Why Do Smart Accountants Sometimes Struggle As Managers?

It’s a familiar scenario. Someone builds a reputation as being a highly competent accountant.

The person who can get through a ton of work and be relied upon to deliver.

Before you know it they are being earmarked for promotion into a management role.

They get the promotion. They are very happy for a bit.

Then they start to struggle. Their performance starts to dip and they are others start to wonder where it all went wrong.

So why do smart accountants sometimes struggle as managers?

Reason 1: The Role Is Different

In the early stages of your career you are pretty much in control of your own results.

You plan, do and deliver and have minimal distractions.

When you are managing a big part of your success is down to your ability to deliver results through others.

Reason 2: The Skill Set Is Different

Initially it is all about technical competence which you probably have developed on the job and through professional studies.

Managing requires a very different skill set that includes skills in areas like planning, organising, problem solving and decision making.

Reason 3: It’s Less Predictable

In a rules based profession like accountancy, if you do x it will result in y happening.

When managing it’s a lot less predictable. You don’t know how people will respond. What works one time might not work the next time – even if the situation seems the same.

So what’s some of the solutions to make that transition a success?

Solution 1: Actively Work On Developing Your Management Capability

In the couple of years after qualification I invested a lot in developing my management capability.

I personally found short practical workshops that involved a range of activities particularly beneficial.
It’s also good to learn by watching others who are talented managers in action.

Solution 2: Always Remember That Your Behaviour Matters

If you ever worked for a really good manager you know that nothing was too much trouble for you when it came to delivering for that manager.

People will forgive you if you get some things wrong but they are less likely to be forgiving if your behaviours don’t demonstrate you value others.

Solution 3: Accept The Role Is Different

Not better or worse just different.

Your success will be measured in different ways so make sure you know what your success will be measured on.

Then focus yourself and others on delivering expected results.

What struggles are you facing in managing?

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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