S5E33: From Auditor to Executive Director of People and Culture with Stacey Rodgers

“People who want to help people further their business and solve their problems.” Stacey Rodgers

In today’s episode, we welcome Stacey Rodgers to the podcast. Stacey is the executive director of people and culture at Cohen & Company CPA firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. Stacey offers a unique perspective when it comes to helping the firm to develop and maintain outstanding client service teams. As a former auditor who built her career within Cohen & Company, she has a dual understanding of what clients need and expect from their accountants and how to help the firm train and develop employees to be successful.

Being at the center of the firm’s goal of employing the best and the brightest, Stacey oversees the execution of all people and culture initiatives, including performance management, employee engagement, employee development, and recruiting. In addition, with a focus on attracting, developing, and retaining talent, she works to ensure the firm exemplifies its foundational principles. Stacey is also very passionate and very knowledgeable about the accounting profession’s challenges.

Over time, three things have remained the same: first, hiring the right talent; second, training that talent; and third, keeping that talent engaged and excited about their careers. That is the three-legged stool that is critically important to any organization. So it does boil down to the people and ensuring that you have all of those things working together, despite what’s happening around you, within and outside your organization.

The pandemic has helped organizations to learn that they need to be more open to the different working styles of their people and become much more people-centric in their decision-making. A lot of the research shows that during this time of the pandemic, people had the opportunity to step back and reflect on what they wanted. Similarly, opportunities opened up in a way they’ve never been available before because of the changing market in that dynamic.

Leaders have stronger and better relationships today because of the adoption of technology and its capacity to enhance what they do daily. If leaders find the right way to use it going forward and take all the lessons they’ve gained due to this pandemic, they can come out in a much stronger position than they did going into it.

New hires need to learn how to communicate, both internally and externally. They also have to learn how to manage their time. So, for example, there is a difference when someone comes in with the ability to navigate a client problem without having someone to teach them how to do that, as compared to doing that through instinct.

At the end of the day, people who want to help people further their business and solve their problems. However, people underestimate the power of communication and building relationships and the importance of everything we do. Public accounting enables people to acquire these networking skills, which translate to success no matter where your career takes you.

Once you surround yourself with people who are experts in their fields, you will build a relationship and network that will last you a lifetime that goes beyond the purpose of building a business. The most successful people are those who recognize that they can’t do it alone. If you think you can accomplish all your goals on your own, you will only go as far as your ego and head can go. It is only when you start to understand who are the right people you need to surround yourself with that your business can begin to be successful.

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Everyone’s Skills Need Work

I am often asked how I keep my skills as a trainer/presenter/speaker honed. Improvisational skills are a big factor in my courses, how to use the tools that make improvisational comedy work, like the “Yes, and…” that I help my course participants learn.

To further develop my improv skills I decided to take a workshop on improv writing. It is a challenge to create short, effective screenplays, and it is great!  Thought I’d share one with you: Pete and Mr. IRS Agent.

 

Top Skills CPAs Will Need In 2025

Horizons-Report-CoverAccording to an evaluation by MACPA  from the CPA Horizons 2025 Project, five critical competencies for the future (after the core technical accounting / financial skills) were identified:

Leadership: The ability to develop and share insights and the aptitude to mobilize and inspire others to action. Leadership is about finding possibilities and developing people, utilizing their strengths, and shaping the future.

Communications: Able to give and exchange information with meaningful context and appropriate delivery and interpersonal skills. It includes the ability to make thinking visible to others in a way they can easily grasp.

Strategic thinking: A future-minded and flexible mindset that thinks critically and creatively. The ability to link data, knowledge and insights together to provide quality advice for strategic decision-making.

Collaboration and synthesis: Being effective at engaging others and working across boundaries to turn challenges into opportunities, including the ability to consider the whole picture (past, present, and future context) and create alternatives and options for the future.

Being tech savvy: Anticipating technology changes and how they can benefit others. Being adept at standardizing data for transparency, efficient exchange, and visualization.

While I agree that these skills will be valuable in 2025, I know they are critical today.  Leadership, Communication, Strategic Thinking and Collaboration are not skills that magically emerge. They are developed through training and  behavior modeling to creating a culture that supports and rewards staff who are technically smart accountants and have the soft skills needed to succeed.

Download the full report here.

What Happens in Vegas…

With Peter at the 2014 SAGE SummitHope that what happened at the Sage Summit in Las Vegas last month does not stay in Vegas! The keynote speakers were very high profile:  Magic Johnson, Biz Stone, and Robert Gibbs, just to name a few. Bill Sheridan, Chief Communications Officer at the Maryland Association of CPAs wrote three excellent blogs about the Sage Summit; “The Investing Media Sells Fear. Stop Buying,” “If Strategy is the Cake, Culture is the Oven,” and “Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone: Be Human, Solve Problems, Help People.”

I presented two breakout sessions and the Sage Summit (“Communicating in the Workplace”and “Business Development for Accountants”) and I met many interesting people. Steven Shapiro who is a sole practitioner from Los Angeles, is one of the most extroverted accountants I ever met (next to me). Then there was Louie Prosperi, CEO of the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada based out of Toronto, who was highly engaged and an excellent networker. And last but certainly not least, Celia Phillips (l) and Kitty Bhogal (r) with Structured Accounting Services in Toronto who were brave enough to have their picture taken with me. I hope to see Louie, Celia, and Kitty in my Toronto courses (The 8 Hour MBA, Communicating in the Workplace, and Public Speaking and Presentation Skills) on September 2nd and 3rd.

Breaking News

steps-to-making-progress-onlineThe new revenue recognition standard has been issued by FASB.  This model is a principles-based approach which will require more judgment to determine the amount of revenue to recognize and when to recognize.

Earlier this year I wrote an article, How The New 5-Step Revenue Recognition Model Impacts Your Organization, outlining each step businesses will use to determine the correct revenue recognition method.

For publicly held entities, the standard is effective on or after 12/15/16 and privately held one year later.

For more addtional information about the standard, read this article from the Journal of Accountancy.

To help your staff better understand the impact of these new standards I’ve developed a course What It Means to You and Your Company.