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3 Ways Your Boss Causes Busy Season Fire Drills

Nothing can make your life a living hell more than a boss that turns everything into a last minute fire drill, especially during busy season. We’ve all had those bosses. Gallup’s research reveals that only about one in 10 people possess the talent to manage. These are not good odds.

It’s almost like these bosses relish in the thrill of the stress. Maybe they secretly wish they were skydiving in the Alps for a living. Now they have to settle for waiting until the last minute to file that Arizona state extension request. That is exhilarating. Yeah, not really.

When you are a staff or senior associate, having a fire drill boss sucks. It’s frustrating because you are trying to stay on top of your to-do list and be proactive. You try hard to get things done efficiently so you can, I don’t know, have somewhat of a life outside of the office?

We all understand that things come up, client emergencies happen. With proper planning and lots of communication, these last minute emergencies could potentially be avoided. So here are a few ways your boss causes busy season fire drills and what you can do about it. I’m coming from a tax perspective, but these apply to most situations with any kind of deadline

  • The Friday afternoon emergency — Like when your manager says they forgot about the 30 state extensions that are due tonight. Not fun. The best way to remedy this situation is to understand what your deadlines are during busy season. Reach out and schedule a meeting to discuss important deliverables for the next month or two. Instead of the Friday afternoon emergency, you would have approached your manager on Monday about the 30 state extensions so you could get started ahead of time.
  • The ASAP turnaround. When your manager says they promised the client a draft of the tax return tomorrow morning and are just reviewing it now. And then he asks, can you stay to make any changes that I have?  Annnnd it’s 6 pm. The most important thing to do here is to check in regularly to make sure you understand client deliverable dates which are typically different from federal and state due dates. Sometimes the ASAP turnaround can’t be avoided but at least you can know your due dates and check in with your boss about them.
  • The return that sits for 2 weeks. This is a goodie. Your manager tells you that you need to rush to get something done and then it sits on her desk. The return sits for weeks until, “The client needs this ASAP.” Classic. A great question to ask is, “When do you plan on reviewing this?” or “When is a draft due to the client?” ahead of time. This way everyone is on the same page with the timeline. If the return is sitting, check in and ask why.

At the end of the day, it really comes down to a few key items. Understanding deadlines (including government, client, and internal), active communication all the time, and checking in on status so you can be proactive and helpful. That should help keep your busy season (relatively) fire drill free.

Image: iStock/shironosov

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