“Simple” Advice for Seniors, From a Tax Manager’s Perspective

I remember the day like it was yesterday. My meeting with the director-in-charge to discuss my performance over the prior year was quickly approaching. As can be expected, I was nervous and unsure what to expect. As I entered the corner office, I was greeted with a warm smile and handshake, followed by, “We’re excited to promote you to senior!” A senior!  Me?!

I was excited and nervous about the opportunities and challenges that were ahead of me. Along with congratulatory messages from team members, there were also words of advice. Some of these nuggets I politely accepted and soon forgot, while others have proven to be pure gems, making me wonder how I ever survived without such insight and wisdom.

I struggled to translate one particular message I received into positive action for my career: when confronting a new project, client, or responsibility, think it, say it, and do it. It was not until I was promoted to manager that I truly appreciated, and completely understood, this counsel I received so early in my career. Why the delay?  Well, at the time the advice seemed too simple! And how can anything be simple in the accounting world?

Here is the full explanation of this “simple” advice I received, and why it is so important to put it into action when you’re a senior.

Think It

Make plans. Look at your schedule and client base consistently and prospectively. Think about the deadline and whether it is client or jurisdiction imposed. How will you and your team meet the goal? What limitations or scheduling conflicts are known for your team members? Is staffing adequate and appropriate? What is your role on this particular engagement/project?

Think about the project – are you on-point with the assignment? Have you allowed adequate time to take a step back and look at the big picture?

Think about this specific client and how they operate, as well as your technical knowledge base, to determine whether things make sense. For instance, how will you explain positions taken on a tax return to your team members?

Say It

Once you have spent ample time thinking and analyzing, then what? Say it! Communicate your plans and thoughts. For example, communicate scheduling concerns with the appropriate parties and discuss sensitive matters with the manager/director prior to speaking with the client. Share your thoughts and planning with the team to ensure all appropriate areas are properly evaluated and taken into consideration, as well as to reassure the manager that the engagement is progressing. As a manger, nothing provides more comfort or assurance than when a team member provides unsolicited updates.

Do It

It’s no coincidence that “Just Do It” is a popular phrase. This is the golden ticket – the gem of all gems. You’ve planned, strategized, and communicated – both externally and internally – about the various pieces of the engagement puzzle. Now the pressure is on, and like they say – “Just do it!” Follow through with what you’ve planned. All those efforts will be wasted if you fail to execute accordingly. You’ve prepared a PBC request? Great, provide it to the client in a timely manner. You’ve communicated to the manager that a tax return will be available for review first thing Monday morning? Make sure it happens.

A senior accountant has the ability to make a manager’s job easier in the same manner a staff accountant has the ability to make your job as a senior easier. Our success or failure is a team effort, and the role of a senior accountant is crucial and valued. You have the ability to make a positive impact on the success of not just the engagement, but on Kreischer Miller. So just remember: Think It. Say It. Do It.

Lisa Pileggi is a director in Kreischer Miller’s Tax Strategies group (although she was a manager at the time this post was written) and a member of the Real Estate Industry Group. Lisa joined Kreischer Miller as a tax staff in 2004, after beginning her career with the Internal Revenue Service upon graduating from Cabrini College. When she’s not advising clients, you can find Lisa spending quality time with her husband and two children, William and Olive. Contact Lisa at Email.

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