How to Tell If Your Accounting Job Is Too Demanding

There’s a thin line between demanding the best, and demanding the impossible. Here are some ways to determine if you’re being asked for the moon at your accounting job.

Your accounting job probably puts a host of demands on you, as, doubtless, does the boss who supervises you. Being assigned a wide range of responsibilities at your accounting job – from technical duties associated with the accounting process to tasks like liaising with clients and people from different departments – is normal. That’s why they pay you the big bucks, right? (If not, it might be time to ask for a raise!)

It’s natural for your boss to have certain expectations of you and to demand you constantly strive to fulfill them. But there’s a difference between reasonable and unreasonable expectations. To determine whether your boss at your accounting job has expectations of you that are within the realm of reasonable or are just plain excessive, read on.

On what basis is your performance being evaluated?
To figure out if what’s being asked of you at your accounting job is fair or wildly out of proportion, identify how your success is being measured. (If you have no idea, that’s not a good sign; you may want to set up a meeting with your boss.)

For example, maybe your performance at your accounting job is evaluated according to the number of new clients you’re able to draw to the firm every year. Or perhaps you’re being assessed in terms of your speed and turnaround time in recording and processing clients’ financial statements.

Figuring out the standards against which you’re measured is only the first step, however. You also need to assess whether they are fair. If, say, you work in an accounting job for a small firm that tends, as a whole, to average three new clients each year, the expectation you can singlehandedly bag one new client every twelve months is pretty unrealistic.

It’s natural for your boss to have certain expectations of you and to demand you constantly strive to fulfill them. But there’s a difference between reasonable and unreasonable expectations.

If you determine that you’re being held to unfair standards, you should speak up and express your dissatisfaction – or start to look elsewhere.

What kind of responsibilities did your predecessor have to deal with?

Another good way to tell if your accounting job boss has unreasonable expectations of you is to investigate the achievements of your predecessor – the person who previously held your job – as well as the time constraints within which they were allowed to operate. If they hit many of the same targets that have been laid out for you, then your boss’ expectations are probably reasonable and consistent with past practice.

Information like this can be found by researching your company’s available records, as well as by asking around within the company. If possible, you can speak to your boss directly. You might also consider contacting your predecessor.

How do your responsibilities compare to those of people at other companies?
Don’t just limit your research to your own employer. Do your homework on the benchmarks used by its competitors and other companies in the field. In particular, inquire into the demands on employees in accounting jobs similar to yours. Having a sense of the industry standard can help you determine whether or not your boss’ expectations are out of line.

If they hit many of the same targets that have been laid out for you, then your boss’ expectations are probably reasonable and consistent with past practice.

Is the clock you’re working on a realistic one?
It’s not just about determining whether the tasks set out for you in your accounting job are fair. It’s also a matter of the time you’re given to complete them. If you’re assigned work in your accounting job that in principle seems manageable, but in practice can’t be completed in a timely manner – that is, if the time you have to finish your work is disproportionately short – this should raise a red flag, and may warrant a sit-down with your manager.

Are they willing to allocate appropriate resources?
If your boss asks you to do x, y and z, but doesn’t commit sufficient resources – money, time, nurturing or professional mentoring opportunities – to assist you in reaching the desired milestones, this could be a cause for concern.

It’s one thing for your boss to demand the best from you – it’s another for them to demand the impossible. Ask yourself if they’re asking you to jump through hoops but aren’t providing the support or giving you the time that you need. Using the above criteria should help you to figure out if it’s time to respectfully address the subject with your boss or HR, or walk away from this accounting job altogether.

What do you think? How do you know if a boss is making unreasonable demands, or is trying to get the most out of you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!