While the sometimes-challenging hours, engagements, or client/employer might drive many young CPAs into a frenetic state, the only one who can break the mold and move for positive change is you—and if you do, you’ll be poised to capitalize on the vast opportunities available in the accounting profession.
Wise words from Tamera Loerzel, one of many speakers at the August 2013 E.D.G.E. Conference in Austin, Texas who addressed many of the issues young CPAs deal with in their firms and companies.
“It doesn’t matter what your role is,” said Loerzel, a partner of ConvergenceCoaching LLC who helps her clients realize their true value and how they can make a difference for themselves and their company or firm. “Instead of being overwhelmed with too many thoughts or possibilities on how to drive change, start with something simple. Pick a couple ideas, have them make a difference for you or your company, and fully implement them.”
One key step Loerzel stresses is to “talk straight” to drive change. Too often, people fear speaking up will damage their relationship with their peers, associates, and, of course, their managers. What they’re really afraid of is looking bad or damaging the relationship. Yet, conquering this fear will only illustrate your value and reflect a positive change for you and your workplace.
“People value your opinion, so speak up and speak straight,” she said. “Many of us experience disappointments, and upset and hurt feelings when interacting with others at work. We express or ‘triangulate’ those feelings to others. Instead, go to the source; this is the only way to drive resolution. The source, too, will appreciate you more for it and you’ll gain a more positive reputation.”
During this process, it’s vital to have a strong professional package. In other words, the way you dress and the way you look can make or break how people respect and value what you or your company has to say. Behavior and ethics are a must, but a dress code is something that can’t go unnoticed.
“Err on the side of conservative and dress one step above,” said Loerzel. “For example, clients in jeans may feel uncomfortable if you show up in a suit and a tie, but ‘business casual’ may fit better in your culture and theirs, so know your audience and dress appropriately.”
As you attempt to improve your look, dress, and value, setting goals and sharing them with others is an approach that will help you measure success. It is important to know that there are two kinds of goals: those that improve a behavior or skill, that is, improving straight talk or communicating better, and those that produce a deliverable or tangible end result, such as setting goals around things you own. This could include, for example, specific projects or client deliverables or developing new business.
While this is a visionary process and may take time to hash out and put into motion, Loerzel urges that above all else, we must deliver on our commitments and exceed expectations.
“That is the only way to build trust and differentiate yourself from others, but you can’t do it alone. Make a list of all your commitments in work and in life, and be willing to make adjustments and ask for help.”
Many CPAs may be content with just doing enough to get by or are just too afraid of making a mistake by speaking up. While the “you only live once” line is overused, it is particularly useful in this situation. Anyone can sit at a desk, crunch numbers, and obey orders, but to gain the most out of the experience and show others what you have to offer, take some initiative today. Loerzel believes everyone should do so in order to keep up with the future and drive success.
“Leaders are always evolving and progressing, and we’re always going to have change. The key is to have the courage and flexibility to embrace that change and strive to make yourself and others better for it.”
If you attended the August 2013 E.D.G.E. Conference, video and audio recordings and presentation materials of are available in the AICPA’s online library. Registered attendees for the 2013 conference have complimentary access when they login. Those who did not attend can create an account to purchase audio recordings and presentation materials.