Archive for the ‘Talent’ Category

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

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Give Them A Weekend!

“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

FullSizeRenderAs March 15th nears, every year, I think of all the people I know working inside growing, successful accounting firms.

They have been working tirelessly beginning more slowly in January picking up speed (and extra hours) throughout February and putting renewed effort leading up to the March 15th due date.

CPA firm leaders, please consider giving your entire staff a real weekend on March 18 and 19 – the first weekend after the March 15th due date.

We did this at my firm for years and it was greatly anticipated and appreciated by our people.

Now, the good news is that many accounting firms have eliminated Saturday work during tax season completely (except for those die-hard partners that always work weekends).

Your team will come back to work on Monday morning with renewed vigor to focus on the tasks ahead, leading up to April 18. Their families will also be very happy.

  • There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.
  • Aristotle

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Georgia Society of CPAs – March Madness

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“The key is not the will to win, everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” – Bob Knight

Many thanks to the Georgia Society for featuring my article, Lessons Learned: Two Kinds of March Madness, in March/April 2017 issue of their magazine, Current Accounts.

I hope all of you who are members of the Georgia Society will read the magazine or access it online.

If you are a non-member, I will be using the article in my upcoming newsletter. You can subscribe here.

Hint: There is the AFMM March Madness and there is the NCAA March Madness. Of course, AFMM stands for Accounting Firm March Madness.

  • Once you are labeled - the best - you want to stay up there, and you can't do it by loafing around. If I don't keep changing, I'm history.
  • Larry Bird

Friday, February 24th, 2017

Be Sure to Give Your Employees C.R.A.P.

Kortes“From caring comes courage.” – Lao Tzu

It’s not what you think! This method comes from Jeff Kortes. He is an employee retention speaker, author and expert. Kortes has found that employers don’t give their employees enough C.R.A.P. and it is driving away valuable workers. Here’s the CRAP he’s talking about:

C – Caring

R – Respect

A – Appreciation

P – Praise

I became aware of Kortes this week, visited his blog site and thoroughly enjoyed his posts.

I know that in public accounting you are certainly challenged with attracting, developing and retaining people. Perhaps, the first thing you should do is develop a written employee retention strategic plan. Learn more about it, from Kortes here.

  • Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness.
  • Harold Kushner

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Signing Bonus

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” – Henry David Thoreau

I often get questions about whether firms are offering signing-bonuses to new college graduates. The answer is, yes.

Signing bonuses were a big deal in the early 2000’s, then in 2008 and for a few years afterwards, the signing bonus was actually not needed and many firms discontinued the practice.

As you can imagine with the intense competition for talent, firms have returned to the practice of signing bonuses. I have observed that they usually run from $1,000 to $3,000.

Often, they are an enticement for a quick response to an offer. If you really have an all-star intern, I would think you would pay more than $3,000.

  • Take free money. No matter how in debt you are, if your employer offers a matching contribution on a 401(k) or other retirement vehicle, you must sign up and contribute enough to get the maximum company match each year. Think of it as a bonus.
  • Suze Orman

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Show Appreciation by Utilizing Stay Interviews

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving forward.” – Albert Einstein

Some accounting firms have been utilizing stay interviews for a while. However, I have observed that there are still many firms that haven’t embraced this excellent tool.

Anytime you devote individualized attention to one of your team members, asking them for advice and feedback, it’s a positive exercise for both sides – management and staff.

Elizabeth (Bitsy) Watson, PHR, the HR Manager for Mahoney, Ulbrich, Christiansen & Russ shared the process they use for stay interviews. It would be a good best practice for you to emulate. Her comments follow:

BitsyWe started out with results from our recent engagement survey and identified about five areas where we wanted more insight, such as, if we felt our scores for recognition could be stronger or we wanted more insights into what aspects of compensation were most important to staff.

We then came up with some questions related to these areas and others (about 10 total). A few examples were:

  • What types of recognition are most meaningful to you?
  • What opportunities for development would you like that you may not be getting?
  • What type of work do you find most motivating or interesting?
  • Of the compensation and benefits we offer, what aspects are most important to you and what could be improved in this area?

We used a representative sample of our employees to participate in the stay interviews. I kept the names confidential. After the meetings were completed, our next steps were to summarize the overall themes and share the summary with the partners, not sharing names. I also included three recommendations for changes or new programs to implement. We’ll then share these new initiatives with the interview group. We want them to know that we really valued their opinions.

I tried to be as transparent as possible with everyone involved on what we were trying to accomplish and how valuable their feedback is. We received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the interviewees. They mentioned feeling like it was helpful to have a channel to be asked questions they might never have been asked. I think the most interesting thing that came from this was bringing to light some wrong assumptions we, as management, had been making.

Our plan is to do this annually utilizing a different group of employees each year.

  • Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
  • Thomas Edison

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

How Visible Is Your Firm On Campus?

“A baby has brains, but it doesn’t know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.” – L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I hope you have read Rosenberg’s recent post about accounting interns‘ lack of knowledge about public accounting.

He interviewed a group of accounting interns working for local firms in Chicago. The sad result is that their perception of the CPA profession – hours worked by staff, hours worked by partners, earnings of partners – is sadly off-target.

Read my post from 2009 to learn about my experience with college students. They did not know anything about local firms, they only knew about the Big Four. Why? Because the national firms are visible on campus EVERY week.

There is much smaller firms can do.  My firm was recruiting on campus when I joined the firm and we only had nine people! So, big firm or small firm, be visible on the college campus.

  • No man's knowledge can go beyond his experience.
  • John Locke

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Employee Engagement Matters

“Paychecks can’t buy passion.” – Brad Federman

It is getting to be a rather tiring topic. To be successful, you must have employees who are engaged. You can Google the topic and find all kinds of advice.

The fact is, there is an overwhelming amount of people who are not engaged in their work. To me, that means they really don’t like what they do. Per Gallup, you have Three Types of Employees:

Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.

Not-Engaged employees are essentially “checked out.” They are sleepwalking through their workday, putting time but not energy or passion into their work.

Actively Disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work, they are busy action out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.

My motto, on this topic as it is with most things inside a busy CPA firm – – Keep It Simple

Where do your people fit? I’m sure you have some in each classification. To drive engagement, it’s simple, you have to be proactive.

  • Be sure your people know what is expected of them.
  • Let them know how important they are to the success of your clients and your firm.
  • Make sure you explain to them how their career can, or will, advance.
  • Give regular feedback so that they know how they are doing and where they are going.
  • Be a caring boss.
  • Over communicate
  • Set a good example
  • Have a sense of humor

If you do some of these things and are proactive maybe your “Not-Engaged” people will become Engaged.

For the Actively Disengaged, give them the opportunity to get a new job elsewhere.

  • Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.
  • Zig Ziglar