Archive for the ‘Millennials’ Category

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Want To Be More Profitable?

“A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.” – Joseph Joubert

Per Paul Epperlein of ADP:  Organizations with high employee engagement experience 22% higher profitability.

This is a big statement that applies to your firm. Do you really have employee engagement? You might think you do because you offer free coffee and soft drinks. You offer 9 or more holidays. You have an attractive lunch room with lots of amenities. You have a relaxed dress code and many other little things that make a big difference.

But… also per Epperlein: 60% of people leave their job due to a lack of relationship with their front line manager.

People like to feel connected to the people they work for. They want to feel like they are noticed, included and cared about by their boss.

How good are your firm’s partners and managers at building and nurturing caring relationships with your people? You might want to focus on that more this year. Make it a performance expectation.

  • The simple act of caring is heroic.
  • Edward Albert

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

In Public Accounting There Are Always Extra Hours

 “I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true–hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.” – Ray Bradbury

Soon it will be March. In CPA firms, that usually means even longer hours must be worked now until April 16, to properly serve the clients.

It’s crunch time and if you are working in public accounting you should not be surprised. When you majored in accounting and then joined a CPA firm, you knew there would be a busy season.

In progressive firms, busy season now, unlike the old days, is much more flexible. Team members are able to work those extra hours whenever and wherever. It doesn’t mean sitting in a cubicle for 60 hours per week.

After April 15, it becomes a 40 hour per week job. We used to always be concerned about how to find enough work for team members as the rest of the year unfolded. Most firms have solved that problem and now we seem to have a second busy season during September and October.

Yes, if you work in public accounting there will almost always be extra hours at peak times but you are working most of those extra hours when it is winter. Hopefully, that makes it a little better.

Firm partners, be sure you have an adequate scheduling system so that certain people are not completely overloaded. Firm administrators, be sure you are providing some enjoyable distractions during those dark, dreary, cold, often snowy winter months.

  • Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work
  • Peter Drucker

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

It’s Great To Work In Public Accounting

Maybe you haven’t thought about it lately. Maybe it never crosses your mind January through April, but working in public accounting is pretty cool.

You work your entire career with a group of professionals, people dedicated to helping others. After all, CPAs are the most trusted advisor to small business owners across the nation.

The people that surround you are intelligent, well-educated and dedicated to giving back to their local communities. Some of the clients you get to work with are the movers and shakers in the business community.

You learn something new almost every day and you become more knowledgeable and professional with each passing year.

I noticed this hard-working young man yesterday, a chilly winter day, and it came to mind how fortunate I was (and you are) to work in public accounting.

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Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Does It Make Business Sense?

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

In the profession of public accounting, the basic format for staffing has been the same for years.

You hire great talent, we invest in them, train them well and assign them to certain types of work. Their first year on the job is definitely a learning experience. The second year they get better, more efficient and even seem to enjoy what they are doing more because they are comfortable with the work.

The third year, they could be really efficient and profitable but you promote them and they are assigned work that they are not familiar with nor good at and the inefficiencies are reflected in their work.

Would it make more sense to leave them alone for another year or two and let them become even more proficient at their assigned duties? I know! Young talent wants to advance quickly. But, does that mean EVERY person should be treated the same? Why not try managing a person based on their individual abilities, skills, and desires? Some move on more quickly and some don’t, based on what they want. Do you even know what each individual team member wants from their career? It wouldn’t mean that those people who repeat the work they do for another year or two is less valuable. Actually, they might be more valuable when it comes to efficiency and profitability.

All this might not mean much right now since all the experts tell us that the entry-level work is going to be done via artificial intelligence. But, for many firms, that is going to take a while.

Most firms are doing something like this but higher up the food chain. They permit partners to stay at the same level of expertise and performance for decades. Does that make business sense?

  • Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.
  • Peter Drucker

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Weed the Garden – Turnover

“Turnover is bad only if the good go.” – Patrick Lencioni

Most CPA firm leaders consider turnover is a very bad thing. That’s not necessarily true.

In their book, “Built to Last,” Jerry Porras and Jim Collins talk about the occurrence of strong cultures of great companies. One of the indications of a strong culture is the rapid departure of people who don’t fit. Ultimately, those people are best served by finding a company where they can fit, and thrive.

When you retain people who don’t fit, it creates an even bigger threat to your firm. It demotivates those who do fit. It creates a culture of mediocrity.

So many firms have become a “please everyone” culture, providing lots of nice, sometimes trivial benefits to everyone. Sure, poor performers want to stay.

But, a menu of benefits will not retain all-star performers. They want to work in a thriving, high-performance and rewarding culture.

Stick with mediocre performers and you will find it even more difficult to attract top talent.

  • The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.
  • Max DePree

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Moving Past “Engagement”

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become” – C. G. Jung

Some progressive companies are now moving beyond the over-worked term, employee engagement.

It’s no longer just about how they feel about their role and your firm. It involves the complete employee experience. Is your firm focused on the employee experience? You can bet that other accounting firms in your market are initiating ways to attract YOUR people!

Per a recent article on Entrepreneur, there are four key pillars to the employee experience:

  1. Connection
  2. Meaning
  3. Impact
  4. Appreciation

To me, these are fairly self-explanatory. However, it would be a good exercise for firm leaders to explore these four topics and define what they mean relating to your firm and your people.

I often think about a slogan from one of the car companies a while back….. “Enjoy the Ride!” Are your people enjoying the ride at your firm?

  • Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Encouragement

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” – Goethe

When those young, accounting majors graduate and enter a CPA firm, they sometimes procrastinate on taking the CPA exam.

Often, firms let them procrastinate. Don’t do it!

Studies show that a huge factor in young people passing the CPA exam is encouragement. Tell them boldly, “We are a CPA firm. We need CPAs. We will help you.”

Then be sure you back-up your words with action. Revamp your CPA exam policy (if you have one). Be generous with monetary support. The firm pays for study aids and courses, all fees associated with the exam. Provide generous work time for study time.

When they actually pass the exam, celebrate! When they received their official certificate, have it professionally framed for them. Sometimes, little things make the biggest difference.

  • Nine tenths of education is encouragement.
  • Anatole France

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

It’s Not All About Salary – But It Is About Salary

“Money often costs too much.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You have probably heard it or read it several times, to millennials being happy at work isn’t all about salary. Maybe it isn’t ALL about salary but most people want to know they are being paid fairly.

Per the Journal of Accountancy, CPAs satisfied as average salary tops six figures.  This information comes from the more than 5,000 CPAs responding to the inaugural Compensation Survey in May-June, 2017.

Accounting remains a lucrative profession for those who are qualified, as the average salary of a CPA based in the United States is $119,000 per year, excluding bonuses. Newly qualified CPAs with less than one year of experience earn an average salary of $66,000 per year, and CPAs with more than 20 years of experience average $152,000 per year in salary.

Note that the above comment states “excluding bonuses.” From my experience, almost all CPA firms offer some sort of bonus program for accountants.

KozielAccounting firm leaders worry about retention. But, another interesting finding from the survey is that four out five CPAs said they were not planning to change job roles in the next two years.

Here’s a great comment, in the article, from Mark Koziel, executive vice president-Firm Services at the AICPA:

“Careers in accounting are a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes, I think people leave great organizations for a short-term financial benefit rather than the long-term potential. So when you compare your salary situation, be sure to do so from a holistic perspective.”

  • Too many people spend money they earned to buy things they don't want to impress people that they don't like.
  • Will Rogers

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Performance Management

“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” – Anthony D’Angelo

In the world of CPA firm management, we often talk about performance reviews, performance evaluations or performance feedback. In firms, it has many names. Some call it Career Advancement Process and similar titles.

While giving feedback is an important part of the process, it is much more than that. If your firm simply gathers information and relays that information about their performance to the individual you have only taken one step in the process.

Also consider including some upward feedback or some peer-to-peer feedback.

Be sure to include:

Self-evaluations – Most people are very insightful into their own performance.

Mutual agreed upon goals – – the team member identifies goals and so does management. Then they negotiate to determine the two or three most important ones.

Periodic checking on the progress of goals. Set fewer goals with shorter timeframes. I like to see one goal for every 4-month period.

Everyday coaching. Walk around, talk to people, give them spot-checks on their performance. MBWA (Manage By Wandering Around). Today’s workforce wants feedback immediately.

 

  • Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.
  • Margaret Mead

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Adulthood Pushed Back

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” – John Maxwell

Several years ago, Rebecca Ryan warned the CPA profession that the twenty-somethings that CPAs were accustomed to managing had changed, dramatically. She noted that adulthood markers were happening during their thirties rather than in their twenties.

Just this week I found additional information on this topic that I want to share with you.

Think about it. Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) graduated from college, got a job, got married and had kids when they were in their twenties. Gen-X (born 1965 to 1976) pretty much followed this same tradition.

Millennials are different. A report from the U.S. Census Bureau compares how people born between 1941 and 1957 were living as young adults in the 1970s and how people the same age lived in 2016.

Researchers established four milestones of adulthood: 1) Moving out of your parents’ house, 2) Getting married, 3) Having a child and 4) Getting a job.

  • Younger generations are delaying marriage.
  • One in 3 people ages 18 to 34 (24 million young adults) live with their parents. In 1975, it was one in 5.
  • Women ages 25 to 34 who were out of the labor force to take care of their home and family dropped from 43% to 14% between 1975 and 2016.

So, remember many of those twenty-somethings working at your firm have not actually moved into the adult world. Keep that in mind as you mentor, nurture and supervise them.

  • You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.
  • Walt Disney