Mentoring Process for CPA's with Rex Gatto

Rex Gatto, Ph.D.Mentoring Process for CPA's
Presented by Rex Gatto
Founder and President of Gatto Training Associates (GTA)
Contact gatto@telerama.lm.com
Thursday, September 6, 2001

Visit the AccountingWEB Workshop Calendar for upcoming sessions.


Summary

This workshop covered the following topics:

  • How to create an environment that retains people
  • Mentors responsibilities
  • Mentoring Skills
  • Preparation for mentoring meetings
  • Assessing Mentee development

The problem many firms face today is they can not keep seniors, Supervisors and or Managers. Retention of these employees is not easily answered but mentoring can help to address this issue.

One of the current initiatives in the CPA industry is to implement the mentor and career development process. Implementing an effective mentoring process helps everyone, mentors, partners(owners), and managers, to revisits their own earlier days of career growth through the process of guiding the development of the younger, newer, inexperienced employees. It helps employees (mentees) by giving them the opportunity to discuss their issues with an experienced CPA and to become involved in the firm. Ultimately, the firm is strengthened through the mentoring, communication and development process.

Smart Managers FAQ A Guide to Survival by Rex Gatto 2000 Jossey Bass Publisher

Mentoring Process for CPA's by Rex Gatto 2001 GTA Press Publisher


Transcripts

Session Moderator: Welcome everyone and thank you for joining us today! I'm happy to introduce Rex Gatto, who will be presenting a workshop on the mentoring process for accountants. Rex Gatto, is the founder and president of Gatto Training Associates. Dr. Gatto's practice has been dedicated to helping people in the workplace to enhance productivity through a better understanding of themselves.

He has done extensive research in the area of individual working, thinking, personality, leadership, teamwork and communication styles and their impact on the working environment. As a behavioral scientist and counselor, he has devoted his energies to helping all levels of business people: CEO's, vice presidents, managers and professionals have an enriched work life.

Dr. Gatto consults on matters of organizational effectiveness, conducts training programs and also conducts one-on-one and team coaching. Dr. Gatto has met with Partners and Managing Partners of CPA firms throughout the USA in mentoring sessions to help them lead and address specific issues. He has worked to merge and demerge CPA firms through the people issues.

In the area of employee assessment he has developed inventories on 360 Feedback: Interpersonal Working Associations and Leadership Insight Assessment, and has written fifteen Behavioral Assessments and Leadership Assessment Simulations.

Welcome Rex!

Rex Gatto: Let's begin. I will open the session up during the workshop for questions. We will also take questions after the presentation is completed.
Thanks. Let's begin. I will open the session up during the workshop for questions. We will also take questions after the presentation is completed.

Introduction - One of the current initiatives in the CPA industry is to implement the mentor training and career development process.

Implementing an effective mentoring process helps everyone, mentors, partners, and managers, to revisit their own earlier days of career growth through the process of guiding the development of the younger, newer, inexperienced employees.

It helps the employees (mentees) by giving them the opportunity to discuss their issues with an experienced CPA and to become involved in the firm. Ultimately, the firm is strengthened through the mentoring, communication and development process.

What is the Mentor/Mentee Relationship?

It is a process of a senior level person (mentor) working with a less experienced person (mentee). In Greek mythology, the mentor was the designation given to a trusted and experienced advisor. Odysseus, absent from home because of the Trojan Wars, charged his servant, whose name was Mentor, with the task of educating and guiding his son. Thus, the term ?mentor? came into being. In work organizations, a mentor can provide coaching, friendship, sponsorship, and role modeling to a younger, less experienced protégé (mentee).

In working with younger or new employees, a mentor can support and help the firm grow while positively influencing another employee's career.

How To Create An Environment That Retains People

Firm Mission Statement - The process of keeping employees begins with a clear understanding of the firm. There needs to be clarity of the services the firm provides and an identification of the type of clients the firm wants to attract and hold.

Another important aspect is firm development and expansion of needed client services.

Firm Structure/Culture

Every partner needs to represent what the firm stands for, modeling the values and styles that create the firm's culture. There needs to be consistency between word and deed. Teamwork, how the partners work together and how partners relate to and treat clients and direct reports is a powerful communication.

Orientation

How someone is oriented into the firm influences work and productivity. Hiring and orientation into the firm should include introduction to people and clients, presentation of employee handbook and firm's mission, identification of a mentor, identification of career potential, expectations of how to work with clients, expectations of how to work internally, and why people are successful in the firm.

Career planning should begin on the first day of employment. Employees need to know the benefits of working in a particular firm, be aware of the opportunities, and be able to see a future with the firm.

Leadership / Followership

Leadership is the fulfillment of daily goals through the utilization of all available resources. Individual leadership style can help an individual meet the challenges of creating, articulating, and translating day-to-day actions into meeting the firm's goals. It needs to be a conscious decision, not just ?this is the way I do it?. The art of followership also needs to be developed through the mentoring process. It is imperative to be aware of what leaders in the firm want from followers and vice versa.

Communication

Communication is the lifeline in the firm. There are two types of organizational communication - formal and informal.

Formal lines of communication are established by partners and managers and include such categories as memos, meetings and e-mail that establish policy, directions and action, and create a flow of necessary information.

Informal communication includes the discussions in the halls, at lunch, and after meetings. Often, these types of communications are more relaxed and can be helpful, but they can also give misinformation.

Formal lines of communication need to be stronger than the informal lines in order to disseminate appropriate information.

Career Path

From the beginning, it should be clear to each person in the firm the opportunities that are available. It should also be made clear how to take advantage of those opportunities. Everyone in the firm, partners to staff, should understand that the firm is an opportunity to develop individual skills. The firm's structure, culture, needs and rewards should outline the type of talent and skills that the partners (firm) want. The professional image, client performance, firm expansion, specialization, and development need to be appropriately discussed.

Career development should begin on the first day of employment. It is important to help each person understand what opportunities are available. People who are involved emotionally as to what they could achieve are less likely to leave.

Mentor Actions -Overview

When the mentoring process is successful, both the mentor and the mentee develop. Mentors need to discuss specifics concerning: personal vision; career and business objectives; strengths and qualities; anticipated changes and future expectations.

The mentor's responsibilities are to:

  1. have a vested interest in mentee success,
  2. be a coach,
  3. build a professional relationship,
  4. be a sponsor,
  5. be a role model,
  6. create a safe environment in which the mentee can ask for guidance,
  7. support, don't evaluate,
  8. influence and guide in a positive direction,
  9. guide in two ways : professional and personal,
  10. observe and discuss the mentee interactions and work-related skills, and
  11. provide adequate and appropriate feedback for the mentee.

Marvelous Mentor Type:

The most effective interpersonal communication style balances exposure and feedback. Mentors who are secure in their positions feel free to expose their own feelings and to obtain feedback from others.

Examples: Marvelous Mentors ask questions and support mentees in discovering and using their talents. They are resources for the mentees and are available to discuss issues and mutually help the mentees plan strategies for development.

Feedback

Look for opportunities to give mentees feedback:

  • At the beginning and conclusion of an engagement.
  • Recognition for a job well done.
  • Corrective action when something goes wrong. Ask what was leaned, what would be done differently.
  • When the mentee is going to do something new.
  • ?Help the mentee become self-sufficient.?
  • When giving feedback, use the acronym F O C U S.

Focus outlines areas to be covered during feedback. Focus on the issue, not the person. Try to catch the mentee doing something right to support development.

Focus =

Focus on key issues
Offer opportunities for development
Create care and empathy
Understand and have unconditional acceptance
Support strengths

How Should a Mentee Prepare for Mentoring? Choose a mentor with whom you feel comfortable and who is willing to put in the time to support your development.

You as the mentee should identify a mentor who has developed and demonstrated the skills that you need to develop. You need to identify your own needed skill for development and align yourself with a mentor who has demonstrated those skills.

You should be prepared to discuss the following and then place it in writing:

  • What are your work-related goals?
  • What are your personal goals?
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • What do you want to be able to do, or what will you need to do differently in two years?
  • And , what would make you feel satisfied and successful at work?

Mentee Assessment Outline - The following are skills, actions, and ways to measure development in a concrete way. Following this explanation is an assessment for you as the mentor to copy and give to the mentee.

The purpose of this assessment is to create a benchmark for development, to identify those skills at which the mentee is successful and those skills that he/she needs to develop.

You can measure the mentee with this outline and the assessments that follow at the start of the process and after each of the four stages in the process.

In this way, you can monitor the mentee's development and aid in creating future action plans. Ask for a copy of the mentee's completed assessments.

1. Client Relationship
2. Communication
3. Business Knowledge
4. Problem Solving
5. Computer Knowledge
6. Practice Development
7. Interpersonal Relationships
8. Leadership
9. Professional Presence
10. Planning
11. Creativity
12. Accountability
13. Initiative
14. Team Work
15. Adaptability
16. Integrity

These are all areas that will need to be evaluated.

Common to these descriptors are all to be used in a developmental plan. This plan is completed by the Menetee and Mentor. Please also keep in mind that the development of the mentee is in stages.

Have any of you begun a mentoring process in your firm?
Jack Stelp: No! Should we?
Rex Gatto: Are you thinking about starting a mentoring process in your firm?
Jack Stelp: I think it is a good idea and it might help with retention...We have to have the partners take place in this too, don't we?
Rex Gatto: Why I think you should consider implementing a mentoring process, retaining and developing staff.

Rex Gatto: Partners do need to be involved in this process. The mentoring process needs to be a goal.
Patty Sullivan: A goal of the staff and the firm! How do you make the partners see how valuable this can be to them in the long run. All they can think about it billing billing billing

Patty Sullivan: That's always a real challenge!
Jack Stelp: Yes it IS

Michael Heines: We have had a mentoring process in place for many years. Originally mentors were limited to partners only. I have recently begun to add managers and seniors as mentors so that incoming juniors are not intimidated by the very large gap between them and a partner.

Rex Gatto: One of the biggest Problems in a firm is the retention of staff. Mentoring can address this issue.

Kelly: I worked for a large regional firm and we had a good process of mentoring place - we called it the buddy system.
Rex Gatto: A buddy system is different than an experience person mentor guiding the development of people.
Timothy Gordon: How's that?
Rex Gatto: A Buddy system can be a second year staff working with a first year staff Mentoring is meant to establish goals and developmental and career plan.
Timothy Gordon: I see.

Rex Gatto: Mentors can be used in any level in the firm. Michael raises a very good point.

Kelly: What about time - how much time does this process take on an ongoing basis?

Rex Gatto: Time recommends a commitment for at least one year. Three formal mentoring meetings.

Session Moderator: How do you respond to people who think mentoring is a waste of time that people should figure out for themselves what they need to do to perform and succeed?

Rex Gatto: To show the worth of mentoring identify the skills set of staff, Sr. supervisors, and managers do exit interviews and raise those points indicating how mentoring can address those issues
Session Moderator: Thank you - I think this attitude is prevalent among old school partners in the accounting profession

Rex Gatto: We have identified stages of mentee development that also helps to guide the mentee through this process
Kelly:: How true!
Patty Sullivan: You hit the nail on the head.

Rex Gatto: Many partners may feel that mentoring is not worth while but the CPA industry is going through tremendous change and that will also help implementing a mentoring process. Have any of you found resistance to implementing a mentoring process?
Jack Stelp: yes, because of the time involved
Session Moderator: Yes, I have witnessed an attitude that time is better spent on clients
Jack Stelp: they want us to just take them out in the field and have at it
Session Moderator: Well put, Jack!

Kelly: I have seen the same trend! I am pro mentoring and coaching. You have to keep your staff informed and up to date. Chargeable hours seem to get in the way of many valuable trends at firms.
Rex Gatto: To change partners minds you need to have critical evidence. That is why identifying what skills are needed for success is important. Just going out into the field can create problems if the wrong person is out in the field with them.

Session Moderator: I'd like to take a moment to thank all of you for attending today, and a special thanks to Dr. Gatto for a great workshop! Please continue to ask any questions you might have of Dr. Gatto. Meanwhile, I'd like to invite all of you to stay for the next hour when we will be hosting another workshop on Performance Evaluations that Work!

Rex Gatto: Thank you all if you have further question my email gatto@telerama.com

Session Moderator: Thank you once again, Dr. Gatto, for an extremely informative workshop!


Biography

Rex Gatto, Ph.D. founder and president of Gatto Training Associates (GTA). Dr. Gatto's practice has been dedicated to helping people in the workplace to enhance productivity through a better understanding of themselves. He has done extensive research in the area of individual working, thinking, personality, leadership, teamwork and communication styles and their impact on the working environment. As a behavioral scientist and counselor, he has devoted his energies to helping all levels of business people: CEO's, vice presidents, managers and professionals to have an enriched work life. Dr. Gatto consults on matters of organizational effectiveness, conducts training programs and also conducts one-on-one and team coaching. Dr. Gatto has met with Partners and Managing Partners, of CPA firms throughout the USA, in mentoring sessions to help them lead and address specific issues. He has worked to merge and demerge CPA firms through the people issues.

Dr. Gatto holds an Undergraduate and Master's Degree in Education from Duquesne University, a Master's of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Norwich University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania Certifications as a Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Gatto is Board Certified as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist and a Nationally Certified Psychologist.

He has written six books: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO EFFECTIVE PRESENTATION, CONTROLLING STRESS IN THE WORKPLACE, TEAMWORK THROUGH FLEXIBLE LEADERSHIP, REFLECTIONS FROM THE WORKPLACE and SMART MANAGERS FAQ GUIDE, MENTORING PROCESS FOR CPA'S.

The books are based on his years of experience working with business people throughout the United States and Canada. He has written training manuals and developed assessment instruments specifically for people within the workplace. The list of training manuals include: Leadership Development, Effective Presentation, Stress Management, Sales, Effective Listening, Professional Development, Team Building, Support Staff Development, Meeting Leadership, Supervisory and Management Development, Problem Solving, Employee Assessment, Creativity and Positive Influence.

In the area of employee assessment he has developed inventories on 360 Feedback: Interpersonal Working Associations and Leadership Insight Assessment, and written fifteen Behavioral Assessments and Leadership Assessment Simulations. Assessment can be taken over the Internet, log onto the web site for information.

As a business consultant and lecturer, he has presented to business people throughout the United States and Canada. He has presented for many professional organizations and received an outstanding speaker letter from the American Society of Training and Development acclaiming him as a dynamic and thought-provoking speaker. He has developed customized training workshops for many corporate 500 companies, CPA firms, hospitals, small businesses, universities and colleges, and has trained and facilitated all positional levels of business people. As a change interventionist, he has written and presented for business teams, corporations and helped people achieve an enriched, productive, and enjoyable work life.

Member: American Psychological Association, Pennsylvania Psychological Association, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Inc., American Counseling Association, Pennsylvania Counseling Association, American Society for Training and Development, and National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists.

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