If you’re not already in the finance industry, then your current job role may have very little interaction with it, aside from managing your own personal expenses. If your company’s accountant or finance manager is someone you only see once a month when you turn in your expense reports, then I’m sure that your interaction with them can often leave a sour taste in your mouth. I’m not in the finance industry either, but do work with our accountants quite often and the more I do, the more realize how misunderstood they all are!
If you work in a job role that doesn’t involve constant math or science, then you probably won’t truly understand your accountant. A study I recently participated in, based on some of the work by Carl Jung, outlines a group of people into four types. I won’t go into all four types, but I will touch on the BLUE type. All accountants are BLUE, not sad, but they fall into this color quadrant. People who are BLUE are exact, very literal and logical. They have a harder time grasping art, they take their time to make precise decisions and think in a very literal, bottom line sort of sense; they have to when dealing with someone else’s money!
What does that mean for you? When you freely spend on the company credit card and take your significant other out to dinner, your boss may have approved or encouraged you to do that, but the accountant will see a bottom line at the end of the month: “you could have saved the company$X if you just went to McDonald’s instead of Morton’s. Why do you have to eat at all?” Accountants are very black and white, at least in their professional role, so when you have expense reports or credit card statements, they won’t see the gray area as to why you spent what you did. According to them, spending anything is too much. This isn’t a bad thing, without a strict accountant, the company’s money would be thrown around with complete disregard and that would ultimately hurt the business. Accountants are merely looking out for the best interest of the business in the best way they know how. You may not understand their strict spending policies just as they may not understand your marketing campaign.
So if you have a particularly conservative accountant, or any BLUE coworker for that matter, here are a few tips towards making a work relationship with them a little more “enjoyable”.
1) Stand on their level. In order to achieve a successful line of communication with your accountant, speak their language, step up to their level of thinking. Bulletpoint! Keep to the facts, give direct bottom line answers and don’t waste their time. They think in numbers, try to do the same when talking to them, it’ll make talking to them easier and a less painful for both of you.
2) Be organized. Accountants are very by the book, within the lines, which means they are also very organized; I have known some to walk you through their file cabinet over the phone! The more organized you are, the easier interacting with them will be. If you have all your receipts in one place, that makes their job more efficient (key word there!) and they’ll be happier to work with you as a result. No one likes it when others makes their job harder and that’s a feeling accountants are all too familiar with.
3) Ask questions. Because there is generally one accountant to an entire office, it’s easy for a superiority complex to develop; even if it doesn’t they can often feel overwhelmed by the lack of respect people often give them. Ask your accountant questions about the company finances, such as: “How are we doing this month/quarter?”, “What did you over the weekend?”. Accountants like to have answers for people. If you ask them where they went on vacation, they’ll not only tell you where, but how good of a deal they got on the trip, the miles rewards and even the distance traveled. An easy way to make an accountant your friend is to let them give you answers.
Dealing with your office account is just like dealing with other coworkers or clients, you just have to understand how they think. If you make a point to think a little more logically and be more organized, your relationship with your accountant will improve drastically, I promise (they may even do your taxes)!