This issue of Generational Viewpoints features two individuals from Anderson ZurMuehlen & Co.
PC ( www.azworld.com), a multi-office firm based in Helena, Mont., with 240 employees. Genera-
tion X senior software engineer Luke Muszkiewicz, born in 1978, and Baby Boomer shareholder
Kevin Kelley, born in 1949, shared their views on the following question:
“How important is employee coaching to the success of the firm?”
MUSZKIEWICZ’S GEN X
Coaching is critical, especially for
entry- and mid-level employees
like me. My sense is that employees of my generation want, first and
foremost, challenging work they
find interesting and meaningful.
Not many would disagree with that
in principle, but I think we’re more
likely to leave the firm, or the profession, if we don’t find it. That isn’t to
say we expect all work to be fun, but
if we can do more of the work we find rewarding, we’re more likely to
do great work, complete it on time, and remain satisfied.
In our firm, the coaching role is distinct from the supervisor and
management roles, and that’s important because younger employees find it easier to ask questions and solicit honest feedback from
someone who’s neither focused on immediate client engagements
nor ultimately responsible for hiring, firing, promotions and raises.
But that doesn’t mean that an employee’s coach, supervisor and office
leadership don’t need to be on the same page. I’ve heard from cowork-ers who have worked hard with their coach to identify strengths and
weaknesses, and set goals accordingly, only to be held accountable
by senior leadership based upon a different set of expectations.
Coaching can also be effective in bridging the generational divide.
Listening to some, you’d think younger folks just want to soak up promotions and raises while working in their pajamas on their iPads. I’m
exaggerating, but I can’t help but feel that some senior-level staff have
forgotten what it was like to be entry-level. Did they not have different
ideas about work and life than their superiors? Coaching offers us an
opportunity to fully understand each other’s perspective.
The truth is, we expect to work hard, but we might rather work from
home a few nights a week, instead of in the office on Saturday morning. We’re okay doing what we’re told, but we need to understand the
context of why it’s important and what happens if it’s not done that
way. And most important, we appreciate clear expectations that, when
met, result in increases in responsibility, autonomy and reward.
In our firm, employee coaching and development is taken very
seriously. But we must remain diligent, set high expectations for employee growth, re-emphasize best practices, and continually remind
ourselves that we’re not so different from our superiors after all.
KELLEY’S BABY BOOMER
When employees are empowered
to positively influence their careers,
they’re more likely to provide superior client service. Fostering good
communication between management, supervisors and staff is the
most important aspect of our coaching program, along with our commitment to ongoing professional
growth. Three characteristics define
1. Identifying coaches. Not everyone is cut out to be a coach, so
identifying the right individuals is crucial. The most valuable coaching is one on one. We use peer-to-peer coaching within work groups
to evaluate and direct staff. This involves people who work directly
with the individual, managers and the coach to provide input. It’s the
starting point for developing work plans, setting goals and realizing
the firm’s goals. All professional staff set goals, and everyone is evaluated and held accountable.
2. Coaches’ training and responsibilities. Our program includes
an annual kick-off event that brings everyone together in one place
for the same information and training. Then coaches meet with their
designated individuals to assist them in developing short- and long-term goals and to review prior-year goals. Through regular meetings,
coaches provide encouragement, maintain the focus on goals, offer
insights on the culture and opportunities for promotions, give feedback, and provide a safe environment to take risks. The coaching process also initiates production work plan budgets and training plans
for the year, helping management set the firm’s annual budget.
3. Leadership. Our coaching program requires an investment of
firm resources to make it successful. The payoff is a better understanding of career path options, improved retention of the best staff, and
better leadership development and succession planning.
Sharing knowledge and expertise is vital to building a connected
workplace. Many of our shareholders will retire in the next 10 years,
so it’s critical for us to build a bridge with the next generation and
equip them to take on additional challenges. I can see the benefits of
a coordinated coaching program that management is committed to
and invests in. It’s an important part of our success and always a work
in progress that offers great hope for the future of the firm. AT
This column is facilitated and edited by Krista Remer, the Generation X consultant, and Jennifer Wilson, the Baby Boomer co-founder and
partner, of ConvergenceCoaching LLC ( www.convergencecoaching.com), a leadership and marketing coaching and training and development firm that specializes in helping leaders achieve success. To have your firm’s generational viewpoints considered for a future Accounting Tomorrow column, e-mail them at email@example.com.
How much should firms invest in social
media, and what dollar amount should
they expect in return?
It was a question often unanswered,
side-stepped or boomeranged back to
the crowd during the recent American Institute of CPAs’ Practitioners Symposium
and TECH+ Conference and the 2012
Association for Accounting Marketing
Summit in Las Vegas.
Until Joe Rotella of Delphia Consult-
ing’s session on measuring Web site ROI.
He explained that firm marketers can’t
“go to a partner and say, ‘We need a new
Web site because it needs to be pretty.’
Go to them with numbers.”
Rotella then presented some of his
own, based on the data and subjective
calculations of two firm marketers he
spoke to about their firm Web presence.
When talk turned to social media, how-
ever, he acknowledged that these same
formulas don’t work, making it impossible
to know true ROI.
In the “Marketing Masters” session I
had the pleasure of moderating, Kevin
Bagger, senior director of marketing for
the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors
Authority, and Carl Cohen, CMO and vice
president of marketing for MGM Resorts
International — CityCenter, basically
acknowledged as much. “No one can
claim to be an expert at social media,”
And while Cohen detailed how MGM
Resort’s Aria Hotel recently invested
money to beta test a new Facebook promotional tool that allowed them to track
resulting revenue, he agreed.
Bagger recently helped transition
the “What happens here, stays here”
campaign into the social media age
by getting users to sign
uploading compromising vacation
photos. This is
than just “
snapshots in time,”
I imagine those
— Danielle Lee