Weekends worked: check. CPA passed: (hopefully) check. Blood, sweat, and tears: check, check, annnnd check.
Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off – you’re a newly crowned senior associate or manager. The question is, though: are you ready?
Both promotions are invitations into unpopular clubs. After all, it’s no secret that senior staff members are in a very difficult position. There are budgets to learn, manage, and finagle. Speaking of managing, there’s the staff below and the managers and partners above.
Senior staff members may be at the crossroads of the team, but new managers are now forced to the bottom rung of the upper ladder. The track to partner is narrowing down to the final few years; if you thought things were political before being manager, you need to wake up and smell the shifty maneuvering. Here are some tips to help with your newly acquired responsibility:
1. Remember where you came from – This is very much one of those “easier said than done” situations:
Seniors: Chances are you were once a clueless intern, hungry to learn about the fascinating world of public accounting. Sure, interns are overpaid and carry a sense of entitlement – but do you remember what it was like to earn that first intern paycheck?! You bought drinks for all of your Marketing major friends the following semester. And come on – you were definitely a first year, balancing life in a new town, your first “real” job, and moody bosses as old as your parents.
Managers: Simply put, you worked for some awful managers in your day. Remember the nightmares and learn from them. Don’t. Be. One. Of. Those. Managers. Respect your staff; value your senior-in-charge. They keep the wheels turning, after all.
The point I’m trying to hit home is that it is important to remember what your subordinates are going through. This will help you better manage their expectations and mold them into a reliable and loyal workforce. Organize a happy hour or weekday evening event and learn about their interests outside of work. The more you know, the better you can manage expectations, the more your staff will respect you, and the easier your job of handholding will be.
2. Build off your mentor’s lessons – We all have mentors that we look up to. Make an effort to realize what it is about their mentorship that you admire. Embrace those traits, make them your own, and build off of them. Constant improvement should be a daily challenge; a challenge that you accept head on. Seek out feedback from your mentees and staff members. Constant improvement – make it your purpose.
3. This is what you signed up for – There’s not getting around the fact that you’re stepping into a more demanding role in the firm:
Seniors: Managers will expect you to stretch a dime of budget time into a twenty dollar bill. Clients will be up your back and first years will want to know where the bathroom is located. Fact of the matter is this role will really test your personal ambitions of a career in public accounting. But that’s the point, right?
Managers: You’ve reached a very critical plateau in the firm’s hierarchy. Question leadership and thought processes. Get involved with your firm’s committees and organizations. But above all else, set an example for your staff members to respect. People work harder for those that they respect. Earn your staff’s respect.
Daniel Braddock is a former Big 4 human resources professional and auditor. You can read more of his posts for Going Concern here.