This month’s guest contributor, Richard Brewin, Joint Managing Director, Progress BB, takes an in-depth look at putting the focus on you – the accountant – and the challenges faced by deadlines and workloads.

When did you last put yourself first in your business?

Being too busy is a common condition for an accountant. Whilst we may feel that it is something driven by deadlines and workloads, human behaviour can be found at the heart of the issue.

The behaviour of clients in not keeping their side of the service agreement, not fulfilling their responsibilities and not taking our advice, requests and instructions seriously enough certainly brings pressure to our workload.

The behaviour of colleagues and bosses in not doing their own jobs properly, not following the systems and not communicating well with us definitely adds to the problem.

Richard Brewin, Joint Managing Director, Progress BB

Yet, how often do we then allow their failing to become our problem? How often do we still pull all the stops out to retrieve an issue that is not necessarily of our making? We fix the problem and, in doing so, prove to others that we can deliver so they don’t need to.

On top of clients and colleagues, we are also the architects of our own downfall. We’re not great at saying no for a start off. We seem to accept any sort of work challenge that meets the legal and ethical criteria but not necessarily the commercial or practical ones.

We have a nasty habit of over-promising under the guise of client service and then, of course, shooting ourselves in the foot with the inevitable under-delivery. That problem is of our making.

Our behaviour, and our acceptance of the behaviour of others, adds much our ‘to do’ lists and our stress levels. 

We don’t have to keep accepting an imbalance in the client relationship. If the client doesn’t respect our time and business then why should we worry about theirs?

We don’t have to keep accepting colleagues and bosses not doing their jobs properly. We can be criticised for not fulfilling our own roles and responsibilities so what about them?

We can apply as many systems, processes and time saving tips as we like but unless we stop accepting the failings of others and take a more realistic and honest approach towards our own capabilities then we will continue to find ourselves under the cosh.

  1. Under-promise and then impress with your over-delivery, not the other way around
  2. Know your capabilities and be honest with yourself and others in what you can achieve
  3. Trust in the fairness of others. Communicate your problem in good time and fair people will work with you for a solution. We’re not bothered about the unfair ones
  4. Focus on doing your own job well. It is your first line of defence and for others to do the same
  5. If you keep bailing others out then they will continue to let you. Learn to say no
  6. Value your time
  7. Value your health
  8. Remember, you are a good person. You will help if you can and you will support if you can, but not so that you become the victim.

Good luck!