A Strategic Approach to Setting Goals for Accounting Teams

Many accounting managers struggle with the annual goal setting process. It can be hard to quantify the work of the folks who do the counting! This is ironic, but pretty common outside of sales teams.

It’s not easy to come up with S-M-A-R-T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound) goals for employees who work in these roles. Their routines can vary significantly and tend to be driven by outside factors.

Here are three strategies to incorporate into your goal-setting process that will make your accounting and finance teams far more effective in the future.

Take A Project-Based Approach

Most of us have downtime here and there that we could utilize to work on a project. Talk to each of your team members about coming up with a project that contributes to their own development, helps them connect with others, and causes them to look at their job in a new way.

For example, a Senior Staff Accountant could conduct a skills training to help accountants keep up with changes in the industry. Or, maybe you believe your AR team could be more efficient but you’re not sure. Why not give them a goal to identify areas they can improve? You may be surprised at how many great ideas surface that could save the team some time.

Create Opportunities to Strategically Develop New Skills

With the rise of new tech like robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and blockchain, strategically developing skills to prepare for the future of finance is more essential than ever.

The exceptional accountant of tomorrow needs to begin cultivating effective communication abilities, data analysis, business acumen, and creativity — today. These capabilities will equip teams to deliver predictive insights for leadership, drive data-based decisions, and provide expert counsel.

Developing opportunities for accounting and finance professionals to problem-solve more creatively, learn new technology, and build relationships with other departments can make a massive difference on an individual and team level.

Carefully Craft Your Culture

A carefully crafted culture creates competitive advantage. It improves quality of work, boosts productivity, engagement, and retention, and reduces stress and healthcare costs.

But if this isn’t a current focus at your company, where do you even start?

A team brainstorming session can be an excellent first step. Involving your people in culture discussions can make them feel invested and as important as they really are. They’re also the ones who will be able to quickly identify what needs to change, along with the most effective approaches.

Give your leaders the responsibility of planning regular team building events. This can be anything from fun, off-site events to a team appreciation lunch at the office. The goal should always be to bring the team closer and help them maintain better relationships, generating understanding and a deeper respect for each other.

Put Your People First

Done right, the goal-setting process can create a shared vision that makes your teams feel inspired and connected. And when the strategies within that vision meaningfully contribute to the entire organization, you can count on a higher level of buy-in.

It all comes down to putting your people first and setting them up for success. If you continually look to the future of finance and equip your teams for the new digital landscape, your organization will thrive.