Shock Points: Hiring an Analyst Part II

CSAMI find that among the ranks of young and eager accounting graduates who enter school district business offices there is a certain percentage who go into shock soon after they first arrive.  Despite our efforts to select someone who is both enthusiastic and capable, these “shock points” are generally in the following areas:

  • Lack of knowledge of governmental accounting.  If you are looking for a job in California, review the CSAM now.
  • Unexpected tedium resulting from accounting for so many different sources of funds (multiplied by the number of school sites to which many grants are distributed)
  • Frustration at federal and state grant rules.  Yes we do have to count number of students enrolled, or report test scores, or submit this report by this deadline.  No, we cannot spend the grant on that, so please call the school principal and find another way
  • Unexpected heavy work load.  Yes, we pay a little and expect a lot.
  • Unexpected level of personal interaction.  You could be the customer service rep for 20 or more principals and as many site secretaries and departmental staff members
  • The frequency of work interruptions
  • The frequency of deadlines and the pressure of competing priorities
  • The amount of interaction with Payroll and Human Resources (we are a people business and that is where nearly all our costs are).  A good percentage of time will revolve around position control
  • The level at which you are expected to become the expert in your assigned area.  This means establishing relationships with your county office of education and with state or federal counterparts, as appropriate.  Your supervisor wants to hear that you contacted the analyst at the state and after her input you are now proposing to do A, B, and C.  Does that sound OK?  Not, “Please just tell me what to do”.

Shocked employees respond in a couple of different ways.  They

  1. Step up. This probably means doing a lot of reading and research on their own time as they realize that the knowledge they brought to the job is not getting the job done.  They ask questions and seek advice from their supervisor, from other employees, and from state agencies.
  2. Work at a slow pace, as others pick up the work that they cannot, all the while believing that it is management’s job to hold their hand and provide step by step instructions for every aspect of their job.  All that good stuff they said in the interview about being a go-getter and quick learner suddenly doesn’t apply.  They sit and wait for their supervisor to assign specific tasks to them. Then they go into deeper shock when they are let go during the probation period
  3. Get the heck out.  A couple of lucky individuals have parlayed their short experience in the business department into positions in other departments.  Others have just exited government employment entirely

The worst situation is where we see enough promise and let the probation period expire.  Then, if they don’t then step it up, the pain and misery of firing a longer term employee commences.

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