As lead tax executives have been searching for tax managers at the eight to twelve year range, many are asking “ Where is the talent?” I was talking to a close friend of mine by the name of Dr. Mishe Serra who earned her doctorate at Harvard. She is an expert on generational thinkers such as millennials who think very differently than today’s Baby Boomer generation. In particular, I discussed an executive search experiences very close to me and I sought her advice on my messaging in order to help this client attract elusive talent. What I learned from Dr. Serra I want to share with you because it is important to understand what is happening. Dr. Serra is an expert on the topic of millennials and we will be getting her insightful work in the hands of executives who want to be enlightened on hiring trends in the tax profession.
Extensive studies have been done that prove Baby Boomers often have “perseverance” hard-wired into their brains through early educational experiences. In other words, the output was embedded into their lives long before they ever started their professional careers. We were encouraged to start work early in our lives and we did so admirably. Many of the Baby Boomers started work in their teens in retail stores(now disappearing thanks to Amazon delivery) while the Millennials were gifted with a cell phone and electronic gaming systems just out of diapers. There are very impactful changes occurring as a result of early hard-wired mindsets and these changes are effecting hiring trends today.
Millennials experienced a new shift in education where everyone wins the award in the classroom or on the sports court. Educators shifted to promoting group experiences where no individual should be accountable but the group was accountable. The challenge with this is that group thinking does not teach individual thinking. In other words, people who are educated in this manner may not learn how to make important decisions outside their group. Recently, I experienced a group of young men who made a decision together that evolved into the three of them making a decision together to walk away from an exceptional opportunity. Tread carefully when hiring a group or teams who could come in together and walk away together. It is a millennial phenomenon that is occurring in organizations around the world.
Individual thinkers are people like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Safra Catz, Sheryl Sandberg, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman and many more to mention. These are great people who dare to have vision and they have been trained early on to persevere and follow it! What kind of vision emerges with group think mentalities? You are seeing manifestations of group think mentality on television. One of my favorite programs to watch is Waters World on Fox while he is asking people why they are out protesting in the streets. The answers are amusing because most have no idea one why they are out in the street protesting with their group. This is group think mentality at its most basic manifestation today. Education has also now evolved to the point of a “swipe me” mentality, swipe me to the right if you want to connect and swipe me to the left to discard a connection. This is what this generation is learning so it is vitally important that we learn how this generation operates differently to understand what is happening around us as we hire for organizations.
What does this have to do with hiring talent for your tax organization? Understanding how a new millennial generation operates has a lot to do with how you attract the talent you need for your tax organization today. A hiring authority in a large national accounting firm was kind enough to share with me what is happening to today’s tax talent. Where is it all the tax talent disappearing to today? Why are you having so much trouble finding tax professionals in the eight to twelve year range? You need to first understand what happens as this talent leaves the accounting firms and what they are saying on exit interviews. Most senior tax executives do not have access to inside knowledge of what is really happening. These young tax professionals are leaving the profession in droves for reasons that include: too many long hours, too many tax deadlines, too many time zones to complete international tax work, too much risk, etc.. As I tell many tax executives in the profession, “You apparently did not get the memo how much work was involved in the tax profession nor did the millennials know before they entered the profession.” LOL
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The Poet Theodore Roethke said “What we need is more people who specialize in the impossible.” This is precisely what we do when companies retain us on tax searches today…we do the impossible and it requires more work than ever today.