Archive for the ‘Talent’ Category

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

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

People Leave

“Fear of the unknown keeps a lot of people from leaving bad situations.” – Kathy Lee Gifford

If you are a staff person thinking of leaving your current firm, don’t fret.

If you are a firm leader and have been notified that someone you like (or don’t like) is leaving, don’t fret.

It is simple, people leave jobs all the time for a multitude of reasons.

It was always interesting to me, when I was working inside a busy firm, that when someone left, after about 2 days no one even seemed to notice. This applied to a person who had been short-term at the firm or even if it was a 15-year key manager.

If you are managing a growing, successful, progressive firm there are no worries, the firm will go on. People will step up if needed and clients often don’t even care as long as someone intelligent responds to them.

If you are a key-person, don’t ever get so conceited that you think “the firm” will miss you. Life will go on for you and for the firm, just as it should.

 

  • Parting is such sweet sorrow.
  • William Shakespeare

Monday, February 11th, 2019

Performance Standards

“Performance standards help to set expectations and provide consistency.” – Sharlyn Lauby

When a new hire enters your firm or even if it is a short-term intern, do they really understand what is expected of them?

Of course, you provide a detailed job description, maybe not to an intern but to a full-time new hire. What if you communicated even more clearly?

I believe some clearly defined Standards of Performance are in order. Why not rename and reformat your job descriptions into performance standards?

If you want a sample of Standards of Performance for accountants working in a CPA firm, just let me know, I am happy to share.

Here’s a good article titled, Employees Become Successful When They Know What Success Looks Like, from Sharlyn Lauby, @hrbartender.

  • The true measure of any business leader and manager is performance.
  • Brian Tracy

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

The Hiring Challenge

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi

I was reading an article via the Journal of Accountancy titled, Small firm spotlight: How I recruit and hire new accountants. Cheryl Meyer interviewed Kenneth Cerini, the managing partner at Cerini & Associates.

I could certainly relate to much of what Mr. Cerini divulged.

Recruiting and hiring is an art, not a science. When you are hiring people, you can’t cram a square peg into a round hole. We’ve brought people in from bigger accounting firms and realize they are not the right fit overall. We have much smaller clients, and our clients need more handholding. That’s why I love interns. I’d rather invest more money in the training and be able to bring on people at a younger level and help them grow within our atmosphere. You learn a tremendous amount during your first two to three years in public accounting.

At my firm, we found that hiring a 5-year person from a big four firm was not a very smart move. We had many small business owners and our 5-year people were so much more knowledgeable on many types of situations. It seemed to us that a 5-year person working at one of the big national accounting firms just did a one-year person’s duties five times.

However, that being said, firms are often very successful in training smart people no matter what their background. Often it is the training programs that need attention and, of course, the experienced new hire’s attitude is key.

  • Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
  • Helen Keller

Monday, January 21st, 2019

It’s Healthy to Stand

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” – H. G. Wells

I noticed a news article about a firm unveiling new offices in a new market.

The firm, Lutz,  offers accounting services including tax, bookkeeping, and business consulting to individuals and organizations in a variety of industries. The company was founded by Ralph Lutz in 1980 in Omaha as the CPA firm of Lutz, Kinsey, Friedman & Meyers. They also have offices in Grand Island, Lincoln, and Hastings, Nebraska.

Check out the picture of two of their accountants utilizing the stand-up desk option. Are you offering the option to your team members yet?

standup

  • Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
  • Winston Churchill

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Making The Move

You have heard it discussed extensively during the last few years. I am referring to making the move from compliance work to becoming a consulting firm.

CPA firms have been doing compliance work (tax returns and financial statements) forever. Some people working at the firm have, through years of experience, moved into more of a consulting role. Traditionally, these people are partners. In recent years, it has become common for a CPA firm to also provide some sort of technology and human resource consulting for clients.

In a recent article in Accounting Today, August Aquila notes, “There is a significant difference between consulting and compliance services — the way they are priced, marketed, the staff training, and even the business model all come into play. I’ve seen too many firms try to manage their consulting services as if they were compliance services. This is a big mistake.”

I have found that so many CPAs are performing consulting services just as if they were part of the compliance engagement, leaving money on the table.

Angie Grissom, in the same article notes, “Let’s not forget competencies, training and people. It can take a long time to become a good consultant. Many consultants have MBAs, and operational and finance experience, rather than accounting or tax. Like all professionals, they learn on the job.”

Consider how many consultants you have now. You probably just have a few partners performing these services. To develop more consultants, you must start grooming younger people earlier in their careers. From day one you should be taking them along on consulting engagements and involving them in discussions with the clients.

Larger firms are building their consulting practice by acquiring firms that are already consultants such as technology firms or human resource consultants. They are also hiring people from the college campus who are not accounting majors.

Get started on a plan for how your firm will make the transition from compliance to consulting. Keep in mind what Grissom says, “A major difference is, of course, the fee that consultants can charge versus what auditors or tax preparers charge. Consultants have convinced their clients that their services have a higher value.”

Read the entire article here.

 

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

Working at an Accounting Firm – New Graduates

“Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.” – Benjamin Franklin

The CPA profession hires thousands of new college graduates each year. Many join the big, national firms. Others join regional or local firms – some of them are huge and some are very small. All of them do their best to provide you with an onboarding and orientation experience. Some do a good job and some do not.

What can you really expect while working at a CPA firm? Sadly, it often takes years to figure that out and sometimes you learn it the hard way, by trial and error.

Suzanne Lucas, in her article for Inc., gives us 10 workplace secrets for New Grads – those young people who have landed a job in a profession. They all apply to public accounting. Please read her entire article. I have listed a few of the secrets and modified them for your situation in a public accounting firm.

Your manager can’t fire you – Managers in an accounting firm are often very skilled at managing the work but not so skilled at managing people. They have exceptional training in “the work” but most firms do not provide enough training in managing people. Most people in a CPA firm at the manager level can’t fire you without extensive involvement of others at the firm (partners, usually).

Your manager can’t give you a raise either – They can make recommendations but rarely have the authority to designate an amount.

HR isn’t bound by confidentiality rules – They must investigate things – if you are harassed, they are required to investigate things.

Grunt work leads to success – This applies across all professions. You must do the hard work first and you will be recognized and rewarded as time goes on.

Flexibility has to be earned – It might make you look bad if you start taking advantage of some benefits before you have earned them. Prove that you are capable, responsible, and hard working.

Be sure to read the article to learn about the remaining 5 secrets.

  • We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows.
  • Robert Frost

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Executive Presence, What Does That Mean?

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” —Jack Welch

My friend Kristen Rampe has been providing some amazing workshops for some of my clients and other progressive CPA firms. Here’s some information about one of her most popular workshops. Maybe it would be helpful to your team members.

EXECUTIVE PRESENCE AND CHARISMA

How you show up matters. For many CPAs, displaying higher levels of confidence and charisma in their interactions with clients, co-workers and the community can make a significant impact on achieving professional and personal goals.

Exhibiting the traits we associate with charisma and executive presence doesn’t come naturally to everyone. When was the last time you or your team set aside some time to discuss modern professional dress or actively work on posture, eye contact and confidence?

This session gives practical knowledge, advice and live practice that leaves participants feeling empowered to reach their next level of leadership.

Get more information on her workshop here.

  • I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.
  • Alexander The Great