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What are appropriate goals for an accounting clerk?

accounting clerk goalsI am working on a performance appraisal for the AR clerk and I have to come up with goals for her position. She is in her late 50's and has little to no ambition to improve her position. She is responsible for our invoicing, which is very complex and requires a lot of TLC. She does a decent job with the invoices but doesn't go the extra mile to make sure it is right. If someone tells her not to bill something, she just deletes it from the invoice without questioning if it is right or wrong and finds a way to do what she needs to do in our Accounting system, whether it is right or wrong, whatever is most expeditious to get the job done. She is reluctant to change and seems to go along with any changes somewhat begrudgingly. I don't know how to motivate her to do a better job. Any ideas of what kind of goals I can give her for the next year?


Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

Accounting Clerks should have two main performance objectives, in addition to the overall business goals -

-Customer service - Conduct a survey of the users of the Accounting department to set the current level. During the performance setting piece, set a goal to increase customer satisfaction. Measure, measure, measure...

-Compliance - Conduct a Risk Assessment of your area and identify all the manual work arounds. As these approaches increase Risk, require that these practices are stopped. Measure, measure, measure...

Based on the description above, you are focused on the age. Big mistake, as it can land you in court.

When dealing with people - document, document, document...

(Controller) |

Thanks for your comments. The only reason I mentioned age is because of her lack of willingness to change and to put into perspective the kind of person I'm talking about. What kind of goals do I set for someone who maybe has 5-10 years left in their career, has no ambition and is just getting by to get by?

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Having been a witness in a EEOC case (ageism) it is important to document the changes you are trying to make; the changes need to be job specific, not individual specific (like you changed the accounting system, so the processes either changed because of the software or improvement company-wide).

Then document the failure of the employee to embrace and or grasp said changes. Then as Regis said, document what you did to try and ameliorate the situation (training, tutoring, etc.).

Final action, dismiss. If it would go to court, the company would be exonerated because dismissal was for lack of job performance, not because of age discrimination.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

I have worked with an individual that resembles closely the situation described, but not exact. Great knowledge base, too busy to do anything additional, in at 8:30 and out by over time. When pushed will respond to a request. Answers are perfect. But she has no desire to extend.

You have three types of employees -

-under achievers - manage them out;
-over achievers - develop them; and,
-happy in the middle - very frustrating, but not much you can do if they are doing the job requested. But no ambition.

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

I agree with Regis, but might take a slightly different approach.

1) If she gave notice tomorrow and you had to post and hire a replacement (not someone from within the company), what would be the key items you would include in the new job description? How would you track and monitor progress and success in these areas? This is the basis for the performance objectives for her position, which then evolve to the customer service and compliance skills.

2) Consider reviewing all job descriptions in your department. This person might be the one who is obviously pushing back on things, but have others quietly manipulated their responsibilities to remove items they don't enjoy doing, or get the most push back from?

I believe you are probably correct in your perception that she is resistant to change, and is biding her time until she can retire, however, a little TLC on your end might go a long ways. I tend to get further when I start by acknowledging the pain that my team feels when up against deadlines and lacking complete cooperation from those outside of our area. I ask how I can help, request input from the individual for solid ways to increase compliance, and then support them when we institute these changes. When/If she continues to resist making these changes, her job performance is directly impacted and you have clear items to show. Avoid looking at age at all costs. One of my all time best employees was a previously retired woman who came in with a lot of energy and managed to learn everything she needed to know on her own. She got more done than some of the newer folks in the work force.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

This is tough to answer for me without asking a lot more questions. So with the limited information I have, what have you done to motivate her?

People of all ages are resistant to change, especially if they don't understand why. Secondly, what have you done to help her grow in her position? As leaders, we can't expect to put someone into a position and not cultivate them. All people want accountability, to know that they care and to know that their job matters to someone.

Two suggestions: If you haven't read the Energy Bus, I would encourage it and then ask her to read it too. The two of you can then have fun discussing it. Second, if you haven't read the book Three Signs of a Miserable Job, try that one out too. It goes into details about the three things I mention above.

If you honestly believe there is no hope for this person than everyone else gives excellent recommendations to assist you in exiting her out.

Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Director of Global Accounting
Company: Agrinos, Inc.
(Director of Global Accounting, Agrinos, Inc.) |

Let's take a moment for one phrase, "better job". You can split this into "company needs" and "employee advancement". You're responsible for the former, but not necessarily the latter.

Example; I inherited a team with some achievers, some doers, and some issues. The perception I was given (by management) was that they only wanted achievers, and that people who couldn't advance were a bad thing.

However, the company *needs* doers. If you can find a need that fits her skills, great! Win win.

If the company doesn't need what she offers, or you're stuck with needing to hire and can't afford both, then exit gracefully as above.


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