The Impact of Millenials

April 10, 2017By Dave Shatkowski - VP of Communications at Indiana CPA SocietyArticle, Blog, Future of Work and Change Management, Talent Management and People

We’ve been hearing and talking about the millennials a lot, but what does it all mean? To the profession, to your business, to you?

The millennial generation, over 75 million strong, is transforming the workforce and the workplace. Already they make up more than one third of the workforce in the United States, and that number is growing every year.

A post by Justin Hayes on our other blog site, The Smoke Detector, examined what not to say to millennials. Things like “be patient,” “you’re not ready,” “that’s not how it was” and “you’re not working if you’re not here (in the office)” are all things that we have heard before or maybe even said ourselves. But they are not things that resonate with millennials.

I’m a lot older than Justin, but I thought his observations were right on target. Continue saying those things to millennials, and risk losing them. You might lose them to a competitor. We might lose them to another association. Or we all might lose them to another profession.

Millennials want change. I’ve seen it and I’m sure you have too. They want things like flexibility, recognition, inclusion and innovation. An article in Fortune magazine stated “certainly, it’s better to directly address the needs and understand the characteristics of the millennial generation than to pretend they don’t exist.” Are employers doing that? 

Though there are stereotypes surrounding millennials, many if not most are either untrue or misunderstood. And in the end, the changes that result in responding to their needs can benefit all. The Forbes article concludes, “in focusing on the needs of the next generation, these companies are creating a better place to work for everyone.”

Alternative credentialing such as digital badges and verified certificates is one area where we can make an impression on millennials. You (as CPAs) by understanding them and accepting their value, and we (as a CPA-supporting organization) by offering them. 

Millennials are receiving alternative credentials at colleges and universities across the nation, according to findings from a recent study by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. Then they expect them post-graduation as well. One of the experts who conducted the survey said “what was previously thought as cutting edge is now becoming mainstream and is transforming the paths that learners take to success.”

More than 20 percent of U.S. colleges and universities are currently offering digital badges, and the state of Indiana is well represented by IU, Purdue and Notre Dame. After graduation, millennials will look to their profession and their association for their professional development needs. And their alternative credentialing preferences.

Like the changes in workplace culture and environments, other generations are likely to adapt to and appreciate alternative credentials. Let’s be a part of that change in ongoing professional development and lifelong learning.

What We’re Reading – 4/5/2017

April 5, 2017By Elise MayArticle, Blog

This week’s recommended reading on innovation, leadership, recruitment, and entrepreneurship. 

For any business to be successful, having a great workplace culture is essential. One key area for culture lies with a strong emphasis on innovation and creativity. CPAs, how can your workplace environment help foster these values?

http://cpacoe.incpas.org/blogs/robert-reynolds/2017/03/14/the-smoke-detector-creating-a-culture-of-innovation

 

John Minnich discusses his role as the CFO at the Concordia Educational Association, and how his CPA designation helped him play as both a leader and trusted business advisor. What are some roles your CPA designation makes YOU?

http://cpacoe.incpas.org/blogs/john-minnich/2017/03/28/the-smoke-detector-the-cpa-as-a-leader-and-trusted-business-advisor

 

During Tax Season, CPAs need to be ready for any challenge that comes their way. Read on to find out how you can be prepared:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogeraitken/2017/03/30/us-tax-season-what-accountants-should-take-to-the-trenches-to-survive-thrive/#53a04787419c

 

CPAs, are you making sure that new hires have the right “soft skills” to succeed in the workplace?

http://ww2.cfo.com/hiring/2017/03/hire-expectations/

 

Strategic thinkers add tremendous value to any company or organization. Here are a few ways to find out if any of your job candidates have these qualities:

https://hbr.org/2016/12/6-ways-to-screen-job-candidates-for-strategic-thinking

 

As CPAs, we have a lot to learn from entrepreneurs. How can we adopt some of their qualities into our own professional development?

http://www.cgma.org/magazine/2017/feb/lessons-for-entrepreneurs-201714664.html?utm_source=mnl:cpald&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=22Feb2017

 

 

At the CPA Center of Excellence®, we help CPAs and service professionals with stay ahead of change and in front of innovation. Look for our recommended reads on topics like critical thinking and non-technical skills, the future of work, innovation, talent management, leadership, and the changing role of the CPA each Wednesday.

 

The War for Talent

April 4, 2017By Stephanie Parton, CAE, INCPAS Director – Marketing CommunicationsArticle, Blog, Innovation, Talent Management and People

 

Across the country, high school seniors are donning caps and gowns for graduation. Many will head off to college in the fall, full of hope for a bright future. Through the help of family, teachers and counselors, they have decided on a major which will determine the career they will enter into for the rest of their professional life.

Pretty simple, right?

Not so fast. Landing your dream job right out of college and sticking with it throughout your career is a thing of the past.

Only 14 percent of U.S. workers believe they have the perfect job and more than half want to change careers, according to a 2013 Harris Poll.

Making the Career Change

Deciding to make a career change is a huge decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are many risks to consider including the cost of going back to school, juggling a full-time job, and maintaining work-life balance while pursuing a new degree and career.

Robert Reynolds, CPA, CGMA, made a career switch in his early 30s. He went from manager of a convenience store to director and shareholder with Brady Ware.

“I finally found my calling, public accounting, at the tender age of 31,” Reynolds explained. “After obtaining my associate degree in business administration, I embarked on my journey to real adulthood as a mid-level manager for Stop-N-Go. Needless to say, the 24/7 retail environment lost its appeal after a few years, and in my late 20s, I found myself still struggling to determine just what I wanted to be when I grew up.

“A wise person I knew at the time spoke of the career opportunities available in accounting, and since I enjoyed working with numbers, I enrolled at Wright State University in the fall of 1985 as an accounting major and the rest is history,” he added. IU Health Ball Memorial Director of Finance Bettie Caldwell CPA, CGMA, also made the career change switch after reflecting on her long-term goals.

“I was a mid-life career–changer, having worked as a registered respiratory therapist in the hospital setting for over 15 years,” said Caldwell. “A family move to a new job market prompted me to re-evaluate what I wanted to do with my remaining 25 plus years of work life. I was primed for a challenge and a change, and found what I was looking for in the CPA profession. Eventually my career as a CPA led me full circle back to the healthcare setting, but this time as a director of finance for a large hospital system.”

“I was primed for a challenge and a change, and found what I was looking for in the CPA profession,” Bettie Caldwell, CPA, CGMA, a mid-life career changer.

Desire for Change

While not everyone who wants to change careers will actually make the decision to go through with a switch, a significant portion of the American workforce would like to do so.

Nearly 80 percent of workers in their 20s said they wanted to change careers, followed by 64 percent of 30-somethings and 54 percent in their 40s according to the Harris Poll.

“I just wasn’t thinking long-term about my career,” explains Mary Milner, staff accountant at Baden Gage & Schroeder LLC. “I didn’t really know myself well enough at age 19 to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So I got a job in the real estate industry. I did leasing and a little bit of sales and customer service, putting out fires, conflict resolution. It was great experience and I did that for seven or eight years.

“There were a lot of things about it that I enjoyed but it just wasn’t where I wanted to be for my career,” she continued. “After a while I started doing some soul-searching. I found that all the things I enjoyed doing in real estate had to do with accounting. That was kind of my light bulb that maybe I should be doing this.”

Milner recognized her decision to go back to school and pursue an accounting degree was a risk.

“It was a big risk to say OK, I’m going to go back to school, I’m going to take out more student loans,” she said. Milner said she decided to make the commitment and take the risk knowing it would pay off in the long run. Quitting was not an option for her.

“It’s a whole different experience trying to go to school when you already have a full time job and I was starting a family,” she said. “And it leaves no time for anything because every free moment is spent studying. Looking for a job was probably the scariest part. I was unsure how to navigate that more so than just deciding to go back to school. It was almost a full time job looking for a full time job.”

Enter the CPA Profession

INCPAS President & CEO Gary Bolinger, CAE wrote about career changers entering the CPA profession in a post “The ‘War’ for Talent” on the Society’s blog I Was Just Thinkin’.

“Career changers are going to end up somewhere in the workforce,” Bolinger wrote. “It might as well be the CPA profession. A lot of these people have got the perspective and talent to be significant contributors in the profession. If we want to leverage this trend, the profession (which includes firms, corporate accounting departments, colleges and universities, and accounting associations and societies that serve the profession) needs to reassess recruitment. Are we willing to accept the need to aggressively recruit talent in places that we have never looked before? The places to start are the ‘career changer’ marketplace and the non-traditional student marketplace.”

Nontraditional Students

There are more than 17.6 million undergraduates enrolled in American higher education. The National Center for Education Statistics reports 38 percent of those enrolled in higher education are over the age of 25 and one-fourth are over the age of 30. The share of all students who are over age 25 is projected to increase another 23 percent by 2019.
“More seasoned candidates can bring a perspective on business and the role of being a professional to an organization that rests on a foundation built through real life and work experiences,” says Reynolds. “All I can say is at 31, I know I was a much better listener than I was at 21. At 31, I was more patient than I was at 21. I certainly was more thoughtful and empathetic at 31, than 21. I feel these traits and my journey not only allowed me to advance my career, but they contributed greatly in helping me become a trusted advisor to clients.”

Purdue University Northwest Department of Accounting Head Ed Furticella says nontraditional students are faced with challenges traditional students might not face.
“The speed of the course work can also be challenging for the nontraditional students,” he said. “Especially the students who are balancing work and family commitments. They are worried about balancing work, life and school. They worry about getting behind in class and typically, these are the students that will drop a class if they don’t think they’re doing well.”
Once Milner made the commitment to go back to school for her accounting degree, her concern shifted to what would happen after graduation.

“I was afraid as a job candidate that the people interviewing me would have concerns about it,” said Milner. “I was afraid they would have concerns and say ‘why did you go back to school, why are you at this age and you’re just starting out, why did you go to school online.’ What I found was that I had more anxiety about it than they did. They just wanted to understand. They wanted to know my story. I was afraid it was going to be a problem and it wasn’t.

“I think the first step begins with the people in charge of hiring having an open mind and seeing the value people can bring when they’ve had different experiences,” Milner continued. “When they look at a résumé, if they’ve been in a different profession, don’t automatically discount them. I think I got lucky here that’s what Baden Gage did. They didn’t discount me because I didn’t have accounting experience.”

Bold Challenge

One of the four “bold challenges” created by the Indiana CPA Society Board of Directors is to “Build bridges to the profession …” and one of the bridges must be the bridge for nontraditional students.

“We tend to focus our energies on current high school and traditional college students as potential future CPAs,” said Caldwell. “We value the longevity and new ideas that youth brings with it, but more mature candidates have their own advantages. When I returned to the hospital as a CPA, I brought with me my previous work experience and understanding of how a hospital operates, as well as the appreciation for the hospital culture and our ‘patients first’ focus.” The Society is working on reaching nontraditional students and encouraging them to pursue a new career in the CPA profession.

“Nearly every day I receive a phone call from a person considering a career change or wanting more information about the CPA designation, specifically the process applying and sitting for the CPA Exam,”said INCPAS Director — Diversity & Outreach Ali Paul. “They are often relieved to learn that depending on their previous college education, only a handful of additional classes may be needed to meet the 150-hour requirement in Indiana.”

The Society’s Diversity Advisory Council is developing a new toolkit to help career changers and nontraditional students better navigate the pathways to becoming CPAs. The goal is to help make the process as clear as possible and give candidates a better idea of what they can expect as they enter this profession. Career changers bring so much experience to the table and when you think about the core competencies of a CPA (Communications, Leadership, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Anticipating and Serving Evolving Needs, Synthesizing Intelligence to Insight, Integration and Collaboration) these are skills that career changers have been developing for years, allowing them to really hit the ground running upon entering the CPA profession.

Do You Know How Blockchain is Changing Business?

April 3, 2017By Jason Bainter, CPABlog, Changing Role of the CPA, Innovation, Technology

If you don’t know what blockchain is, you should because it is going to change the way all businesses transact financial information in the future.

Blockchain is widely known as the technology that underpins bitcoin, but it is a lot more than just bitcoin. Blockchain is the technology that backs distributed ledger technology, which is a trusted way to track the ownership of assets without the need for a central authority. As a result, it could speed up transactions and cut costs while lowering the chance of fraud, according to an article in CIO Journal.

Per Business Insider, blockchains are basically ledgers that accept inputs from a host of different parties. The ledgers can only be changed if all parties consent. These ledgers can be shared publicly. They are housed on servers, or nodes, which maintain the entries (known as blocks) and every node sees the transaction data stored in the blocks when created. Since these blocks are publicly shared, there is no central authority to approve the transactions. The ledgers and underlying databases are immutable and irreversible. The date can’t be revised or tampered with even by database operators. The distributed nature of the network requires that the computer servers reach a consensus, which allows for transactions to occur between unknown parties. The software behind blockchain is written so that no conflicting or double transactions can be written in the data set and thus, transactions can occur automatically.

So what does all of this mean? In basic terms, let’s take a personal transaction and break it down. Let’s say that you have a child in daycare and every week, you have to pay the daycare for the services they provide. You write a check and update your checkbook ledger, or do you? The daycare provider deposits the check and updates their checkbook ledger. But things could go wrong. Although you wrote the check, you just picked your child up and they are excited to see you and tell you about their day. So you go off to hear about their day, but wait, you forgot to update your check register for that check you just wrote. And your bank doesn’t know immediately upon you writing that check if you have enough funds in the account to cover that check.

With blockchain, instead of two separate checkbook registers with debits and credits, both you and the daycare would both be looking at the same ledger of transactions. It’s private (encrypted) and decentralized, so neither one of you control the ledger. Since the ledger is decentralized, you both can look at the ledger and each transaction is put into a “block.” Then if you and the daycare provider validate that block of information, it’s added to a chain. That chain is then protected by a sophisticated cryptography, and no one can change the chain after it is created. In this way, you know how much is left in your bank account and your bank immediately knows if there are funds in your account to cover the check. The transaction is instantaneous and there is no more “float.” Also, because of these chains, there is no longer any additional work on the daycare provider’s part on having to issue year-end statements for taxes because you would now have the availability to look at the chain to see your annual payments. Do you think this would assist in year-end tax planning?

Although blockchain is in its infancy, it is quickly gathering speed among financial institutions, trading companies and the health care industry. There are still challenges to overcome such as regulation, cost and security issues. However, financial institutions are big proponents of moving this forward as they see this as a huge cost cutting method by removing back office staff that have to approve trades and transfers.

As this system develops, clients are going to be utilizing these blockchains, and CPAs must keep up-to-date on this technology in order to audit the system. However, based on the premise of this technology, our audit procedures could be reduced or eliminated because there really would no longer be a reason to confirm A/R, contracts or bank accounts. That would all be within the chain of transactions validated by each party.

How do you think your clients could benefit from this technology?

What We’re Reading – 3/29/2017

March 29, 2017By Elise MayArticle, Blog

This week’s recommended reading on innovation, change management and creativity. 

“A Quiet Revolution” by INCPAS President and CEO, Gary Bolinger, CAE, discusses the current revolution in professional development for CPAs:

A Quiet Revolution

 

As CPAs, how can we address potential new trends and changes in our own workplaces? Read on to see if any of this year’s trends might be affecting YOU:

Trends Shaping the Global Workplace in 2017

 

The way forward for any profession lies in innovation. However, in order to address the future, it is important to find guidance from the past. This article explains the importance that history serves in guiding our future. How can CPAs apply this to their own career? 

https://hbr.org/2017/01/why-innovators-should-study-the-rise-and-fall-of-the-venetian-empire?utm_campaign=hbr&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

 

We live in an increasingly chaotic world. How can we respond to the crises presented to us throughout our professional lives? Be confident in your ability to handle problems that arise, and read on to discover how this might very well benefit you:

http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-agenda/pulse/crisis.html

 

Think you can’t use creativity in a business setting if you aren’t “born with it?” Try again:

Born creative? No. Way.

At the CPA Center of Excellence®, we help CPAs and service professionals with stay ahead of change and in front of innovation. Look for our recommended reads on topics like critical thinking and non-technical skills, the future of work, innovation, talent management, leadership,  and the changing role of the CPA each Wednesday.

#10: Never Stop Learning

January 17, 2017By Jess Halverson BowyerBlog, Future of Work and Change Management, Learning and Career Development

Resolve to be a lifelong learner

Books are my great love, and my great compulsion. I browse bookstores and libraries to relax, clinging to the little shots of adrenaline I get discovering new stories and new ideas from the thoughtfully crafted end caps and table displays. Each new volume represents hope – optimism – unlimited possibility – delivered by new ideas from the words on the page.

Discovering new ideas brings depth and meaning to my life. This passion for learning has also been a great benefit to me professionally – and this is what we hope you get from our resolution blog series: 10 ideas or goals for the new year to bolster your career.

Luckily, I win. Everything we’ve written about this week can be tied to the resolution I chose to write about: Never Stop Learning.

No matter what you choose to focus on this year, the act of career improvement is lifelong learning. Changing your organization’s annual performance review policy requires you to learn. Improving your leadership, decision-making, communication and other non-technical skills is a form of learning that also requires you to think differently and be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. To make this type of learning happen, you must plan for it. To improve your interactions with other generations you must learn about them. Being open to a new method of working, like collaboration, allows you to learn from others. Lastly, innovation takes everything you’ve learned and feeds it into the basis of new ideas.

If you sincerely commit (or recommit) yourself to lifelong learning, there are no losses. No matter what you do, from first year public accounting to acting CFO of an international company, learning goes with you, it grows with you, and it will always give you an advantage — especially in today’s increasingly complex and global environment.

In a knowledge economy, your competitive edge comes from what you know or your ability and willingness to learn.

Now, I realize that some of you may be thinking, yea no kidding. It’s not a revelation that you must learn and adapt to be successful. Yet, this doesn’t mean we do our best — willingly or less so — to make time for deep learning. Day-to-day tasks, urgencies, emails, meetings and everything else involved with actually doing the work required for your career often pushes active learning aside. Truly becoming a lifelong learner requires incorporating the act of learning into your routines, your daily schedule, your calendar and your priorities. But often we don’t take the action to plan learning, as most of us operate under some modicum of curiosity and assume absorbing the knowledge we need is something that will just happen.

To truly be competitive in this knowledge economy, we must take an active, not passive, role in our own learning and develop a practice of learning.

That is my challenge to you this year – if you do nothing else, take an active role in your own learning, no matter what it is you need to know. And please forgive me for ending on an overused quote, because there is no better way to say it: knowledge is power.

If you need me, I’ll be over here, with the pile of books made from real paper.

Jess Halverson Bowyer is the strategist at the CPA Center of Excellence® and has worked for the Indiana CPA Society for six years. With a background in communications, design and visual thinking as well as a passion for learning, she has a hand in all things CPA Center of Excellence®, from strategic planning to learning design to hosting presentations and webinars.

#9: Innovate

January 14, 2017By Gary Bolinger, CAEBlog, Future of Work and Change Management, Innovation

Relish change and embrace the opportunity

I am sure that many, or most of you reading this, have heard the famous Jack Welch quote “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” Well, that isn’t the exact quote. Actually, the concept was published in the GE’s Annual Report 2000 in the section on “Relishing Change.”

“We’ve long believed that when the rate of change inside an institution becomes slower than the rate of change outside, the end is in sight. The only question is when.”

Change is difficult. Change is frequently a source of significant discomfort. Change is complex. And today, the rate of change — the velocity of change — is accelerating. Much of the increasing velocity of change is attributed to technology. But there are other factors. Increased entrepreneurship is driving change. Ever evolving demographics drives change. And geopolitical influences on our global economy certainly drives change.

All of these influences on change (and more) are driving a mandate. We must learn to embrace change. Or, as the GE annual report said in 2000, we must relish change. We need to encourage our colleagues to view change as opportunity. There’s really no alternative. Change must be embedded in our cultures. Change needs to be positioned as the energy to create the new.

When you, your organization and /or everyone within your organization gets over the feelings that fuel the discomfort of change, you can move on to framing change as a primary source of innovation.

Innovation is probably the primary driver of growth in our businesses today. The engine driving positive economic improvement. Innovation = future success.

But, innovation is scary too! What? You expect me to innovate? I don’t know HOW!

Innovation should NOT be unsettling to you or your colleagues. Wikipedia defines innovation as a “new idea, device, or method.” Sure, there is a little more to the definition. Solutions that meet new requirements, more effective processes or something that breaks into a new market. In 2016 the Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS) Board of Directors established an innovation task force and they elected to use a definition of innovation crafted by Dan McClure: “Any practice that leverages creative invention to respond to an important challenge.” There are others. Pick one that fits you best and embrace it!

Innovation is process improvement. It might be a series of little things (marginal gains) that eventually make a big difference. Everyone in your organization can and should be challenged to find one or two little things that could be improved. Everyone should embrace the opportunity!

You will hear more in the near and long-term future from the CPA Center of Excellence®, powered by INCPAS, about innovation. We hope to hear from you as well. As we embrace change and implement thoughtful and purposeful innovation, we can all help to ensure a valuable and relevant future for the CPA profession. Let us know how you are innovating in your career.

Gary Bolinger, CAE, is president & CEO of the Indiana CPA Society, a position he has held since 1991. He has spent the last 32 years of his career at INCPAS, beginning in 1984 with the role of field activities director. Bolinger has served in numerous volunteer and presenter capacities in both the CPA and association professions nationally and in Indiana. He was named as one the most influential people in accounting by Accounting Today for each of the last two years. Bolinger is a regular blogger for the Society. 

#8: Collaborate!

January 13, 2017By Justin Hayes, CPABlog, Changing Role of the CPA, Collaboration

There is nothing to fear in sharing knowledge

There is a newer trend that is starting to occur in the CPA profession, and that is collaboration. For years, many CPAs wanted to hold onto their own thoughts/ideas/strategies for fear that the competition would use their thoughts/ideas/strategies against them and steal clients. Fortunately that fear has begun to wane as CPAs clearly see the benefits of collaborating with other CPAs and even other professionals to better themselves and strengthen the profession for the benefit of all. Specialization and hyperspecialization are among the environmental factors that are driving the need for collaboration.

There will always be competition, of course, which does help drive innovation and growth. We all tend to be smart individuals, but part of being smart is knowing when you don’t know the answer and not being afraid to ask for help. Part of being confident in your work and reputation is in knowing that if you share your thoughts with others it will not have a negative impact on you. I am not saying that when you collaborate you need to give out any proprietor information or “trade secrets,” but don’t be afraid to ask other people for help in areas that you don’t have knowledge or experience in.

Think of the following example. You are a smaller firm (about 10 employees) and you a have client, who happened to be one of your largest clients, who wants to become set up in an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). This is something you have never dealt with in your career. But you do recall that one of your classmates from college works at a larger firm that has a specialty in ESOPs. What do you do?

Historically, I’m guessing that you would not want to admit to your client that you don’t know the answer. Even if you did admit it, I’m guessing that you would have fear of reaching out to your college buddy for concerns of losing the client to the larger firm. However, this is a perfect example of when you could collaborate and better serve your client. You need to be willing to step outside of your boundaries and collaborate with the larger firm. This will better serve your client and also help you to grow in the profession. Now on the flip side, what do you do if you are the college buddy at the larger firm? Your first thought might be that you have a great chance at a new client. But let’s say there is no chance that this company is going to make a change and now you have a voicemail from your old college friend asking about ESOP 101 training. Historically, I am guessing that the answer would be to try and deflect the question, for fear that this would give away some of your advantage in the market.

I would argue the opposite. By collaborating with the smaller firm you are allowing your professional skills and knowledge to be out in the market more. Who knows where those connections could lead to. I do know that you would eliminate all opportunity by not collaborating with the smaller firm.

As we begin the new year, I’d encourage everyone to think about ways you can grow professional (and personally) through collaborating with other CPAs and other professionals. Who can you collaborate with today?

Justin Hayes, CPA, CGMA, is a director in Katz, Sapper & Miller’s Audit and Assurance Services Group. His primary responsibilities include auditing and reviewing financial statements and advising clients on accounting, reporting, compliance and internal control-related matters. Hayes serves on the INCPAS Leadership Cabinet and Diversity Advisory Council. He is a graduate of Opportunity Indianapolis 2010 and Leadership Education and Development 2011 with the Lacy Leadership Association. Hayes is a member of the Fusion Network, a group of Indiana CPA Society member CPAs who blog on trends, new ideas and innovation in the CPA profession. 

#7: Bridge the Generation Gap

January 12, 2017By Lisa Brown, CPA, CGMABlog, Collaboration, Future of Work and Change Management, Talent Management and People

Consider the context and create great teams

I recently heard that Millennials do not like being referred to as Millennials, and who can blame them. Often, something unflattering follows the term. Even the mere word evokes knowing head nods from a room full of Baby Boomers.

As a college professor, I interact with Millennials on a daily basis. Millennials are the largest generation in U.S. history. They’re the fastest growing generation in the workforce. And by 2017, they are predicted to outspend Baby Boomers.

We can’t neatly put each generation into a stereotype box, but we can use these broad strokes of information as clues to how we can best communicate with one another. Understanding why the members of the “other” generation are the way they are and how to bridge our generational gap is extremely important. Understanding how to effectively communicate among generations is important for everyone, as we interact with each other on a daily, continual basis.

I was interested to read a blog post in the Huffington Post about Millennials. The author attended a conference on Millennials where the CEO of The Center for Generational Kinetics, Jason Dorsey, was one of the speakers. The top five interesting perspectives and opinions the author noted in a humorous way are:

  1. Eye contact is an increasingly unnatural behavior for Millennials.
  2. Emails are OK. Just don’t expect them to read more than the subject line.
  3. Phone calls are often seen as an invasion of privacy, so don’t call them unless your name is Mom. (And even if it is, they will still forward you to voicemail — which they never check.)
  4. They will not read blocks of text. Save the effort.
  5. They are visual thinkers and learners. Do not try to educate them or sell them something using a long, linear approach.

I have learned from my own experience that most of these examples ring true. According to Curt Steinhorst, the preferred methods of communication for millennials Millennials are text, email, and social media. Think about the technology this generation is immersed in every day and how it shapes their context. Thinking about the popularity of YouTube makes you realize how the internet has shaped this generation into visual thinkers and learners.

Inc. recently listed nine tips for communicating with Millennials which not surprisingly, corresponds with the perspectives listed above.

  1. Keep it brief, but meaningful
  2. At the same time, provide detail
  3. Choose the best medium for communication
  4. Understand the 24/7 communication cycle
  5. Communicate the path to career growth
  6. Don’t condescend or make jokes about age
  7. Demonstrate fairness in the workplace
  8. Commit to a social bottom line
  9. Nurture their passion

Twitter has helped Millennials convey their thoughts in 140 characters or less. They appreciate brevity. At the same time, they are outcome driven and want to know what the end result should be and what they need to do to achieve it. Just be concise!

One of the largest generation gaps is in the workplace concerns how we work. Baby Boomers measure work ethic by hours in the office, where they are seen. Millennials exist in a world where communication is available 24/7 and productivity can occur outside the office walls. That same technology has broken down hierarchy for this generation. They can communicate via social media with celebrities, politicians, and even the president. They see no issue in approaching the CEO with their ideas and opinions. Millennials want to be taken seriously, and sometimes believe they should be promoted within two years. It’s important to let Millennials know how they are doing and what their career path looks like. Finally, Millennials are passionate. Communicating how they can meaningfully contribute to a greater good is very important to them.

Great teams can be formulated from the experience of the Baby Boomers and the enthusiasm of Millennials. Understanding where each generation comes from will help us better communicate and foster wonderful multigenerational relationships.

If you are a Gen X’er or Baby Boomer, what key strategies do you have for effectively communicating with Millennials?

If you are a Millennial, help us be better communicators. What do want us to know about communicating with you?

Make this the year you start to bridge those generation gaps. You may be surprised by the results.

Lisa Brown, CPA, CGMA, is an assistant professor, accounting & finance, at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne. Among the topics she teaches are accounting principles, corporate taxation and corporate finance. Brown previously worked in public accounting for Balestra, Harr, Scherer, CPAs in Ohio and in industry for an Ohio school district and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. She is a campus presenter for the Indiana CPA Society and a member of the Fusion Network, a group of Indiana CPA Society member CPAs who blog on trends, new ideas and innovation in the CPA profession.  

#6 Stop Procrastinating

January 11, 2017By Jennifer Briggs, CAEBlog, Learning and Career Development

Start prioritizing your learning

If you are a CPA, there is a high likelihood that you are a procrastinator. That’s right. I said it.

From Psychology Today –

Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions — which, unfortunately, are increasingly available. Procrastination in large part reflects our perennial struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we’ll feel tomorrow, or the next day.

Working with CPAs for almost 15 years now, boy do I appreciate the value of a deadline. As an example, in December each year people on our staff talk about closing the office between Christmas and New Year’s, and I always have to be the one to say “not gonna happen.” Because CPAs have the whole calendar year to get in their required minimum number of continuing education hours, they will definitely take the whole calendar year to fulfill that requirement. That means the last few days of the year we are offering continuing education seminars. Sometimes people show up and are ready to learn whatever we’re teaching because they have that deadline.

Is that the proper way to plan your learning? Just take what’s being offered? I don’t think so. But, I get it. I empathize. I’m maybe even one of you — a procrastinator. I ascribe to the whole “I work better under pressure” philosophy. Procrastination is the mother of creativity. I think I just made up that saying, but I also think sometimes it might be true. I often consider big tasks or projects something like this — inspiration could strike when I least expect it and an official plan would just hold me back from fulfilling my creative promise! And to tell the truth, it works. At least much of the time, because I have adapted to my deadline mentality.

But, when it comes to education, there should be a better way — and I know there’s a better way for CPAs. As the role of the CPA expands and changes year after year, it’s more important than ever to be deliberate in building and maintaining competencies in areas that, frankly, don’t always get enough attention. In a recent Fast Company article, economist Andrew Chamberlain talks about the “Top 5 Workplace Trends for 2017.” He discusses the rise of automation but says “Many things get automated but we don’t lose our jobs.” He’s not talking specifically about CPAs, but he makes the point that the routine work we’re used to doing will continue to get more and more automated, so we must all build on the skills the computers can’t do; that’s what will keep a career thriving. Simple, right?

The way Chamberlain puts it is that we need to “learn how to run a machine, not do the same work the machine does.” This kind of learning requires deliberate attention and planning. It’s not about memorization or checklists — those things are important — but how are you communicating what you’ve memorized or checked off, how are you using it to strategize and how are you adding value? If honing those skills isn’t a part of your approach to planning your learning, then they should be.

As we delve into a new year and think about our personal top five goals at work, what are you putting on your to do list? Are you seeking out opportunities to build your competencies beyond technical skills? Are you looking for unique ways to be better at what you do? Are you trying to find experiences outside of a classroom like volunteering on a task force or committee or taking on a new project outside of your comfort zone? Are you trying out online, on-demand classes that directly speak to your ability to meet the needs of your employer or your clients or your staff?

Even if you can’t predict how you’ll feel tomorrow or the next day, you can make a plan that addresses the skills you will rely upon in the future. Don’t do what I did (write this blog on the day it was due); look at your calendar! Think about what you need to know to be your best in 2017 and plan to seek out opportunities and education that will help you the most.

Jennifer Briggs, CAE, is senior vice president and chief operating officer for the Indiana CPA Society. She has been with INCPAS for nearly 15 years and has served in various prior roles including VP – member services and marketing director. Briggs has spent her entire career in association management working for two other associations and an association management group before joining INCPAS. She is a regular blogger for the Society.