Archive for the ‘Talent’ Category

Monday, January 20th, 2020

Retaining Top Talent

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs

It is very difficult to find and hire talented accountants and administrative personnel. Accounting firms have been struggling for years with this topic and it only seems to be getting more challenging. So, once you do hire a qualified person, how do you keep them?

I recently read a good article via HBR titled, Why People Quit Their Jobs.

In the CPA profession, we have heard for years that the reason people leave their jobs is the fact that they have a poor manager (boss).

Research now tells us that there is more to it than just a bad manager. Technology has enabled companies to better track reasons people leave jobs. A lot of it is personal reasons. Another interesting aspect is that large companies are tracking what employees are doing that might indicate they are unhappy with their current job like how much time they spend on LinkedIn.

It seems that comparing themselves to their peer group – both business peers and personal friends causes people to consider their current job status.

Take a few minutes to read the article, I think you will find it helpful in your quest to retain top talent.

  • Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions and a healthy dose of curiosity. What do you think is the most important factor when building your team? For us, it’s personality.
  • Richard Branson

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Why Poor Performers Stay

“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” – Ronald Reagan

Some of your team members are not meeting expectations. Some are downright disruptive.

You have been unhappy with them for a long time, usually years. A new employee could easily cover their workload and often at a much lower pay rate. Yet, you do not deal with the situation.

The unhappy employee continues to inject poison into your culture. When asked, they willingly explain that they are not happy with firm leadership but they stay because they love the work, love the clients and the firm needs them.

The real reason they stay – they make too much money to quit. With their performance and work history, they could not easily find another job that pays as well.

  • The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't being said. The art of reading between the lines is a lifelong quest of the wise.
  • Shannon L. Alder

Monday, December 9th, 2019

Attracting & Developing Top Talent

“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” – John Wooden

Everyone is hiring. It used to be a seasonal event for accounting firms. Now, progressive firms have adopted a plan for continuous hiring. Firms are growing and it is important to hire before you have to.

My questions for accounting firms (and some things for you to consider):

Do you have a rigorous focus on professional development? Maybe this is why there is so much worry about succession. Why not be more generous with education dollars for your younger staff. Of course, you must give them technical training but don’t forget about the “success skills” (formerly known as soft skills) if you want them to become business advisors earlier in their careers.

Have you attracted and retained the smartest people? Young people are drawn to public accounting because they appreciate being able to work with smart, successful, creative, and hard-working people. Do the majority of your people fit this description? Do you keep too many mediocre performers?

Do your young all-stars have vast opportunities? Or, do they have to wait ten years to become a manager?

Do you reward your best performers with salaries beyond being competitive? Or, do you try to get by with the minimum of just keeping pace with average firms?

  • Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose.
  • Bill Gates

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

New Rules of Work

“Disruption requires us to think differently about work.” – Sharlyn Lauby

I’m sure you have noticed, finding, hiring, and retaining talented people has become more and more difficult. The AICPA PCPS 2019 Top Issues names Finding Qualified Staff as the top issue in every firm size category (except sole proprietors).

In the accounting profession, everyone is talking about disruption and the need to change how things have been done in the past. The work and the workforce has changed and it requires us to think differently about work.

Sharlyn Lauby (@hrbartender) has written an excellent post: The 7 New Rules of Work – Workforce Readiness In the Digital Age. I urge you to read it and share it with all the partners and HR leaders in your firm.

The rules she describes come from a keynote she heard by Polly LaBarre, author of the New York Times best-seller “Mavericks at Work: Why The Most Original Minds in Business Win.”

It is important to create rules that apply all the time and to let those rules drive company culture.

The rules are:

  1. Everyone has power
  2. Nobody is smarter than everyone
  3. All ideas are heard
  4. Challenging ideas is acceptable and encouraged
  5. Passion is the most powerful currency
  6. People design their own jobs
  7. Values rule decision-making and accountability

Please read the article. It gives good advice to managers and HR leaders about these seven rules. Staying current on trends in hiring and retaining will help you win the talent wars in the CPA profession.

  • Company values should already be the guiding principles of the organization.
  • Sharlyn Lauby

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

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Solutions Rather Than Problems

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”–Jim Collins

CPAs, along with all others who are hiring, are looking to hire people who bring solutions rather than problems. As amazing as it seems, CPAs tend to keep people for years who are definitely problems.

Per FAST Company, when asked nearly half of recruiters and hiring managers cited potential as the number-one factor, beating out experience (37%), personality (16%), and education (2%).

When you are hiring, are you looking for potential? I have observed that CPA hiring managers are usually looking for experience. The fact is experienced accountants, no matter what their level, are very hard to find and even more difficult to keep. Plus, they always bring “baggage” with them.

Hopefully, you have a strong intern program and are hiring from that pool of talent in an effort to build your firm for the future.  In this day and age, you need to look for candidates who have the willingness and ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances. The best employees are lifelong learners and are always seeking new experiences. Does that sound like the accountants on your staff? I doubt it. Many CPAs, not all, are known for avoiding change (and new experiences).

As you hire the new generation of accountants, I think you will find candidates who have the willingness and ability to grow and adapt. Maybe it is time to update your interview and selection process. (I have an Interview & Selection Guide that is available for purchase. Contact me if you are interested.)

 

  • You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb it.
  • Andrew Carnegie

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

New Beginnings

“When you repeat a mistake, it is not a mistake anymore: it is a decision.” – Paulo Coelho

Whether you are a new college graduate or someone with experience joining a different CPA firm, you will make mistakes. It is expected and your new bosses (partners/managers) understand.

One of the most common complaints I have heard over my many years working with CPAs and one I continue to hear on almost a weekly basis is about the issue of people learning from their mistakes. I hear:

  • They keep making the same mistakes over and over.
  • They don’t listen.
  • They don’t learn from their mistakes.

Repeating a mistake is something your new bosses don’t understand. I love the above quote. Read it again and commit to not making the same mistake twice!

  • Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

What If They Stay?

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard

I see it all the time, there are people who need to go. Owners hope and pray they will eventually quit. In fact, they subtly take steps to encourage departure. But, what if they stay? Is it worth demotivating your top performers because poor performers experience no consequences for their lack of engagement, low performance, and bad attitudes?
Here’s a tweet from Bruce Tulgan, author of It’s Okay To Be The Boss:
Of course, there are employees we don’t want to lose. But who are you afraid will stay? Identify those people. Are they low performers? Do they have an attitude problem? Are they simply not engaged? If you can fix the problem, do it! Otherwise, you’ve got to let those people go.
  • No man goes before his time; unless the boss leaves early.
  • Groucho Marx

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

Fighting The Talent Wars

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” – Richard Branson,

If you want to attract and keep outstanding people, you need to create a culture where top talent can shine. Your people systems matter most.

When was the last time you updated your people systems to keep pace with current trends?

Here’s a list. Get busy.

  • Recruitment
  • Orientation, Onboarding, and Training
  • Performance Management
  • Development and Opportunity
  • Leaders Leading by Example
  • The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.
  • Steve Jobs

Friday, September 6th, 2019

Salaries For CPAs

“Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.” – Michael Leboeuf

CPAs are accountants but not all accountants are CPAs. There is a big difference and there is also a difference in what kind of salaries are paid to CPAs.

I receive many questions about what kind of salaries firms are paying their employees. Entry-level salaries are always of great interest to CPA firm leaders. Many are wondering what they need to offer to next year’s graduates. Entry-level accountants intending to become CPAs should also realize that their starting salary is “just a drop in the bucket” in relation to what their future earnings can become.

Thanks to Accounting Today, here is a good visual – read the full article here.

salary range

  • Financial peace isn't the acquisition of stuff. It's learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can't win until you do this.
  • Dave Ramsey