In Pursuit of Profit
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She knows the ins and outs of the company’s accounting software, which isn’t perfect, but it works well enough for ABC Company’s needs right now. Sharon really doesn’t make mistakes – she is fastidious in the work that she does and has a system for everything. But, even with the quality work that Sharon is doing, ABC Company knows it needs to bring someone else in to help her because there is simply too much work for one accountant to handle anymore. Plus, Sharon is getting close to retirement age, which means that they will need to bring someone in to replace her when she decides to retire in a few years to follow her dream of traveling around the country in an RV.
How does ABC Company bring in help for Sharon without offending her? How do they convey that while they are happy with the work Sharon is doing, they need redundancy in case Sharon gets sick or is out on disability leave? How does ABC Company put the right personnel in place now so that they have continuity when Sharon decides to retire? How do they hire a senior accountant or controller to help implement a new accounting system to grow with them as their needs change and evolve?
There may not be a Sharon at every company, but every business can benefit from learning how to tactfully bring in senior accounting staff. Taking the right approach in the hiring process is crucial because it can truly mean the difference between success and failure. When done correctly, a new hire can complement and elevate your existing team. When done incorrectly, a new hire can lead to resentment and distrust, poisoning the team culture and fueling needless turnover.
Follow these tips to hire an accountant or controller without alienating your existing accounting personnel:
Start the Conversation Early
Discuss the need to bring in additional support with your existing staff before beginning the search. The earlier you begin this conversation, the better! If your accountant knows that the plan is to hire another accountant at some point, the decision to hire will feel like you are bringing in someone to support them rather than feeling like a slight. This is especially important when the new hire will be in a more senior role because otherwise your accountant may feel like they have hit their potential at your company and won’t be trusted with higher-level work. This can be demoralizing and negatively affect not only the quality of their work but also their likelihood of staying with the company.
This advice not only holds true for bringing in new people but is also applicable when bringing in new technology. Start the conversation right away when considering implementing new accounting software, apps, or automation tools. With the way current accounting technology is evolving, traditional AP functions are likely going to be fully automated at most companies within the next few years, which means that major changes are on the horizon for the way bookkeepers and accountants work. Preempt these kinds of shifts by talking about future plans, even if they are tentative, to give accountants a sense of what to expect. This way when new technology is implemented, they won’t feel like they’re being “replaced by machines” and take it as a sign that they should start planning their exit strategy.
Have Clearly Defined Roles
Whenever you create a new role, you should clearly define what that role includes. And when you are developing a new role in an area of the company where you already have personnel doing the day-to-day work to keep the company running, you need to be especially cognizant of which role is responsible for which activities. Eliminate confusion around who is doing what by defining the role. Make a list of the included activities and deliverables, and then stick to it!
We all know that people are more likely to welcome change when it’s their idea. Use this strategy to generate buy-in when it comes time to hire an accountant. Let existing accounting personnel have a say in what they will do moving forward and ask for suggestions of ways that senior staff can help them succeed in their roles. Then, take this feedback seriously and use it to shape the role you’re creating.
Invest in Existing Staff
Obviously, new hires will need to be effectively onboarded. But don’t let the attention you’re paying to new hires take anything away from existing staff. Continue to provide career development opportunities to current personnel to show them that they are valued and will still be supported. If you’re hiring more senior-level staff, encourage a mentorship-type relationship so that your more tenured staff feels supported by not only the organization as a whole, but also the new hire as well. Remind them what’s in it for them to stay with the company as it grows and continue to reward their hard work with additional career opportunities.
In the same way that communication is important before beginning the hiring process, communication remains crucial after the hiring process is over. Be transparent about future plans for the role and the team to ensure everyone is rowing in the same direction.
When you need to hire a financial controller or recruit senior accounting staff, please reach out to us! You can trust us to help you bring in your next controller, accounting manager, senior accountant, or senior finance manager. We have an experienced team of accounting and finance recruiters that can help find the right candidate for your role! Contact us today to find out more about our proprietary recruiting process that gets qualified candidates in the door faster!