Archive for the ‘Talent’ Category

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

In Accounting Firms Do Managers Really Manage?

“Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” – John Rockefeller

In accounting firms, managers are promoted because they have accumulated experience in public accounting and they are highly skilled technicians. They need more than that.

Managers become partners in firms. They still often lack the most important skill, managing people.

As noted in a recent HBR article, Dr. Jim Mitchell a computer scientist who made the leap into management from an engineering position, eventually retiring as Vice President at Oracle Laboratories, said that people skills, including empathy and self-knowledge, were the most important characteristics he himself needed to possess when he transitioned to management.

Anna Ranieri, the author of the article noted that moving into management requires divesting oneself of some individual contributor duties and taking on new duties as a team leader. This rarely happens in accounting firms when promoting people to manager and promoting managers to partner.

Managers hold things up by:

  • Doing tasks that should be delegated to team members
  • Taking back the tasks that they have delegated because they believe they can do them better
  • Under communicating with direct reports, making them unsure of their duties
  • Micromanaging in a way that doesn’t allow team members to expand their own capabilities

These are exactly the things new managers demonstrate when they are promoted inside an accounting firm.

Read the entire article (How to Know if  Someone Is Ready to Be a Manager) and share it with all the managers in your firm.

  • Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.
  • Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

Invest in Educating Yourself

“Never begrudge the money you spend on your own education.” – Jim Rohn

How much of your own money are you spending on educating yourself?

I find that people working in accounting firms assume the firm should pay for any and all resources to educate the staff. Yes, firms should be providing the appropriate dollars for CPE. But, have you ever decided not to read a book because the firm won’t pay for it? Have you been disappointed when the firm would not pay for a training course or for you to go to a conference?

If you want to grow your career you should continually be investing in yourself. If you need to be better at public speaking, join Toastmasters and pay for it yourself if the firm won’t. Subscribe to Success magazine. Carve out time to buy and read novels. Take a peer to lunch and pay for it yourself.

It’s your career. It’s your life.

  • Every moment of one's existence, one is growing into more or retreating into less.
  • Norman Mailer

Friday, June 21st, 2019

Flashback Friday – Young CPAs Start Sooner!

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” – Stephen Hawking

If you are not a young CPA – I hope you share this blog post with young CPAs. There is so much more to becoming a successful CPA than just knowing how to do the work.

  • It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.
  • John Wooden

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Continuous Testing for the CPA Exam

“Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.”     Jack Canfield

Great news for your future CPAs. In case you haven’t heard, continuous testing for the CPA Exam has been approved.

Be sure you are constantly encouraging your new hires to take the Exam! Here’s some information released by the Ohio Society of CPAs:

Soon CPA exam candidates won’t have to wait until the next testing window to retake a section, thanks to a revised NASBA rule.

In April the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy approved the Uniform Accountancy Act Model Rule 5-7(a)(2) rule, stating “…a Candidate can retake a Test Section once their grade for any previous attempt of the same Test Section has been released.” The news was announced in the May board report.

“It’s one of those things that everyone has always wanted,” said Laura Hay, CPA, vice president of The Ohio Society of CPAs. “It’s just now the administration and technology have all caught up.”

Most states, including Ohio, will have to change their rules to permit the revision, but Hay predicted most states will be in favor, and it will be a question of resources and how quickly they are able to make the change.

For future test-takers, this means saving valuable time on that 18-month countdown that begins once candidates pass the first section. According to the AICPA website, with the current system, if you take a section of the exam on July 20, you would have to wait until October to take the next section, despite receiving your score on August 6.

The plan is to roll out continuous testing by July 2020.

  • Exams test your memory, life tests your learning; others will test your patience.
  • Fennel Hudson

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Firing a Pregnant Person

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” ― Tom Bodett

I am often consulted about various HR issues inside an accounting firm. I’ve received questions of many types and some of the same questions over and over again. I am not a legal law attorney. So, I may give you advice as to how many accounting firms have handled various problems but I strongly advise you to check with your attorney before you proceed in some troubling situations.

One repeated question is basically, can we fire a female who is pregnant? Experts tell us you can fire a pregnant person but not because they are pregnant. Here is a very interesting and educational article for you to read. Please read it. If the issue hasn’t come up at your firm, sometime in the future it will

It’s from Inc. and written by Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady, titled: 7 Lawsuits Claim Amazon Fires Pregnant Women.

  • Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.
  • George Carlin

Monday, May 6th, 2019

Everyone Loves Them

“Safety and comfort come with complacency, and that’s never a good place to be working from.” – Elijah Wood

Many firms are already providing stand-up desks to their team members. Most of what I have heard has been very positive. While I don’t have one myself, I have visited several clients and checked them out first-hand. It seems they are greatly appreciated.

If you want to provide them to your people, you can do it in phases to make it more affordable. Big surprise, certain partners got them first but now firms are even providing them to the entire admin team.

Here’s a real-life report from Karen Farino, Firm Administrator at Pasquesi Sheppard LLC, Lake Forest, Illinois:

“I definitely recommend the sit/stand desks. If you can I highly suggest purchasing a sit to stand desk rather than a unit that sits on top of the desk.

We have replaced 90% of our desks over the last two years with Sit to Stand desks from Haworth. They are “L” shaped and we had them custom made. It is really very affordable. Everyone here LOVES them. Our managing partner likes his so much that we bought one for his home too.

standupdeskThe L desk is 69” in each direction from the corner, and 29” deep. You can custom size them smaller. I am attaching a photo – it isn’t the greatest but will give you an idea as to what we did.

Our admin staff is stuck with the Varidesk units on top of their desks. They like them but don’t love them because when you are standing there is still a lot of items that are on the desk that they have to access which means it is inconvenient and you have to bend down. Not optimal. They also all have two monitors (by choice). If they had three the Varidesk units would not work. I’ve yet to see a decent three monitor sit-to-stand desktop unit. Each admin has their own printer and scanner at their desk.”

How about an office refresh project for your firm this summer?

  • Instead of being 'heads down' we should be 'heads up' so we can spot trends.
  • Josh Linkner

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Managing Remote Employees

“A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.” – Simon Sinek

It is finally becoming fairly commonplace in the world of public accounting. Firms are hiring more and more remote employees. Firms also seem to be struggling with exactly how to manage these somewhat invisible people.

First of all, don’t let them be invisible. There are just too many technology tools available today that can make a remote employee feel almost like one working inside your office.

Google, who employs nearly 100,000 workers spread over 150 cities in more than 50 countries (on five continents) did a study of more than 5,000 employees. They measured well-being, performance, and connectedness (and other things). They came up with recommendations on how to keep things consistent.

Here are three things they recommend for remote teams:

  1. Get to know your people
  2. Set clear boundaries
  3. Forge connections

Read this article via Inc. and learn more about these three things and how to make remote employees (and your firm) more successful.

  • "We were happy to find no difference in the effectiveness, performance ratings, or promotions for individuals and teams whose work requires collaboration with colleagues around the world versus Googlers who spend most of their day to day working with colleagues in the same office,"
  • Veronica Gilrane, Manager of Google's People Innovation Lab

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

Monday, March 18th, 2019

Ghosting

“Our feet are planted in the real world, but we dance with angels and ghosts.” – John Cameron Mitchell

Maybe your firm has done it. I know a lot of firms where it happens. Someone interviews with the firm for an accounting position. You interview them and end with the normal “We’ll get back to you” comment. But no one does get back with them. You have made the decision to hire another candidate but you don’t get back with every one you interviewed to let them know. Someone dropped the ball.

Maybe payback can be expected. Applicants and employees are now ghosting their employers in greater numbers. Per USA Today:

Workers are ‘ghosting‘ interviews, blowing off work in a strong job market. … A growing number are “ghosting” their jobs: blowing off scheduled job interviews, accepting offers but not showing up the first day and even vanishing from existing positions – all without giving notice.

I have heard some amazing stories from firms. Many of the cases are people in administrative positions. They report for the first day and then never show up again. One firm even told me a new admin person left at lunch on the first day and never came back. It sounds amusing (when you are not involved) but it is not that unusual any longer.

Here’s a great article via Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady.

Make sure your firm has systems in place to facilitate the interview and selection process so no one feels ghosted.

  • Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.
  • Stephen King

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Algorithms, Parental Leave & Other Information

“We never know the love of a parent til we become parents ourselves.” – Henry Ward Beecher

I recently read a very interesting article via Fast Company about Stitch Fix and its CEO, Katrina Lake. At age 34, she was not only the youngest female founder to ever lead an IPO but she also stood at the Nasdaq podium while holding her toddler on her hip.

I know many women who have made Stitch Fix a part of their lives. The story of the company is very interesting. You can learn something about how they gather and use data. Also, I think accounting firms could learn something about parental leave from Lake. Here’s an excerpt:

Stitch Fix’s board is more than 60% female, and its tech staff is 35%—still not gender parity, but far better than the industry average and without hiring quotas. Interviewees are informed that the company values “bright” people over the purely book smart and “kind” people over nice. During the application process, instead of having to solve a technical problem alone, candidates are paired with a nontechnical staffer from styling or merchandising to collaborate, which quickly surfaces inventive applicants. Lake has also been adamant about fostering work-life balance. Most notably, she provides 16 weeks of parental leave to all full-time employees who are primary caretakers—whether they work in data science or a warehouse. It never occurred to Lake to create the kind of caste system of disparate benefits for different types of workers that’s prevalent at many tech companies.

She took the full 16 weeks herself this winter after the birth of her second child in November. “There might’ve been times, years ago, where I would’ve felt a little bit more uncomfortable taking the leave,” Lake says during her last full week in the office in the fall. “We have lots of women at Stitch Fix who are growing their families and also doing a great job here. Being able to take a leave is the right thing for your family. It’s also the right thing for your work so that you can come back and be focused and be excited.”

  • 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