July 18, 2018

Co-workers

What Is the Appropriate Reaction to a Superior Who Tells You That He “Once Slept with Your Mother”?

As we like to do from time to time, we check in on accountants across the pond to get a feel for what's what in the Queendom. Today, we'll be discussing how you react to a superior who feels it necessary to overshare some personal details.  "I once slept with your mother." That's the title […]

Maybe Groupon’s Dodgy Financial Reporting Is the Result of Management Still Warming Up to Each Other

On Tuesday, we jumped on the bandwagon with a few others that have suggested Groupon CFO Jason Child find something else to do with his time. You see, things haven't panned out so well for the company as far as financial reporting goes. Their original S-1 filing got a hearty laugh from everyone and then, […]

How Are Accountants Dealing with Their Co-workers Who Are Planning for the Rapture?

Today in Brits worry about the strangest things news, an AccountingWEB UK reader has Rapture fever and wonders if anyone else still down here is going to call it quits come Monday.

The Rapture is upon us (according to a man in the US) so, as shown in the Simpsons, I will soon be ‘left below’, as will, I imagine, many of my fellow board users.

Anyone else have a sudden urge not to do any of their accounts/tax backlogs, given the world as we know it won’t exist on Monday?

For starters, there are plenty of men, women, children and family pets (not just “a man in the US”) that believe that the Son of God will be gracing us with his presence this Saturday and judging by what people are paying for one share of LinkedIn stock, the odds have narrowed that it’s going to happen. That said, I overheared the Big Guy himself say that Saturday ain’t the day. The question is, how do you handle the crazy accountants in your office that are planning for the Rapture? Do you:

A) Mock them openly first thing Monday morning.

B) Claim to know who the identity of the Antichrist (it’s me!).

C) Ask politely, that in the event that the person’s significant other happens to be left behind, if you can hit that.

D) Start digging through their drawers for supplies.

E) Convince them to wait it out in a JIT.

F) Your ideas.

Nearly One in Four of Your Co-workers Is Not Down with March Madness Pools

Our friends at Vault put together a fun little survey on your gambling habits at work and, no surprise, nearly 75% of you participate in a March Madness pool. What about the remainder? Well, there are the puritanical types who probably leave Bible verses on your desk, “My office is awash in sinners. Some day a real rain will come and these cubicles will be cleansed.” But then there’s the jerks who are simply all business:

“The next time I see [colleagues using work time to focus on office pools], I’m going to put an anonymous note on all the bosses desks to make them aware” warns one respondent. (Presumably they fall into the 22 percent of respondents who disapprove of workplace betting altogether.)

If you know someone who is capable of this level of dickishness, the temptation to violently pinch them with a stapler remover is great, however we’d ask that you refrain from this until they actually make good on their threat. Of course if you impress upon them that there is a valid purpose for studying a bracket, maybe they’ll let it slide.

Busy Season Problem Du Jour: The Kleptomaniac Co-worker

Today’s round of minor irritations from our British sister from another mister:

Further to the “snorting employee” post, any ideas on how to deal with a colleague who goes into my desk drawers to get labels and paper clips and the like, when I am actually sitting at my desk?

They are a relatively new employee and I have been showing them some aspects of how to do their job. It is really my own fault for not stopping them when they started doing it, but now it really irritates me and I’m not sure of the most painless way to deal with it other than to just tell them to stop and use their own drawers! I hate any kind of confrontation, especially since we have to sit next to each other.

Any diplomatic ideas?

I don’t know about you all but diplomacy just doesn’t fly over here in States, so an accounting firm version of the Bush Doctrine seems to be the way to go. Let’s kick a few ideas around shall we?

When your fellow cube farmer comes digging around your drawer do you:

A) Allow them to find the item they need and walk back to their desk, wait five minutes, then proceed to their workspace and violently snatch said item off their desk/out of their hand?

B) Calmly get up with your beverage of choice in hand, walk over to the offender’s cube and pour the contents of your drinking receptacle on their computer?

C) Belch in their face?

D) Do a full spin in your aeron chair and crush their hand/wrist/lower arm in the drawer?

E) Your ideas

Busy Season Problem of the Day: Approaching a Co-worker About Their Disgusting Bodily Functions

Over at our British sister site, AccountingWEB UK, the following problem was put to the group:

We have an employee at the practice where I work who constantly makes a pretty horrible snorting sound with the back of her throat. It happens all year but is worse when she has a cold, which she does at the moment.

Several colleagues have asked me to have a word with the partners to ask them to say something to her about it because they find it so distracting and even nauseating. Incidentally it’s an open plan office so it’s not like people can avoid hearing it.

So my question is, if I did have a word with the partners, is there anything they could actually do about it? And if not, should I tell them anyway just to get it recorded and so that I can tell my colleagues that I have had a word? Nobody feels close enough to her to talk to her quietly themselves, which would have been my instinctive first suggestion.

Okay, so after getting over the weirdness of idea of “recording” of this conversation just to prove it to your co-workers, we admit that this is serious work environment issue. We’ve all been there. That certain someone who, for whatever reason, feels necessary to dig deep in the far ranges of their physiology to get some phlegm out but just can’t seem to EXCUSE THEMSELVES to do so. Or see a doctor, because you know, there might be something seriously wrong that COULD KILL YOU.

And it doesn’t stop with the throat clearing. What about the the co-worker that sounds like Tony Soprano when they eat?

What about the dude that’s obviously enjoying those four to six sodas a day because you can hear him slurping from three cubicles away? And then there’s the subsequent burping. And not like frat boy burping; we’re talking about the gas that he tries to internalize quietly but it’s actually more annoying and disgusting than if he belched the entire alphabet. YOU FEEL ME?

So what to do? Well, first off, despite your desire to FLIP OUT and scream at the offender(s) in question, they probably aren’t even aware that they are causing you to throw up in your mouth a little bit every day. But you certainly don’t want to embarrass the person (maybe some of you do) and buying noise-canceling headphones for the entire office isn’t really economically feasible, so what’s the solution? Here are some initial thoughts:

1. Slipping he or she some Emily Post.

2. Quit your job.

3. Humming at audible levels. (We realize the risks associated with this approach but desperate times, amiright?)

4. Hiring a “personnel monitor” whose sole task is to quietly address these issues with the offender and to issue written warnings, fines and punishments depending on the repulsion level, number of individual co-worker complaints and simultaneous offenses (e.g. slurping and burping).

Seems like a good start. Now it’s your turn.

How Do You Handle Workplace Confrontations?

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

As professionals, we face this more often than we like. It makes us uncomfortable. It stirs up lots of emotions and feelings. It distracts us and can make us significantly less productive. What is this thing? It is workplace confrontation. As much as we may try to avoid it, or pretend it does not exist, workplace confrontation is real and as professionals, we need to know how to deal with it effectively.

In our digital and global world, workplace confrontation increasingly takes place through e-mail. I suspect this is occurring for two reasons:


1) It is easier to hide behind a digital cloak and say things you would not otherwise say to someone’s face in an e-mail, and

2) In a global world, people may not have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with many of their co-workers.

Even though confrontation has gone digital, it does not mean dealing with it becomes less important or easier. If anything, dealing with it becomes more important and difficult.


To shed some light on how to deal with this issue, I will give you an example of a conflict I faced recently via e-mail with a coworker who worked in a different state and who I had never met. My coworker was upset that I had sent him an incomplete reconciliation and felt I was trying to hand work off to him. He was not subtle in his feelings. In my initial e-mail, I had been kind in explaining that I was only trying to meet a deadline and the reconciliation was incomplete due to information lacking on his end. I asked if there was a justifiable reason for the information to be lacking. Because I knew my coworker was extremely organized, I had no reason to believe that he had overtly not done his job. What I did next is what I think will help you the next time you face workplace confrontation.

Upon receiving his angry e-mail, I stepped back from the situation so that I would not respond rashly. I then took the e-mail to my supervisor for guidance on how he thought I should respond. I incorporated his advice and wrote an e-mail that spoke to the facts and ignored all emotion from my coworker’s e-mail. By doing this, we exchanged a few more e-mails that ultimately allowed us both to learn about some weak links in our process that we were able to shore up.

I do not claim to be an expert on workplace confrontation, but I do believe the above tactics work in diffusing confrontation, whether face-to-face, on the phone, or through e-mail. The most important thing to keep in mind when responding to your coworkers is to try to understand where they are coming from and then shape your response in a way that either makes them see you are on the same team and/or how they stand to benefit if they step back and work through the problem in a constructive manner.

In my situation, I met my coworker face-to-face for the first time a few weeks after our confrontation, and we had an extremely productive week of work together. Our relationship has strengthened through this confrontation and we can now move forward working productively with each other. I welcome your comments on what you have done to diffuse workplace confrontation. What tactics have worked well for you? Not so well?

Audit Room Etiquette: Three Faux Pas That Make Your Co-workers Hate You

Since we marked the countdown to the first SEC deadline of busy season yesterday, let’s tackle an important issue.

Sitting in close proximity of the same people day after day, night after night tends to wear on a person (and if you happen to be sleeping with them, it’s worse).

You start noticing the most mundane, yet painfully annoying habits of your fellow auditors and they can drive you up the boringly-beige wall. Pretty soon, assault and battery seems like your only course of action. We ask that you refrain from beat downs (it’s just not considered good professional to batter your co-workers these days), but it is, of course, your God-given right to gripe about it and share your gripes behind the offending co-workers’ back.

But before you get too high and mighty, are you absolutely sure you’re not one of the annoying ones? We consulted another former audit room survivor, DWB, and no one is immune. In order to make you more aware of your personal, er, shortcomings, we’ve assembled this handly list of the most common bad habits that occur in the audit room:

Eating – You either eat food that makes the entire room reek or you happen to simultaneously masticate and opine on recent accounting developments. Trying to burp quietly is an act in futility and don’t react to your food like it’s sexually stimulating (even if it is). All of these make you terrible to be around.


Personal phone calls – You know that guy that takes three phone calls from his girlfriend every single day at the exact same time? Or you happen to call your mother every day to shoot the breeze for 45 minutes. Oh, that’s you? Well, not only are you shamefully whipped and/or dependent you’re annoying the hell out of everyone else within earshot.

Humming, whistling and/or singing – For the love of God, why on Earth is necessary to audibly hum a tune that you’re making up in your head? Furthermore, why would you put words to it? You’re an auditor, not Andrew Lloyd Webber. (And no, it’s not OK if the tune is actually one of Mr Lloyd Webber’s compositions – actually that might be worse.)

Now for those of you that simply think that a set of headphones will solve all these problems, we regret to inform you you’re gravely mistaken. Once these habits have saturated a person’s psyche, any movement, otherwise normal, will amplify the inner wrath to deistic proportions.

The above list is by no means all-inclusive and we’ll admit that our tolerance for bad human behavior is lower than most but the issue is important enough to warrant discussion and possible solutions.