• Career Center

    How to Get Ahead: Speak Up When You Want Something to Change

    By | May 23, 2017

    We are all guilty of this. We see something in our office that we don’t like: an outdated policy or inefficient procedure, how a client issue was handled, how a staff person was treated, etc. What is the easiest thing to do? Stay silent and go about your day.

    Afterward, we think of all the different ways we would have handled the situation better to make the company/department/team improve. The worst part about it is that the majority of the time, all of these great ideas stay in our minds. Why is that exactly?

    Here are a few common thoughts that many people have:

    • I am not experienced enough.
    • People will think that my idea is terrible.
    • It’s not part of my job description.
    • I’m too busy.
    • Who would I even talk to about this anyway?

    Here’s the problem. When we talk ourselves out of saying or doing anything, everything stays the same. Over time, you end up feeling frustrated because nothing ever changes. This leads to burnout and feeling disengaged, which happens a lot, since 67% of U.S. employees say they aren’t engaged at work. Plus, your company missed out on a potentially great idea that you had. It’s lose-lose.

    Many firms are catching on to the fact that millennials want a voice at all levels. In my opinion, this cannot happen fast enough. Whether it means having a flat hierarchy or believing that good ideas can come from anyone, the firm of the future looks and acts different. Not only is having a culture that is open to all ideas effective for employee retention and engagement but it is essential to building an innovative firm. During this period of technological expansion, accounting firms must revolutionize the way they do things. It’s that simple. So why not get ideas from everyone?

    Maybe you want to help your firm go paperless, develop a staff training, streamline a compliance process, or organize a focus group to provide a way for all employees to contribute ideas. The opportunities are endless. By seeing the potential for improvement and speaking up, your company could benefit in all sorts of ways.

    I know what you are thinking. “Ok, that’s great. But how does it benefit me? I work enough already.” For starters, it’s a great addition to your resume. But more importantly, you spend a lot of time at work. By improving your firm, it will help you feel happier, more satisfied, more productive, more impactful, more purposeful…the list goes on. It’s that whole “Be the change you want to see in world” thing.

    What do you want to see changed at your firm? Speak up! The future of the accounting industry depends on it.

    • N.E.R.D.

      Soft HR article with too many buzzwords.


      This article is bad and you should feel bad.

    • PwC Guy

      Agree with N.E.R.D., a soft HR article. Doesn’t really apply to accounting, and definitely not to accounting firms. For example, here is why people don’t speak out in accounting firms:
      > The partners will fire your @ss
      > You will be labeled as “combative” and your annual reviews will suffer
      > You will find yourself assigned to the worst engagements, or out-of-town clients
      > The people in positions of power don’t actually care as long as it doesn’t affect their bottom line

      Many firms don’t care that millennials want a voice at all levels, and when those voices are raised it falls on deaf ears, or is met with a boilerplate BS response. Finally, the title of this article is stupid. Being the sacrificial lamb, sorry, I mean the person who speaks up, is exactly how not to get ahead. Shut up, do what you’re told with a smile permanently fixed on your face, voice no opinions not in line with those of the partners, and you will get ahead. It’s that simple.

      • Big4Veteran

        There’s a great scene at the beginning of Jerry Maguire, when all of his co-workers pat him on the back and give him the thumbs up for his mission statement. They congratulate him for having the courage to say the things they are all thinking, but don’t have the courage to say. And under their breath they are all telling each other that Jerry’s career is toast.

      • Debit_cash

        Pdubs is absolutely right, a fat white conservative partner will fire your @$$ faster than you can say “it’s not in my job description”

        • Adam Hill

          There are probably Indian partners, Japanese partners, skinny white partners, etc. that would do the same thing. Success, and the ability to fire a snot nose shit at the drop of a hat, comes with benefits.

          The thing is, do you have enough nuts to actually say something?

    • Big4Veteran

      N.E.R.D. is correct. The squeaky wheel often gets the oil, but in doing so will get labeled as a squeaky wheel. Accounting firms (and corporate America in general) don’t like squeaky wheels. Being a squeaky wheel is not good for your long-term career prospects.

      General motto of corporate America: “If we wanted your opinion, we’d give it to you.”

      At this point, I would normally encourage Rachel Andujar to do better next time. But I’m starting to think this is the best she’s capable of. Sad.

    • Guest99

      NERD, Pwc guy, and Adam hill all hit the nail on the head. The immaturity of this writer is astounding. This article is the worst, and this entitled brat only exemplifies a bigger problem. See below for a platitude-free analysis.

      She doesn’t understand that there are people whose ideas are considered. People who have a “voice”. Those people are partners, directors, and senior managers. People who have worked hard and have stayed in the game to gain some form of credibility. Someone has to be in charge, and those are the individuals the top brass want to hear from.

      She is just pissed it wasn’t her.

      • Big4Veteran

        You must be new around here. Rachel has written much worse articles than this one.

    • msp1404

      Read the book Traction by Gino Wickman. It is how my accounting firm runs it’s operations and we promote input from all levels. It is an unorthodox style but we have had great success.