During my protracted college career, I once held a part-time job at a Mexican restaurant. While there, Joe, the general manager, gave me a brief but unforgettable lesson on how to implement a culture of successful change.
Prior to my being hired, I was told the place was in disarray, bleeding cash as well as inventory -- with much of that being carried out the back door under the cover of darkness. Employee turnover, particularly among the kitchen and waitstaff, resembled the turnstile to New York's No. 4 subway line at rush hour.
I asked Joe how he transformed both the front and the back of the house so radically that the place had become one of the most popular campus haunts in just a few short months.
He replied simply, "I used the clock."
Sensing my confusion, he sat me down and drew the face of a clock on a napkin with the hands pointed at 12.
"When most people think of change, they think it's like this," as he proceeded to draw imaginary circles signifying the passing of hours. "But, this is also change," he explained, now moving the large hand ever-so-slightly to signify 12:05. "I moved it just a little each week until it was 12 o'clock again."
I was stunned that someone could distill as complex a concept as strategical change with a few simple strokes of a No. 2 pencil.
Apparently, there's been gradual change in the profession regarding best practices, women in leadership posts and deploying work/life balance as a viable business strategy.
Recently, a study released by the American Institute of CPAs Work/Life and Women's Initiatives Committee showed that the progress of women is inching -- if not speeding -- forward with regard to the corner office.
The study, "A Decade of Changes in the Accounting Profession: Workforce Trends and Human Capital Practices," polled some 2,600 CPAs, including those in both public and private practice.
For women in the profession, the study was a good news/not-so-good news scenario.
While women now account for roughly 19 percent of firm partners -- a 7 percent rise from a decade ago -- just 38 percent of the firms surveyed are offering alternative career paths that ultimately do not open the door to partnership - i.e. choosing to remain at the senior manager level or migrating to less client-centric practice areas such as recruiting.
The study also offered some suggestions, which to be honest, should be basic tenets of a firm's culture rather than advice that has to be gleaned off an online research paper.
As evidence, the study said firms should be more proactive and aggressive in providing access to professional development opportunities as a result of the increasing diversity in today's workforce.
It also suggested women take the lead and be more aggressive in seeking out career opportunities and subsequently informing their supervisors about both their goals and desire for a work/life balance.
You don't need a report to tell you that the profession's workforce, as well as the nation's in general, is rapidly changing.
And the profession has to learn to implement change to keep up with it, even if it's just going from 12 to 12:05.
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