennials and when I was working everyday inside a growing firm, the interns were special to me – honest, hardworking, intelligent. Wait! Doesn’t that describe almost every accountant and others who work inside CPA firms, no matter what their age? Yes, Millennials are regular people, too and we sometimes overreact in trying to figure them out.

One tidbit I read several years ago was from a Baby Boomer: Millennials want the same thing we wanted as we entered the workforce, they just have the guts to ask for it.

If your CPA firm is hiring (and every firm I talk to is hiring right now), read the article and watch this very informative (and short) video from Fast Company. 

If you are managing Millennials, my advice:  Chill-out, they are regular people, too. Talk to them like adults.

Additional note, my firm took-off on a progressive and ambitious growth path when the founder retired and a 32-year old was named managing partner.

Photo credit: Lumsden McCormick

  • Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die.
  • Herbert Hoover

Monday, October 20th, 2014

The Chairman of PwC – Insight On Engaging The Millennials

Bob Moritz, the Chairman of PwC, in an article via Harvard Business Review, talks about how the firm has changed and what they must now do to engage (and retain) their young, Millennial workforce.

I have been attempting to help CPAs better understand Millennials for almost a decade and I believe that many CPA firm leaders have embraced proven trends in hiring and keeping top talent (which are Millennials and many of them female).

I think you will find Moritz’s comments very interesting – I know most of you keep an eye on what the Big Four are doing.

Some tidbits from Mr Moritz follow…. but please read the entire article here.

  • Things have definitely changed in the three decades I have been with the firm.
  • Bigger bonuses and promotions went to those who sacrificed more of their personal lives, whereas our current HR policies primarily reward quality and value the work and life needs of every person.
  • Millennials are vocal and extremely globally oriented – they know and care much more about what’s going on all over the world than I did at their age.
  • PwC’s Millennials don’t only demand to know the organization’s purpose – its reason for being – but are prepared to leave the firm if that purpose doesn’t align with their own values.

PwC studied their Millennials and have made significant changes in their HR practices. PwC Boomers accepted the notion of making partner as the reward and justification for years of long hours in service to clients. But their current studies revealed that the allure of someday becoming partner is no longer enough to spark high levels of engagement.

Again, follow the link and read the article – it is very interesting and informative.

 

  • I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
  • Mother Teresa

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Good News Story – Give Your Next-Gen People A Voice

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I was so pleased, when talking with the managing partner of one of my clients firms recently when he mentioned that since my visit last year they have accomplished so much.

I have several clients like that. But, I have to be honest the majority of the accounting firms I work with and talk to during my travels, have major struggles with implementation.

While I often write and talk about the dangers of procrastination inside CPA firms, perhaps I don’t share enough of the good-news stories. This particular MP shared the following great news:

  • We used the retreat with you to act as the backbone of our plan.
  • We have accomplished implementation the AICPA core competencies.
  • We have accomplished a successful first-year of an acquisition.
  • We have formed a Next Gen Council comprised of people under the age of 35. They meet monthly and identify things to make the firm better and present their ideas to management.
  • We have begun a “make friends” initiative stressing the importance of knowing other people. It involves personally networking and making “friends” who can help them grow in their career.

Imagine what a difference it would make at your firm if you  simply accomplished one or two internal initiatives each year.

One of the most important things the managing partner mentioned during our conversation…. we are doing lots of things to help the firm grow because if we do not grow staff will leave.

  • Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.
  • William James

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Work On Your Culture. Start With Feedback.

Experienced CPA firm leaders usually hire some awesome new college graduates.

During the courting process (college recruiting) these young, future CPAs are talked to, listened to, entertained – – yes, much like the dating process – firm leaders are on their best behavior.

The young, high-potential graduate enters the firm and usually is greeted with silence. Sure they go through training but often it’s do-this, do-that, follow-this guideline and so on.

When young people enter your accounting firm, keep the conversations going – – not some sort of formal feedback session after 60-days or 90-days – talk to them daily. Create a culture of communication – clear, concise, honest and often.

Seth Godin says, the best way to change long-term behavior is with short-term feedback. The opposite is not true. We rarely change short-term behavior with long-term feedback.

There is a lot of whining surrounding performance evaluation systems inside CPA firms. It creates a culture of dread. If you want to change your culture and attract top talent – start with feedback.

  • 'How was your day?' is a question that matters a lot more than it seems.
  • Seth Godin

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Helicopter Parents – An Example

I love this short video from the folks at Robert Half.

As, I talk with CPAs around the country, most of them seem amazed that helicopter parents are actually calling “bosses” at CPA firms in inquire or complain about something on behalf of a young staff person. Larger firm are developing programs to deal with the parents who show up with their young person for the job interview!

Does your firm have a way to connect with parents? Remember, most young people entering your firm have had intense parental support. Build on that.

Because this depiction is extreme, it makes you smile – yes, lighten-up, it’s the weekend!

 

  • My heroes are and were my parents. I can't see having anyone else as my heroes.
  • Michael Jordan