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Cancer, terrorists, undigested corn – all significantly worse than busy season. But what about within the confines of public accounting? Is there anything worse than busy season?
Yes, and it’s formal professional feedback.
A late 2015 survey from TriNet of professional millennials shows that three of every four are clueless as to how they are perceived by their managers. More than half feel like their managers are unqualified to give feedback, and almost one-third indicate their feedback caused them to search for a new job. While these numbers span all industries, it certainly rings true in public accounting, where career auditors run multi-billion dollar firms.
Pretty disheartening figures considering formal feedback completely drives your compensation and promotion timetable.
Here’s the issue — the whole process reeks of bureaucracy. Accounting firms make their staff adhere to strict HR guidelines from goal setting to performance reviews, creating feedback for the sake of feedback. This results in some rather annoying situations…
- You’re forced to copy and paste someone else’s “goals” because it’s quarter-end and you can’t spend all day filling out HR templates.
- You type your own formal feedback because your manager doesn’t have the time.
- You work just as hard, if not harder than your peers, and it’s noted in your feedback. But you receive an average rating because you didn’t make the team happy hour with the office managing partner.
This is way worse than busy season…at least during year-end you actually sharpen valuable skills to apply to future jobs.
So what to do?
Imagine freeing yourself from the time and uncertainty centered on your year-end review. It’s more than possible, and I’m going to give you two ways to do it:
1) Set up a recurring meeting with your superior.
Dictate your promotion and rating expectations at the beginning of the year. Then create a monthly calendar invite to ensure you are on pace to meet your goals. You won’t have to write down a bunch of nonsense, or wait 12 months for some nerve-wrenching feedback. You set the terms.
2) Become an accounting freelancer, preferably leveraging Beech Valley. Yes, that’s a shameless plug.
When you are your own boss, formal reviews go from 10-page diatribes to one simple client statement – “Can you come back next week?”
You don’t have to play internal firm politics, and you don’t have to waste your time complying with bloated HR policies. You are strictly judged on the merits of your work (and compensated accordingly).
From a goal-setting perspective, freelancing allows you the freedom to focus on bettering yourself as a professional. Instead of guessing what you’d be interested in accomplishing a year from now, you can focus on the present, accepting and rejecting roles as they come.
Big picture, being an accounting freelancer frees you from the most unsavory elements of public accounting, namely formal feedback and all the nonsense to which it encompasses.
Josh Tarica is a co-founder of Beech Valley Solutions, the premiere network that connects CPAs with freelance opportunities in advisory, assurance and tax. Beech Valley consultants enjoy higher pay for every hour worked, the flexibility to accept or reject projects, and the ability to diversify their skill sets.