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December 10, 2018

In the fourth quarter CBIZ Executive Advantage Series, Russell Welsh from Polsinelli and Gayle Packer from Terracon dove into succession planning, and leading through transition within a company. As Mr. Welsh retires as Chair of the AM 100 law firm and Ms. Packer steps into the role of CEO, they provided key insights on managing clients, employees, and the organization with a smooth transition process.

  1. “Make a commitment to be in their space, in their offices.”

Gayle said she realized early on that most employees were not too concerned with who the CEO of their company was. They were much more concerned with their direct supervisors, and any initiatives that would affect their day-to-day ability to effectively complete their jobs. To make herself accessible, she began traveling to all the local offices, spending time where the employees were doing their daily work.

  1. “Work to retain the talent that didn’t get the job.”

Russell said that one thing they did before they even began extensive interviews was ensure they could retain the candidates that were passed up for the opportunity. While they may have decided on someone else, the other candidates were invaluable to the firm and needed to know they were crucial components for Polsinelli’s continued success. Russell stressed the importance of making sure this was an intentional process.

  1.  “Find the dysfunction that suits you best and run with it!”

Every team and every leader has their own dysfunction. Gayle’s advice was to accept this fact, find which dysfunction is best for your organization, and embrace it. She encouraged people entering new roles to avoid trying to mimic everything their predecessor might have done; they are going to do some things differently, and while this may be uncomfortable at first, will be better in the long run.

  1. “Bypass your ego – change is not an attack on you or what you’ve done.”

Many times during transition, the retiring or exiting leader can begin to feel like new initiatives or changes within the organization due to new leadership is a personal attack. Russell said the best advice he could give to those who were leaving an organization is to let go of their ego and recognize change is necessary, rather than seeing it as a personal affront to their legacy.

To register for the next two CBIZ Executive Advantage Series events, please email kcevents@CBIZ.com for more information.

October 18, 2018
Employee Highlight: Michelle Kruse, Wellbeing Coordinator - Center School District

CBIZ Wellbeing Coordinator, Michelle Kruse, helped her client Center School District implement a ground-breaking program for students at Center Middle School. This program provides children with a protein-packed breakfast every morning before their first class, and is the only one of its kind in the United States.

Hear Michelle discuss this initiative and why Center Middle School was chosen to participate in this study here: Center Middle School Protein Breakfast Study

September 4, 2018

The third quarter CBIZ Executive Advantage Series featured the success stories of Neal Sharma, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at DEG and Tyler Nottberg, Chairman & CEO at U.S. Engineering. The two leaders spoke about their entrepreneurial journeys, and how they remain successful and competitive in a market that is constantly morphing to meet the demands of the consumer. If you missed their inspiring testimonials, here are four key points to motivate you for the rest of the week:

  1. Reduction of overall cost is extremely valuable to the consumer.

Tyler Nottberg admitted that being an entrepreneur in mechanical contracting is not a walk in the park. Like many industries, there are set ways of doing things that are extremely difficult to change or challenge. In his current role, Tyler has made it his mission to change the mindset of his associates, peers, and clients by finding ways to effectively reduce the total cost of a project, while maintaining the highest quality. He aims to accomplish this by providing education on the holistic value of investing in systems and products that may be more expensive initially but will save money in one year, five years, and beyond. This big picture approach can be applied to many industries and projects and helps prospective and current clients understand that the lowest bid is often synonymous with the lowest value. Thus making the strategic investment towards a larger bid, can provide a greater long-term value. 

  1. “The fish rots from the head down.”

While Neal admits this is an old saying and not his own, he used it to drive the importance of strong leadership in an organization. When people ask him how to create an engaging and positive company culture, he emphasizes the importance of an organizational commitment to create an environment where you bring your best self to work and encourage ongoing change. In order to make people feel valued and fulfilled at their job, personal investment is key; as he puts it, “The best way I can build a better company is to be a better man.”

  1. A company doesn’t exist without the community, and the community doesn’t survive without the company.

Tyler emphasized that there is always a partnership that exists between the community and its companies. One cannot exist without the other. A well-functioning society fosters this dynamic so that both are invested in the other for mutual growth and success. In order to keep moving forward, it is imperative that people see that relationship not as a burden, but as a life source to help foster the collective community.

  1. Our community sees Kansas City as a major league city.

Both Tyler and Neal spoke very highly of Kansas City and the strong community that has been cultivated here. When asked about the growth trajectory and what Kansas City needs in order to thrive, they said it began when Salvador Perez’s hit happened in the fifth game of the World Series. “We began to see ourselves as a major league city,” Neal said. Since then, growth has been exponential, but the ability to level off is coming. “We have not yet been asked by our leaders for an ounce of sacrifice for the sake of our communities.” They encouraged current community leaders and aspiring leaders to avoid the civic vacuum, wherein they participate in programs and then disappear for 20 years. Instead, they encourage these leaders to stay involved and encourage more participation and engagement and be personally connected to the communities they serve.

August 2, 2018

For the past two years, around twenty CBIZ employees from all different business lines have volunteered an hour each week to visit two local Kansas City Public Schools, Troost Elementary and King Elementary. CBIZ Lead to Read volunteers read with a designated 2nd-grade student on the same day each week over their lunch hour. It is an opportunity that everyone, volunteer and student alike, look forward to all week. Colby Cooper, Audit Associate at CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann, reflected that while the reading is fun, that isn’t his favorite part of being a reader. “The best part about being a reader is the interaction and happiness that you see on the kids face when you walk in the classroom - it puts a huge smile on my face when I see that happiness.”

The City of Kansas City has been focused on improving third-grade literacy since 2011, when Mayor Sly James began promoting the importance of literacy in lifelong education. In 2011, the mayor founded an initiative called Turn the Page, which has served as the voice box for literacy. That same year, Lead to Read KC began placing volunteers in classrooms and quickly became the boots on the ground for improving literacy in the schools.

Last year, Lead to Read KC provided 1,100 volunteer reading mentors to students in Kansas City. The volunteers start in September and visit the classroom throughout the school year. The program ends for the summer in May with an ice cream social, when each volunteer gives their student a book.

Children spend the first three years of elementary school learning to read. From that point onward, they read to learn. That’s why literacy is crucial from an early age, and it’s why CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann recruiting coordinator Kasey Haverkamp believes so strongly in the mission of the program. “I enjoyed getting to see my buddy grow in her reading skills over the year. Having consistent weekly interaction with the same child makes it clear that the 30 minutes a week actually does make a difference over the course of the program.”

In 2017, test scores show third grade reading proficiency in Kansas City is 55 percent, up from 33 percent in 2011 when Lead to Read KC started. With help from volunteers like the ones from CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann, that figure is expected to continue increasing. Together, CBIZ is helping to create a community of readers, one lunch hour at a time.

In addition to the traditional Lead to Read program, the CBIZ Employee Benefits division in Kansas City has participated in many other ways to help young readers in our community. Around 15 volunteers signed up to assist at a field day at Gordan Parks Elementary on their last day of school, and the division hosted a book drive for Lead to Read in the early summer. CBIZ is lucky to have leaders willing to support the participation of their employees and employees willing to donate their time to helping others.


Additional Quotes from the volunteers:

“It was her [my reader’s] first week in school, and she didn’t know her ABCs or her numbers. She was 9 years old. She had never been to school, and she was put into 2nd grade. I could not get her out of my mind, and so I go three times a week now. This girl is just amazing. School has changed her life. I still work with her. She can write her name, knows her ABCs, and all of this came about in 12 weeks.

On the last day of school, one of my readers said: “I’m gonna get you a mansion!”

--Marty Albright National IT Asset Manager & KC Area Manager, CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann

“Your presence as a reader becomes incredibly important to the student.  Your full, one-on-one attention to them is something they look forward to, so you naturally feel a great responsibility for their progress throughout the year.  Well worth committing an hour of your day to this effort.”

-Todd Scott, Associate Vice President, EFL Associates

“What I enjoyed most about the program was the way each child lit up when they spotted their reader. The program is important to me because literacy is crucial for surviving and thriving and is something many of us take for granted.  In order for these kids (or anyone for that matter) to have a real shot at life, they need to be able to read at a young age.  This will help them learn and grow for the rest of their lives. For that 30 minutes each week, I was able to connect with a child and could see the positive impact I was making on her as she progressed not only in her reading, but also her social skills.”

--Sarah Cathey, Retirement Plan Consultant, CBIZ Retirement Plan Services

“LTR is important for the children to have one on one reading time with an adult who encourages them and cares for them. I have seen the kids I read with gain confidence in themselves, and all the kids faces light up when we come into their classroom.”

--Megan Lasche, Senior Executive Assistant, CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann

“The best part about being a reader is the interaction and happiness that you see on the kids face when you walk in the classroom and it puts a huge smile on my face when I see that happiness.”

-Colby Cooper, Audit Associate, CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C.

“It was encouraging to see the improvement from my student over the semester. I also loved the interaction with the children – they were very excited to see us every week.  I feel the program provides some stability in their lives of someone showing up every week to read and interact with them. I love to read, and I love to volunteer – it was the perfect setting!”

--Laura Weeks, Senior Account Manager, CBIZ, Inc.

“What I enjoyed most about the program was the excitement and joy I received from my reading partner. She was truly happy to see me each time and it was infectious.  I thought I was the one giving, but I received much more in return.”

    --Ann Swarts, CPA, Managing Director, CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C.

“Hands down, Lead to Read is one of the most rewarding volunteer opportunities I’ve ever taken part in. I had no idea it was possible to bond so much with a child by just seeing them for 30 minutes each week. However, by the end of each semester, I was truly invested in my reader’s success and so proud to see their reading level improve. This program makes it so easy to make an impact in our community!”

--Molly Flood, CPA, Tax Senior Associate, CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C.

To join, go to LeadtoReadkc.org and click the “Become a Reader” tab. When completing the online form, under “Business Affiliation,” include (CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann).

July 10, 2018