White Nelson Diehl Evans Mentorship Program

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The following article includes material from the October 2011 issue of California CPA:

“A formal mentoring program is important because individuals can see the tangible benefits and are assigned a specific individual who is available to assist in their stages of development,” said Greg Coleman, White Nelson Diehl Evans LLP partner. “The day-to-day informal mentoring that goes on between firm members is also critical to the success of the mentees.”

WNDE’s mentorship program assigns a manager and a partner to all interns, junior and senior-level staff members. The program provides assistance to all staff in their professional development and gives each staff member someone they can turn to and can be an advocate for them. Mentors are responsible for their respective mentee’s biannual evaluations, weekly chargeability and monthly efficiencies. Mentors also serve as a resource for guidance on technical issues, make sure mentees are aware of and follow the firm’s compliance issues, and monitor the mentee’s progress toward firm-designated goals.

“Employees usually stay with a firm because they have opportunities to grow and advance, have values similar to the firm’s values, like and respect their co-workers and leaders, feel valued and are proud to be part of an organization,” said Greg. “These feelings are fostered by relationships with other co-workers and most importantly, with the mentor.”

Greg believes management should view the mentor program as a way to improve and grow the firm for everyone. So, while time constraints exist, the firm stresses that mentors meet with their mentees at least quarterly to properly manage and steer the employee’s development.

Aaron Willis, audit manager, is a formal mentor to three fellow employees and is also involved in new employee orientation and training. He remarked, “The mentor program helps perpetuate the family-like culture we’ve tried to maintain at the firm. It also gives the mentee someone to talk to who was in their shoes not too long ago.”
While other accounting firms have mentor programs, many are not as structured or “hands-on” as the program at WNDE, Aaron said. Additionally, the mentor assigned may be someone in human resources not doing the same kind of work as the mentee.

Along with developing the professional skills of a CPA, Greg added that mentors can also help mentees develop marketing skills and a marketing mindset.

“Marketing is an important factor in development of staff in the firm and the importance of maintaining a marketing mindset and of practicing marketing skills should be communicated even at the lowest levels,” he said. “The mentor should also consider taking the mentee to marketing events or referral meetings to give them a true experience in how marketing works.”

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