Archive for the ‘Millennials’ Category

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Leaders Aren’t Parents

“There’s nothing that makes you more insane than family. Or more happy. Or more exasperated. Or more… secure.” – Jim Butcher

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I follow @leadershipfreak (Dan Rockwell) and often retweet him and read his blog.

A while back he did a blog post on the topic of businesses saying that they “are like families.” He asks the question, “Is your organization/leadership like a family or like a sports team?”  I hear the family description used by many public accounting firms.

It is important that you keep in mind that your employees are not your family. My main concern with this whole topic is the fact that you find it very difficult to fire a family member. You stand by them and protect them no matter what the behavior. So, if you have a poor performer you do not deal with it very well. You even retain people who are, in no stretch of the imagination, expertly performing the duties expected of their role in the firm.

As Leadershipfreak notes:

Family style organizations find it difficult to bring up tough issues and wait too long to address poor performance. Feelings run the show. The issues you can’t discuss limit potential and hinder growth.

Read his thought-provoking post here and see if you can relate it to your accounting firm.

  • Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.
  • David Ogden Stiers

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

I’ve Been Thinking About Followership

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Last year, I again had the chance to visit the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. I had been there a couple of times before but it has been quite a few years ago and this was the first time I had visited the actual visitor’s center.

The Center provides great information and outside there is a walkway that brings you to a spectacular view of the U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel (the inside is simply breath-taking).

At the visitor center, I learned that the program at the Academy is guided by the Air Force’s core values of “Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do”, and based on four “pillars of excellence”: military training, academics, athletics, and character development.

I was also able to read about the cumulative responsibilities that cadets are taught as they move through their 4-year education. Yes, they are taught (and developed into) leaders. And, they are also taught followership.

Fourth Class – Freshman Year

  • Demonstrate assertive followership skills
  • Prepare to be instructors of the next fourth class

Third Class – Sophomore Year

  • Demonstrate effective instructional skills
  • Prepare to be supervisors in the cadet wing
  • Exemplify assertive followership skills

Second Class – Junior Year

  • Demonstrate effective supervisory skills
  • Prepare to be cadet officer-leaders in the cadet wing
  • Exemplify effective instructional and assertive followership skills

First Class – Senior Year

  • Demonstrate effective leadership and officership skills
  • Prepare to be commissioned officers in the US Air Force
  • Exemplify effective supervisory, instructional, and followership skills

Notice how each year builds on the prior year. What if, inside CPA firms, we taught more about followership? What if we had well-defined training programs that continued to build on the prior year without forgetting the basics (like followership)? What if all partners demonstrated followership as well as teamwork?

So many articles, programs, conferences, seminars, webinars, and CPE classes are focused on leadership skills for accountants and we still hear, profession-wide, that we don’t have enough future leaders.

Maybe we are going about it all wrong.

  • The world is moved not only by the mighty shoves of heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.
  • Helen Keller

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

Gen Z – What Matters to Them

“It is not what you look at that matters, it is what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

If you work in a public accounting firm, you work hard and you work long hours during certain times of the year.

That description has been around for decades. The baby boomers embraced it and thrived. Gen X rebelled somewhat because their description of “working hard and long hours” was different from the prior generation. Then the Millennials came along and had their own thoughts about working hard.

I have been studying these generations for years. I did many presentations during the mid-90s in an effort to help the Boomers cope with Gen X. In recent years, it’s been all about how to cope with the Millennials.

Now, we have Gen Z, those born from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s.

The birth years of each generation has varied depending on the source. Here’s how Pew Research defines the generations as of 2018:

  • The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 (73-90 years old)
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (54-72 years old)
  • Generation X: Born 1965-1980 (38-53 years old)
  • Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (22-37 years old)
  • Post-Millennials: Born 1997-Present (0-21 years old)

The post-millennials are, of course, Gen Z.

According to a recent survey by IFAC, here’s what matters to Gen Z:

Gen Zs Top Career Priorities:

  • Stable Career Path
  • Work-life Balance
  • Competitive Salary and Benefits

Read all about the report via IFAC here.

  • In matters of style, swim with the current, in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
  • Thomas Jefferson

Friday, October 12th, 2018

In a Hurry?

Lots of experts tell us that millennials want to know how fast they will be promoted. While I agree that you must be able to explain how a career path plays out at your firm, I wonder if a bit of reality might be in order.

Reading the following quote made me realize what a long journey it is to build relationships, learn, and keep current, on loads of technical issues, become well-known in your business community and also build a reputation as “the expert” in a certain discipline.

“It took me fifteen years to make it look easy.” – Fred Astaire

I am not saying that it should take 15 years to become a partner. I am saying that after you do become a partner you must continue to learn, grow and develop ways to make what you do look easy.

  • Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
  • Marie Curie

Friday, October 5th, 2018

The Best Perks

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Dan Hood, editor-in-chief of Accounting Today has summarized for us some of the most common perks offered by The Best Firms. He notes, “The Best Firms share a long list of attributes, policies and best practices that have become table stakes for recruiting and retaining top talent.”

Here is his list of perks and extras offered by The Best. Be sure to read his post to learn more about each perk. Follow Dan on Twitter.

  • Dress for your day
  • Giving staff more time
  • Closing the office at slow times
  • Food – and lots of it
  • Including family in firm events
  • Support for individual community service
  • A true commitment to remote work

I have found that several of these are offered by many firms, large and small. The one I wish more firms would address is the last one – a true commitment to remote work.

  • Dispirited, unmotivated, unappreciated workers cannot compete in a highly competitive world.
  • Francis Hesselbein

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.

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

There Is A Difference

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens

Many firms have done a great job of focusing on employee engagement. But, there is more to the story.

Employee engagement and employee experience are not the same.

Employee experience is how the firm provides the employee with an environment, culture, and systems that meet their needs and enables them to do their work efficiently. Employee engagement is an element of employee experience and involves two-way communication.

Research tells us that there are workplace practices that are critical to creating a positive employee experience. They are:

  • Organizational Trust
  • Co-Worker Relationships
  • Meaningful Work
  • Feedback and Growth
  • Empowerment and Voice
  • Work-Life Balance

Here’s a great article posted on CMSWire by David Roe that will give you some interesting details and help you create an effective employee experience for your people.

  • It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.
  • Napolean Hill

Monday, August 20th, 2018

Adulting

“When I came into my adulthood, I recognized how fortunate I was to be doing what I loved to do.” – Laurence Fishburne

Have you heard the term, adulting? If you are a millennial, I am sure you have but older bosses might not be so savvy.

The term #Adulting is a hashtag – a social media thing and it is used often by millennials to indicate they did something an adult does, like their own laundry.

There are a lot of experts out there who have had enough of the word. They believe it is actually self-demeaning for millennials (some almost 40 years old) to use it.

Read this interesting article via Cosmopolitan titled “Shut the Hell Up About ‘Adulting’.”

Here’s an excerpt to give you a flavor for the situation:

My boss is an older Millennial who gives me a lot of responsibility at work. She trusts me to manage our interns, make sure reports are sent out to higher-ups, and that her schedule is always up to date. I’m not going to look capable of any of those things if I act like going to the grocery store alone is “adulting,” my biggest accomplishment yet. I want even more responsibility than I have now, and I’m not going to get there by acting like I need a pat on the back for brushing my teeth and showing up to work on time. 

At your firm, I hope you are always treating your millennials like adults. Talk to them about this topic. I am optimistic that most accounting degreed, younger professionals are already acting like adults.

  • Part of adulthood is searching for the people who understand you.
  • Hanya Yanagihara

Friday, July 27th, 2018

July Newsletter – Employee Engagement

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams

My July newsletter went out this week. The feature article was written for MNCPA and published in their Footnote newsletter for members.

Articles:

Engagement For The Benefit of All

Organizations with high employee engagement experience 22 percent higher profitability. Reprinted with permission of MNCPA,

Need to talk?

Sometimes you just need a sounding board or someone outside the firm to simply listen and offer suggestions. Read more about my personalized advisory program for management leaders in CPA firms.

You can sign-up here to receive my newsletter via email.

 

  • Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.
  • Marie Curie

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

Beware of Helicopter Parents

“A suburban mother’s role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after.” – Peter De Vries

Fall recruiting season is fast approaching. Your recruiting team will be on college campuses for job fairs, networking events and interviews. Beware of helicopter moms. They have been spotted roaming the halls of accounting job fairs gathering intel for their student.

Over the last several years, I have heard more and more stories about helicopter parents (almost always Moms) getting involved in the job search and actual hiring of their children by accounting firms. I know, many of you will say this is unbelievable! It’s not. It happens.

It probably begins when their younger teenager gets their first job. Maybe that first job is a fast food chain or a summer job at the local pool. Moms are protective and they check things out.

Here’s a great, short story from Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady. You’ll love the title of her post: Dear Moms, Do You Want Your 35-Year-Old Living in Your Basement? Because This Is How You Get That.

Check out this amusing video in one of my previous posts.

  • Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together.
  • Pearl S. Buck