Public accounting breeds irritable, highly-caffeinated workaholics. It’s no surprise mental health is an afterthought. Between preparing for intense client status calls and getting workpaper review comments cleared before archiving starts, it’s not likely you’ll have much time to focus on your feelings. We put up with long hours with 85%-90% billable utilization quotas during the […]
One of the main reasons [for dissatisfaction] is a lack of role models. Half of female respondents said there aren’t enough women at the top to look up to in top management, while only a third of men complained that there aren’t enough males. On the topic of mentors, however, both sexes feel there aren’t enough of them. More than two thirds of both genders said they haven’t had or currently do not have a mentor to support their career. [FINS]
The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight–everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.
It is such a wonderful feeling to see that many of your firms are taking REAL action steps towards creating a culture of mentoring within your firms, a culture that is “alive and healthy.” It is not just a document, laying on a shelf somewhere that some people follow and some don’t.
In a successful mentoring connection, the mentor and the mentee must both want the relationship to work and be willing to commit time and energy to the process. Five elements are essential:
Respect: This is established when the mentee recognizes the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the mentor and when the mentor appreciates the success the mentee has reached to date and the mentee’s desire to develop to their full potential.
Trust: Mentors and mentees should build trust through communicating and being available, reliable, and loyal.
Partnership Building: The mentor and mentee are professional partners. Barriers that partnerships face may include miscommunication, an uncertainty of each other’s expectations, and perceptions of other people. In order to overcome these barriers, they should work together to maintain communication, address and fix obvious problems as they occur, examine how decisions might affect goals, and have frequent discussions on progress.
Realistic Expectations and Self Perception: A mentor encourages the mentee to have realistic expectations of the mentee’s capabilities, the amount of time and energy the mentor can commit to the relationship, and what the mentee must do to earn their support for his/her career development. The mentor gives honest feedback when discussing the mentee’s traits, abilities, talents, beliefs, and roles.
Time: Set aside the time to meet, even by e-mail or telephone. Don’t change times unless absolutely necessary. Control interruptions. Frequently “check in” with each other via informal telephone calls or by e-mail.
New KPMG Chairman (and US CEO since 2008) John Veihmeyer told the Washington Post about growing up to ascend the public accounting ladder and if that’s something you’re looking to do with your life, be sure to check it out.
Since some of us would rather sip on Molotov cocktails and scratch our eyeballs out with sharpened #2 pencils, we can merely press our faces to the glass to see how public accounting really works. According to J Veihm, it’s something like this: once you’re jumped in, there’s no getting out.
One of the very best pieces of mentoring advice I ever received was to “view a challenge as an opportunity” and then “take it on and do it better than anybody else.” I recall one specific moment, when KPMG’s leadership asked me to consider accepting a particular position that, at the time, I thought would be something of a roadblock to achieving one of the goals I had set for my career in public accounting. I shared my concerns with a trusted colleague, who I have long considered to be my professional mentor, and his response has stayed with me over the course of my 33 years with KPMG. He said, “look at this challenge as an opportunity, accept it, and then do it better than anybody before you ever has.” I took his advice, and he was right. In hindsight, the experience I gained in that role did more to prepare me for the rest of my career than anything else I could have done.
Translating that, if you express concerns about the gang shoving you up the corporate ladder by sending you on your own drive-bys or whathaveyou, one of the higher officers will reassuringly pat you on the shoulder and remind you that there’s one way to go and that’s up. Accept it, there is only one way out (for gang members, that usually means getting shot to death; in public accounting, it might mean a heart attack at 45). Creepy.
KPMG knows all about challenges so it’s probably a good thing that Johnny V was groomed in advance for his duties as KPMG Chair.
The WSJ has a little Q&A about how to handle the sitch of a not so great mentor. Since mentor/mentee (use whatever internal buzzword that applies) relationships seem to be ubiquitous in accounting firms we thought that this may be of some interest to you.
More, after the jump
We, personally, cannot fathom an instance where any of you would go out and find yourself a mentor that you wouldn’t burn the town with but maybe you don’t get to make that choice. Or, maybe, since accountants seem to be gluttons for punishment, you picked a mentor that you thought would help your career and it turned out to be a HUGE MISTAKE.
If you’re not choosing your own mentors then it’s an absolute certainty that there have been scores of awkward and borderline inappropriate encounters experienced by you.
Or maybe we’re dead wrong and mentoring just involves spending exorbitant amounts of your firm’s money on U2 tickets and bottle service. Either way, discuss your awesome exploits with your mentors or your complete nightmare, creep-out sessions.