When an employee and manager sit down for a performance evaluation, the discussion revolves around the employee’s past performance and goals for the future. Goal setting sets the standard for the manager to use when evaluating the employee the following year. Together, the employee and the manager determine attainable goals for the employee. Accounting employees need to consider specific goals that relate to their responsibilities.
Accounting goals should focus on efficiency and self-improvement. Assess your previous quarter's processing time, errors and job automation in developing performance goals.
One type of performance goal, called "essence of the job" goals, involves looking at the actual job responsibilities and maintaining a focus on these requirements as the employee works toward his or her goals. These goals restate items listed on the employee’s job description. Meeting deadlines represents a primary expectation for most accountants. Regulatory reports, tax filing and financial statement distribution must all occur prior to their deadlines or else the company faces financial penalties.
Another type of performance goal, performance improvement, focuses on improving the employee’s current performance. These goals consider the employee’s performance over the past year and identify potential areas of improvement. Accounting work relies on the accuracy of the information used for recording financial transactions, analyzing data or creating financial statements. An employee who made a significant number of errors might include reducing errors as a goal for the future.
Other goals refer to duties outside the employee’s regular responsibilities and are called project goals. Project goals consider additional responsibilities of the employee, such as participating on a software implementation team or automating a current process. Accountants provide feedback on software implementation teams regarding the needs of the accounting department and the financial impact of specific actions. Accountants completing various processes might identify ways to simplify the process. An accountant working on a specific project to simplify one of her current responsibilities might create a goal of automating the process.
Some performance goals, like professional development goals, consider the employee’s complete skill set and define activities the employee could focus on to build his skills. Accounting includes a variety of specialized processes, such as fixed asset accounting, inventory costing or account reconciliations. Cross training allows an employee to learn the responsibilities required in a different area. For example, an accounting employee with a strong background in inventory costing might create a goal to cross train in fixed asset accounting.