Low AR

This has been an amazing week at work. Due in large part to my collecting efforts, my company’s AR (accounts receivable, i.e., the amount of money people owe us) is currently low, which is good (lower AR means lower risk). I finally feel competent at managing our AR.

Not only have our customers been cooperative in paying (mostly) on time, but also my boss has had almost zero contact with me all week. No interrogating questions, no harsh instant messages, no nothing. She’s been out of town the last three weeks, but this is the only week that she loosened her grip over me. She comes back into the office this afternoon, though, so hopefully she won’t ruin my great week.

The icing on the cake was a couple days ago when my big boss told me that our AR was pretty good and actually thanked me! He had never thanked me before, so that was a big a moment.

As much as I don’t want to stay at this company and despite my best efforts not to, I still care about my job. It’s great to be recognized for my work and not be questioned constantly when I clearly know what I’m doing. That’s all I want.

Besides a raise, of course.

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Proactive

Times are tough for my company. Since I’m in charge of accounts receivable (the inflow of money owed to us), there is tremendous pressure on me to collect on unpaid past due (and sometimes not quite due) invoices. I’ve been trying to do a good job, but my big boss is getting stressed out by invoices that are even one day past due.

Today, my big boss called an impromptu accounting meeting, the majority of which was stressing how important it is to collect and explicitly showing how frustrated he is by my performance. Less than five minutes after the meeting, he sent me a strongly worded email saying how important my responsibility is to the company and that I need to be more proactive. He also said my job is very difficult, which tells me that my lack of results is all that much more disappointing. I’m paraphrasing the email (I don’t have it in front of me), but I was freaking out for the rest of the day. I really felt like I was going to get fired.

I talked to my old boss/friend about it after work, and he helped to calm me down a little. He knows that I have communication issues with my boss, but I should still ask for help when I need it. My boss is still there to help me (it’s just business, after all). He also said “if you can’t change others, change yourself,” which is an interesting thing to consider.

After I got home, my old work crush called me to see if I was okay. I hadn’t talked to him at all about what happened today. He said he knew that I’m under a lot of pressure right now, but he wanted to remind me that the reason why my bosses give me so much pressure is because they know I can handle it. They expect more out of me. If they didn’t expect so much, they wouldn’t be as demanding. This was a common topic when I was still in sales (since my old boss/friend had very high expectations of me and therefore yelled at me more than his whole sales team combined now), but I often lose sight of that fact these days. His minute-long phone call with me was short but encouraging.

I’m still freaking out a little bit, but talking to my two good friends at work helped a lot. I’m pretty sure tomorrow is not going to be a picnic, but at least I’m not as discouraged as I was initially.

I’ve been watching episodes of I Love Lucy tonight (Season Five, when she goes to Europe) to relax. Lucy is so funny.

“Ok”

My job situation is becoming unbearable. Working for this company was meant to be a stepping stone, a way to learn new things while I figure out what to do next. Lately, though, I feel like the learning has stopped and I’ve overstayed my welcome.

Yesterday, my company received payment on two invoices that I’ve been chasing since I moved to accounting in February. I sent proof of delivery at least four times. I sent my boss an instant message (my only interaction with her is via email or instant messaging) telling her all about it, saying “I just wanted to share the good news,” and her reply was “ok.” There was no “good,” no “thanks.” Just “ok.”

The sad part is that this “ok” is the most nonnegative thing my boss has said to me in nearly three months. Maybe I’m expecting too much to hope for any amount of positive feedback or encouragement. My workplace has become such a negative environment that even an apathetic, neutral response is the most I can ask for.

I need to get out of this, but I don’t have a plan. Do I want to willingly become one of the millions who are unemployed and have no health insurance? I can’t afford to quit. But can I afford not to?

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No One’s Perfect

I finally had it out with my boss yesterday. We didn’t yell at each other, but the problem I had created from my mistake a month ago was brought out in the open. The issue is finally resolved.

However, the damage has already been done. I feel like my boss no longer trusts me. I used to be her go-to guy for little jobs/favors she needed done, but now she doesn’t ask me for anything. I prepare certain documents for her and she used to just sign them, but now she says she has to “look into it” and verify the information.

I’m very much a perfectionist. I always triple check my work (even when it’s done right the first time). I beat myself up over mistakes of any size. I always learn from them so I don’t make the same mistake twice. I do 99.5% of my job with no issues (I’m rounding). I’ve actually fixed many old accounting problems (including ones my boss made).

I’ve collected on invoices that were up to four years old. One invoice from one year ago was almost deemed “uncollectable” because of the run-around we were getting for so long. Three different people before me tried to collect on it; I received the physical check only a month and a half after I moved to accounting.

I’m very good at what I do (I’m not trying to brag, I’m just ranting/venting). But no one’s perfect, right? Everyone makes mistakes; that’s not just what we tell kids to make them feel better. In the grand scheme of things, the mistake I made wasn’t that big of a deal, but my boss seems to have lost all faith in me. I lost a friend in the process.

I understand that I made a mistake. I understand the need for my boss to be a little more cautious with me and my work. But I’ve already learned my lesson (big time). I haven’t made any egregious mistakes since. Can’t we just move on? Can’t we go back to normal?

Approval Power

Ever since I bought my iPod touch, I’ve been tinkering with it every chance I can get. I still don’t know what applications to download (especially since I’m trying not to spend money on them yet), but I’m trying out the WordPress application right now! I’m a lot better at typing on the iPod than I thought I’d be.

In other news, my job seems to be going well. Because my boss knows that I’m reliable and go the extra mile, I have a lot more responsibilities than just managing accounts receivable. I’m still not really a manager, but I have certain “powers” that only managers have.

For example, every sales order that gets inputted into our system requires approval from three distinct people: the pricing on the order has to be approved by the sales manager; the inventory has to be approved by the warehouse manager to indicate that we can fill the order; and the credit has to be approved by accounting to say that we can actually collect payment from the customer. The approval system is a way for all departments to make sure things are in line, like checks and balances. As accounts receivable, I have the power to approve credit. But because my company trusts me and gave me more responsibilities, I have the power to approve pricing and inventory too. Only about three or four people are able to approve all three, and I’m one of them.

When I was in sales, I had no approval powers; I always had to ask others for approval of my orders. I love having the power of a manager, even though I still don’t have the status of one yet. But I feel like my position and influence in the company has changed drastically in the last month since I moved to accounting, so maybe manager status isn’t too far away.

Office Supplies

I just remembered. Another fun thing I get to do in accounting is manage and order office supplies for the company. I’ve always loved shopping for and buying office supplies, so buying large quantities and charging it to someone else is like a dream come true.

Okay, I’m being a little over the top, but I do really like buying office supplies. Haven’t you ever walked around Staples for a couple hours just to browse? I have. Many times.

Accounts Receivable

My accounting job so far is pretty fun. It’s a lot less stressful than sales, but it’s not necessarily easy either. I’m currently in charge of accounts receivable (AR), but I’m eventually supposed to be fully trained in accounts payable (AP) as well. Besides my boss who oversees the whole department, there is only one person doing accounts payable (just like I’m the only person doing accounts receivable). Once I’m up to speed, either one of us can cover for the other if necessary.

Learning my basic everyday responsibilities was pretty easy; it took about two days, and those days weren’t all that busy. The real challenge (and the real fun) comes from working on my “AR Aging Report,” which is a list of all our customers who have outstanding invoices and how much they owe. I have to contact the customers with past due invoices and find out why they haven’t paid us yet. Of course, if there are invoices from six months ago (for example), there must be a reason why. The researching and investigating into the stories behind everything is really interesting. I love knowing things, and the research sometimes feels like a puzzle game. If and when a situation is resolved, I get to check it off my list, which is a great feeling.

On a related note, I think that working in sales for a while helps me appreciate and understand the accounting side of business more than if I hadn’t worked in sales. Our accounting department is in its own little world, off in the far corner of the building. If I hadn’t had exposure to other departments first, I would only see numbers going in and out. But since I’ve worked with our products and customers first hand, the numbers, orders, and invoices all have more meaning. The girl who works in AP only does accounting, so I don’t think she’s quite as excited as I am over everything (though she does have an associate’s degree in accounting, so she at least knows what she’s doing, whereas I’m picking it up as I go along).

Anyway. I feel a lot less stress throughout the day, and I find the work is fascinating. I worked late tonight because I was having fun researching for my AR Aging Report. It’s almost like when I was in college and used to do my math homework on Friday nights just because I was so into it (yeah I was a big nerd).

Disclaimer: I don’t think I’m doing real accounting just yet. It’s too early to tell whether I would want to become an accountant professionally. But for now, I’m having fun learning.