Archive for the ‘Millennials’ Category

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

The Growing Area of Flexible Work Arrangements

Many firms have incorporated flexible work arrangements into their menu of offerings to employees. Some have been much slower to adapt.

Here’s an update from a non-profit organization called 1 Million For Work Flexibility. To keep your CPA firm competitive you need to learn all you can about the flexibility options available to talented professionals.

Here are some of the top moments of the year for flexibility listed below.

  1. New Hampshire became the second state to make it legal for workers to request work flexibility. New Hampshire has an aging workforce and demographic. State Senate Bill 416 encourages younger workers to stay in (or move to) New Hampshire and work there so they can enjoy a flexible work arrangement that allows them to care for their growing families as well as their aging parents without worrying about bosses who might fire them for asking for flex. The bill’s sponsor believes that this isn’t just good for working parents and families, but for the overall state economy. New Hampshire follows Vermont with this type of “right to request” legislation, as well as the city of San Francisco.

  1. New York City passed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which is said to be the first of its kind protection for freelancers. It requires written agreements for the timeline and payment of freelance work, with penalties for employer violations.

  1. More companies, industries, and occupations are now offering flexibility to their employees. These 250 companies are shining examples of work flexibility in action. This list of the top companies with the most flexible job listings since 2013 (the “FlexJobs 250”) is based on an analysis of more than 40,000 companies and their flexible job posting histories in the FlexJobs database between October 1, 2013, and October 1, 2016.

  1. The United State of Women, a summit hosted by the White House, showcased the importance of workplace policies that work for women. The inaugural event, attended by 1 Million for Work Flexibility, highlighted work flexibility and brought together thousands of people who are working to change tomorrow for women.

  1. Work flexibility conversation focused on fathers. It’s long been clear that flexibility is crucial for working mothers, but the issue is much more broad. As part of its mission to demonstrate the far-reaching value of flex, 1 Million for Work Flexibility teamed up with supporters to co-host a special Father’s Day-themed event featuring scholar, international lawyer, foreign policy analyst, and thought-leader Anne-Marie Slaughter. The event focused on how we can shift the work and family narrative to include men and women in both corners, by valuing both care and competition, home and career in a way that benefits us all.

Launched in 2013, the 1 Million for Work Flexibility movement now has more than 100 coalition members including advocacy groups, think tanks, academic institutions, and businesses, as well as thousands of individuals demonstrating the many types of flexible work that are not only leading to happier and healthier workers, but also improving our economy.

  • Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.
  • Tony Robbins

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

What a Great Concept – Adulting School.

“Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.” – Kurt Vonnegut

I must admit, I was rather shocked when I read that there is a course to help Millennials become adults. What a concept! It’s happening in Portland, Maine.

A therapist, Rachel Weinstein, and a former public school teacher, Katie Brunelle, saw the need and put together a one-day session offering presentations on subjects like time management and budgeting.

schoolThey launched The Adulting School to teach millennials how to be functioning grown-ups by showing up on time and paying their credit-card bills, etc. They followed up by hosting happy hour sessions to tackle skills like cooking and networking.

Many of you might think this is actually funny. My first reaction was OMG!

However, I can see the real need for something like this for new college graduates as they enter the world of work, especially public accounting. The organizers put it like this, “You’re smart and capable – Your education just didn’t provide you with all the skills you need.”

I have written and spoken about the fact that adulthood has been “pushed back” by the millennials. Think about it. The Baby Boomers graduated from college, got married, bought a house, started a family in their twenties. The Millennials are doing all of these things in their thirties – a ten-year delay.

It is a big transition from college to work life and building a career. Be sure to offer your new college graduates assistance on making that transition. Be open and honest about your expectations and be sure they have someone to talk to about their new life (a coach or mentor). Time management could be just the beginning course.

Maybe your CPA firm needs an Adulting School. Maybe some significantly older people need an “adulting” course!

Read the entire article, Should You Enroll in Adulting School?

  • I don't think I'd have been in such a hurry to reach adulthood if I'd known the whole thing was going to be ad-libbed.
  • Bill Watterson

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Change And The Millennials Go Hand-In-Hand

IMG_1071“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” – Benjamin Franklin

We have been talking about the millennials for years now. Just as we talked about Gen-X when they became the youngest workers in our CPA firm offices. New generations bring change. The Baby Boomers sure brought change as they progressed through their lives, partly because of their massive numbers.

Pew Research tells us that more than 30% of American workers today are millennials. They recently passed Gen-X in becoming the largest share of the American workforce. Boomers are retiring and Millennials are filling in the gap. They range in age from 19 to 35 and those 35 year-olds are now in leadership roles in CPA firms.

With them comes some fairly drastic changes for public accounting. From a recent Inc. article by Elizabeth Dukes, the following are just some of the changes that long-time CPAs sometimes find challenging:

  • Email will no longer be the primary communication tool.
  • Traditional office space designs will become extinct.
  • Strict office hours will  no longer exist.

Read more about each one of these points here. Begin taking action on how you will deal with each one these points at your firm.

  • Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Repetition

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi

Want a simple way to train and develop your people? Try repetition.

Think about how your new college recruits learn to become skilled accountants and CPAs. In many firms, it goes like this. You train them on basic auditing. You may send them to a 3-day training course sponsored by your firm association, state society or inside your own firm. You may do it online. But it is very focused.

Then they are assigned to engagement after engagement where they do the same thing over and over until they “get it.” Then they receive a more difficult task and they do it over and over until they become proficient, and so on. They become more and more skilled, they ask great questions and learn from others, they make mistakes and correct them and over time their confidence and skill become top notch.

People learn from repetition. It is much more effective than a one or two-day training session.

You expect your managers to bring in new business and they aren’t very good at it. This also applies to some partners, they are not able to do the basic function of a partner – perpetuate the firm. Why not apply repetition to teaching people in your firm how to sell.

You best rainmakers are the teachers. Ask them to always have a shadow (less experienced person) when they meet with a client. When they meet with a prospect. When they meet with a referral source. When they attend a business networking event. When they attend a charitable fund-raising function. When they attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting. You get the idea.

Expose them over and over again to business development situations. Have them try it on their own – over and over again. Repetition solidifies skills.

  • Don't join an easy crowd. You won't grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are achieve are igh.
  • Jim Rohn

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Misconception

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” – Colin Powell

I am very fortunate to be able to facilitate many feedback surveys for successful, growing accounting firms. What I personally learn from these surveys is extremely helpful to me as I advise my clients on preparing their firm for the future.

Something I often see as I read every single word written by survey participants is that there are several misconceptions, top-down and bottom-up, inside CPA firms.

Here’s one I will comment on today:

Staff thinks that partners should work as much as they do. 

Partners think staff should work as much as they do.

Of course, not all partners and not all staff but I do see these sentiments noted in several different variations.

Some things for both sides to consider…..

Most partners work significantly more than staff. They attend civic, social and charitable events on behalf of the firm (and it’s growth). Partners tend to work many non-busy season weekends in the office with no one there to observe (or disturb) them. Their chargeable time budget is much less than staff because they have extremely important duties in marketing, selling, mentoring and management of the firm.

The current workforce (staff members in CPA firms) has changed and technology is the main reason. They can work anytime and anywhere. They PREFER to work in that fashion. Partners still often assume that if someone is not at their desk, they are not working. Also, partners tend to be in the office at odd hours. Many often return to the office later in the evening or arrive at the office very early. Many staff members prefer to have dinner at home, participate in putting the kids to bed and then work additional time, later at night, from home.

Per the Rosenberg Survey for firms in the $2M-$10M range, partners average about 2500 total hours and staff average about 2300 total hours. Partners have approximately 1200 chargeable hours and staff has approximately 1500 chargeable hours.

  • There is no substitute for hard work.
  • Thomas Edison

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Approach Performance Feedback With A Growth Mindset

In case you haven’t heard GE (General Electric) is changing their performance feedback system. Many large companies are doing the same thing. The are looking at a fresh approach to feedback that is more continuous and helpful.

GE has been known for it’s “rank and yank” system made famous by long-time CEO Jack Welch. You rate and rank your employees from top to bottom and then get rid of the bottom players – year after year.

Gone are those days thanks to the Millennials. Now, employers are focusing on growth (career growth and helping people get there).

Companies are doing something I have been urging CPAs to do for several years now…. set-up shorter goal periods and have fewer goals, then change the dialogue to growth conversations that are not tied to compensation.

Millennials, because of technology, are accustomed to having continual feedback – it’s a fact of life for them and employers are getting wise to that fact.

For your firm, it might mean a culture change and a plan on how to implement that change. You have to help partners and managers make the transition from a competitive process to one that is identified by its emphasis on growth.

GE’s slogan…. “inspire connection and develop people.”

Not a bad thing to consider for your firm and your people.

Read more about the GE transition here.

  • The people who get on in the world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Monday, October 31st, 2016

Finding & Keeping Top Talent Sometimes Comes Down To How Many Benefits You Offer

CPA firms and many other companies are seeking talented workers. The competition is especially fierce among accounting firms.

I noticed an Associated Press story in my Sunday newspaper that headlined: Employers spice up benefits, offer help with pets, debt. I have heard from several firms that they have taken a serious look at their benefits in an effort to stay competitive. It seems that Millennials want more choice and customization while Baby Boomers want more certainty (good health and dental coverage).

Many employers are offering programs that monitor for identity theft, help with mortgage payments, assistance with repaying college loans and even unexpected veterinary bills. Many of these “extras” are offered and available but that doesn’t necessarily mean the firm foots the entire bill.

Here’s some information from SHRM:

Employee Benefits Have Exploded

  • SHRM now tracks 350 fringe benefits
  • 20 years ago it was 60 and 10 years ago it was 219
  • Most increases have been in larger corporations
  • Smaller businesses struggle to keep up
  • Biggest gain was telecommuting – in 1996 it was offered by 20% and it has grown to 60%

Maybe it’s time to review your benefit package. I have found that many firms haven’t kept pace with maternity and paternity leave programs.

  • I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.
  • Maya Angelou

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Sit In The Front

“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.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

It’s About Culture. How To Make Your Team Feel Special

lumsden1There 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.

Recently, I noticed this Facebook post:

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?

lumsden2

  • I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
  • Groucho Marx

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Don’t Procrastinate When Providing Performance Feedback

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.
  • Pablo Picasso