Sometimes I come across pieces written for accountants that I feel have more far-reaching lessons that should be taken beyond our world, and it is to one of those that I want to talk about this week. This article was featured in Accounting Today under the main title “Art of Accounting,” but with a subtitle of “Staff Who Take Ownership.” It is that latter part that I want to talk about here, and not just because I’m unsure how artistic accountants ever are.
The broad theme behind the article is that staff who take “ownership” over what they do are better, more conscientious workers. And I think this stands to reason, as we have all worked with people who only do the tasks required of them on a surface level, check off the box that is done, and let the ramifications of it be handled by others. Those who take ownership are more interested in how it plays out throughout the rest of the operation. More interest, more diligence, more follow-through, those are all traits that it’s easy to see as positives.
The article’s author speaks about teaching staff to take ownership, though, and I wonder how much that is something that can be taught. I believe that businesses should be set up in ways that allow employees to take interest in the endeavor beyond their immediate tasks, but I think that is more a part of workplace culture than something that can be taught. When it is encouraged as part of the culture, one can find people who naturally embrace that, find those who have the drive to do more than what is asked of them, and they will stand out as people who will be worth holding onto.
That is something that I try to embrace in my own work, to where it even goes beyond those who work directly with me. For in my business, it is necessary that I have a number of clients outside the immediate operation, as well, but the same dynamic works best there.
Because sure, there are clients who only need us to do a certain number of tasks, and that is as far as the relationship goes. We are confident that we can still do this very well, be a part of their operation they rely on, but things never go further than that.
There are other clients, however, where we get a little deeper. Since our work puts us in close contact with their financial data, there are many areas we could touch on. This can evolve into more detailed reporting, pointing out inconsistencies, or even becoming more of an advisor than just a reporter. This all depends on the type of company and what they are trying to do, but moving beyond has to start with a mindset that people shine when allowed to look beyond the tasks they are assigned.
So yes, we like to take ownership over the work we do, no matter what type of work it is, and the ability to do more is only something that ends up benefitting everyone involved. Take this chance then to think about the idea of ownership, and whether you have the ability to show initiative and do more in your job, or if you have the ability to enact a culture that will allow those types of workers to shine.
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