accountant vs bookkeeper

How do you lead an accounting team?

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    Teams in charge of accounting play a crucial role in businesses. There is a greater chance that financial statements will be inaccurate in the absence of competent leadership. To guide staff in achieving operational goals, supervisors, controllers, and accounting managers must collaborate. It takes the perfect combination of technical expertise, managerial aptitude, and communication abilities to supervise accountants.

    Organizations often struggle to keep their finance and accounting departments running smoothly and efficiently, especially during busy times of the year. Accounting departments are typically small, understaffed units that must meet strict deadlines all the time.

    Today's pandemic-ravaged globe can make it difficult to motivate teams of accountants. The accounting team plays a critical role in a firm, so it's necessary for accounting managers, financial controllers, and accounting supervisors to collaborate closely in motivating their staff to meet the operational objectives of their unit.

    It is not enough for these leaders to be fully aware of the obligations and responsibilities of an accountant; they also need to be able to lead and manage their workforce with a blend of technical expertise, leadership qualities, and effective communication techniques. Leaders must enable their teams to achieve their main goal, which is to make sure your company is in excellent financial health.

    A company's accounting requirements expand along with growth. There are certain benchmarks that every accounting department must achieve, regardless of the size of the business.

    A successful accounting department runs as swiftly as any other department in the organisation while also giving decision-makers reliable financial information about their company. An effective accounting department delivers the real-time financial information required to operate in today's competitive marketplace, beyond just record-keeping and check writing.

    These best practices set successful accounting departments apart from those that only aspire to success, regardless of whether your accounting team is internal, external, or a combination of the two.

    Get Timely Information

    Key financial data is promptly gathered by effective accounting departments. In the modern era, transactional data can be obtained very immediately and promptly incorporated into the accounting system.

    Budgeting and other financial forecasting actions cannot be trusted to be accurate without current financial knowledge. Making investments or decisions can also be harmful when using outdated financial knowledge. A check bounced on the technology or service you're investing in is one thing; finding out that your plans surpass your budget is quite another.

    Get Accurate Data

    For a successful accounting department or for anyone who wishes to call oneself a professional accountant, accurate data collection is crucial. You cannot make sound company judgments without precise financial information.

    The repercussions can be severe when a business bases strategic decisions on a flawed cash-flow statement or an erroneous budget prediction. They may temporarily hurt a company's performance or reputation.

    Process and Procedures

    A good accounting department aims to obtain information quickly, but processes and procedures are the means to that end.

    A department's accountants' responsibility for information collecting is clearly defined and distributed among them when handling procedures are clear and acceptable. The accuracy of all the data entered into the company's master ledger or database is ensured by having the right reconciliation procedures. Last but not least, having the proper Review procedures is a backstop against accuracy, guaranteeing that no decisions are made in light of the inaccurate financial information.

    Systems and Financial Controls

    Any rock-solid accounting division takes action to maintain the reliability of its reporting and financial data. Human error can be taken into consideration by having a controller or accountant supervisor watch over accountants as they transfer financial data through the accounting cycle. However, the accuracy of a company's accounting data should never be dependent on a single person.

    People make mistakes, and it can have terrible effects when the person who is supposed to be the "failsafe" also makes a mistake. For this reason, it's crucial to have numerous points of review for a company's financial data, and controllers and accountants must come to an agreement at various moments during the accounting cycle.

    Strategic Decision Making and Execution Based on Financial Data

    Financial information is required for strategic decision-making and execution as well as for budget and tax considerations. The implications for businesses that don't base acquisitions, investments, and other strategic decisions on solid financial data can be disastrous.

    Successful accounting departments will examine the company's finances for chances to cut costs and free up even more resources for development opportunities in addition to demonstrating to decision-makers the resources they can use to expand their business. Always take great care when making strategic decisions and base them on current and past financial data. You can develop reliable indicators of future performance and trends by fusing historical and present data.

    Coaching Sessions

    Leaders must coach accountants on proper preparation procedures if they are having trouble preparing their journal entries or account reconciliations. A technical conversation or a brainstorm on more effective ways to access source documents could be necessary to assist staff in improving. It is the responsibility of leaders to identify the underlying causes of errors and collaborate with their people to discover solutions. Increasing efficiency or launching process improvement initiatives might be the result of effective coaching and two-way communication.

    Conflict Mediation

    The majority of teams in a corporate environment experience interpersonal conflict. It can be beneficial, but only under particular circumstances. Managers must intervene and arbitrate discussions between the opposing parties when disputes and animosity persist. Due to the frequent pressure and short deadlines placed on accounting teams, it is simple for tempers to flare and arguments to break out. Teams will be strengthened and made more productive by leaders who can mediate disagreements.


    Voting can assist an accounting team to achieve employee support for crucial decisions. Voting is regarded as a fair procedure that most people can live with, despite the fact that not everyone will be pleased. When workloads change or accounting departments merge, leaders who can win the support of their team are more likely to overcome adaptive problems. Everyone can express their opinions through voting, which makes the workforce feel involved in the decision-making process.

    four women talking to each other

    Team Building Events

    It's beneficial to occasionally take the team out of their offices for a team-building activity. Group lunches or special occasions allow people to let off steam, and having fun together is a great way to strengthen interpersonal ties. Personable team members are more likely to assist one another with journal entries, reconciliations, and other accounting duties. Those who are able to foster a sense of unity among their employees are effective leaders.

    Qualities of an Accounting Supervisor

    Strong leadership skills

    These are essential for all accounting managers. Their primary responsibility is to manage the performance of other employees in their department and assign various assignments to their teams. Accounting managers frequently train staff members and make sure everyone is informed about new rules and regulations. In order to succeed as an accounting supervisor, you must possess the qualities of a great leader in every professional setting.


    These are essential for any accounting supervisor to have. Their primary responsibility is to monitor the work of other employees in their department and to provide a variety of responsibilities to the teams that they supervise. It is common practise for accounting supervisors to teach new skills to staff members and ensure that all employees are up to date on the latest laws and regulations. You need the abilities that constitute a good leader in any professional setting in order to advance to the position of accounting supervisor.


    Successful accounting supervisors are excellent communicators. Because they are in charge of accounting teams, it is extremely crucial for them to be able to explain complicated facts in straightforward words, both in writing and vocally. It is essential to have the ability to communicate with your workers in a manner that is simple and straightforward.

    Customer relations

    As is the case with other types of supervisors, accounting supervisors will have interactions with clients, particularly if they are in charge of an accounting firm that provides services to clients in the corporate and individual sectors. To be successful, you need to treat customers with respect, be able to understand their issues, and respond to their concerns in the most effective manner possible.

    Management skills

    In order to be successful in the role of accounting supervisor, you will need to demonstrate excellent managerial abilities. These will assist you in effectively leading your team and achieving the highest potential quality results from the work you do.

    You need to have the ability to coordinate the work of a group of account clerks, in addition to the work of other junior staff accountants. Excellent accounting supervisors encourage the growth of their teams' capabilities and resources in order to maintain a high level of individual and overall corporate performance.


    Accuracy is essential to success in the accounting industry, and if you're going to manage a group of accountants, you'll need a lot of it.

    The accounting department is in charge of managing the firm's income and expenses; poor management instantly raises the chance of the company having poor financial performance, which can directly lead to an emergency situation.

    It is possible for a leader to incur penalties as a result of their inaccurate actions, for instance, if they fail to comply with the regulations that govern their sector.


    The accounting supervisors are reliable individuals who should be trusted. Because of this, it is necessary for them to uphold high standards of honesty. It is imperative that managers be prepared to address any discrepancies or financial irregularities that may arise, as these issues have the potential to undermine the credibility of the organisation.

    Stress management

    Supervisors of accounting must, like other types of leaders, be able to keep their cool even when facing challenging circumstances. It's possible that you'll be working in a frenetic and disorganised environment; in order to be effective, you need to be able to function well even when you're under a lot of strain and stress. This is especially true during the busiest times of the year, such as when reports and tax returns are due and the quantity of work appears to increase hourly.

    Technical know-how

    It is possible that this will come as a surprise to you, but excellent accounting supervisors need to have some knowledge of the technical side of things. Because accounting software is always being updated, supervisors need to have a certain amount of computer skills in order to do their jobs effectively. Additionally, the ability to quickly learn and implement new software is an essential component of every supervisor's job.

    Accounting supervisors play a very essential part in guiding their companies towards financial success by ensuring that the company has accurate accounting records and complies with all of the requirements that pertain to the financial sector. If you want to be counted among them, you had well get ready for a lot of hard work in the days and weeks to come.

    Organise team-building sessions

    Since you are the head of the division, it is your responsibility to be on the lookout for any signs of burnout among the members of your team, particularly during periods of high demand.

    Ensure that your team functions well as a cohesive unit and that each member is able to execute their job without experiencing an excessive amount of stress by ensuring that your team works well together. After everything has returned to normal, it could be helpful for your team to conduct frequent in-person meetings with each member of the group. These meetings would take place at a predetermined location. Even something as easy as eating lunch with your department of finance and accounting can work wonders for their morale because it enables you to experience pleasurable times with one another, which is one of the most important factors in employee morale.

    In the meantime, while we are all still working from home, you should organise one-on-one catch-up sessions with each member of your team so that you can keep in touch with them. This will allow you to stay informed about what is going on with the team. Maintain their interest and reassure them that you have their best interests in mind during this trying time by always putting yourself in their shoes.

    Review your work procedures and provide any necessary personnel training

    To have a better understanding of your daily operations, it would be advantageous to regularly interview your staff as well as the primary process owners. By examining your work processes for any areas of inefficiency or duplication and by better understanding the workflow your team uses, you may make better use of this time. If you have a better idea of the duties that your team is in charge of and their present ability level, you will be able to identify learning gaps that need to be filled through training.

    Develop an educational culture

    By encouraging the implementation of accounting best practices, you can ensure that the staff in your finance and accounting department is up to date on the most recent advancements in the fields of accounting and finance. Make an investment in their continuous education and professional development whenever it is within your power to do so. You can do this by sponsoring opportunities for training that takes place outside of the workplace or by offering financial support if they desire to pursue higher education. By taking this move, you can significantly improve not just the morale of your workers but also their accuracy, response speed, and the quality of the data that is collected.

    Promote mentoring and conduct coaching sessions

    Coaching employees and providing them with consistent feedback has been proved to increase the amount of interest workers have in the task they do, according to research. In addition, coaching is an effective method for building a sense of accountability and motivation in individuals within the context of their respective places of employment. On the other hand, a good way to improve the culture of your office while also contributing to the dissemination of information is to invite more experienced employees of the accounting department to act as mentors to more junior members of the staff. This can be done by inviting more experienced employees of the accounting department to act as mentors to more junior members of the staff.

    Get your team's support before making a decision that will have an impact on everyone

    Encourage your employees to provide their ideas and get involved if there is a need for them to make difficult decisions. During these discussions, topics may include, but are not limited to: enhancing work procedures; adopting new technologies; etc. You should put significant choices up for a vote whenever possible so that every member of your team will have the opportunity to feel like they have some say in the path that you will be pursuing.

    Automate Manual Processes

    The accounting department is under constant pressure to investigate a variety of solutions in order to boost productivity and reduce back-office costs as a result of the increasing regulatory complexity and the growing demands of customers. The process of examining and measuring one's financial situation can be both time-consuming and costly. The transaction volumes are expanding at an exponential rate, which means that adding additional personnel is no longer a practical option.

    According to the findings of a study that was carried out by the Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business and BlackLine, putting an emphasis on manual processes significantly increased both the likelihood of making mistakes and the amount of time needed to complete financial statements.

    In this day and age of advanced technology, the accounting department ought to be equipped with a system that is capable of automating the various laborious operations. It is important to automate as many processes as feasible and to replace manual labour with as little of it as possible.

    Automation may help accountants not only with routine activities like writing invoices and generating reports, but also with managing taxes and calculating profit and loss with only a few clicks of the mouse if the correct software solution is used. Automation can help accountants with this. The owners of businesses need to encourage the accounting personnel they employ to develop ways to complete their current accounting responsibilities more quickly.

    Maintain Good Communication With Your Team

    Effective communication is essential to the success of any business. Employees who aren't aware of what is expected of them typically don't perform up to their full ability the vast majority of the time.

    The proprietors of a company should convey their expectations to the accounting department as soon as possible so that everyone is on the same page regarding what needs to be done. Talk to as many of the other members as you can, ranging from the most senior CPAs to the most junior accountants.

    It is in everyone's best interest to keep the accounting department apprised of the business's objectives, ongoing projects, and upcoming due dates. Pay attention to what they have to say, and actively seek out their comments.

    You are going to be shocked when you find out the kinds of insights that can be provided by the accounting department. Because they have access to a reliable communication channel and multiple chances to offer their input, the members of the accounting team are free to voice their opinions and concerns without showing any reluctance.

    Leverage The Latest Technologies

    In order for companies to achieve financial success, they need to cultivate a relationship with their customers that is both long-term and stable. In order to accomplish this goal, organisations need to fully exploit the possibilities offered by technology.

    The majority of an accountant's work, including cash management, data analysis, and report writing, is done by hand and takes up a significant amount of their time. In addition to the danger of making mistakes, it is also an expensive procedure when seen over the course of its whole.

    The function of accountants in the modern, digital era has shifted significantly. They are now able to complete more tasks in a shorter amount of time, and their position has evolved to become more strategic and less transactional. Small and medium-sized firms have the ability to boost their output without incurring significant additional costs thanks to the technologies available today.

    To give just one example, cloud computing is revolutionising the entire digital workflow. The accounting procedure has become more adaptable than it has ever been before as a result of the multiple advantages provided by cloud technology to accountants. These advantages include real-time access to data, enhanced cooperation, and increased flexibility.

    In order to manage people in an accounting position, you do not need to be the most outgoing or gregarious person, but you do need to exhibit several important leadership characteristics. You would be wise to beef up on these skills by participating in professional development training or seeking targeted mentorship opportunities if you find that you are lacking in any of the areas that were discussed previously.

    Continuous monitoring of the accounting department's performance is something that should be done. Your accounting department will become more efficient as a result of these suggestions, and you will be able to identify a value-adding organisation within the company.

    There are five basic roles or functions within the department:
    • Accounts receivable.
    • Accounts payable.
    • Payroll.
    • Financial controls.
    • Financial reporting.

    All accountants who work at a firm will work on a team, whether that's an accounting team or the team of company employees in general.


    Read on to learn which six skills your accounting department must have for your financials to flourish.
    • Understanding of Your Industry. ...
    • Knowledge of Reporting Expectations. ...
    • Good Communication Skills. ...
    • Tech-Savviness. ...
    • The Ability to Optimize Processes. ...
    • Excellent Customer Relations.
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