Managing Young Talent: What Not to Say

As we’ve discussed in our blog, there is a tight market for the best young talent, and landing them is a challenge. Even after you’ve brought them on, they’re probably being recruited by other firms. The type of leadership that works for older generations might not be effective with them. Here are some things you should avoid saying at all costs, and alternative suggestions from The Journal of Accountancy:

“Be patient.” This can come across as dismissive. It might seem like you’re actually considering whatever they’ve suggested and they don’t like being blankly told to be patient when they have so many options. Actually listen to them and see if their ideas are valid, and come up with a plan for implementing them, or have a real discussion about why you disagree.

“You’re not ready.” This can be discouraging. They could think you lack faith in them, or you’re just holding them back for other reasons. Consider yourself fortunate to have such ambitious talent at your firm! They want experience, so figure out ways to give them that. Partner them with a mentor or have someone work closely with them in case they make mistakes, and use those as learning experiences.

“When I was coming up…” People tend to tune this out. It seems like an excuse for not listening to new perspectives. A better way is to say, “”What I have learned that works well is…” This is a way of you sharing your experience and what has been successful, rather than just talking down to them.

“You can change this when I’m gone.” Do you want your young talent to count down the minutes until your retirement? Or do you want them to feel that everyone works on a collaborative team to make the firm a better business? One sure way to make them feel unappreciated is to give them the attitude that you’re in charge and you don’t care what they think and that’s the end of it. It’s not so hard to admit that these fresh, young CPAs can teach their more established colleagues a thing or two! You don’t want to stifle your talented young employees, or they’ll might move on to a firm where their ideas are embraced and respected.

Are you guilty of any of these? If so, are you willing to try one of the alternatives? We want to know your thoughts – and don’t forget to share with your colleagues!

To read more, see the article from The Journal of Accountancy.