John was the longstanding controller at an exclusive private club. When the new General Manager made the rounds of department heads to assess the state of the operation, John had a long list of complaints about the other department heads and their failure to meet accounting deadlines for payroll, inventories, and accounts payable. In particular he said that invoices were not coded correctly requiring an inordinate amount of his time to research and correct before he could pay them. Lastly, he said that a number of department heads and supervisors seemed to have no understanding of basic accounting and financial management . . . and trying to get them to prepare proper budgets was a nightmare!
The new GM listened patiently to this litany of problems and then responded, “So what are you going to do about it?”
Taken aback by this response, John mumbled, “What do you mean?”
“You’re the controller – the club’s subject matter expert on all matters of financial accounting and management – so stop complaining and do something about it. For starters, do you have written standards, policies, and procedures for accounting?”
“Uh . . . no.”
“Well then get busy writing them and don’t forget to include detailed instructions of how to properly code invoices and develop an expense dictionary. And it wouldn’t hurt to start holding classes to teach the other managers how to do things and what your expectations and deadlines are. You’ve got my complete support, so let’s get to it. Just keep me informed of any issues and problems . . . and oh . . . make sure you invite me to all your classes. I need to learn too.”
At first John was offended and irritated that the entire burden for straightening out this mess fell on him. But the more he got into it, the more he realized that he could either complain or fix the problem. So, over the course of the next six months John outlined and wrote a comprehensive series of accounting standards, policies, and procedures; met with department heads to better understand their concerns and issues; and taught a series of 15-minute classes on accounting at the weekly staff meeting. Eventually, he incorporated all the class materials into a workbook entitled Basic Accounting and Financial Management for Managers, which was used to train new managers and supervisors.
By year’s end the majority of John’s issues were resolved and the entire accounting flow was smoother and more efficient. During his performance review for John, the GM commended him for his initiative, hard work, and execution of the project. Not only did John get a major pat on the back, but the GM gave him an unexpected and substantial bonus for the improvements in all areas of the club’s accounting function.
John’s lesson learned: Never complain; always occupy yourself with solutions.
Thanks and have a great day!
This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.
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