By Jessica Craft, CFE
The importance of finding a good cultural fit for long-term success
As I close out my first year at LBMC, I came up with five guidelines I believe are integral lessons in how finding the “best fit” on the front end will help you succeed in your career.
1. Look at the organization’s culture and make sure it aligns with your values.
Since faith and family are my constants, it was important for me to find a firm with similar values and work-life balance. LBMC values time spent out of the office, and that has been essential to my happiness so far. My family is an 8-hour drive away, so I try to save almost all of my PTO for my family. The PTO coupled with the availability to work remote has made living far away easier to handle. It’s also reassuring to see work-life balance as the tone at the top. Many of my co-workers, including partners, have the availability to do activities like coaching their child’s team. LBMC has assisted in optimizing time with family as late nights at the office are the exception rather than the rule.
There is no better time to set the standard than early in your career. A work culture that not only allows but encourages you to live according to your value system is vital to long-term success. Take time to find the right fit on the front end.
2. Select a firm that encourages teamwork and values contributions at all levels.
In the accounting world, young professionals initially start their first year as a staff member and often work “behind the scenes” before they meet directly with clients. For me, it was important to work for a firm that values my contributions as I learn the business.
As a former collegiate softball player, I can attest that everyone on the team is essential. Each player on the lineup has a specific purpose, and every lineup is created to put the odds in favor of a productive offense, which in turn helps score runs and win the game. The 3, 4, and 5 holes are your heavy hitters, but your entire lineup is rarely made up of all power hitters. Contact hitters, speedsters, and teammates with high on-base percentages all make up the lineup. Each hitter may have a different means to the objective, but the objective is relatively simple – get on base, score runs, and help your team win.
During the first year of your career, you are going to be somewhere in that lineup. But just because you are not the well-known number 4 hitter does not mean that your contribution isn’t vital or that the objective and efficiency of your work is different. You help your team, which includes your clients, win!
3. Connect with your colleagues.
Whether you are an accountant or have chosen another profession, proactive communication is the key to success. Communicating shows initiative and is essential for positive client relationships. Start by talking to your co-coworkers. Connecting with your colleagues is a great way to hone your communication skills, especially for introverts.
Whether your career goal is to make partner or your public accounting career ends as a staffer, caring for those around you can make all the difference in the world. Investing in others not only allows you to understand their background but also allows you to better empathize with them. This connection also enhances your emotional intelligence, which is increasingly important in the workplace. Having a servant leadership mindset is key. Instead of looking at your workplace and asking what can they do for me today, ask yourself, how can I serve the people around me? Not only will that lead to a more fulfilling career, but it will also pay dividends on a better life!
While business is ever evolving, it always requires people, and people require a connection. Making the effort to establish a strong connection with others goes a long way in boosting the morale of an organization. This is one of the many benefits that I have found working at LBMC. We work to connect both internally with our co-workers and externally with our other peers and clients in the industry. Being a part of the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) here at LBMC has shown me that there is a path for all women here at LBMC. In addition, our Young Professionals program has allowed me to step out of the office and meet new people. Whether it be kayaking down the Ocoee River with our co-workers in Nashville and Chattanooga, stepping on the softball field for a slow pitch on a Monday night, or putting on that suit to meet with other professionals in law firms, thanks to the YP group, my network has been built and continues to grow. If you are in your first year, I encourage you to consider a firm that allows you to grow your networking skills.
4. Represent your company and your brand.
I was recently talking to my brother in my home state of Indiana, and he mentioned that he met a client of LBMC while out on the lake. He went on to tell this client that his sister works at LBMC and started explaining what I do. Even though I was not physically there, what my brother said about me represented what this client would think about our company.
This example is a good reminder that we do not necessarily have to be in the office or even present to represent our work. Whether you are at lunch with co-workers or mingling with peers at a conference, remember you are always a brand ambassador for your organization.
5. Bring your best attitude, your best smile, and your best dress.
How you present yourself is crucial in the workplace. The joy that you bring to the office (or lack thereof) every day is completely reliant upon you. I am a big believer that your best asset is your smile. Unlike your clothes, a genuine smile can be felt by others. Try coming to work with a smile each morning for a few days, and see just how much better you feel about your week on Friday and how different your co-workers feel about you.
And dress for success! There is a reason the military wears uniforms, nurses wear scrubs, and accountants wear business attire. When a client comes in, I never want to be that person that forgot to dress appropriately. How you dress communicates respect. For instance, if I were going to see the President, I would be in my best dress or suit. Why? Because it would be an honor to meet him. Our clients deserve that same respect. It is an honor that our clients choose LBMC, and we need to show our respect for them in all we do – from our reports to how we present ourselves.
Life is too short not to enjoy your work environment. Picking a friendly, supportive workplace whose culture aligns with your values will not only help your career – it will enhance your daily life. When you find the right firm, suddenly work becomes a lot more fun! Good luck, my friends!
Jessica Craft, CFE is a Litigation and Valuation Analyst at LBMC and joined in June 2017. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a top workplace, LBMC works diligently to develop a unique collaborative culture with a focus on coaching and training programs committed to developing our young professionals as future leaders in the company. Spend some time on our careers site. Read some employee testimonials and get to know us. Then, let us get to know you by applying for one of our open positions.