It Takes a Village to Grow an Orchard

by Gordon Krater on July 22, 2015

Internally, we often liken Plante Moran to an orchard. It has “trees” (or clients and staff) that have been planted at different times, bear different kinds of fruit, and have different lifespans. When new staff come to the firm, they have the benefit of capturing the fruit from trees that were planted before them and the duty to plant new ones. We call this stewardship.

At the spring partner meeting, we revisited the orchard theme via a couple of videos. We’ve since shared them throughout the firm and with our retired partners. I wouldn’t normally share an internal video externally, but one of them is so moving—and such a great testament to our culture—that I’ve decided to make an exception.

This 3.5-minute video features Former Managing Partner Bill Hermann, Current Partner Bob Reinhart, Chief Financial Officer Dan Trotta, and their children, all of whom have come to work at Plante Moran. One of them, Kori Reinhart, even holds up the Plante Moran onesie the firm gave her dad as a gift when she was born and jokes that, in her case, we began recruiting early!

We often compare ourselves to a family, but sometimes what’s metaphorical becomes very literal. At Plante Moran, we have parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and even a few sets of twins. We’re proud of these families and our legacy.

How about you? Do you have family members working together at your organization? Have you found it to be beneficial? While we’re aware of issues that may arise with family members working at the same organization, we believe the rewards of attracting outstanding staff members outweigh the risks that can be easily managed. What do you think?  

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Creating a Great Workplace for Gens X & Y

by Gordon Krater on July 7, 2015

Recently, we received two “best workplace” awards focused on specific generations of staff.  Crain’s Chicago Business named us the No. 1 place to work for the Gen X generation, whose birth dates span the 1960s through the early 1980s. Shortly thereafter, FORTUNE magazine named our firm one of the “100 Best Workplaces for Millennials (a.k.a. “Gen Y”),” a generation that encompasses staff born between the mid-1980s and the late 1990s. Both lists are the result of anonymous, confidential staff surveys—which makes these awards all the more meaningful. So what do we do to create a great place for these different generations?

While there are differences between Gen Xers and Millennials (Millennials tend to be more passionate about new technologies, for example), we’ve found that there are also striking similarities. For example:

  1. Both require work-life balance. This is the No. 1 priority for both generations, so we do our best to make sure our staff have it. We even have a WorkFlex Committee dedicated to identifying challenges and proposing solutions. We have a generous paid-time-off (PTO) policy, and we encourage our leaders to set a good example. (If staff see their leaders working all the time, they may feel reluctant to take advantage of PTO.) We do our best to accommodate flexible schedules. And we make work-life balance a part of the annual review process. All staff are required to answer whether or not they feel like they’re achieving the right work-life balance and, if the answer is “no,” we address it.
  2. Both appreciate social activities that promote relationships outside of the office. One of the great things about being a “relatively jerk-free” firm is that we genuinely like spending time with each other, inside and outside of work. Structured team outings are common, whether an afternoon at a baseball game, a gathering at a team partner’s house, or bocce ball at a local Italian restaurant. Unstructured outings—birthday parties, weddings, or just evenings out—are even more common. One Millennial staff member said it best: “I don’t have ‘work friends’; I work with my friends.”
  3. Both want to make a difference. One recent study said that 85 percent of Millennials believe their work is part of who they are; they identify with where they work and what they do—it’s not just a means to an end. We’ve found that to be true for all of our staff. When you focus your time and effort for 40+ hours a week, you want it to mean something. We work hard to create an environment that’s challenging and meaningful and that affords staff a variety of experiences to hone their skills

Something else we believe is that accounting tends to attract people who value structured feedback, mentoring opportunities, and a relatively clear career path. Our staff—Millennials and Gen Xers alike—tell us they appreciate that they can see where they’ll be (if they put in the effort) 5, 10, or even 15 years from now. They know what’s expected, and they appreciate this lack of ambiguity about their futures.

What about you? Do you do anything special to create a great workplace for Gen X or Gen Y? And do you see a significant difference between the two?

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Got Team Spirit? We’ve Got an Award for That!

June 22, 2015

Recently, Bill Bufe, a retired partner and former HR director of the firm, reminded me of the origin of our Morrison award, which we give out each year at our firm conference to the one or two staff members who best epitomize firm spirit. It’s an interesting story, so I thought I’d share it with […]

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Sorry, Not Sorry

June 5, 2015

It never ceases to amaze me how creative Plante Moraners can be. Check out this email that Marketing Director Kim Greenspan recently sent to her female colleagues: I’ve noticed that women substitute “sorry” for any number of stronger and more appropriate words, thus running the risk of being perceived as the weaker gender — and […]

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17 Syllables for 17 Years

May 25, 2015

Each year, Plante Moran celebrates our inclusion on FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list with a contest. This gives us something fun to do during busy season, and it adds an element of celebration during the post-holidays winter lull. We’ve hosted trivia contests, photo caption contests—you name it, we’ve probably done it. This […]

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We Never Use the “E” Word (And We’re Not Alone)

May 11, 2015

Last month, our own Chris McCoy and Jim Proppe had the opportunity to present a breakout session at the Great Place to Work (GPTW) Conference in Dallas. After the session, Vlad Coho of Riot Games (developer of the astoundingly popular League of Legends videogame) approached Chris. “I noticed you didn’t use the word ‘employee’ at […]

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That Struck a Nerve

April 28, 2015

We’ve been getting a lot of feedback on a recent article we wrote for CNBC. The topic—cybersecurity—is admittedly controversial, but we were surprised at just how much of a nerve it struck with some small and mid-sized organizations. In the article, Group Managing Partner Jim Proppe asks, “Think only big companies get hacked?” only to […]

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Can a Leader Be “Too Nice”?

April 8, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, Sandy Pierce, Chairman and CEO of FirstMerit MI, and I were honored as “business leaders of the year” by the Harvard Business School Club of Michigan—a very humbling experience. We were both asked to talk a bit about leadership and how we developed into our current roles. Sandy—who is an […]

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Are You a Great Multitasker? Not so Fast…

March 23, 2015

At Plante Moran, we have a number of training courses we provide to staff. One of them is on time management and offers a number of great tips like: Prioritize your to-do list. Eat that frog. (Do the hardest, least fun thing first. Just get it over with!) If a task takes less than five […]

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Do You Have an Enviable Culture?

March 6, 2015

FORTUNE magazine has announced its list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” and for the 17th year in a row, Plante Moran made the list. We’re beyond thrilled and honored to be listed among so many amazing companies. Thanks to FORTUNE and a variety of regional “best place to work” awards, we’ve become known […]

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