In working with graduates of accounting firms, we’re often told how challenging the work environment can be – and this feedback often comes from grads who achieved great results at university. It’s not just about effective time and task management, but also about really understanding and meeting expectations of colleagues, clients and manager. For a new grad, this can be a daunting process.
We asked graduate accountants about their key challenges at work. Significant responses were:
Time management and priorities
- Workflow management
- Producing accurate accounts
- Dealing more with clients
- Budgeting for larger client jobs
At the same time, we asked managers what they expected from their graduate accountants. Some key responses were:
- Monitor time and cost on jobs
- Plan workflow in advance
- Resolve issues before job review
- Speak up, don’t ‘plough on’
- Communicate effectively with clients
So, it’s clear that both grads and managers want the same thing. The key challenge is in setting and managing expectations. We can do this more effectively by putting in place a more effective induction process that explains not only the systems and processes the firm uses, but also the ways in which instructions and information are communicated.
Consider the following 7 steps to improve accountability within your graduate team. They’ll thank you for these actions:
- Put in place a clear process for the initial review of work received from clients. Give your graduates responsibility for this process.
- Explain clearly how scope of work and fees are set. Outline the role your graduates should play in identifying potential out of scope work early.
- Introduce your graduates to a formal budgeting process at the start of every job. Get them to calculate the expected time cost of their work and let them know they are accountable for the final result.
- Explain to your graduates how they should prioritise work and advise you of the impact of changing priorities on turnaround time.
- Clearly outline to your graduates how you expect them to communicate with you on a day to day basis. Include discussion on briefings, active listening, taking notes and addressing queries.
- Train your graduates how to communicate effectively with clients, both verbally and in writing. Ask them to follow up clients for requests. Involve them in client meetings when appropriate.
And the 7th step – Enrol your Graduates in the Online Graduate Program.
© Dale Crosby, Director, Training Beyond Accounting. www.trainingbeyondaccounting.com.au
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