Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

Thursday, February 3rd, 2022

Over Paying

“There is no way I can justify my salary level but I am learning to live with it.” – Drew Carey

Many firms have acknowledged that they are willing to overpay when pursuing new, hard to find, talent. Where will it end? When will it end? Who knows?

I have two concerns. First, will new, unproven, maybe less skilled employees be making more than proven, long-time team members? How that plays out can cause severe headaches for management.

My other concern is, in response to the situation mentioned above, firm leaders will increase salaries for ALL team members. This could result in significant increases for less-than-stellar performing employees.

I still think that pay for performance applies. Not everyone needs to be treated the same. Top performers should make top wages and get extra perks.

In the CPA world, firm owners worry about what “the other” team members will think and how will they react. They will be complaining loudly.

Don’t ignore the complainers. Talk to them immediately and honestly. Explain to them that Jessica All-Star makes more and receives more because she is a top performer. Then, explain to them exactly how they can become a top performer and thus, make more money. Set goals and challenge them.

You have probably read where KPMG is allocating $160M in salary increases for their 35,000 employees. Their CEO said:

“This increase in salaries embodies our commitment to quickly recognize the value our people create for our clients and firm in times of change,” said Knopp in a statement. “Moreover, it reflects our appreciation for their resilience and consistent dedication to serving our clients and the capital markets with quality.”

Your team members have probably read about this, too.

  • The more they applaud, the bigger our salary will be.
  • Anna Held

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022

Generational Viewpoint

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates

Accounting Today published an interesting article recently titled, “Generational Viewpoints: Time for change.”

It features two professionals from Barnes Dennig, a 160-person firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a firm I have admired for many years. One viewpoint was from a baby boomer and the other viewpoint is from a millennial.

Today, I want to share just one paragraph from the millennial’s viewpoint. It follows. I hope you read the entire article.

From my point of view, we always feel like we’re on the job. As great as technology is, it’s a double-edged sword because it’s impossible to get away from it. Nobody feels that more than us. As a generation who grew up with unlimited access to technology and integration, it’s hard for us to compartmentalize aspects of our lives. We don’t leave work at work and work never leaves us. From my experience, millennials, especially in the public accounting industry, are ultracompetitive. Even though we try to log off at 5 p.m. or take time off, we are constantly checking and responding to emails because we want to impress someone or everyone. To an extent, we do understand this could be of our own doing, but nothing will change until the culture of being 100% accessible changes.

  • Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.
  • Jane Austen

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

High School Interns

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” — Bob Proctor

I have often suggested, for an accounting firm, to utilize some high school interns. I think it is important to introduce the world of public accounting to a younger audience. Plus, I encourage practitioners to get involved in high school career days. If you have elementary children, why not volunteer to talk to their class about the accounting profession?

Maybe you will be encouraged to hire some high school interns by the following comments from Timothy Allen, MBA, Chief Operating Officer of Reilly, Penner & Benton in Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

“We started with high school interns this past tax season. We hired one as a tax administrative intern doing tax assembly, scanning, and other admin duties. She did such a fantastic job we hired her back as a tax intern this tax season. We have also started hiring college freshmen and sophomores as administrative interns with the intention of having them come back as juniors/seniors as full interns.

Going forward, CPA firms need to be creative and adventurous in their hiring practices. Add high school interns to your action plan.

  • Learning is finding out that you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, and teachers."
  • Richard Bach

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Give Them A Chance

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pelé, Brazilian football legend.

Performing all the services that a CPA firm offers is not something that is learned overnight.

How many times have you heard a new recruit say, “I never learned this in college!”? Many new hires struggle for a while with what seems like fairly easy activities to a more experienced CPA.

With inexperienced new hires and with administrative employees, I believe that it takes a full year cycle for them to begin to grasp the intricacies of their job. In a CPA firm, there are three seasons – busy season, summer, and fall. Each season has varying duties that you sometimes don’t perform except once a year. That is why giving them a year to experience the duties expected of them seems to make sense. Then, I always recommend that you give them two years to determine if they are going to fail or succeed.

If a person is not a good fit for public accounting, it is not fair to string them along, hoping that they will eventually “get it”. You are not doing them, or the firm, a favor.

Comments I have heard from practitioners during some of my presentations: “We don’t give them two years, we usually give them eight years before we face reality and let them go.” “If someone is not a good fit, we seem to keep them forever.”

So many firms are desperate for people right now. Don’t lower your standards. That’s never what a CPA should do.

  • The greater the difficulty the more the glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.
  • Epictetus

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Another View of Remote Workers

“Deep human connection is… the purpose and the result of a meaningful life – and it will inspire the most amazing acts of love, generosity, and humanity.” – Melinda Gates

Some people like working remotely and have adapted easily. We hear so much about them. But what about the many people who actually like being with other people?

I think it is human nature to enjoy being with other humans. Happy hermits are few and far between. Some comments I have heard from the younger generation lately made a lot of sense to me, as follows:

Young lady, graduated college in 2020. Has worked remotely for a year. – “I want a REAL job where I go to an office!”

Another young lady, early in her career. – “I am tired of being home all the time!”

Young mother with children in school. She was told by her employer that she would never go back to the office. She would remain remote. – “I get kids on the bus and get kids off the bus. Between those times I work at home. I feel trapped!”

Maybe it is time to rethink making your office attractive and welcoming to employees (and also to clients). I am sure many of you have offered a hybrid solution but don’t forget there are people who really want the in-office environment. It could be a real advantage when doing college recruiting.

  • The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.
  • Robin Sharma

Monday, August 9th, 2021

More About “The Great Resignation”

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” — Ayn Rand

You have heard it talked about and read about it recently. I wrote about it in June. It’s the situation where jobs are plentiful and people are disenchanted with where they work now and where their career and life are headed.

Maybe in the CPA profession, we should call it the “mild disenchantment”. Accountants, in my observation, are not one to job hop (as we used to call it). When the millennials hit the scene, “job hopping” became normal so we no longer discarded resumes that documented several prior employers.

However, your people have numerous opportunities to accept a lucrative offer.

Today, I want you to read Dan Hood’s article about “The Great Resignation.” He offers some great advice and addresses the issue in a way that only Dan Hood can.

  • Disenchantment, whether it is a minor disappointment or a major shock, is the signal that things are moving into transition in our lives.
  • William Throsby Bridges

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

Your Current Challenge Certainly Isn’t New

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

I’m not sure where I got the quote, below, and I don’t know if it is really true. However, it seems to me that what this person said was probably true at the time.

Finding, hiring and retaining talent professionals is at the very top of the list today. The AICPA is concerned, state societies are concerned, practitioners are concerned and HR managers are exhausted.

Here’s the quote from 1961. It kind of puts things in perspective. The current talent challenge is nothing new and CPAs have been trying to solve it for 60 years!

“The public accounting profession can, in the years just ahead, expand its role in our economy to levels never before reached… The problems of the profession in meeting the demands of the future are centered in its ability to attract and keep within its ranks qualified professional personnel.”
 —John Jones, Georgia Society Magazine – 1961

  • If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.
  • Abraham Maslow

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

Remember When

“People do what people see. Too many leaders send people where they have never been themselves.” – John Maxwell

CPA firm partners, never, never forget what it is like to be the new kid on the block. Think back to your first day in public accounting. How did you feel?

Times have changed. What most of your team members, especially your new hires, are experiencing are things that you did not experience when you were new.

One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habit’s of Highly Effective People is: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

As leaders, make an effort to understand the specific work your various team members are expected to produce. Learn what is most challenging and where most team members struggle.

It is not the same work, done the same way, you did as a beginner twenty-five or more years ago.

As Stephen Covey says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

  • Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.
  • Stephen Covey

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Experience Counts – A Flashback for Friday

“At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” – Ann Landers

My post from March 25, 2015 is actually more of a rant. Something must have happened that week to cause me to share my feelings about the value of longevity, experience, and knowledge possessed by the accountants in your firm who have thirty or more years of experience.

If they started their career after graduating with an accounting degree that would make them around fifty-two years of age. I don’t want a doctor or lawyer who is fresh out of school nor do I want one who is 82! Give me that 50-something person.

Read my flashback post here.

  • I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.
  • Maya Angelou

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Misconceptions

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little; it’s that they know so many things that just aren’t so.” – Mark Twain

I was recently reading an article from National Geographic that explained how our mental maps of the world are probably wrong. I discovered that mine was! There are many common geographic misconceptions. For example, you might think that South America is directly south of North America.

Here’s an excerpt:

For instance, we all know that South America is south of North America, of course. But you may be surprised by the fact that virtually the entire South American continent is east of Florida. There are lots of possible reasons for geographical misconceptions like this one, says cartographer John Nelson. Mental maps are necessarily simplifications, and Nelson suspects the misplaced Americas may be partly a result of their names. After all, it’s not called Southeast America.

How does all this relate to managing your CPA firm? I believe there are many misconceptions flourishing inside accounting firms. Many of these misconceptions are quite large and often resistant to correction.

  • Partners don’t care about people they just want to make a lot of money.
  • Staff don’t care about the firm, they just want to put in 8 hours and then go home.
  • Non-CPAs working at the firm are not as smart as the CPAs.
  • The partners are stingy.
  • The staff are careless.
  • Our firm is the best one in our market.
  • Our firm is the worst one in our market.

I corrected my misconceptions about how countries and continents are aligned and how they appear on maps by education myself, by exploring and reading.

How are you going to battle the misconceptions swirling around inside your firm?

  • If you see a blatant error misconception about yourself, you really want to set it straight.
  • Jimmy Wales