Archive for the ‘Recruiting’ Category

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

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Hiring – – It Is More Important Now Than Ever

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins

Too many CPA firms have not hired right. They might hire for GPA. They might hire for professional demeanor (whatever that means). They might hire for ambition. They might hire because of a gut feeling.

Be sure you are focusing on hiring RIGHT. Be honest with candidates. The CPA profession is challenging, requires hard work and professionalism.

Here’s an excerpt from my newsletter from hireMAX about what Warren Buffet thinks about hiring.

Behind every great leader is a team of dynamic individuals. This is true of Buffett. What were the traits that he looked for as he hired his managers and advisors? Frequently, he speaks at universities and explains that he looks for integrity, intelligence, and energy when hiring.
Intelligence
Obviously, candidates need to be intelligent. However, you can get the grades in class but not know how to apply the information you’ve learned.
Intelligence is the very basic requirement to consider as you hire. No one will work with or hire someone dumb and unequipped for the role. After you have the intelligence factor, then go to the next trait as you seek to hire.
Energy
Energy is essential for any new hire. This doesn’t mean that you want the most energetic and coffee-crazed person working for you. Rather, you want an energetic candidate to take initiative in your company.
Lazy people don’t get far in life but those with drive and passion do. Employees that take initiative and are proactive to get things accomplished will most likely have that entrepreneurial spirit that you long for.
Integrity
The right candidate to hire should be intelligent and energetic. There is one missing and yet very important trait to be considered. Integrity is something that you cannot do without in your employees. They must be trustworthy and it is a trait that they make happen within themselves. You can’t pick your eye color or what you look like but you can decide whether you will live as a person with integrity.
Warren Buffett’s formula for a new hire is extremely useful and easy to follow. You don’t want an intelligent person without integrity because that could cause problems for your organization. Further, you wouldn’t want a lazy person with intelligence because it wouldn’t do you any good if they don’t take initiative.

Look for candidates that have intelligence, energy or initiative, and integrity. You will find that someone with top talent and these traits will be an outstanding addition to your company. Warren Buffett is living proof that hiring with these things in mind is beneficial to companies and teams seeking to grow.

  • Human Resources isn't a thing we do. It's the thing that runs our business.
  • Steve Wynn

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Utilize Stay Interviews

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

I have blogged a few time about the topic of stay interviews. They have gained more wide-spread popularity in recent years, of course, because of the accounting profession’s need to retain top talent.

One interesting observation that has been uncovered with the use of stay interviews is the fact that your people want you to hire great people. They do not want the firm to tolerate poor performers.

It certainly does make sense – they want to be part of a high-performing team. If you keep mediocre people, the firm will also eventually become mediocre.

Inovautus Consulting recently did a spotlight article about the stay interview process at DesRoches & Company, CPAs in Virginia Beach. It is a great story.

  • Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.
  • N. R. Narayana Murthy

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

You Didn’t Act

“You may delay, but time will not.” – Benjamin Franklin

How many times have you contemplated the fact that you should have done something but you didn’t?

Maybe it was passing on hiring a new college graduate and several years later that young CPA is already well-known and active in your business community.

Maybe it was procrastinating on buying document management software and then when you finally did it, you realized all the efficiencies you had been missing out on.

Maybe it was not giving enough recognition to that up-and-coming superstar and they suddenly leave to take a job with a competitor.

  • You know you should offer at least one more holiday.
  • You know you should work with your partners to provide enhanced communication inside your firm.
  • You know you should be truly paperless.
  • You know you should offer flexibility and remote connectivity so people can work from anywhere.
  • You know you should hire a consultant to help you with a specific challenge.

You know you should do more of these things, but you don’t know for sure they will work or you don’t yet feel enough pain to act.

As Seth Godin says in a great recent post… “All the good stuff happens when we act even if we don’t know for sure.”

I think I’ll go buy a lottery ticket!

 

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

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Upgrade Your Reputation On The College Campus

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” – Red Adair

Want to hire that all-star student? It’s not always about money.

At my firm we liked to joke about a goal – hiring the President of Beta Alpha Psi. Each year, it seemed, the President of Beta Alpha Psi was hired by the Big Four.

Why did this happen? From our local firm viewpoint it was fairly obvious. The Bigs had the resources to be on campus weekly. They hosted parties, showered the students with gifts and had the professors in their pocket. Not staying that is all true, but ask any local firm and they will probably feel the same way.

Finally, one year we hired a very bright and articulate student and yes, he was the President of Beta Alpha Psi. We celebrated! How did we compete? We became more visible and involved on campus. One way was to give two annual scholarships to accounting students.

This all came to mind today when I read an blurb via Accounting Today about one of my clients, Rodman CPAs of Waltham, Massachusetts awarding a scholarship to John Tran of Suffolk University in Boston.

Way to go, Jennifer Minor! Jennifer and John Tran, pictured below (picture from Accounting Today).

Jennifer

  • If you hire people just because they can do a job, they'll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they'll work for you with blood, sweat and tears.
  • Simon Sinek

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

AICPA Top Issues Survey 2017

“My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.” — Jack Welch

Every other year, the AICPA/PCPS conducts a top issues survey. Some of the findings from the 2017 Top Issues Survey were released yesterday.

Finding qualified staff was the No. 1 issue in every firm-size segment except sole practitioners where it ranked No. 3. Likewise, retaining qualified staff was a Top 5 issue in every grouping except sole practitioners. Recruitment and retention were leading concerns last time the survey was conducted in 2015, too, but the challenge appears steeper as the profession continues to gain strength in a growing economy.

Besides staffing, other common Top 5 issues this year include succession planning, acquisition of new clients, workload compression and keeping up with tax law complexity.  One former top issue, retention of current clients, has fallen out of the top issues for all groups.

So, no big surprises here. Just keep focused on developing a firm culture where people will want to stay and develop their career in public accounting. If you want to know how to do that, just browse through many of my past blog posts!

  • The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.
  • Harvey S. Firestone

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Accounting Firm Interns

fullsizeoutput_4028“If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.” – Chinese Proverb

The larger firms, who can afford full time HR professionals, have programs dealing with interns fairly well developed. However, mid- to small firms, if they hire an intern, often treat them like an extra administrative person.

Here are some tips and ideas regarding interns:

  • Treat them like full time hires.
  • Give them structured orientation (like a new hire).
  • Provide a job description – expose them to both tax and A&A.
  • Keep in mind that they don’t know the CPA lingo – teach them.
  • Give them real work – it has always been amazing to me how quickly interns can get up to speed on individual tax returns and even smaller business tax returns.
  • They love going in the field. Expose them to visits to the clients’ sites, in person.
  • Praise their efforts and keep in mind they are beginners – what they learn in college doesn’t relate to what they will do inside your firm.
  • Don’t give them administrative work – no shredding, no mindless data entry.
  • Provide them with business cards and take their picture when presenting the cards to them (after all, it is usually their FIRST business card). Send the picture to them and suggest they share it with their parents.
  • Challenge them to give away their business cards and keep track of the efforts. This makes them aware, right from the beginning, that marketing is important. At my firm, we had a give your card away game – you need at least two interns for this game. They give them to whoever…. grandma, mom, dad, dentist, college friends – how many can they give away in five days. They must keep good records. The winner gets a gift card.
  • Teach them to put their business card in restaurant fish bowls when they go to lunch – and place them in the bowl so the firm name shows!
  • I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way.
  • Lee Iacocca

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Hiring a Marketing Person and More

“There’s no lotion or portion that will make sales faster and easier for you – unless your potion is hard work.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

I enjoyed a recent blog post by Sarah Johnson Dobek about when to hire a marketing person for your CPA firm. Much like Sarah, I often get questions about when to hire a dedicated marketer. I also am asked when do we need a firm administrator, an HR person, a Controller (rather than a bookkeeper)?

sarahPer Dobek, the 2016 AAM Budget Survey indicated that most firms invest early. The highest growth firms employ one marketing professional for every 34 employees, while the average firm employs one marketing professional for every 54 employees. I usually recommend hiring a full-time marketer when a firm reaches 45 employees, so I guess I am in the ballpark according to the AAM survey.

As for the other professional support positions, I have observed that growing firms hire or designate a full-time, professional firm administrator when the have 12-15 people, although I see very successful firm administrators in much smaller firms. When the firm administrator becomes saturated with work, an HR professional should be added, usually at 70 to 80 people. A CPA controller is a huge benefit to a growing firm when it reaches 80 to 100 people. The former firm bookkeeper might then be designated the assistant controller.

As a firm grows, adding non-CPA, degreed, support professionals is a necessity.

  • To me, job titles don't matter. Everyone is in sales. It's the only way we stay in business.
  • Harvey Mackay

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Why Top Performers Leave Your Firm

“Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing.” – HubSpot’s Culture Code

Thanks to Lisa Benson for making me aware of an article on LinkedIn – Why Millennials Keep Dumping You: An Open Letter to Management.

It addresses the issue of millennials leaving jobs but I think that it applies to every top performer in CPA firms, no matter what their generation.

Public accounting needs millennials, they are going to be the majority of the workforce in just a few short years. It’s time to take keeping them more seriously.

Here’s a summary of the article. It is a message for management about what is really behind a top performer’s resignation letter:

You tolerate low-performance. – CPA leaders you are SO guilty of this. It is very demotivating to a high-achiever to see Lazy Lily tolerated. You have heard this from me before – a bad apple can spoil the whole barrel.

ROI is not enough for me. – I want to do the best possible job for our client. I even spend weekends thinking about solutions. Then on Monday I hear about billable hours and realization. I want you to talk to me about how WE make a difference in the success of the firm clients.

Culture is more than free Panera. – Don’t confuse culture with collateral. I appreciate and enjoy the free food, etc. but more importantly I want to be surrounded by people who are on fire for what we’re doing.

It’s ok to get personal. – Treat me like a number and I’ll return the favor. I will think of my job/career as a way to make a rent payment. I am desperate for you to show me that work we do here matters but I am NOT doing it to help you get a new Mercedes.

Creating a culture where people are inspired and excited is much more than focusing your energies on the bottom line.

PLEASE follow the link above and read the entire article. It is worth your time. Thanks to the author Lisa Earle McLeod.

  • We have a culture where we are incredibly self critical, we don't get comfortable with our success.
  • Mark Parker, CEO, Nike

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Increase Your Firm’s Value

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

There are some very basic things that CPA firm leaders need to do to continually increase the value of their firm. Of course, CPAs must be technically competent, good communicators and committed to client service. You are in a service business, just like a hotel or restaurant.

Beyond those basics, a couple more foundational items are needed to create firm value.

Culture – You (and your partners, if you have some) should devote your attention to creating a culture in which you want to work, providing your employees with a clear picture of acceptable behaviors that exemplify your core values. A culture built around consistent and strong core values will attract people with those same core values. If you discover employees who do not embrace your core values, they should be encouraged to go elsewhere.

Processes – Another foundational item thing you can do to increase the value of your firm is to implement processes, procedures and policies that are well-documented in writing.  This means the success of your firm is not solely on your shoulders and not dependent on just a few people. Having written processes and procedures ensures that you can easily get new employees up to speed quickly.

  • A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.
  • Charles Darwin