Many firms offer high potentials some manner of coaching. But at California firm Frank, Rimerman and Co., coaching permeates the entire culture. Everyone at the 385-employee firm from manager level up is trained in coaching and can act as a career counselor able to coach employees on a one-on-one basis.
"Our goal is to coach employees through anything that's holding them back from feeling in control of their careers," said managing partner Brian Kreischer, CPA, who created the coaching program. That might mean issues with "time management, fear of delegation, or even relationship challenges," he said.
The program is also intended to create a shift in the way firm leaders view staff, Kreischer said—to encourage them to listen to employees rather than falling into what he called a "default mode of providing all the answers."
The coaching approach has changed the way employees talk with one another, he said. Coaches recognize teachable moments, and employees now want to excel at coaching. It has also elevated the level of trust within the firm. Employees are more focused on the impact they have on others, and gone is the sense that anyone is trying to push his or her own agenda.
The firm's deep commitment to the coaching mindset helps it remain competitive in recruiting, Kreischer said. Potential employees see that Frank, Rimerman staff are encouraged to brainstorm solutions to problems rather than just go to their superiors for answers. That approach leads to greater learning and growth, he said.
According to Kreischer, the benefits of coaching even extend outside the firm. "With a coaching mindset, you can utilize these skills in every aspect of your life including with groups, in meetings, even at home with your family and friends," he said.
Meet six more employers that have radically rethought the ways they relate to their CPAs:
- A flat hierarchy with no job titles and no partners aids recruiting for an S.C. firm.
- Letting employees set their own hours pays dividends for a Honolulu firm’s retention.
- A $1,000 vacation stipend spurs an Arizona firm’s staff to unplug—and recharge.
- Weekly reviews of firm financials at a Denver-area firm helps employees feel ownership.
- Cross-training gives employees of an Arizona firm new expertise.
- A team-oriented culture keeps morale high at SoulCycle.