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Developing General Accounting Personnel Toward a Higher-Contribution, Value-Added Role

Introduction

General Accounting (GA) can be a great entry point and stepping stone into any number of roles within Finance and the company as a whole.  The challenge for companies is ensuring that the proper experience, training, and mentoring occurs within their Accounting teams so, when opportunity calls, their people are the first considered and they are well prepared.  This requires a firm and ongoing commitment from senior Finance & Accounting leaders, as well as a concerted effort to ensure that the proper oversight is provided.

Company Experience

Recently, a Peeriosity member company with over $12 billion in annual revenue was featured on a PeercastTM in which they shared their approach to developing their General Accounting team.  One of the top priorities for the company’s Shared Services organization is to develop people through training, coaching, and career-pathing.  They identified three pillars for their people strategy, which are 1) Motivating Key Behaviors, 2) Getting the Right Leaders in Place, and 3) Having the Right Senior Leadership “Cover”.  These pillars combined in the past 3 years to lead to a positive culture shift in the Record-to-Report function to deliver a team now spending most of its time on value-add activities, and reduced time on transactional work where they were over-servicing the business and constantly putting out fires.

The following provides more detail regarding each of the three pillars:

Motivating Key Behaviors

  • Problem solving
  • Consistent process improvement
  • Communicating issues and recommending solutions

Getting the Right Leaders in Place

Identify leaders who can:

  • Partner with the business in a leadership role
  • Hold team members accountable by being interested in their careers and lives
  • See value in intangible benefits

Having the Right Senior Leadership Cover

  • Senior leader reputation with reporting line leadership
  • Reputation of that individual with other department heads
  • Accounting associates direct reputation with other departments

The feature company also provided more detail regarding some of the challenges they faced, as well as the underlying details related to their ongoing focus on the dimensions of people, process, and technology.  

iPollingTM Results Review

The results from a poll generated utilizing Peeriosity’s iPollingTM technology provide some interesting insights into what companies are doing in the General Accounting space as it relates to career planning and working with high-performing employees.  Looking at the results from the first poll question, formal career planning is available to all General Accounting employees at 37% of the companies, while it is required for all GA employees at an additional 11% of the companies.  Also of note is that a significant percentage of companies (37%) do not have any formal career planning in place for GA employees.

The second poll question then looked at the level of opportunities available to high-performing General Accounting employees.  The good news is that at 84% of companies, high performers can find good opportunities either specifically within Finance (58%) or both inside and outside Finance (26%).    Just 16% of the surveyed companies struggle to find good opportunities for high performers.

Some of the poll comments from Peeriosity members include the following:

Real Estate & Construction Member: We do not have formal career paths for people at our company; however, high performing accountants do move up (e.g., Staff Account, Accountant II, Accountant III, Senior Accountant, Manager, Senior Manager, Director, etc.).

Retail Member: Career plans are focused on exempt employees and the highest level of hourly associates.

Real Estate & Construction Member: We are a Finance shop, so there are limited non-Finance opportunities.

Closing Summary

Considering the challenge and significant expense it is for most companies to hire qualified and experienced General Accounting employees, being able to provide an environment that is focused on career development and job satisfaction should be a primary objective for Finance & Accounting leadership. While there are a number of approaches to accomplishing this, the biggest challenge for most companies remains securing the ongoing commitment from senior leaders to make this a priority for the organization.

What is the status at your company with respect to creating an environment in which your General Accounting employees can prosper?  How high of a priority is this for Finance & Accounting leadership?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

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“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.



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