Archive for the ‘Mentoring’ Category

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

Performance Agreement

“People don’t get promoted for doing their jobs really well, they get promoted by demonstrating their potential to do more.” – Tara Jaye Frank.

You know all about performance, right? In your firm, you often talk about performance feedback or pay for performance.

The meaning of performance is varied but for our purpose, we take it to mean the execution of an action, something accomplished, or the fulfillment of a claim, promise or request.

Your employees want to know what you expect of them. Young people entering the profession want to know what their career path looks like. Maybe you should be using performance agreements to clarify what is expected.

A performance agreement is a tool that establishes expectations and accountability for the execution of certain performance standards. Performance agreements must clearly state agreed-upon objectives and how these will be measured.

Learn about the benefits of performance agreements and what points they should contain here (via Mindtools)

  • A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.
  • Mahatma Gandhi.

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Your Mentor

“Do your little bit of good where you are. It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

If you are working in the CPA profession, should have a mentor. I don’t care if you are a 50-something partner (or 60-something), find someone who will tell you the trust and work on improving yourself.

Don’t rely on your mentor. You should seek out their help if you need it. I love this story from Stephen R. Covey:

“When I was just 20 years old, I served as an assistant to the president of an organization. One time I asked him, “Why don’t you ever give me any feedback? You never tell me if you like my speeches.” And he said, “Do you want to be dependent upon me? You know within yourself what’s happening. If you want some help, you just ask me. I’m here. “From then on, I was free of the president. I didn’t have to worry about his reaction. He never praised me or blamed me, but if I wanted help, he’d give it. So I would ask him, “What do you think of this.” He served me as a source of help.”

 

  • The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
  • Gandhi

Friday, August 17th, 2018

Flashback Friday – What’s In It For Me?

“You have to water the flowers you want to grow.” – Stephen Covey

If you are considering taking on the role of Mentor. Or, if you are a Mentee looking for a Mentor – what’s in it for you?

Here’s a post from 2016 that explains the benefits of both roles.

Have a great weekend!

  • To add value to others, one must first value others.
  • John Maxwell

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

You Have Dual Responsibility

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” – Albert Einstein

I have been thinking about it more lately. I have been rereading some of my old blog posts on the topic. I have always believed it is one of the most important things one person can do for another. Yes, mentoring is on my mind. It is SO important in the career growth of accountants.

Immediately, you probably agree. Mentoring is important to young accountants as they begin their career in public accounting, You are right but it doesn’t stop there.

At your firm, you might have managers and partners filling the roles of Mentor and Sponsor. You have staff members acting as Guides for recent college graduates and Seniors and Managers being Coaches for new hires. But, what about partners and other very experienced professionals at your firm? Mentoring is something you never outgrow.

If you are an experienced professional, you have a dual role – mentor and mentee. Never stop taking steps to improve yourself.

If your program needs an update, if you are just drafting a mentoring program for your firm or if the person championing your mentoring program needs advice, I offer mentoring program advisory services. Feel free to contact me for more information.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter to learn more about MAP – Managing an Accounting Practice.

  • I am not a teacher, but an awakener.
  • Robert Frost

Friday, April 6th, 2018

As a Mentor, You Are Sculpting

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg

A recent article via HBR – The Best Mentors Think Like Michelangelo – describes how Michelangelo considered a beautiful piece of art was already inside the stone and he worked to release it.

This is a beautiful thought to apply to your mentoring role. Here are some points from the article that might help you as your mentor the young, ambitious accountants in your accounting firm. As you have time later, be sure to read the entire article and apply these thoughts to your firm’s mentoring program.

  • The Michelangelo phenomenon refers to when a skilled and thoughtful relationship partner becomes committed to first understanding and then reinforcing or drawing out another’s ideal form.
  • A skilled mentor can bring out a promising form that might be hidden from view.
  • Excellent mentors devote the time to truly “see” their mentees. It takes time and patience to see their ideal selves.
  • A mentor must earn trust, be accessible, and listen generously.
  • Research confirms that women face more barriers to finding a mentor and when they find a male mentor, it might not result in professional and psychological benefits.
  • One reason is that men sometimes struggle with the important skill of active listening.
  • Men can be great mentors to females if they work hard at understanding some of the challenges of cross-gender mentoring.

Read the entire article and share it. Maybe it’s time to refresh your program.

  • 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

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Staff Development

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” – Albert Einstein

Most firms have some sort of coaching program for team members who are in their early years as a staff associate. The transition from campus life to professional work life can be rather overwhelming.

Some firms have buddies, coaches, mentors, sponsors and maybe other levels of on-going staff development activities for everyone at the firm. I believe that partners still need to have a mentor.

While all of that is going on, there is often an experienced person inside the firm, usually a long-time manager, who takes it upon themselves to be a real source of knowledge and support to the younger, less-experienced staff associates.

Often, this person goes unrecognized and maybe the firm does not even allow them some slack in their workload while they informally coach the younger workers.

Sharon_TrabbicThat’s why I love a comment made by Sharon Trabbic, PAFM, Chief Operating Officer of the William Vaughan Company, CPAs in Maumee, Ohio.

“Our coaching program is very similar to other firms. We ask for the coaches and protégés to connect formally four times a year and informally as often as they need to. We have one senior manger that is an excellent coach for staff members and she coaches 9 people. That role is almost as important to the firm as her client work.”

 

  • Confidence comes from discipline and training.
  • Robert Kiyosaki

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

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

An Important Step In Staff Development

“Mentoring is easy and natural; it does not have to be just another dreaded task on your to-do list.” – Rita Keller

Thanks so much to Accounting Today and Sean McCabe for featuring many of my comments in the article, Molding the Future of the Profession – Mentoring young staff should be a crucial part of the recruiting and retention toolkit of more accounting firms.” 

Follow the link to read the entire article. And, thanks to Edi Osborne for all of her great comments in the article.

Here are some bullet point highlights:

  • Mentoring is just as important as salary and technology.
  • Mentoring requires an investment of time and money.
  • It is about attracting and strengthening future leaders for the profession.
  • Young people will buy into the vision of what it means to be a CPA and stay in the profession longer if they make a solid connection with someone who has already been down that road.
  • CPAs are great at teaching young people the technical skills but fail to impart knowledge about relationship-building and career-building skills.
  • Showing and not telling is vital to the mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Effective mentoring has become a strategic focus for the most progressive and successful firms.
  • You have to water the flowers you want to grow.
  • Stephen Covey

Monday, June 6th, 2016

What’s In It For Me? – The Mentor & the Mentee

“If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before.” – J. Loren Norris

Tomorrow I will be talking at the AICPA Practitioners’ Symposium & TECH+ Conference about the importance of mentoring and how developing a mentoring culture can help the firm hire and retain talented people.

I usually get a lot of questions about the specifics, such as:

  • How often to we meet?
  • Where do we meet?
  • What exactly should I talk about?
  • What if we are not a good match?
  • How does each side benefit?

Here’s the answer to what’s in it for both sides:

For the Mentor:

Mentoring allows the mentor to give something back to the firm and to the CPA profession. It helps the mentor to become a much better listener. It is a way for the mentor to share some of the good things they have learned from their years of experience and also gives them a chance to share some warnings about bad things that could possibly happen. It gives them the opportunity to “see” the firm through another person’s eyes. Most mentors say they usually gain just as much, or even more, than the mentee.

For the Mentee:

A great mentor will help increase the mentee’s level of self-confidence. The mentee will learn how to say the right thing, when to speak up and when it is best to remain silent. It gives the mentee some direction on handling the feedback they receive on their performance. It provides important networking opportunities and introductions to people who may become influential to their careers. It helps the mentee more quickly understand the organization and even the CPA profession.

Simply put, creating a mentoring culture shows your people that the firm is willing to invest time and money in the success of its people.

  • My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.
  • Steve Jobs

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Modern Mentoring Methods

“Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been advising CPA firms on mentoring programs for nearly 20 years. Yes, mentoring has changed and evolved greatly over that time period.

I will be updating some of you next week at the AICPA PSTECH Symposium in Las Vegas.

Here are some highlights, just in case you won’t be there!

  • Mentoring is different than supervising
  • Supervising focuses on performance and mentoring focuses on developing insight
  • The mentee owns the goals and the process, the mentor is there for expert support
  • The relationship should be collaborative
  • You can have more than one mentor – seek them out
  • A mentor can even mentor several people as a group
  • The mentee should be able to manage the relationship, called “managing up”
  • Some CPAs believe mentoring is difficult and involved – that is completely wrong, it is easy – keep it simple
  • You can’t force someone to be mentored, they have to be hungry for knowledge and eager to learn
  • Not everyone is naturally a good mentor, don’t force all partners to be official mentors
  • It’s perfectly okay to change mentors

Maybe it is time to update your mentoring program. Times are changing and so has mentoring.

 

  • A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.
  • Oprah Winfrey