Archive for the ‘Talent’ Category

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Using Fear as a Motivator

“Everything I’ve ever done was out of fear of being mediocre.” – Chet Adkins

There are plenty of people who argue the pros and cons of using fear as a motivator. While I can’t imagine building an organization via motivation by fear, we are hearing a lot about it in the workplace these days.

I believe, in the CPA firm world, we see very little management by fear. Not, that it never existed. I have been around long enough to remember when it did. However, it has become a thing of the past in well-run firms. We have been able to attract and keep people who have the passion for public accounting, the work they do for clients and the pride they feel in being part of a winning team – all the things I hope to bring to you, on a regular basis, with this newsletter.

As I work with accounting firms around the country, I see both sides of the coin.  Many employees want to see a little more discipline and structure in their firm.  They feel the partners let things slide and do not address issues of poor performance.  A dose of fear for some employees would be an improvement.  A lack of discipline culture can be very demotivating.

On the other side of the coin, team members in other firms tell me that partners are always looking over their shoulder and providing feedback in a very critical style.  Each partner wants things done in a different manner.  The fear from employees comes from dreading the extensive, critical review notes issued by those in charge.

Striking the right balance of discipline, structure, coaching and recognition will go a long way to inspiring employees to work a little harder, demonstrate teamwork and even be more creative and helpful to clients.

  • One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do.
  • Henry Ford

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

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Those Workaholics!

“If there is such a thing as a workaholic, I’m it and that’s what passes for leisure.” – Steve Earle

I hear it from so many CPA firm owners…. “We are trying to get Ginny to work less.”

I am talking about that staff person who seems determined to work more hours than anyone else at the firm. They work late into the evening, especially during the first quarter of the year. They work almost every Saturday, except maybe during June, July and August.

They have more total hours and more chargeable hours than any other employee at the firm.

I also find that this team member is usually a long-time employee, a manager and often female. But, when I encounter a male working unrealistic hours, it is almost always a partner.

As firm leaders, you love this team member – they have lots of billable hours, they provide amazing client service, they pitch-in and help others when needed.

On the other hand, you worry. Is all of that total time necessary? You actually become concerned about their well-being. You observe them showing more stress and often more negativity than other team members.

As for workaholic partners, who would want to be a partner in a firm where the partners work 2800-3000 hours per year? I actually know some partners that get almost 3000 billable!  Oh, my.

Counsel these workaholics, help them cut back, there is so much more to a career, and to life, than the number of hours you work.

  • I'm not driven by killer ambition, I'm not a workaholic. I'm a good team player. I don't have to be captain, but I do want to play on a winning team.
  • Jane Pauley

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

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

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Be Active In Spring Recruiting

“Human resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.” – Steve Wynn

Many years ago, CPA firms didn’t begin their recruiting efforts on the college campus until September. We waited for the students to get back to campus and begin classes and then interviewed in late September into October.

Now, you must recruit, on the college campus, continually. You are competing with the large national firms. They are visible on the college campus every week!

Right now, be sure you are contacting the students on your prospect list before they leave campus for the summer. Stay in front of them.

Now that your interns have returned to campus, be sure you communicate with them before they leave for the summer. Hopefully, you have offered some of them part-time work throughout the summer months.

Be planning for the next campus job fair. Will your firm stand-out from the pack?

Here’s a unique idea from one of my favorite clients. Invite the students to play some putt-putt as they participate in the job fair.

Fluence Golf

  • I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.
  • Lawrence Bossidy

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Maybe a Sabbatical Program Would Make Your Firm Unique

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

In the accounting profession, we have been talking about sabbaticals for years. Few firms offer this benefit.

Some firms established a sabbatical program for partners, urging them to take six weeks away from the office with NO CONTACT. The mission being to prove to the partner that they could get along just fine without them and client service would not suffer. These types of programs were a half-hearted attempt at succession planning. Honestly, I haven’t heard of many firms offering sabbaticals in any form. It seems CPAs love to work!

Rather than focusing on partners, why not establish a sabbatical program for your team members. Maybe it would differentiate you from your competitors and help retain top talent.

Kabbage_logo_wo_tag_vertKabbage®, the pioneering financial services technology, and data platform, out of Atlanta is offering a unique benefit to its employees. Perhaps, you can learn from them.

Kabbage is now offering a sabbatical option for team members who have been with the company for 5+ years. And it’s quite the package – a 6-week sabbatical that is fully paid plus the company gives a $6k stipend to encourage its employees to do something memorable ( a trip of a lifetime?)

Check out their career webpage. They offer:

Dynamic Environment
Daily catered lunches, ice cream freezer & snacks
Dog-friendly office
Cold/brewed coffee & beer on tap
Onsite fitness & meditation classes
Adjustable sit/stand desks

Competitive Benefits
Unlimited PTO
Equity in the company
Full coverage of individual health benefits
Six-week sabbatical program
Free parking
Annual bonus

Learning & Development
Shadowing program
More than 20 onsite courses
Interactive career development
Leadership development
Mentoring program

All of this makes me ask the big question. How does your firm’s career webpage stack up?

  • Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.
  • Jim Rohn

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Success in the CPA Profession

You majored in accounting. You enjoyed all of your accounting courses.

You researched all the best CPA firms and interviewed with many – large, mid-size and small. Some were near home and some were in bigger, more vibrant cities.

You received offers from a few and made your decision.

Now it is time to live in the real world – not home, not high school and not college. It is the world of work.

You are in the world of building a career as a professional and easing into adulthood. It’s about learning what it means to be a professional along with all kinds of accounting, audit and tax topics. It’s learning about the business world and what to do to make a small (or large) business successful. It is about understanding people, getting along with them, eventually influencing them and enjoying working with them. It’s about earning the respect and trust of your clients and peers.

Maybe this quote from Vince Lombardi about football will help you.

“Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.”

  • If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride - and never quit, you'll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.
  • Paul Bryant

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Pay Attention!

“It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

Often, blamed on being too busy, you don’t often actually see things, people, opportunities, and even dangers.

Are you too distracted to see the things happening around you? Do you really see your family? Do you really see and understand the challenges of your newest team members?

I urge you, as a firm leader, to be alert to a top performer who is slowly becoming NOT a top performer, a loyal manager who seems more distant, a partner who seems to be jogging in place or a family member who is often too silent.

Make it a practice to not just look at people, opportunities and yourself but to keep your eyes and senses open to what might be going on at a deeper level.

  • Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that's important. Self-discipline with awareness of consequences.
  • Dalai Lama