Accountants are evil. They are generally nice people…outside the company walls, but that changes once they walk into an office. Once in their natural environment an accountant becomes a ravenous predator that feeds on nickels and dimes. Like any beast they need to be caged and carefully watched.
The problem with accountants as business managers is simple. They hate the customer. Customers are messy, demanding, fickle, illogical, expensive, unreliable, and in general, not conducive to an orderly stream of revenue. For accountants the world breaks down to revenue and expenses. Everything that is ‘business’ falls into these two categories. For accountants business is about increasing revenue or decreasing expenses or both. Everything else is irrelevant.
To an accountant the customer is an income stream and they want that income stream to be efficient and reliable. Accountants get down right testy when customers defy the rules of their little world and become demanding and emotional.
By now those few accountants who might be reading this are probably fuming. How dare I say accountants hate the customer! Most accountants would vehemently argue that they love the customer! That they wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for the customer!
But what they love is the customer’s money…the nickel and dimes. They love to romp through a company and institute new policies, slash budgets, shut down experimental divisions, and in general kill anything that smacks of fun or excitement. Show me a happy accountant and I’ll show you a company where the employees are considering other job offers and customers are re-thinking their loyalty. Show me an unhappy accountant and I’ll show you a company where the leadership keeps them on a short leash and as far away from the customer as possible.
Unfortunately, most businesses go through a cycle where money becomes an issue and then somebody lets the accountants out of the cage and they start chasing all the loose nickels and dimes. In the short-term the bottom-line might improve which reinforces the myth that the problem with the company was not giving the accountants free reign in the first place.
Then the company begins a slow death. Customers discover that the business no longer provides value-added service
and employees and managers find that the little extra money that they had to provide better service and/or address problems has been eaten up by accountants. What follows is company stagnation.
All this stems from a lack of control on the accountants. Accountants should be able to tell you how much money is in the bank and where it was spent, but then they need to be muzzled. If a company is going to succeed or fail it will be done by giving the customer what they want, when (or before) they want it. Business is emotional. It is driven by intangible things like satisfaction, surprise, joy. Accountants don’t get emotion. Like Mr. Spock on Star Trek, accountants see emotion as irrelevant because it isn’t a revenue or expense.
The moment an accountant says, “you know we could save $x.xx, if we just…” is the moment that a CEO needs to say, “Don’t you have something that needs ledgered?”
Do that and everyone else will be happy, especially your customers!
Ahem…I now apologize to my accountant friends..I still love you Dave!
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