Eric Miles, CEO of Moss Adams On Growing a Company, Developing Talent, Hybrid Work, & Thinking About The Future

Eric Miles is the Chairman and CEO of Moss Adams, a prominent Accounting and Consulting Firm. More specifically, Moss Adams is a Public Accounting Firm in the Western USA that has been providing accounting and financial consulting services to middle market companies for 108 years.

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Mr. Miles is one of the homegrown partners of Moss Adams, as he has been in the firm for 23 years. He states that he is proud that the firm has kept its traditions despite the inevitable incorporation of several technological innovations in recent years.

According to Mr. Miles, growth is about developing his team to be better today than yesterday. This is the sole prerequisite for attaining profits; otherwise, any development won’t be sustainable.

The model he envisions for any successful team is called ‘Service Profit Chain for Service Businesses’, which has the following parameters as a measure of success:

1) Team satisfaction

2) Team Development

3) Supportive Environment

Mr. Miles states that focusing solely on profit yields unhealthy choices, and the only viable option is the growth of people, which subsequently leads to the organization’s growth. He imitates this innovative approach from his College Football coach and John Wooden, UCLA.

The winning formula is straightforward: “Do what you can do, and the score will take care of itself”. In the corporate world, this formula translates to the proper development of people, and the profits shall soar.

Moss Adams strives to provide the following for people at its ranks:

1) Competitive compensation for everyone. This is highly challenging in today’s inflationary environment, but the firm has established a fair compensation package for everyone.

2) Personal and professional growth

3) Unity and a sense of belonging to a concrete corporation. If an employee understands that the firm will stand beside him in potential hurdles, he/she will be more productive.

4) A formal training program where the 400 partners of the firm tutor the younger employees on the job’s technical and business skills. Mr. Miles refers to this as ‘the apprenticeship model’.

5) The apprenticeship model comprises the tutelage of the younger employees in this form of coaching. Mr. Miles believes that this approach delivers a thriving culture within the firm. Therefore, it is paramount that all personnel attain proper knowledge on inculcating the company’s vision.

Mr. Miles’s sole focus remains to find innovative ways to enhance productivity within an office or any other working environment of his firm. Mr. Miles believes that being in the office is merely a tool for a job, as is, for instance, Zoom. In the end, the only thing that matters is to accomplish the objectives at hand.

Furthermore, Mr. Miles is on the hunt to find the ideal working environment to encourage people to orient towards Moss Adams. The possibilities to achieve such a task skyrocket with a working environment that ensures professional growth and work-personal life balance. Such an esteemed working environment attracts the top talents within an Industry.

The approach of Moss Adams in attracting personnel salary-wise is the following: They evaluate a given situation according to the market’s status quo and offer a salary within a reasonable range.

Generally, Moss Adams wants to be attractive to individuals who seek a balanced personal-working life and value a fair compensation package alongside connecting with their colleagues. Another profound attribute for a prospective employee in Moss Adams is to cherish the well-being culture of the firm.

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The primary attribute that encompasses the well-being of the employees in Mossa Adams is balancing the stressors from work and personal life. According to Mr. Miles, achieving such a balance is only attainable if the employee is emotionally healthy in all his/her surroundings. In that way, the productivity of the employees and the overall firm will rise to insurmountable levels.

It is paramount for a company’s leadership to comprehend that the employees are holistic human beings with interests and desires outside their working environment. The executives of Moss Adams aim to align all these interests and desires with the firm’s working environment. As Mr. Miles defines it, this mission is the firm’s Northstar.

Mr. Miles’s Northstar is to provide joy and kindness in his respective working environment. In his opinion, life is too short not to establish a working environment based on a benevolent and positive attitude. And as history suggests, when individuals thrive, the prosperity of the collective is guaranteed.

The recent pandemic reminded humanity that entropy and uncertainty govern the physical aspects of the world. Therefore, people should respond to adversities with agility and a prepared mind.

Accounting firms like Moss Adama value robust data and complicated Data Analysis procedures. They are constantly on the hunt for more data to ensure their decisions won’t be erroneous.

On the contrary, Mr. Miles believes they should embrace the endless possibilities of a potentially wrong decision. After all, most of the time, they accumulate enough data to produce robust choices. Therefore, less data means swifter decisions and the elimination of all the wrongdoings of a lengthy decision-making process.

The aptitude for being agile stems from curiosity and the understanding that the future is unclear. Therefore, a change in the narrative is sometimes beneficial for the overall mission of a firm.

Mr. Miles provides some characteristic traits of a genuine and effective Leader. These are the following:

1) Adoption of the ‘five whys’ approach in decision-making. Before a significant decision, a Leader should collectively study the subject.

2) A Leader should abide by the John Wooden paradigm: “Do what you can do, and the score will take care of itself.”

3) A Leader should be comfortable with his attributes and pitfalls, a characteristic deriving from his authenticity. Authenticity and vulnerability are two essential traits in leadership.

4) Expressing vulnerability facilitates a Leader not to take anything personally and not engage in pointless quarrels.

5) A Leader should focus solely on his mission and effectively prioritize the tasks. Effective prioritization derives from realizing which task has the most significant impact on the overall mission.

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Jacob Morgan

4x Best-Selling Author, Speaker, & Futurist. Founder of Exploring Leadership, Employee Experience, & The Future of Work