Every firm tries to portray a culture of kindness in which its people are welcoming and ready and willing to help. From the time I interviewed at Kreischer Miller, I was told about the culture of kindness and had observed it firsthand during my interviews. I assumed this culture would fade away and that the band-aid would eventually be ripped off. In the public accounting world, there are periods of high stress and long hours. During these times, it can be easy to become frustrated with your coworkers and not have the time and patience to treat them the way you had during the easier, quieter times of the year.
Five months into my new role, however, the band-aid was still fully intact! Then the pandemic hit, and I feared it would bring out the worst in people, including impatience, lack of team coherence, and a fend for yourself mentality. The band-aid had ripped – and guess what? What was on top of the band-aid matched what was underneath. Now, a year after I’ve joined the firm, I’m happy to share that the culture of kindness at Kreischer Miller is truly all-encompassing.
From the time we began working remotely in March, I’ve had weekly meetings with a designated director to check in on how I’m doing, both professionally and personally. My teammates and friends have also been checking in with me throughout the pandemic, even during the midst of busy season, when it feels easier to keep our noses down to get through it.
Knowing that you’re supported – and not just when it comes to work obligations – makes a big difference. My teammates take the time to get to know me as a person. Even as a staff, I was asked for feedback on whether scheduling, timing, and tasks work with what I have on my plate. When you know your teammate as a person, and not just as a coworker, you can better communicate questions, solutions, deliverables, and build a meaningful relationship. Having a supportive team makes it a lot easier to put my worries aside and focus on the job at hand.
In a former public accounting role, I worked in corporate tax, with some experience in partnership tax; however, I did not have experience in individual, gift, trust, nor S-Corp tax, which is my current area of focus. When I started working at Kreischer Miller, I feared that I wouldn’t be able to carry my own in my new position, and that I wouldn’t have enough to contribute to the team. Interns came in January and they knew more about some of these topics than I did! But Kreischer Miller’s community of kindness made me realize that it wasn’t about the level of knowledge I had on the subject matter in that moment. I didn’t need to fear ridicule. Instead, the firm welcomes everyone to raise their hand and ask for help. It can take time to master a task; we don’t always succeed on our first try. My teammates are patient and willing to offer thoughtful explanations, viewpoints, and examples to lead me in the right direction.
I have discovered that this culture of kindness is a key component in helping us succeed in our careers. We are encouraged to solve challenging problems and pose a solution and since there is no fear of ridicule, I’m able to stretch myself. Even if I’m not always right, I’m better for trying. I feel comfortable speaking up to compare issues that differing clients are facing or volunteering to help a struggling teammate. This is really important for career development. We get stronger and smarter by broadening ourselves into new and sometimes uncomfortable roles. I’m more willing to accept a new opportunity or challenge myself because I know that my teammates are cheering me on simply for trying my hardest. In a culture of kindness, we bolster each other up and provide worthwhile, meaningful feedback.
At Kreischer Miller, we don’t just advertise a culture of kindness, we live the culture of kindness. It starts from the very top with the directors, and goes all the way through the organization to each intern. Richard Branson once said that “there’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.” This is how a culture of kindness creates values that last.
Kelly Spalding is a senior accountant in Kresicher Miller’s Tax Strategies group. She joined Kresicher Miller in 2019 after working for a year in a Big 4 accounting firm. Kelly graduated from Saint Joseph’s University with a degree in accounting. In her free time, you can find Kelly hiking, cooking, spending time with family, or reading mysteries. Contact Kelly at Email.
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