Archive for the ‘Millennials’ Category
Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Mentoring continues to be an important topic inside CPA firms and in the business world, in general.
When I talk to MPs or HR leaders at CPA firms they tell me that their program is not really very strong. Some leaders are really great mentors and others are actually quite terrible at it. As we move further into the talent wars, mentoring will once again take on more prominence inside CPA firms. Young people want mentors.
Perhaps one thing that CPA firms could do better is to focus on educating young people about their role in the mentoring process. If you want to have a great mentor you need to be a great mentee. You need to ask for help. Mentors won’t just land in your lap, you must search for them. If you want success, it takes hard work.
Here’s what Sir Richard Branson says about mentoring:
I find mentors inside and outside of Virgin every day. If you ask any successful businessperson, they will always have had a great mentor at some point along the road. If you want success then it takes hard work, hard work and more hard work. But it also takes a little help along the way. If you are determined and enthusiastic then people will support you.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.
Monday, March 10th, 2014
I read an article this week-end on the Forbes site by Robert Sher. He talks about his recent experience judging a high school debate contest.
It brought back some fond memories. When my son was in high school I did the same thing – I went along on several Saturdays to the debate contests and filled the role of judge.
Also, much like the author, I find talented CPA managers and leaders who fall short when it comes to speaking and communication skills. Many are goo at making Power Point slides, and some are good at presenting facts clearly – even recommendations clearly. But few practice, or are aware of the techniques behind moving the emotions of audiences; whether they be in a meeting, or in an all-hands gathering of hundreds of people.
Read the entire article, How To Find The Millennials Who Will Lead Your Company, on the Forbes site.
Maybe it’s time to seek out entry-level accounting candidates who were on the debate team.
Don't raise your voice, improve your argument.
Friday, March 7th, 2014
My good friends at prominent New Jersey firm Wilkin & Guttenplan (managing partner Ed Guttenplan and firm administrator Janine Zirrith) never cease to amaze me. They are truly focused on listening to their people, engaging them and including them in decisions.
This year, along with many other interesting and fun activities, they have tweaked their exercise program by offering T25 classes twice per week.
Janine was kind enough to send me a picture, that’s her on the far right and yes, they are holding the managing partner, Ed Guttenplan.
Having fun at your CPA firm right now?
The secret of getting ahead is getting started.
Friday, February 21st, 2014
There is a lot of confusion inside some CPA firms about the role of a mentor and the difference between coaching and mentoring.
This might help:
- Coaching is task oriented.
- Mentoring is relationship oriented.
- Coaching is short-term.
- Mentoring is long-term.
- Coaching is performance driven.
- Mentoring is development driven.
Read more on the Management Mentors site.
Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.
Thursday, February 13th, 2014
I recently read a tweet by my son regarding his 5th grade musicians. “My 5th grade flutes and clarinets just exhaust me. They have so much energy and ask sooooo many questions.”
In case you don’t know or have forgotten, 5th grade is when children select their first band instrument and began learning from scratch. Of course they will be excited and have lots of questions. While my son might be exhausted, I know he’s very happy about their enthusiasm.
In January and February inside your CPA firm you have quite a few 5th graders. These are the new college graduates going through their very first busy season and your interns who “have so much energy and ask soooo many questions.
As an experienced CPA – a senior, a manager/supervisor or a partner – you might feel absolutely exhausted because of the attention theses newbies demand and need.
A band director invests in the 5th & 6th graders so that when they gradually become very proficient and reach high school age, the band director has a group of very impressive, skilled musicians in the high school marching and concert bands. All along the way, while they work very hard they also have lots of fun.
This is the same investment that CPA managers (at all levels) are making – answer your beginners’ questions with a smile, get them excited and educated about public accounting and 3 to 4 years down the road you will have an impressive, skilled, professional accounting team that works very hard and has lots of fun along the way.
Yes, it is exhausting.
If a baseball player strikes out two times, but hits the ball on the third try every time he goes to bat, he's still a great baseball player. But hitting the mark 33 percent of the time isn't good enough for band. In band you have to hit the mark every time you step up.
Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
When I read a recent article (Fast Company) about the current beliefs of Millennials the phrase, “strange bedfellows” came to mind. Although these days…. strange bedfellows probably means something completely different than my thought process. According to the dictionary it means unlikely companions or allies.
Some interesting thoughts were divulged according to Deloitte’s 2013 Global Millennial Survey. They sought comments about how business can innovate and impact society from those born after January 1982.
65% of respondents, who were located in 16 markets around the world, believe that their company conducts activities that benefit society. Is this just wishful thinking?
Millennials around the world don’t agree on exactly what societal changes are most pressing. Brazilians believe resource scarcity will be the biggest issue. In the U.S. and India they are most concerned about inflation. South African and many Western European millennials are worried about unemployment.
The majority of millennials believe they’re innovative people and they want to work for innovative companies. This is where the strange bedfellows thought entered my mind. Businesses (including CPA firms) that want to attract millennials need to emphasize their innovative ways (and positive societal impact).
I find that inside many CPA firms, leaders simply want to know what other firms are doing and then follow the herd. CPA partners have told me that they discuss the same things year after year at their partner retreat. Some firms have the same retreat facilitator for 10 or 15 years.
Of course, many progressive, forward-thinking firms actually are embracing change and leading the pack. I believe the simple reason is that they are able to implement. As we always said at my former firm… we want to be on the leading edge, not the bleeding edge. How about your firm?
Are your millennials innovative? Do you even ask for their input? Please don’t squelch their innovative ideas!
Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
This is one of those topics to just get you thinking!
Why do so many CPA firms, during this time of year, provide dinner for their employees?
When I discuss this topic during my live presentations, I get some fairly heated debates going. ”We’ve always provided dinner!” ”It is a huge convenience to our people.” ”It provides a time for them to socialize and get to know each other.” ”Our people really appreciate it and it makes it easier to work longer into the evening.”
From the other side I hear, “They expect you to be there at dinner. If you are not you get frowned upon.” ”I just show-up, eat and then go home.” “It’s the workaholics and inefficient people who like dinner.” ”We used to do that but now most of our people do not want to work late into the evening.”
From firm administrators I hear horror stories of the hassles involved in providing dinner. It seems there are a great many whiners inside CPA firms.
- We have pizza too often.
- I only like pepperoni. I want deluxe. I want vegetarian.
- Let’s have subs. Let’s don’t have sandwiches.
- Why isn’t there chef salad? We need more than salad.
- Is that meatloaf??
The old saying definitely applies, “You can’t please everyone” and the administrative staff spend a huge amount of time facilitating dinner and doing their best to please people. Then, they have to clean-up afterwards. From them I hear, “I am an administrative professional not a waitress!” As Abraham Lincoln said:
“You can please some of the people some of the time all of the people some of the time some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”
I advise my clients NOT to provide dinner. Provide remote access.
Send people home at 6:00. Let them eat dinner with their family, help their kids with homework, enjoy “bath time” with the toddlers and then log-on and put in a couple of hours if that is your firm requirements.
For some firms this will be a huge change but it is a step in the right direction of winning the talent wars. You must figure out how to make “busy” season more acceptable to the future workforce.
The following quote applies to many of the things that need to be changed inside CPA firms.
Serious change includes bad days, bad weeks, bad months, perhaps bad years.
Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
It’s that time of year. Many of us reflect back on the current year. We think about what went right and what went wrong relating to our business life in the CPA profession (or any profession for that matter). I wanted to pass along two quotes from men of accomplishment. Men we lost in 2013.
Some of you may have left your firm and joined another firm. Some of you may have merged your firm “upward” and some of you have acquired other firms. In either case, both sides have had to struggle with maintaining and embracing culture, brand and identity.
Sometimes, you don’t get your own way….. here’s a quote for any time you are feeling bitterness in your life:
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” – - Nelson Mandela
Some of you might be very new in your career in public accounting. Just because you are in the accounting profession doesn’t mean you should not be bold. It doesn’t mean you should not take more risks with your career. It doesn’t mean you should blame the accounting profession for your boredom. Even very experienced CPAs are way too tentative about many things. Never settle for status quo. Continually move toward opportunity. This quote applies to men and women….
“I will not be a common man. I will stir the smooth sands of monotony. I do not crave security. I wish to hazard my soul to opportunity.” – - Peter O’Toole (at age 18)
Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.
Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
It might seem like I am constantly nagging you about employee engagement. Of course, it is very important for all employers but certainly critical for the CPA profession.
Image from Gallup
Per Gallup, an alarming 70% of American employees aren’t working to their full potential, and they’re slowing economic growth.
Let’s say that inside your public accounting firm you do have a lot of young, engaged employees. My first point is that in CPA firms, we often recruit bright, energetic, positive focused individuals from the college campus and we soon, so to speak…. suck the life out of them!
Young accounting graduates, like most people, want challenging work – continually challenging work so they can gain valuable experience. In your firm, do not let long-time managers cling to the more difficult work! Assign it to the seniors and staff and, if you have to, FORCE your managers and partners to do manager and partner-level work.
Okay, so you have many Engaged employees. Larry Myler, a contributor on the Forbes site, tells us that there is a level of employee beyond one that is engaged.
This level of engaged employee is called an Intrapreneur - An employee who is both willing and able to develop ad implement innovative solutions, thereby adding surprising value to some or all of the organization’s stakeholders.
An Intrapreneur is aware of the bigger picture, including strategic goals, customer desires, competitive threats and the need for continuous improvement. They act like leaders by creating value through cost-reducing and revenue-increasing innovation.
CPA leaders – Take a few minutes to follow the links provided and learn more about this type of employee. Then cultivate them. Don’t let the weeds choke them out.
Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.
General George Patton
Monday, October 7th, 2013
We’ve been talking about it most of the summer. As I have traveled across the country this year working with clients and speaking at multiple gatherings of CPAs and firm administrators, it seems every firm is HIRING. I have also heard some fairly gruesome stories, first-hand, about turnover.
Here are just a few of the reasons:
- CPAs of all ages have no difficulty obtaining another job.
- In many firms staff members have been patient awaiting salary increases and other perks that were cut-back during the economic downturn.
- Some are tired of the long hours with few rewards and recognition.
- Your clients are also looking for good people and they know you have them.
- Many accounting firms are not embracing the new workforce, the partners exclude them rather than include them.
- The pay is better elsewhere.
Now, The Rosenberg Survey is confirming that higher turnover rates have returned. They are up nearly 50% over the prior year. As Rosenberg warns, don’t forget that 18% turnover, before the downturn, was normal.
Also keep in mind that the survey reflects results for the year ended 2012. Makes you wonder what the turnover rate will be for 2013. Be prepared in case you have departures after October 15th.
90% of our staff departures went into industry - salary offers were very high.
MP of a $19M firm in the Rosenberg Survey