Dan Morris and I recently presented two courses at the California CPA Education Foundation CE Week in San Diego. One of our colleagues in the first course we presented, When Debits Don’t Equal Credits, sent us a very interesting email that illustrates the general frustration we at VeraSage have regarding the lack of leadership in our profession.
Not only don’t firm leaders trust their people to do their work—hence the insane requirement they account for every six minutes of their working lives—they also don’t trust them enough to give them free access to the Internet at work.
Here’s how Richard Muscio explained it to us in his email:
Good morning Ron!
I want to relay an experience that I had at CE week last Friday, only because I guess I need a shoulder to cry on…my apologies in advance.
Anyhow, after 4 great presentations Monday through Thursday I had the misfortune of finishing the week with a course called “Internet and Network Security: A Paranoid’s Guide.”
The instructor was good, and his outline was good, but the course went in the direction of the crowd’s questions, which usually isn’t such a bad thing, but in this case it was. The audience seemed most interested in how to monitor their team members’ use and abuse of e-mail, the Internet, etc., on the assumption that team members are wasting lots of employer time handling personal matters at work.
The instructor pointed out how “the boss” can measure all of these activities, down to time spent using e-mail and websites most often visited and for how long.
So, not only does employee chargeable time get measured down to the 10-minute increment, employers can measure how team members are spending their time when they aren’t charging clients for their time…wow. I guess this is what happens when team members don’t have challenges to pursue, and “the boss” is a dinosaur.
I really love my profession, but sometimes I get real frustrated. I mean, what a way to finish an otherwise great week.
Sometimes the gap between my vision of what the profession could be and what it presently seems to be is wider than Rosie O’Donnell’s rearend.
But on the bright side, I have another great story about why the timesheet needs to be buried 50 feet deep…
Supposedly, PKF firms are built on trust. Not only trust with our customers, but also trust with our team members. How can you build a climate of trust in an organization if you believe you have to monitor your team members’ every action, whether on the Internet or doing their work? Is this any way to inspire knowledge workers?
Is it any wonder why no one wants to work for these types of firms? Stars don’t work for idiots, and the surest sign of idiocy is not trusting the very people you hire.
In his latest book, What Were They Thinking?, Jeffrey Pfeffer recalls what Jim Goodnight, cofounder and CEO of the largest private software company, SAS, told him in an interview. Goodnight “considered giving people the Web addresses of sports and pornography sites so they wouldn’t have to spend so much time finding them.”
I know the lawyers will explain why this is a bad idea since we live in such a litigious society with sexual harassment suits, etc. But who wants to work in a PKF where the leaders don’t trust you to use your professional judgment and discretion?
Little wonder the accounting and legal profession is having such a difficult time attracting, developing and inspiring knowledge workers. Rather than blaming the market, they should examine their attitudes.