Solve Your Succession Problems - Step Up and Mentor
One of the most frequent questions I get is, "Should all partners (principals, shareholders, directors, owners) be mentors." My standard answer is:
"No, if they do a horrible job, if they don’t keep their commitment in meeting with the mentee, if they set a very poor example inside the firm (and the rest of the team make fun of them behind their back)…. don't ask them to be part of your firm's mentoring program."
Even though you exclude them, they are mentoring anyway, because mentoring is part of almost every CPA firm culture – - more experienced accountants teach less experienced accountants how to do the work, how to treat clients, how to follow firm guidelines and so on.
If you are one of these people inside a firm who declares, "I'm not good at mentoring," and dodge the formal responsibility – it's time to step-up to the plate and mentor.
Many experienced CPAs ask, "What do I say, what do I do, where do we meet, how often do we meet?" Chill! – It's easy, it's natural – be yourself.
Here's a hand-out I use, titled:
Take Time To Mentor
- Take time and be friendly – the most basic thing you can do.
- Take time and truly listen – the most motivational thing you can do.
- Take time and be empathetic – the individual wants to know you care.
- Take time and be flexible – the individual wants options and choices.
- Take time and be helpful – make sure you understand their needs.
- Take time and be truthful – tell me what is likely to happen and what will not happen.
- If you can’t take time, give them some who can.
Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She is a former shareholder and administrative partner in a successful, regional CPA firm and has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations. She works with firms across the country focusing on people, partners and internal management issues.