Archive for the ‘Managers’ Category

Thursday, March 24th, 2022

Gen Z Management

“Spend time advising and training your team. Be positive, patient, and practical.” – Mike Monroe

It seems you just got used to managing the Millennials and now you are faced with Gen Z. Gen Z is defined as those aged 10 – 25. Here’s a recap:

  • Gen Z – born 1997 – 2012 – Ages in 2022 10-25
  • Millennials – born 1981 – 1996 – Ages in 2022 26-41
  • Gen X – born 1965 – 1980 – Ages in 2022 42-57
  • Boomers II born 1955 – 1964 – Ages in 2022 58 – 67

*Please remember that there are slightly differing opinions as to the exact years but this recap gives you a general idea.

Some sources say that the disillusionment that has driven the Great Resignation has been caused by mediocre management. I think that is partially true. Not all managers are mediocre.

An interesting article by Mike Monroe via SmartBrief will help you understand all of this much better.

According to McKinsey & Co., employee-manager relationships are the top factor affecting employees’ job satisfaction. Workers will stay at a so-so position if their managers are great. But people won’t stick around for mediocre managers — even if the job is otherwise fantastic.

Monroe offers two mindsets that may help you be a better manager.

  1. Be the manager that you would have benefited from in your past.
  2. Check your narcissism at the door.

Read the brief article and see if anything applies inside your firm.

  • If you’re a middle manager, you’re one of the intangible benefits of working at your company. You need to learn how to attract, interview and supervise up-and-coming workers.
  • Mike Monroe

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

A Culture of Checking In

“The more you check in with your people the more love-filled your team will be, and so the more productivity, creativity, resilience, and collaboration you will get.” – Marcus Buckingham

When I read the above quote, it brought to mind the 12 Questions to measure employee engagement first introduced by Marcus Buckingham in his book, First Break All The Rules. By now, I hope you have read the book.

I have written about the 12 Questions several times. You can read them here in a post I did in 2018.

Buckingham, along with many other experts, is telling us that great managers perform check-ins with their direct reports frequently. It is how managing people has evolved. The annual performance appraisal is dead. Today’s workforce wants to know how they are doing daily. A check-in can be monthly or weekly but I think it should be more often. The old description of a manager: A person who gets work done through other people. That is not what happens in CPA firms. A manager spends too much time working and not enough time checking in.

Checking in doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Watch this short video from Buckingham and become a better manager of people.

You are a leader if and only if, you are restless for change, impatient for progress, and deeply dissatisfied with status quo.- Marcus Buckingham
  • 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

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

Wanting To Be Served

“We live in the age of entitlement, as opposed to enlightenment.” – Bill Bailey

Do you need to listen to a parenting expert? Yes.

As John Rosemond, a widely-read parenting expert wrote this a few years ago:

People with high self-esteem want to be paid attention to and served. They believe in their entitlement. On the other hand, folks with high regard for others pay attention to others and look for opportunities to serve them.

It is unarguable that culture is best served, preserved, and advanced by folks who fit into the latter category. Entitlements weaken, and a culture-wide entitlement mentality weakens the entire culture. Along these lines, every single manager, employer, and supervisor with whom I’ve talked in the last decade or so has told me that today’s young college graduates, by and large, are not looking for work; rather, they are looking for benefits packages (i.e. entitlements).

I must admit, I have heard from many CPA firm partners that they have some partners who are definitely on the high self-esteem wagon, demanding attention and not caring about the feelings of others. Think about the future if ALL of your partners were without humility and a sense of caring for others.

Set the example for your entire team by always demonstrating a high regard for others. Counsel others, if you need to, about their attitude of entitlement (wanting to be served).

  • It is true that, when an entitlement begins to be enjoyed by people, they like to keep it.
  • Jon Kyl

Monday, February 28th, 2022

Are They Succeeding?

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

You have scrambled to hire enough qualified people to help the firm make it through tax season. Now that you have them, will you be able to keep them?

Workers want to know how they are doing. Are they making progress quickly enough? What does their career path look like? What more can they do?

Sad to say, CPA firm partners and managers don’t often communicate continually, with clarity, about a person’s job performance. Some tend to save their comments until it is time for a more formal feedback session. That doesn’t work any longer.

This topic came in recently in a discussion with one of my clients. The topic was scheduling. Were they doing enough to keep everyone busy? Some staff members didn’t speak up when they didn’t have enough work. The firm does have a person in charge of coordinating the scheduling function, that’s the first step.

Here’s what I tell young people working in a CPA firm. If you don’t have enough work on your schedule, you should be worried. Here’s how it goes:

Tony Partner informs the scheduler that John Jones Excavating Company’s work has arrived and he needs a Senior to do the work. He would like Betsy but don’t give it to Terry. Others often say they don’t want their work assigned to Terry. No communication has been directed to Terry. It is the simple fact that word has spread throughout the firm that Terry’s work is sub-standard yet, no one has told Terry.

If someone is not performing well, CPAs tend to shun them. Definition of shun: “to avoid deliberately and especially habitually.”

Managers and partners – be very honest and tell them exactly what you tell each other about them. Give them guidance on what to do about it, mentor them and if that doesn’t work – deal with it.

  • Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don't wish it were easier; wish you were better.
  • Jim Rohn

Tuesday, February 15th, 2022

Role Models

“Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement, and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than the parent.” – Bob Keeshan

In a public accounting firm, there are a lot of young people, new college graduates, just beginning their work life.

“Partners are the ultimate role models for new college accounting graduates just entering the workforce. Every word, movement, and action has an effect. No other people or outside force has a greater influence on a new hire than the partners.” – Rita Keller

You can see what came to mind when I read the quote by Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo).

It is true. I have observed that interns, within two weeks, can tell you the way this partner wants something and the way that partner wants something. I have seen, first-hand, how skilled interns are at doing personal imitations of certain partners for the entertainment of their peers.

When in discussions with CPA firm team members, talking about the importance of clearly defined policies and procedures, I always ask, “Who doesn’t follow the firm’s procedures?” The immediate answer is always the same, “The partners!”

If you are a partner, a manager or other leader in a firm never forget that you are being watched with a magnifying glass. Yes, you are the ultimate role model.

  • Each person must live their life as a role model for others.
  • Rosa Parks

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

Are You Meeting Their Needs?

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Be sure you are aware of what your employees really need. Firms are trying all kinds of creative and unique ways to attract people and to keep the talented people they already employ. Some of these ways are not so creative and unique, nor do they have to be.

You might think that more money will solve the hiring and retention dilemma. I agree that it will certainly help. I have observed that many firms are offering new recruits nearly the same salary that my firm offered about twelve years ago! For small to medium-size firms, beginning salaries are still not very competitive. Owners make the excuse that they are small and that they are located in areas where the cost of living is less than major cities. Location isn’t an excuse any longer. You are competing with every CPA firm everywhere.

In a recent article, Suzanne Lucas (@realevilhrlady) notes that 77% of employees say they would prefer to work for a company that gives them flexibility rather than work for a company with a fancy corporate headquarters.

Flexibility has been discussed extensively in the CPA profession but it is still a challenge for managers and for those being managed. Managers are uneasy about having people work from home. How do they know they are working? Well, trust is the answer but that is a topic for another day.

It is true that some managers micro-manage and want to track time on the employees’ computers (keystrokes) and want them to have their cameras on all the time so they can be seen working. Thankfully, I don’t see those extremes in very many accounting firms.

Read Lucas’ article and learn how ER (employee relations) can help managers focus on results and outcomes, rather than availability when a manager reaches out to them.

  • The man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.
  • Max Lucado

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Silence Often Helps – Flashback Friday

This week’s Flashback comes from 2018. Asking questions is VERY important but do you ask too many, too often?


“Sometimes you don’t have to say anything. Silence speaks it all.” – Disha Patani

During each day, you get an enormous amount of questions.

You are the firm administrator. It seems like people are lined up outside your office door continually as the day evolves.

You are the managing partner. A client calls and expects an answer on the spot. A partner stops you in the hall and asks a question. Your firm administrator needs an answer right away!

Partners and managers get questions from staff. Staff members get questions from each other. It seems everyone asking questions thinks YOU must have an easy and quick answer.

Try a little silence. In appropriate situations, just remain silent and the person asking the question just might answer it themselves.

If you are stopped in the hallway and asked a question say: “Let me think about that and I’ll get back to you.” Often, people catch you off guard and it is much safer to deflect, think and then reply.

Delay doesn’t mean days or weeks, it means minutes or hours.

One of the main insights I receive from staff is that they often wait on answers from partners (mostly regarding client work) for days, weeks, and sometimes months.

  • He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Wednesday, January 12th, 2022

Three Rules For Networking

“The single greatest people skill is a highly developed and authentic interest in the other person.” – Bob Burg

#1 – You must be committed

An effective network is built over time. It’s not immediate gratification. Engage people in conversation. What are common interests? Do your children go to the same school? The magic phrase “tell me about yourself.”

#2 – Develop a relationship

Scanning in biz cards or adding contacts to Outlook isn’t it. Sending your contact a firm brochure or calling to ask for an appointment won’t work. If you find out something you have in common (love of dogs) send them an article.

#3 – Give, give, give

The magic phrase #2: How can I help you? Better to give than receive applies. Perhaps you can make an Introduction. Maybe they need an answer to a question. Become a go-to person.

My story:  How many things did I give away before I ever got paid for consulting?  Hundreds, maybe thousands. It does not happen over night.  It doesn’t have to if you start your young people on the networking trail immediately.

  • Networking is a lot like nutrition and fitness: we know what to do, the hard part is making it a top priority.
  • Herminia Ibarra

Monday, December 13th, 2021


“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”- John C. Maxwell

Marcus Buckingham said it years ago in his book First Break All The Rules in 2016 and it is still being repeated almost daily in the business world:

“People leave managers, not companies” – Marcus Buckingham, First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

In my version for CPA firms, it goes like this: “People don’t leave firms, they leave people.”

If you are experiencing the new trend called, “The Great Resignation,” don’t be surprised if you discover that some of your talented people leave because they have not experienced an involved, focused, qualified and caring manager.

Do you have people who are driving other people away? You better fix it.

Instead of managers being worker bees, they should adhere to the description of a manager: A manager gets things done through other people. They don’t do the work themselves. Leaders must allow managers to be managers of people and not production units who must hit certain chargeable hour goals themselves.

I’ll leave you with another quote from the same book by Buckingham:

“The talented employee may join a company because of its charismatic leaders, its generous benefits, and its world-class training programs, but how long that employee stays and how productive he is while he is there is determined by his relationship with his immediate supervisor.”

  • To lead people, walk behind them.
  • Lao Tzu

Friday, December 10th, 2021

Finding More Time – Flashback Friday

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward

Ask yourself, what am I doing that someone with a lower billing rate can easily do? You need to enhance your delegation skills. Read this flashback post.

  • If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.
  • John Maxwell