Archive for the ‘Millennials’ Category

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Working In Public Accounting is………

Okay, you have read the title. Now, finish the sentence! Here’s my answers – Working in public accounting is rewarding, interesting, fun, continually educational, prestigious, admired and yes, cool.

What’s it like at your public accounting firm? I bet the good MORE than out weighs the bad. Being a CPA has immeasurable stature. CPAs are the trusted advisor to millions of successful small businesses (not to mention the large businesses).

The CPA profession needs to continue to attract great minds and every business is looking for those same talented, young employees.

Interesting article on the Forbes site about Dow CEO Andrew Liveris:

Leading a diversified chemicals company with 53,000 employees, Dow CEO Andrew Liveris is constantly on the hunt for new talent. So he has decided to send his company’s employees and retirees into schools to spread on simple message: Science is sexy.

Well, some of us think that accounting is sexy!

I applaud the work that state societies do to get school children interested in accounting and help them become more financial literate. I encourage individual CPA firms to get more involved.

One firm I talked to recently offers internships to high school students. What unique things is your firm doing to reinforce the talent pipeline?

One of the biggest issues public accounting faces is the drop-out rate caused by a young person having a bad experience at one particular firm. More on that in another blog soon.

 

  • We'll make talent the centerpiece of everything we're trying to do.
  • Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan (where Dow is headquartered)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Millennials Are No Longer Something New To Worry About

Millennials are now mature, experienced and ready to take control.

I have been talking about Millennials for years and urging Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers to embrace them, nurture them and learn from them.

There is some great information for CPA firm leaders in this article on Forbes.  Here’s an excerpt:

Companies have also felt the pressure by millennials to evolve, especially because about one in every three employees in the U.S. will be a millennial by next year, and by 2025 they will become 75 percent of the global workforce.  At some companies, such as EY, millennials already make up 60% of their workforce. Technology has ended the nine to five workday, crushed global communication barriers and create transparent offices. They have forced companies to rethink flexibility, meetings and cubicles. They also believe that business should focus on a societal purpose, not just be in business to make a profit. This is why you see so many millennial become social entrepreneurs or support their local non-profit – they always need to feel like they are touching someone and making an impact, regardless of their job title.

Accounting firms have always recruited on college campuses, sought out the young career beginners to become part of the CPA firm team. Be sure your firm is taking advantage of the millennial goldmine you already have.

  • It takes a very long time to become young.
  • Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Be Creative In Motivating Your Valuable Team Members

DSC_0018CPA firm leaders are continually seeking ideas on ways to RETAIN top performers. It is almost like a competition among firms as to who can shower their millennials with the most gifts and perks.

Most people think that spending money on physical things makes them happy – that a physical object will last longer so it makes us happy over a longer time than a one-off experience like a concert or a vacation. According to recent research – that assumption is completely wrong.

A study by a professor at Cornell tells us that rather than buy a BMW you’ll actually get more happiness for spending money on experiences – art exhibits, outdoor activities, learning a new skill or traveling.

Haven’t you noticed that the McMansions of the world have diminished and the new trend is smaller, more compact dwellings with furniture that is dual purpose? Young professionals seem to no longer want a big house but no furniture because they can’t afford it.

Apply this to you team members. Be creative! How can you give them experiences rather than things?

Yes! That’s me in the white helmet.

  • Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting.
  • Van Goethe

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