Beneath Mike Albero’s calm demeanor is a friendly, outgoing personality, who is passionate about his family and community as well as his business and team.
“Our biggest challenge – like a lot of businesses these days – is finding and hiring talent. Candidly, we were going about it the wrong way. We were looking for ways that the candidates could fit our culture versus why they wouldn’t,” the Managing Partner of Albero, Kupferman & Associates, LLC shares with me in a recent conversation. “Over the past few years we have learned how to develop a pipeline of candidates by actively recruiting, interviewing, hiring and most importantly, making sure that they fit our Core Culture first.”
It’s certainly been a journey for him and his team, but definitely a worthwhile one.
Albero & Albero was originally started by Mike’s dad, Frank Albero. Frank convinced his son to come with him as a partner twenty years ago…and the rest, as they say, is history. They joined with Kupferman & Associates a decade ago, creating Albero, Kupferman & Associates, LLC and have consistently grown year after year.
Their people formula for success might have taken a few years to develop, but it has created a foundation that supports AKA’s growth.
While the firm’s multi-variable Talent formula is not as difficult as calculating a business qualified business income (QBI), there are four critical components that Mike shared with me which he encourages all Enlightened Leaders to use when creating their own Talent equations.
Always Use Core Values in Hiring
Like many businesses today, AKA encourages employees to take time for their family and creates a flexible work environment to support employees and work-life integration. They are also very strongly community-oriented, which is reflected in their Core Values and Purpose.
Mike shared with me one of the best examples of change AKA has made in their talent acquisition which centers around their Mission, “Thoughtfully serving others with Traditional Values and Innovative Ideas”. Using behavioral interviewing they now ask candidates questions such as, “Give me an example of how you’ve helped others and what was the impact that you had.”
“And being a part of CEO Think Tank® we have learned that we can’t train Core Values. Prospective candidates have to have them and that’s the first thing that we look for when we’re recruiting,” says Mike.
Audition for key players
AKA is also focused on creating a strong pipeline, despite being a smaller firm.
“In a highly commoditized tax and accounting market, we’ve got to be proactive,” Mike shares. “We’re developing relationships with professors at local schools like University of Delaware, Widener, West Chester and Neumann to target talented students to become AKA interns and using the internship as an audition. We’ve developed a training program and a checklist for them. We try to offer as much flexibility as possible to allow interns to go to school and work but it’s 16 to 20 hours a week – consecutively. They’ve got to be hard workers to be successful in balancing school and an internship.”
Evaluate Performance and Coach Up
Using the Top Grading Talent Grid, the management team at Albero, Kupferman & Associates, LLC reviews and evaluates every person in their company quarterly, identifying what’s working, what each person needs to do to develop and grow, and any issues that need to be addressed.
“We’ve found that we can train people up, but not change their Core Values.” Mike says. “Early on we were not as clear with our performance expectations and found less than stellar results.” The discipline of the evaluation and coaching process which AKA aligned with their Core Values enabled Mike and his team to sit down, talk about employee’s performance expectations in an objective manner with clear criteria – and – have meaningful conversations.
“Our employees were part of improving the process and embraced the change,” Mike told me. “We just needed to give feedback and help along the way through our new review process.”
Proactively Plan for the Future
The conversation turns to AKA’s future and Mike speaks with equal passion about what he believes lies ahead.
“Our business is going through a significant shift. There is a lot more automation, both in compliance and tax and reporting matters. While there are a lot of good accountants out there, many don’t have great business acumen.”
Part of the firm’s success is predicated on addressing those issues, proactively. “We’re involving our employees in client meetings, helping them to learn how to ask probing questions and actively listen,” Mike tells me. “It’s critical we help them develop their own capability and skills. We’re not just going to serve our clients well, but we’re also keeping our employees sharp and relevant.”
“And of course I’ll continue to make sure that we’re paying attention to the process of running the business,” he says with a smile. “That’s really what I’ve learned over the past few years being a part of the CEO Think Tank® Roundtable. AKA’s mission and vision collectively grew using the insights from other CEO’s, the Scaling Up methodology, the speaker meetings and the coaching.”