NEWS & ARTICLES

Hello, 

Recently I attended an AFWA Des Moines meeting and met some wonderful ladies.  They had never attended an AFWA Meeting before.  It was a great pleasure to meet them and talk about AFWA.  One thing I left out was how big a part of my life this organization is. 

I would like to share my story briefly.  I became a member early in my accounting career.  I also chose to be a part of the chapter board.  It was an exciting time for me.  All through the years as my career grew so did my AFWA career.  I was Chapter President off and on.  Then I became a member of the AFWA National Team and then on the AFWA National Board.   AFWA is the support and encouragement that I needed to step out of my shell, grow personally and professionally.  I completed my four year degree, my CPA and then my MBA.   The network I developed allowed me to see other successful women and know that I could do it.  I also have great satisfaction working with others who are just getting started.   Mentoring absolutely works both ways.

The benefits of the Des Moines AFWA Chapter are:  Monthly meetings,  whether you are a CPA in need of continuing education or not it is an excellent networking and learning opportunity.   There are leadership opportunities.  I earned my MBA but AFWA gave me leadership opportunities as well.  Volunteer opportunities, if leadership is not your path there are short term volunteer opportunities.  If you are concerned about commitment please consider being an active participative member of AFWA and enjoy the benefits.

There is also the AFWA National Organization.  There are about 70 chapters around the country,  regional and national conferences. The conferences are very energizing, continuing education, fun, and always at a fantastic place to visit.  The networking there is awesome.  Your National membership dues provide us the opportunity to have official continuing education at the chapter level, they provide the structure and support that membership requires, and there are multiple free webinars.   Many times I have heard about members relocating.  There is a great chance that you will find another AFWA chapter in that new location.  There is a National Board and Committees that make that possible.  AFWA National headquarters Staff are there to provide the advancement of our organization, the backbone of our organization, and secure sponsors that make that all happen.   Another part of the National AFWA is the Education Foundation.  Their missions is The Foundation promotes and advances education, career development and leadership in finance and accounting. Our vision is to guide women along the path to achieve success in finance and accounting. 

My personal invitation and call to action today is please go to the Des Moines AFWA website and the AFWA National Website and research if membership is right for you and Please join us as a member. http://www.afwa.org/join/ Please contact me or a member of the Des Moines Chapter if you have questions. 

If you are already an AFWA member please consider becoming part of the action.  The chapter board has made it fun and small commitment!  The reason we encourage membership involvement is to get new ideas and to have new members to fill the pipeline across the board so everyone has the opportunity to make a difference.  And no one has to feel as if they are over committed. 

Mission
The mission of the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance is to enable women in all accounting and finance fields to achieve their full potential and to contribute to their profession.

Vision
AFWA members are empowered professionals who succeed with passion and integrity.


Legacy of Expertise

Founded in 1938 to increase the opportunities for women in all fields of accounting and finance, members of the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance and their companies benefit from resources that accelerate their professional growth. The industry has evolved enormously for women in the past 75 years, with our organization smartly and passionately evolving with it, ahead of the curve, so that all women in accounting and finance can excel.


A plan for your future

AFWA promotes the professional growth of women in all facets of accounting and finance. Members increase their career potential by connecting with colleagues, receiving education and mentorship to advance their careers, and developing leadership skills. For more than 75 years, members have tapped into a network of successful, motivated, and influential professionals who understand the unique position of being a woman in the industry and who, together, contribute to the future development of their profession.

Best,

Gina Slack CPA, CGMA, MBA

Publication: AFWA
February 2019


 Rethinking Performance Reviews — From Frequency to Format 

If you’re evaluating your employees’ performance only once a year, you’re missing out on many opportunities to guide and motivate them. Your team members want to hear from you as often as needed about where they are excelling or should strive to improve. They also want regular reminders that they’re an important and valued part of your organization. 

So, even if annual performance reviews are a long-standing tradition at your firm, you may want to rethink how often you offer feedback directly to your employees. Performance reviews, conducted formally or informally, are a useful tool for finding out more about the needs and goals of your team. 

They also provide an opportunity for you to clarify objectives, review expectations, and identify where, how and why employees may need additional support. 

Without regular feedback from you and the chance to make small-scale course corrections, your staff members are not likely to recognize the need to improve their performance. They may not be motivated to stretch their abilities. They also may struggle to see how their contributions help make a difference: More than half of workers (53 percent) in a Robert Half Management Resources survey reported that they want greater insights into how their duties impact their company’s performance. 

Also, waiting until the annual performance review cycle to bestow praise on employees who have earned it can undermine morale — and potentially, hurt your firm’s retention efforts.

 A new approach to suit new business demands? 

Another reason your company may want to re-evaluate the value of the annual performance review process is that you may be operating differently than you did in the past. If your firm is like many businesses, it may no longer have clear annual cycles; instead, it is driven by short-term projects. Rather than setting employee goals 12 months in advance, it may make more sense to come up with milestones for them to achieve throughout the year. 

Keep in mind, too, that creating a continuous feedback loop doesn’t just benefit your employees. It can save you time once you adapt to the new process. You may find it’s much easier to fit in short, casual employee reviews sprinkled throughout the year than carving out one large chunk of time to prepare for and conduct formal performance evaluations for your entire team. 

More than one-third (36 percent) of human resources (HR) managers polled for a Robert Half survey said their company is increasing the frequency of performance reviews. While 40 percent of respondents said these appraisals still happen annually, 28 percent report that they are conducted twice a year at their company and 10 percent said they take place quarterly. And 14 percent of HR managers surveyed said their organizations conduct these reviews as needed. 

If you decided to change the frequency of your performance reviews, make a point to rethink your overall process as well. Here are some strategies for success:

 Make it a discussion 

Remember that employees can find performance reviews — even informal check-ins — intimidating. That’s why it’s important to structure these meetings like two-way conversations. You want to share your feedback, but you also want to invite your employee to respond to it. You also want to create an environment where staff members feel they can be open and honest with you, too.

 For tips on fostering a positive workplace culture, read this special report from Robert Half.

 So, listen more and talk less. Instead of telling employees how they rated in certain areas and why they received the scores they did, turn the process upside down. Ask your workers to talk about their strengths and weaknesses, and to offer suggestions for both personal and department-wide improvement. And be sure to listen for hints as to their level of workplace happiness and satisfaction. 

Focus on the future 

Instead of dwelling on past successes or failures in a performance review, focus on the company’s upcoming needs and how the employee fits into that big picture. For example, what technical training do your financial analysts need to make the most of the new cloud-based software your organization has implemented? 

For your rising superstars, discuss mentoring and leadership training. Also, you may find these one-to-one meetings can help you identify candidates that are a good fit for the organization’s succession planning objectives. Only about half (52 percent) of chief financial officers in a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey said they had already found a potential successor for their position. 

Address upskilling 

During more frequent performance review meetings, you can help employees more clearly identify areas for professional growth, such as the need to enhance specific skills or learn new ones. Upskilling is especially important today as technology continues to change how we work. 

Research conducted for Benchmarking Accounting and Finance Functions: 2018, a special report from Robert Half and Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), finds that many firms are expanding their use of automation and cloud computing. As they do, they need support from workers who have experience with data analytics, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and more. 

Upskilling is also important for recruiting and retaining millennial professionals: These workers are unlikely to be satisfied in their jobs if they’re not offered meaningful opportunities to learn. 

Separate goal-setting and salary discussions 

Many companies base financial rewards — annual or biannual bonuses, merit increases, retention bonuses — on formal evaluations. That doesn’t need to change, although you may want to consider separating that conversation from the feedback process. The performance review is a time to acknowledge employees’ strengths and discuss strategies for positive change and growth.

As a financial manager, your aim is to foster a healthy relationship with your staff and motivate them to do their best work, of course. But all too often, the annual performance review is counterproductive to that goal. Right or wrong, many workers dread these appraisals because they see them as a way for management to call attention to their shortcomings.

In this new year, consider upending this old-fashioned power dynamic by rethinking your approach to evaluating your team members’ performance. More frequent feedback for your staff and a less-structured format for delivering constructive criticism and praise can help keep your team focused on continuous improvement.

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 300 locations worldwide. More resources, including job search services and career advice, can be found at roberthalf.com/accountemps.

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