Archive for the ‘Millennials’ Category

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

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

Orientation and Onboarding

“People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” – Jim Collins

While the CPAs have been busy serving clients in tax season, I hope your practice manager or HR manager has used the time to make sure your firm’s hiring practices are in line with current trends. I believe that onboarding, in public accounting, can take up to a full year.

Here is a link to a blog I wrote in 2016 about how orientation and onboarding have changed in recent years.

Here is a link to a good article via Journal of Accountancy on the same topic.

Share this blog post with your HR professionals.

  • If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.
  • Red Adair

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Morning Person Or Not

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

I am a morning person. I like to get up early (5:00a) and start the day by reading and drinking a cup of coffee. Then I work most of the morning at a fairly ambitious pace. I have always felt I do my best work in the morning.

It’s not for everyone. Many people are definitely not morning people. That’s the joy of embracing flexible schedules for all your team members.

When I was working in a firm, I would be the first one there at 6:00a, that is when I was most productive. I had a partner who would often work until 2:00a. He was the most productive after 7:00p.

Many firms now provide core hours that they expect people to be available. Outside those core hours, people can work whenever and wherever. Some firms don’t even specify core hours any longer. Are you allowing people to work at their most productive time?

  • If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.
  • Bruce Lee

Friday, March 8th, 2019

Don’t Forget The Men

“The most important thing in the world is family and love.” – John Wooden

Working in an accounting firm during busy season is a real juggling act. A majority of the staff is made up of young, married people who are raising children.

You can read lots of articles and posts about how working women need help. Don’t forget about the dads.

Young married couples today raise children much differently than baby boomer couples and even some older Gen-Xers.  Men cook, clean, do the laundry, too. Household tasks are shared by the couple and so are the demands of childcare. One young female CPA told me that she and her husband flip a coin to see who stays home with a sick child. Other couples compare calendars and see what makes sense for the day before they decide who stays home.

As you are updating and better defining your benefits program, don’t forget that families need flexibility, not just women.

Here’s an interesting article via @Inc about childcare and Amazon.

  • Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.
  • George Burns

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.