Generally, there are two streams of personnel in tax departments: those with company or industry knowledge and less tax technical knowledge, and those parachuted in with technical savvy and less business knowledge. It takes a while for the two to merge and it is sometimes difficult to move the staff in the direction you want.
Understanding the gaps in knowledge and experience in your staff is imperative. Only once you can objectively see these holes can you start to fill them in. Create an employee development plan – lifelong learning and empowerment, focused on being part of the company’s growth. These are the basis for staff goals and performance measurement. Admittedly, tax can be a difficult area in which to set performance measurement standards for employees.
Some potential tax goals and measurement methods are:
- Possible employee goals
- Small tax planning ideas or handling a smaller piece of an overall plan successfully.
- Reduce tax audit adjustments.
- Develop and/or lead a cross training of other tax staff.
- Completion of compliance requirements on a timely basis.
- Minimize penalties and interest on compliance.
- Initiate tax-related projects outside the department – assisting in product development process or business development areas.
- Undertake process improvement within the department.
It is important that each employee feels empowered to make decisions based on their experience and knowledge. Filling in the knowledge gaps sounds easier than it is, but there is very little assistance out there to fill those gaps – it will come from internal experience or very directed training.