One of the reasons why public accounting is a great career is the teaching aspect. You don’t need to be an expert to be a teacher. You only need to be one step ahead of someone else. Since there is so much teaching going on each day, that also means there is a lot of learning.
Because you won’t and can’t know everything, you can learn so much. You can learn from your co-workers, clients and bosses as well as from life’s experiences.
A lesson learned from my co-workers
I learned from my co-workers the other day. There were three of us working on a project. I serving as the manager on the job along with an experienced in-charge and a newer staff. One of my primary responsibilities as the manager is to teach and to answer questions.
At the end of the week, we had an exit meeting with management. The in-charge asked who was going to run the meeting, me or her. I said I would. The meeting went well and management was very pleased with our comments, suggestions and hard work.
After the meeting, both of my co-workers thanked me for running the meeting. Neither had had the opportunity to experience this kind of exit meeting. That shocked me. Exit meetings should routinely be held at the end of each project and our deliverables should be reviewed with management. Apparently, however, the deliverables are not normally presented.
We were able to meet my expectations as to the timely completion of the engagement. I learned from my co-workers that my expectations, even though supposedly an industry best practice, did not occur that frequently. The biggest reason we were able to meet those expectations was because I was working in the field with them for multiple days. I also learned this does not frequently occur.
My co-workers are very intelligent and hard workers. They listened to instructions and advice and accomplished their tasks. They arrived early and worked late. They drove a long way to the client each day. At the end of the week, they were worn out…mentally and physically.
When I told them to not work late on Friday but to leave for home early, they were appreciative. In fact, I think they were surprised. I learned from my co-workers that they are used to being driven hard but appreciate when their personal lives are taken into account.
It may be busy season and we have to get a lot of work done in a short three-month period. That does not mean they need to suffer personally. Since I had to leave mid-day to head out of town for my daughter’s volleyball tournament, why would I expect them to work late? An hour or two on a Friday afternoon/evening will not make the difference in getting the job done. The work will get done.
This article is not about me being a great and considerate manager. Instead, this is about me learning from my co-workers about what they need and helping other managers learn what their co-workers need. The following are what I’m going to help implement:
1. Managers should work with employees instead of working after employees. By that, I mean managers should be in the field working alongside their co-workers. They should be available for questions and provide guidance.
2. Expectations should be set prior to the beginning of engagements. The team should all have the same goal. If they are not working toward the same goal, that goal will not be accomplished.
3. Younger employees need to be given opportunities to witness and participate in meetings with client personnel. Managers need to include employees rather than doing things themselves.
Question: What do you wish you would have learned when you were in the beginning of your career? If you had a good manager in your career, what were his or her characteristics?