In the last few days, I’ve gotten several calls about revamping or updating the accounting departments from potential clients. Rarely does the owner know what to do, and they rely on their staff to take them to the next level. Unfortunately, the owners and staff are never on the same page.
Why does this happen?
Here are a few barriers to a well-working relationship between accountants and owners.
Honesty. Business owners often are not completely honest with how they are feeling about the numbers or the work being done. Unfortunately, this adds to their pent-up frustration, and the conversation goes sideways. All change requires honesty and careful use of words. Complaining behind the scenes helps no one.
Disregarding Results or Setting Goals. In many cases, we find that clients don’t know why certain situations are happening. For instance, they don’t understand why their customers aren’t paying them on time or why specific bills are late? They just see the effects of slow cash flow or agency letters. If there is no goal or KPI (key performance indicator) to determine if accounting is doing well, you will only gauge your accounting team’s success with negative feedback. That’s no way to build morale and keep the team motivated.
Owners ARE NOT Accountants. Most business owners are not super keen on process improvement in accounting. It’s not their first love, and they rely on their staff to propose changes. Many accountants “do what they are told,” and this leads to a fundamental disconnect in expectations. Unclear expectations lead to confusion between the accountants’ and owners’ roles.
Thought Leadership is Lacking. There is such a thing as having thought leadership when it comes to your Accounting or Finance Department. When hiring an accounting team member, ask what experience they have with thought leadership in their roles prior. It’s excellent when owners want to support positive change and are open to new ideas. It is a big job, and the accountant must have the support they need.
When potential clients come to us for advice about their accounting department, our first step is to prepare an assessment. We are consulting on a matter that we could misdiagnose and provide bad advice without understanding it fully.
Understanding all the above components can help repair relationships and build a better accounting system overall. Sometimes it takes an outside view to help bring it all together.
If you are finding yourself at odds with your team or ready to outsource your accounting department click here, and we will be in touch to discuss an assessment.