Back in June, I wrote a short blog about metrics and making sure that we’re measuring the right things—those that can effect positive change versus those that may inadvertently promote undesired behaviors (the law of unintended consequences). We approach awards at Plante Moran similarly. We don’t give out a lot of them, but when we do, we make sure they’re honoring what’s really important at our firm.

Until recently, we had awards for team spirit and suggestion of the year. All are handed out at our annual Firm Conference. In June, however, we introduced a new award: the Bill Hermann Staff Development Award.

Staff development is a critical component of our culture. People succeed at the firm because they learn from those who came before them. We’re very intentional about mentoring and developing staff to be successful both at Plante Moran and out in the community. Our partners and staff are even rewarded for their staff development efforts. It was only natural, then, that we developed an award honoring those who so selflessly give their time and talent to help others succeed.

Anyone who’s ever worked with former Managing Partner Bill Hermann knows that he excels at staff development. He’s been a mentor—formally and informally—and helped develop so many PMers to associate and partner over the years. So what makes him so good at it?

Lots of things. He cares. He’s always impeccably prepared. He’s deliberate in his intent. And he’s creative. He’ll go into what I affectionately call the “Bill Hermann trance” where he just delivers idea after idea after idea—and you don’t interrupt him! You just keep taking notes.

Of course, in a firm as large as ours, Bill isn’t the only best-in-class staff developer we have, hence the award. We don’t have a lot of awards at Plante Moran, but I’m proud to add this one to the bunch. In fact, I’m surprised we didn’t think of it sooner!

What about you? What kinds of awards do you give out at your organization? What are some specific ways you recognize behaviors that are critical to maintaining your values?


Dedicated to Differences

by Gordon Krater on October 6, 2014

Recently, I was interviewed by Inside Public Accounting for an article the publication is writing on women in leadership. The discussion touched on a variety of diversity topics, and at one point, the reporter commented on the lack of diversity she sees each year when it comes to partner promotions within the accounting profession. “It’s a sea of pale and male,” she said.

Since forming our Diversity Council in 2003, Plante Moran has been very intentional to address that issue at our firm in order to recruit, retain, and develop a more diverse staff. Why? One of our managers, Alisha Davis, put it best in this recent Crain’s Detroit Business article: “Plante Moran studied its existing and prospective markets and saw that businesses owned by minorities and women were growing at far faster rates than businesses in general. This added urgency for the company to improve its diversity mix.”

“People really want to do business with people who understand them, understand their culture, and understand their language,” she continued. “We have to get this right, or else we’re going to lose our competitive advantage.”

I couldn’t agree more. A diverse workforce makes good business sense, and it does have an impact on the bottom line (in addition to being the right thing to do). Those organizations that embrace diversity will benefit from more diverse thinking, better retention of top talent, and a wider, more diverse, client base. According to the Census Bureau, by 2043, there will be no single majority group in the country. Firms that see the business case, embrace diversity now, and get it right will have a significant advantage in the coming years. Those that don’t will be on the sidelines wondering what went wrong.

What about you? What are you doing to increase diversity within your workforce?


Papal Advice: 10 Tips for Becoming a Happier Person

September 22, 2014

Over the weekend, I saw an article called “10 Tips for Becoming a Happier Person.” It typically wouldn’t have gotten my attention—there’s a lot of “noise” out there—but this particular list was developed by Pope Francis, so I was curious. As I read it, I found myself nodding in agreement with the tips which included […]

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So You Want to Be a PMer…

September 2, 2014

Over the past year, Plante Moran has received a mind-boggling number of resumes—more than 26,000! As campus recruiting season heats up, I thought I’d take a few minutes and discuss what we look for in Plante Moran staff and how candidates can stand out from the crowd. First, we look for well-rounded people with strong […]

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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

August 18, 2014

Each year, Plante Moran holds a creativity contest to determine which of our offices came up with the most fun/unique way to raise money or volunteer time for Plante Moran Cares, our firm’s charitable effort.  The winning office receives an additional $5,000 donation to the organization it supports. The winner this year is East Lansing, […]

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Women in Leadership at Plante Moran (Guest Blog Featuring Sue Perlin)

August 4, 2014

While Gordon is on sabbatical, he has invited Sue Perlin, a partner specializing in serving many of the firm’s significant foundation and cultural institution audit clients, to fill in as a guest blogger. Sue is known for her active involvement in the attraction and retention of women leaders at the firm and is currently leading […]

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Plante Moran’s Firm Conference Is Chockfull of “Little Wows” (Guest Blog Featuring Jim Proppe)

July 21, 2014

While Gordon is on sabbatical, he’s invited Jim Proppe, a member of Plante Moran’s six-person management team, to fill in as a guest blogger. In his role as Group Managing Partner, Jim leads client service, growth, and people development for the firm’s industry-focused practice areas. Each year, we invite our 2,000+ staff (the entire firm!) […]

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Four Uninterrupted Weeks Off. At Plante Moran, We Call That a “Sabbatical.”

July 8, 2014

For more than a decade, the firm has had a sabbatical program that requires all partners to take a mandatory four consecutive weeks’ leave every seven years. Although we have a generous paid-time-off policy at the firm, some partners use it more than others; the sabbatical program requires all partners to disconnect completely so that we may […]

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Can Company Culture Hamper Innovation? We’re Surveying Leaders to Find Out!

June 16, 2014

I once read that the most dangerous phrase in business is, “We’ve always done it that way.” And it’s true. Certainly, there’s comfort in routine, but there’s a reason we’re always trying to challenge people to “step outside of their comfort zones”—because if you’re not changing, you’re stagnating. For the past three years, Plante Moran […]

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Are You Measuring the Right Things?

June 2, 2014

Modern business literature emphasizes the importance of measurements and accountability in business. That’s all well and good—I’d never argue against measuring the right things—but it’s important to be cautious about what we measure. The wrong metrics can drive undesired behaviors just as the right ones can effect positive change. This is often referred to as […]

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