Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

Friday, March 27th, 2020

Too Many At The Top

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

There are many CPA firm partners who are nearing retirement. They have always dreamed of passing their firm on to the next generation, dreamed of having it survive. Sorry to say, that is going to be an unfilled dream for many small to mid-size firms.

The reason? They are top-heavy. They are counting a few top performers to replace many, including some non-performing partners?

Read this post about the Upside Down Pyramid – it’s Flashback Friday!

Stay safe!

  • The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
  • William Shakespeare

Friday, March 13th, 2020

Don’t Get Too Busy To Provide Feedback

You only have to do very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.” – – Warren Buffett

Inside your firm this busy season you have interns and new-hires, first-year CPA candidates.

During the hiring process for these young, future CPAs you talked to, listened to, entertained them. The firm leaders were on their best behavior.

Then when these young, high-potential employees enter the firm they are often greeted with silence. Sure they go through training but often it’s do-this, do-that, follow-this guideline and so on.

When young people enter your accounting firm, keep the conversations going – – not some sort of formal feedback session after 60-days or 90-days – talk to them daily. Create a culture of communication – clear, concise, honest and often.

Seth Godin says the best way to change long-term behavior is with short-term feedback. The opposite is not true. We rarely change short-term behavior with long-term feedback.

There is a lot of whining surrounding performance evaluation systems inside CPA firms. It creates a culture of dread. If you want to change your culture and attract top talent – start with feedback.

  • How was your day? is a question that matters a lot more than it seems.
  • Seth Godin

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Your Future Will Be Limited

I follow John C. Maxwell on Twitter. Yesterday, he posted the following tweet:

If you’re not identifying the leaders of tomorrow whom you will train up, your potential and your future will always be limited. 

It a simple, short message that speaks volumes to CPAs working in public accounting.  Owners of firms should have heeded this advice many years ago.

Here’s another recent tweet from Maxwell that hits home with CPAs:

No matter what it costs you, the return you receive will eclipse the price. Developing leaders is the most impacting and rewarding thing you can do as a leader.

Baby Boomer CPAs, nearing retirement, have been warned over and over again but few have acted upon the advice and now, their futures are limited. For some, it is merge-up or close-up.

  • Don't let what's uncertain be what defeats you. Instead, let it be what motivates you to keep reaching toward what's possible.
  • John C. Maxwell

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Is It Time To Actually Retire?

In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned that I had recently re-read Tuesdays with Morrie.

One of Morrie’s wise sayings was:

“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”

He was talking about life. To me, because I have worked with so many Baby Boomer CPAs over the years, it is something that applies to their retirement.

Many are in denial about retirement. They plan to work until they drop. Very short-sighted, indeed. There is so much more to experience if you wish it so.

Several situations I know about involve partners retiring but they do not quit working at the firm.

A couple of others involve 80-somethings continuing to come into the office even though they are not able to use the technology any longer.

My advice: Don’t hang on too long.

 

  • It's not too late to develop new friendships or reconnect with people.
  • Morrie Schwartz

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

The Challenge of What Gift to Give Your Employees

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” – Andy Rooney

A very common topic this time of year among CPA firm administrators (and partners) is what kind of gift to give the employees for Christmas.

This difficult task usually lands in the COO/Firm Administrator’s or HR Director’s lap. And, it’s a dangerous minefield. Different generations appreciate different things and finding a “one size fits all” can be a daunting task.

Suzanne Lucas, @RealEvilHRLady, gives us a great list this year. She notes: Here are some ideas, gleaned from real, actual humans, and not marketers. You’ll notice some are contradictory. This isn’t bad editing on my part. It’s reality. Get to know your employees!

Here are a few of the suggestions – but, be sure to read the entire list. Money is always a good choice!

  • My husband’s boss gives his managers steak. We have really appreciated that!
  • If anything, something “consumable.” I don’t want or need any more do-dads. Food is good–a nice bottle of olive oil, a good bottle of balsamic vinegar, anything that can be used and enjoyed and then gone!!
  • $100 gift cards to a nice restaurant have always been my favorite.
  • Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white.'
  • Bing Crosby

Monday, November 25th, 2019

Private Offices

“The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” – Mark Twain

I have always thought that putting beginners in a cube environment helped them learn faster. They could overhear when someone else had a question and received an excellent answer. And with millennials, it seemed they liked to collaborate extensively.

As with everything, times have changed. Recent studies tell us that employees reported the highest satisfaction with their personal workspace when it was inside a private office.

Even if you have a very trendy office space involving the open concept, it seems the trendiest office space pales in comparison to an office.

Read more about it via Fast Company here. – The article is titled, Want a happy employee? Give them an office. When I worked in a firm I know I sure enjoyed my private office, don’t you?

  • Whether I'm at the office, at home, or on the road, I always have a stack of books I'm looking forward to reading.
  • Bill Gates

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Succession Planning – What Are You Forgetting?

“The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

CPAs have been immersed in the process of succession planning for years.

As the Baby Boomers have aged and retired succession planning for firms took on a whole new life. How will the firm survive without me? Who will take over my client relationships? And, the continuing statement made by retiring partners, “We don’t have anyone who can replace me!”

When I hear that statement I always ask, “Whose fault is that?”

As you approach succession planning, I am sure you are making sure that your successors have all the experience and technical knowledge that public accounting demands. But, they need more.

According to Bruce Tulgan, a writer specializing in management training and generational diversity in the workforce, “One of the hardest things about succession planning is what I refer to as ‘wisdom transfer’—passing on institutional knowledge and soft skills to new leaders. How are you tackling wisdom transfer in your organization?”

What are you, as a firm and as individual senior partners, doing to be sure that you are making that “wisdom transfer” to the next generation of firm leaders?

  • Foolishness is a twin sister of wisdom.
  • Witold Gombrowicz

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

A Job Description Is Important – But, There Is More

“Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.” – Margaret Walker

Offering individualized job descriptions to your staff is definitely something you should be doing. I find that in smaller firms, job descriptions are something that is not always offered. Employees just learn what they should do and they do it.

The next-gen workforce (Gen Z) wants to know exactly what will be expected of them. Career development is a must. They are ambitious and desire opportunities for advancing in their careers. Set clear, concise expectations for them.

There are probably several people on your team who might bristle when asked to do a certain task. They are thinking, and probably don’t say it out loud, “that’s not in my job description!”

The truth is, there are many things that you must do in an office environment that are not spelled out on your job description.

Seth Godin, in one of his blog posts, listed things that are missing from your job description if you work in an office. Below, are a few (read the entire list here.)

  • Ask why
  • Treat customers better than they expect
  • Feed the plants
  • Highlight good work from your peers
  • Cut costs
  • Organize a bookshelf
  • Smile a lot
  • Leave things more organized than you found them
  • and many more

Here are some that apply to an accounting office. I bet you can add more!

  • Never leave a mess at the coffee station
  • Don’t mess with the thermostat
  • Don’t eat someone else’s lunch that is in the frig
  • Greet every client who might be sitting in the lobby
  • Always offer a visitor a coffee or soft drink
  • If you have an issue with a peer, talk to them about it and no one else
  • and many more!

Read about my CPA Firm Courtesy Policy here.

  • Good manners and graciousness pave the way for future favors. Bad manners crumble the road.
  • Terri Guillemets

Friday, June 21st, 2019

Flashback Friday – Young CPAs Start Sooner!

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” – Stephen Hawking

If you are not a young CPA – I hope you share this blog post with young CPAs. There is so much more to becoming a successful CPA than just knowing how to do the work.

  • It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.
  • John Wooden

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Generations at Work

“Older generations are living proof that younger generations can survive their lunacy.” – Cullen Hightower

I have been talking and writing about how to deal with the different generations in the workplace for years. My first project in this area was a survey of Gen-X and a report to advise practitioners how to deal with them. At the time, they were a mystery to the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers. Many old-timers called them “slackers.” All they actually wanted was some work-life balance!

We still have some of those Silent Generation people in some firms. True, they are in their mid-70s but you probably know some or know of some. And, now we have Generation Z coming on the scene (born after 1997). Many are still in college and some have now graduated and are working at your firm or are your intern pool. That’s five generations communicating in different ways.

  • Silent Generation (or Traditionalists)
  • Baby Boomers
  • Generation X
  • Millennials (or Generation Y)
  • Generation Z

Via the AICPA Insider, we have been given some tips on ways to communicate with Generation Z (and all generations):

  • Establish protocol
  • Think about the individual
  • Present the same information in various ways
  • Make sure written messages are mobile friendly
  • Be authentic
  • Don’t discriminate

Take the time to read more about each tip in this informative article here.

  • I have to study politics and war so that my sons can study mathematics, commerce and agriculture, so their sons can study poetry, painting and music.
  • John Quincy Adams