What Aspiring Accountants Need to Know

Man looking at 5 keysThe five keys to kick-starting new careers they don't teach in college.

By Steven Sacks

When I was asked recently to address college seniors in accounting, we initially thought it would be all about technology. Instead, we talked about something else: How their real education would be learned on the job. And neither their skills in technology nor accounting would be their most important advantages.

MORE: Is Your Firm’s Culture a Magnet? | Improve Job Satisfaction or It’ll Cost Your Firm | Performing Like CRAP Can Be a Badge of Honor | 7 Steps to Take As Your Firm Grows | The Damocles Sword of Staff Retention | Five PowerPoint Rules to Live By | Can We Please Refer to Accounting as a Profession?
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The students, by this time, had all the technical knowledge they would need to begin a career in either the public or private sector. So they were more interested in the evolution of the profession and the necessary human skills that would help kick-start their careers. Come to think of it, what we discussed might be as relevant to a senior partner as a newbie recruit. They are the essentials for achieving long-term success at any stage, and maybe in any line of work.

We covered five major topics: READ MORE →

A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement

Chester [click for more]
SUMMER READING LIST
Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce

By Steven Sacks

An American Psychological Association study shows that during this period of rapid change and uncertainty about business and the economy, there is a higher level of chronic stress caused by organizational change. Change increases distrust with employers, leading to the potential of employee departures within a year’s time.

Tax and accounting firms are no exception. In fact, it could be argued they are a cauldron of change-related stresses and strains these days.

In Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce, author Eric Chester explains how to grapple with these issues in firms and organizations large and small, and with some uncommon common sense. Since 1998, Eric Chester has been the leading voice in attracting, managing, motivating, and retaining the emerging workforce. As an in-the-trenches workplace researcher and thought-leader, Chester may have cracked the code on the tactics and strategies companies that are recognized as "best places to work" in their respective industries are using to win the talent wars.
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CPA Firms Can Benefit from a Strong Internal Communication Culture

Man and two women talking in office3 critical components.

By Steven E. Sacks

A local reporter or a potential client contacts your firm after visiting its website. The website may have provided insufficient information, raised questions or caused confusion.

MORE: Is Your Firm’s Culture a Magnet? | Improve Job Satisfaction or It’ll Cost Your Firm | We Hear But Do We REALLY Listen? | Performing Like CRAP Can Be a Badge of Honor | 7 Steps to Take As Your Firm Grows | How Enthusiastic Is Your Staff? | Can You Recite Your Mission Statement? | Your Firm’s Biggest Assets Walk out the Door Every Day
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Now he or she calls the firm’s office at the number listed on the website. Who will answer the phone? Most likely the receptionist.
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Is Your Firm’s Culture a Magnet?

Two men talking at table, one younger in plaid with man bun, one older with glasses and sweater over shouldersDon't know? Ask, and consider ways to change.

By Steven E. Sacks

In the famous words of management guru, Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

MORE: Improve Job Satisfaction or It’ll Cost Your Firm | The Holy Grail: Finding the Right Talent | Today’s Workplace Challenge: Communicating Across Generations, Cultures, and Diversity | How Enthusiastic Is Your Staff?
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Accounting firms are starting to get this message because now they are instituting initiatives that would have been laughed at years ago: a) every day is jeans day; b) shorts when there is no client meeting; c) work from home; d) bring your own device to work; and e) reduced Saturday hours during busy season. And on it goes ...
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Improve Job Satisfaction or It’ll Cost Your Firm

Purple No. 4 billiard ball4 ways to make employees happier.

By Steven E. Sacks

A recent report published by the Conference Board indicates that slightly over half (51%) of U.S. workers are satisfied with their jobs; this means a not-too-insignificant amount (49%) are less than satisfied with their jobs. The study consisted of 1,500 workers surveyed on 23 components that comprise job satisfaction.

MORE: Performance Reviews: No Need for Teeth Pulling | Outsourcing the C-Suite | Battling Staff Turnover | Confronting Leadership: Not Such a Bad Thing | The Damocles Sword of Staff Retention | Does Your Board Know Its Role?
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Job dissatisfaction is not a new occurrence, and with the increased influence of technology, this issue has not experienced much improvement over the past 15 to 20 years. A recent study by Job Seeker Nation indicated that 82 percent of workers would like to seek new employment opportunities, although the prospects of landing a new one would be more difficult than last year.
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Performance Reviews: No Need for Teeth Pulling

Two people sitting across from each other at a deskWhat factors separate the superstar employees from the mediocre ones?

By Steven E. Sacks

Companies or firms either employ a formalized, thoughtful and comprehensive approach to evaluate employees, or they just use their gut instinct on a timeline that is not consistent. In any event, the amount of effort expended will yield a proportionate return on investment.

MORE: Outsourcing the C-Suite | We Hear But Do We REALLY Listen? | Performing Like CRAP Can Be a Badge of Honor | 7 Steps to Take As Your Firm Grows | Can You Recite Your Mission Statement? | Your Firm’s Biggest Assets Walk out the Door Every Day

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There are, however, situations in which companies go overboard in their quest to acquire information and deliver their findings through a process that is slow and plodding.

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Outsourcing the C-Suite

Businesswoman using laptop and tablet at deskIs "flexible leadership" right for your firm?

By Steven E. Sacks

One of the revelations arising from the Great Recession was that companies could find they could do more with less human resources or at least maintain the same level of productivity.

MORE: We Hear But Do We REALLY Listen? | The Holy Grail: Finding the Right Talent | Getting the Accounting Firm Agreement Right | Today’s Workplace Challenge: Communicating Across Generations, Cultures, and Diversity
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.So, while the Bureau of Labor and Statistics cites the current unemployment rate at 3.9 percent, the actual number is higher when the underemployed or those whose unemployment ran out are taken into consideration.

We now have what is referred to as the gig economy, in which important functions can be outsourced while companies can still focus on core competencies that impact growth and profitability.
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We Hear But Do We REALLY Listen?

Smiling businessmen listening to young female during interview6 people NOT to be.

By Steven E. Sacks

Do you ever find yourself speaking to someone and notice that they are battling you and their iPhone? A quick glance here, a one- or two-word text response there.

MORE: The Holy Grail: Finding the Right Talent | Battling Staff Turnover | Confronting Leadership: Not Such a Bad Thing | The Damocles Sword of Staff Retention | Does Your Board Know Its Role? | Can We Please Refer to Accounting as a Profession?
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Unfortunately, it is the new normal – whether in business or in our personal lives. Those of us who encountered different forms of technology tools and platforms during the second half of our careers still believe that effective interpersonal communication still counts for something. Of course, in this era of uncivil discourse, speaking over one another has, too, become the new normal.
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The Holy Grail: Finding the Right Talent

Two businesswomen meeting in an officeThe 3 elements that matter. OK, maybe 4.

By Steven E. Sacks

We get so hung up on generational labels: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and now Gen Z. As a result, we ascribe certain characteristics or behaviors to each one – whether fair or not.

MORE: Battling Staff Turnover | Performing Like CRAP Can Be a Badge of Honor | 7 Steps to Take As Your Firm Grows | How Enthusiastic Is Your Staff?
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Adherence to the labels can cause a hiring manager or an executive to overlook the contributions each cohort can make to an organization. Potential stars are overlooked and the usual reliance on outdated search approaches continues unabated.
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Battling Staff Turnover

back view of a businessman holding a briefcase and walking forward on white backgroundHow to see it coming and what to do about it.

While the consideration of succession planning has taken up a lot of airtime in recent years, there is something even more important to consider and that is how to attract and retain talent.

MORE: Today’s Workplace Challenge: Communicating Across Generations, Cultures, and Diversity | The Damocles Sword of Staff Retention | How Enthusiastic Is Your Staff? | Can You Recite Your Mission Statement? | Your Firm’s Biggest Assets Walk out the Door Every Day
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Questions most often asked by a CPA firm managing partner or a CEO when someone leaves: READ MORE →

Performing Like CRAP Can Be a Badge of Honor

Young businessman using laptop and phone in the officeAre you meeting expectations? Exceeding them?

By Steven E. Sacks

A strange concept you might think. When someone acknowledges that your actions reflect crap there is no positivity in this assessment. And because this term is baked into the American lexicon, people will always view it negatively.

MORE: Getting the Accounting Firm Agreement Right | Confronting Leadership: Not Such a Bad Thing | The Damocles Sword of Staff Retention | Does Your Board Know Its Role? | Five PowerPoint Rules to Live By
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But what if we look at it another way – in the form of an acronym? Let’s give it a try.
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Getting the Accounting Firm Agreement Right

Businessman sitting in office and reading documents7 warning signs and 6 solutions.

By Steven E. Sacks

Engaging in what is considered conflict avoidance can undo the progress a firm has made. This can be because of complacency, frustration, intimidation or a host of other issues.

MORE: Confronting Leadership: Not Such a Bad Thing | 7 Steps to Take As Your Firm Grows | How Enthusiastic Is Your Staff? | Can You Recite Your Mission Statement? | Your Firm’s Biggest Assets Walk out the Door Every Day
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Some things are intuitively understood, but it’s those occasional sticky matters that tend to make situations unravel. Establishing and keeping agreements helps to avoid confrontation – the one typically arising from someone promising to do something in a timely and complete manner and within a specified budget.
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The Eight Signs Your Firm Needs New Leadership

Three business colleagues arguing while seated at tableWith an eight-part self-assessment test.

By Steven E. Sacks

Unless you are really old school (with barely a pulse), are the named and founding partner of your firm, if you rebuff what you believe are challenges to your leadership of the firm, then you are thinking just about you, and not what you built.

MORE: 7 Steps to Take As Your Firm Grows | Today’s Workplace Challenge: Communicating Across Generations, Cultures, and Diversity | Negotiate For Success, Not a ‘Win’  | Does Busyness Really Mean Productivity? | So Much to Do and So Little Time: Achieving Success in the C-Suite
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If you created a leadership team around you that exhibits the healthfulness of organizational conflict, constructive advice, scenario planning and the flexibility of employing Plans B, C and D, you have created a strong foundation – a far different and more effective approach than the “My way or the highway” thinking.
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