What Skills Does Your Accounting Department Manager Need?

This post answers the following questions

1) Why do you need to hire an Accounting Department Manager?
2) What skills should you look for?
3) Why does your manager should have experience managing others?
4) What is the important area for you to look at before hiring someone as manager?
5) Why does an accounting manager must have flexibility?

As the owner of a growing business, you have to evaluate your staffing needs periodically.  One of the areas to focus on is the accounting department.  What starts out as a single bookkeeper or bookkeeping services company can eventually develop into a full staff.

The Need for An Accounting Department Manager

As you expand, you will hire multiple people to keep track of the financial aspect of your business.  They will need to be overseen by a manager or controller of the accounting department.  They will be the most important person you hire for that department because you will need someone qualified in the overall functions of the department and someone who is a good leader.

accounting department

Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/slightlyeverything/7564129244/

While you may have managed your accounting staff when the business was small, you cannot continue to do so as your business grows.  For one thing, you will need to focus on other areas of your business and managing the department becomes a full-time job.
Another reason to hire a manager is that you do not know the details of accounting and you need someone more experienced in each task.  Even if you are a former accountant, you will not be able to keep up with new laws and programs that current accountants are aware of.

What Skills Should You Look For?

Some skills will be easier observed if you hire a manger from within your accounting staff.  Other skills will be obvious even if you look for someone outside the accounting department.

Management Experience

Your manager should have experience managing others.  Even if they are knowledgeable about accounting practices, they must know how to relay information and train their staff.  They must also know how to monitor what others do and handle any issues as they arise.

Managing others can be difficult if that person has been one of the team.  They will have to know how to deal with correction issues and any discipline that may need to be handled.  That is why it is often easier to hire outside of your own company for this position.

Personality Traits

A manager must be patient and able to handle high levels of stress, especially during certain times of the year.  Accounting involves very detailed procedures and a manager must be able to review each of them as needed when an issue arises.  They may also need to create a report on short notice for an investor or other department.

Flexibility

An accounting manager must be able to have a certain degree of flexibility while maintaining consistency with procedures and policies.  In a small company, they may handle multiple tasks besides managing.

Long-term Previous Employment

It is difficult to train new employees in any position, especially in either management or a finance position.  You don’t want to spend the time hiring and training someone only to have them leave within a year or two.  In today’s business world, five years is considered lengthy employment.

High Level of Customer Service

This is another important area for you to look at before hiring someone as manager.  They will be dealing with other departments as well as outside customers on the very sensitive subject of money; they must know how to be courteous and respectful even when dealing with a difficult person.  Their attitude will be passed onto their staff and you need a manager that sets a positive example.

When you find candidates for the position, you will want to look at where they worked previously.  Look for people who have worked in a similar industry and at a company that was a similar size.  The company should be either a bit smaller or larger than your business, but not a drastic change.
While you may think that someone from a large corporation will have more knowledge, they may not have as many hands-on abilities as you would expect.  Procedures are more diversified in a large company and they may have little experience working outside one area.  Large corporations often have multiple managers that handle just one area such as accounts payable or accounts receivable; whereas in a smaller company, you may want your manager to handle all areas of accounting.

You may also want to consider the option of using outside bookkeeping services if you do not want the responsibility of managing the accounting department manager.  Many bookkeeping companies can work with different size of businesses even as they grow.  If you do choose to hire an accounting manager, make sure you know what skills to look for to get the right person.

Josh Rothenberg is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for EZCFO a company focused on accounting department success. You can follow him on Google+

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