Three ways to impress your boss during the age of disruption

by Clar Rosso, Executive Vice President- Engagement and Learning Innovation, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

During a Q&A session at a recent conference I attended, disruption was top of mind for many attendees. These accounting and finance professionals were curious about the future and were open to change. However, one particular question stood out to me: ‘During these disruptive times, how do I demonstrate value to my employer?’

The question reverberated around the room, attendees shifting uncomfortably in their seats. It can be daunting to think about the challenges ahead, especially when technology is pushing people out of their comfort zones and causing doubts about the relevancy of their skills.

Thankfully, there are ways you can secure success during the age of disruption. Here are three ways to remain relevant and rise above the noise:

Be open to opportunity

A little more than a decade ago, many thought-leaders said that more than 80 percent of the jobs my children’s generation would have post-college did not even exist yet. At the time, I raised my eyebrows – but after being a part of the rapid change today, I’m now a believer.

What got me there? Opening myself up to change and the opportunities it brings. I think about how innovative ideas have had a positive effect on my life, both personally and professionally. For example, if robotic process automation (RPA) is all about automating repetitive, high-volume tasks, then many everyday appliances that make my home life easier are actually RPA. Dishwasher? Check. Washing machine? Check. And within the profession, RPA is improving the efficiency of accounts payable and accounts receivable activities, financial reporting, audit sampling and reconciliations, to name a few tasks.

Instead of dreading new technology, think about how it might improve your life and challenge you to be a better, more efficient worker. Adaptation is key. For more tips on how to keep up with the rapid pace of change, check out this conversation with leadership expert Ama Marston.

Embrace curiosity over criticism

As much as I love innovation, I’m also a bit of a pragmatist. When I hear or see a wacky idea, I tend to immediately assess its value. However, I’ve learned that it’s better to ask questions than to instantly criticize.

By being curious, I learn and am more apt to discover a hidden gem, even if the idea seems unrealistic. If I criticize from the start, it might hinder the innovator’s creativity and willingness to share insight into the problem they are trying to solve.

Find simple ways to drive value

As businesses turn to automation, they simultaneously need to look at value generation. Yes, automation reduces cost expenses, which impacts the bottom line – but that’s not the same as generating value.

The Association’s Purpose Beyond Profit report details the difference between generating profit and generating value. One satisfies financial information needs, and the latter satisfies the broader, more purposeful mission of a company.

In a nutshell, businesses are recognizing that financial information is not enough to fulfill their purpose of creating value for all stakeholders. Leaders and employees also have an opportunity to future-proof their careers by evolving their human intelligence to foster greater trust within their organization. A few ways to do this include creating a corporate culture, nurturing creativity and innovation, focusing on continuous improvement and, of course, empowering people.

There’s no doubt that the fourth industrial revolution raises many questions for those in the accounting profession. But, if we work together, it’s possible to reset, redefine and reskill. Check out the Association’s new suite of resources and products to help you thrive and succeed.