From 2007 to 2015, CapinCrouse doubled its staff from 80 to 160 and tripled its number of offices from 5 to 15, coast-to-coast, securing its reputation as one of the most respected CPA firms in America. Yet the story behind their rising success has largely been a best-kept secret—until now.
Recently, BCWI President Al Lopus sat down with CapinCrouse Partner and National Director of Talent Development Nathan Salsbery, who opened up about the challenges and turning-point successes virtually every ministry organization leader and staff can appreciate.
Lopus: As CapinCrouse really began to grow, what were some of the biggest workplace challenges the firm couldn’t afford to ignore?
Salsbery: Well for one, we needed a formal outlet for employees at all levels to give feedback. That’s why we turned to the BCWI employee engagement survey. We simply needed candid, honest feedback if we were going to stay focused on providing high-quality work to our clients and ensure that we could continue living up to our values.
Lopus: To that end, what did your leadership do?
Salsbery: We took a dual approach in which we said to ourselves, “Let’s build upon several key strengths and let’s address some specific areas in which we need to improve.” We had to do both, and we believed we could do both simultaneously.
Salsbery: Again, we tackled multiple initiatives at once.
First, we made sure every employee had a mentor-like champion and development coach in the firm, a trusted go-to source of encouragement and accountability. This has been incredibly effective, as younger employees job shadow their champion-colleague and engage through supportive, challenging conversation.
We complemented this horizontal, relationship-based approach with an intentional vertical line of accountability in which each employee aims to hit two to three annual goals, aligned to the firm’s established performance indicators. Quarterly check-ins offer the opportunity for affirmation and needed course correction.
As we began to formalize our professional development program, we realized we were going about it from bottom up. We actually needed a more effective leadership development for our partners.
When we do audit services, we assess organizations by asking, “What’s the tone at the top? What is the state of leadership for our client?” Well, in our work to be a flourishing culture, we realized we had to ask ourselves that same question: “What’s the tone of leadership at the top of our firm?” That’s led us to create our own leadership development approach that includes quarterly sessions involving individual and group projects.
Our ongoing pursuit of creating a healthy, flourishing culture has involved something more, and that is valuing the personal enrichment and wholeness of our people. Every other year, CapinCrouse underwrites the cost of a mission trip, marriage retreat or other event designed to personally enrich the heart, mind and soul of an employee. It’s been a great thing that continues to pay dividends in the overall care and health of our people.
As a CPA firm, we’re all about service. We actually limit ourselves to serve others if we don’t invest in our capacity to lead and serve.
Lopus: I’m sure that’s a particularly good, ongoing source of positive feedback.
Salsbery: Absolutely. We’ve come to see that all feedback, across the board, can be positive when it leads us to act on the things we’re called to be and do, to grow our professionalism and continue to fulfill our calling to serve our clients as they advance their distinctive callings for God’s kingdom on earth.