Archive for the ‘Talent’ Category

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Hiring Retirees

“I have reached an age when, if someone tells me to wear socks, I don’t have to.” – Albert Einstein

I read an article on the WSJ site about PKF O’Connor Davies LLP. It pleased me very much and made so much sense.

They want to hire retirees! If we are in such a talent shortage and many people 65+ are a wealth of knowledge, experience, and passion about their work, why not hire them?

In some firms, 62 is the mandatory retirement age. Others it is 65. People live longer now, they are healthier than generations before them, why not take advantage of their experience?

It doesn’t mean they are a partner the firm, it simply means they are an employee who can bring value to the firm and the clients.

These types of people, at PKF O’Connor, often work only three days per week but they help establish new practice areas, improve training and mentoring and have a wealth of contacts.

I believe that our youthful American culture is pushing some talented, older people aside much too quickly – – but that is a topic for another day!

  • You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be 100.
  • Woody Allen

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

The 12 Questions

“The true genius of a great manager is his or her ability to individualize. A great manager is one who understands how to trip each person’s trigger.” – Marcus Buckingham

I haven’t written about the “12 Questions” in a very long time. It comes from a book titled, First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The book has been around a while but maybe it is time you read it again.

They contend that employees leave managers, not companies. I strongly believe that this is often the case in CPA firms.

Buckingham and Coffman offer 12 questions that can be used to measure the core elements needed to attract, develop and retain the next generation of CPA firm leaders.

Here are the 12 Questions:

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages both my personal and my career development?
  7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
  9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do I have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
  12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

One of my client firms, asks these 12 questions of their entire staff every year and tracks progress year-to-year. They share the tracking matrix with the entire staff at the annual State of The Firm meeting. Constant improvement is part of their firm culture.

I hope you are doing something like this at your firm. I also hope that you are taking the steps to make steady progress. Don’t ever ask for input from your team and then do nothing with that valuable information.

  • The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.
  • Peter Drucker

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

We Just Can’t….

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins, author Good to Great

Read the above quotation again.

I have coached and consulted with lots of CPA firms. I have done presentations for thousands of CPAs. I often hear the same lament about a poor performer: “We can’t let her go, she’s been with us 20 years.” I have heard that statement applied to poor performers over and over again throughout my career.

Is she meeting the firm’s expectations for her specific job at the firm? “No, but…” I hear too many “No, buts…” when I ask questions about this person. “We just can’t let her go.”

I use the term “she” because it is usually a she (just from my experience). “She” is someone hired by the former managing partner. She is stuck in status quo. She hasn’t kept up with technology changes. She demotivates all those around her. She dodges difficult tasks. Sometimes it is an admin person. Sometimes it is a paraprofessional. Sometimes it is a very technical tax person. AND yes, sometimes it is a partner!

Take action:

  • Clearly communicate to this person that they are not meeting expectations.
  • Clearly define those expectations.
  • Work with them to outline a development plan and assure them of the firm’s support in the improvement process.
  • Set a target date for some improvement to occur.

They just might change, improve and succeed. Usually, they remain a poor performer or a mediocre performer, at best.

If your people are mediocre, the firm will remain mediocre.

Again, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins, author Good to Great.

  • Bad decisions made with good intentions, are still bad decisions.
  • Jim Collins

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

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