This special edition of Generational Viewpoints features three individuals from HBE Becker Meyer Love LLP, a Lincoln, Neb.-based firm with approximately 40 employees. We asked Generation Y staff accountant Taylor Kahlandt, born in 1988, Generation X managing partner Scott Becker, born in 1969, and Baby Boomer director and former partner Ron Ecklund, born in 1953, the following question:
"If you could give advice to another generation about how to make the workplace better, what one thing would you encourage them to keep doing, stop doing and start doing?"
KAHLANDT'S GEN Y VIEWPOINT
I would ask the other generations to keep mentoring us. Our generation has an intense desire to learn, and we're searching for mentors who will give us advice on how to advance our skills and move our careers forward. Keep giving us constructive feedback and sharing advice you have learned along the way. We benefit immensely from mentors who can help develop and guide our young careers.
Stop pushing back. As a generation, we thrive on creativity and thinking outside of the box, so don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and take our ideas seriously. Our ideas might initially seem too different to work, but that doesn't mean they're not good concepts. We are a futuristic generation, and our out-of-the-box ideas could be something that sets our firm apart from others or gives our firm even better client service. Please take the time to think things we suggest over before telling us that they will not work.
Start making our work as meaningful as possible. As a generation, we are very passionate about making a difference in the world. We realize we can't all be superheroes, but if there's an opportunity to make even the smallest difference in someone's life, we'll take it!
BECKER'S GEN X VIEWPOINT
I am directing my thoughts to Baby Boomers, as we are facing an important strategic crossroads in our profession: succession and the aging of leadership. How we address succession and generational differences is inherently tied to creating a better workplace. These comments may help others deal with leadership transitions and help make the CPA firm better for future generations.
Keep helping the younger generations be goal-focused. Your ability to set and achieve long-term goals is important to their future success, because many of these goals will be related to succession. Also, keep exceptional client service as a key core value and part of those long-term goals.
Start thinking transition, which isn't just selling the firm or adding a partner. Think about what it takes to be a successful firm now and in the future. Think about transitioning your skills and expertise to the next generations while providing more mentoring and feedback. Start a culture of work/life balance, flexible schedules and non-traditional benefits such as unlimited PTO.
Stop relying on the traditional 40-plus-hour workweek and "face time" in the office as a tool to measure professional contributions. Continue to be open to change to make our workplaces better.
ECKLUND'S BABY BOOMER VIEWPOINT
One of the lessons I was taught as a child was, "The more you give, the more you receive." As a Baby Boomer reaching the end of my career, I can verify the truth of that old saying.
Many would ask: How does this apply to the office environment? As you continue with an organization over a long period of time, you will generally advance into a position of supervisory authority. My advice to the Gen X members who are reaching this point is to keep treating your coworkers as equals. I have found that team members will respond in an amazing way, and it makes work less burdensome and, in fact, more fun.
Also, consider the impact that your attitude has on your interactions with your coworkers. If your interactions are commonly colored by negativity, stop and attempt to approach every situation with good cheer. You will create a better atmosphere where you, your coworkers, and the firm can thrive -- and everyone, including your clients, will benefit.
For those Boomers like me who are now reaching the end of their careers, it's important to start sharing your knowledge and time with those who are still developing their careers. And don't forget to show your appreciation; thank the people on your team for their contributions to the firm's success.
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, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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