Tag Archives: Personnel

One that is wearingly dull, repetitive, or tedious.


To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is
half empty. To the accountant, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.


There are so many unfair jokes which poke fun at accountants.

Here are some more:

An accountant had just read the story of Cinderella to his four-year-old daughter for the first time. The little girl was fascinated by the story, especially the part where the pumpkin turned into a golden coach.

The accountant concluded the story: ” Of course, when the pumpkin turned into a golden coach, that would have been classified as income but if it had lasted any length of time it would have been a long-term capital gain which of course would have been depreciated out over several years?”


A businessman had been learning to be a balloonist and took his first solo flight. Unfortunately the wind got up, he was blown off course and forced to land. He landed in a paddock close to a road but had no idea where he is.

He saw a car coming along the road and hailed it. The driver got out and the balloonist said, “Hello there, can you tell me where I am?’

“Yes, of course”, said the motorist. “You have just landed in your balloon and with this wind you have obviously been blown off course. You are in the top paddock on John Dawson’s farm, 13.5 kilometres from Melton Mowbray which is in Leicestershire. John will be ploughing the paddock next week and sowing wheat. There is a bull in the paddock. It is behind you and about to attack you.”

At that moment the bull reached the balloonist and tossed him over the fence. Luckily he was unhurt. He got up, dusted himself off and said to the motorist, “I see you’re an accountant”.

“Good Grief”, said the other man, “you’re right. How did you know that?”

“I employ accountants”, said the balloonist. “The information you gave me was detailed, precise and accurate. Most of it was useless and it arrived far too late to be of any help.”


Those little stories above are typical of the jokes that one hears about accountants. What is it about accountants? Dull, unimaginative, anally-retentive, boring are just some of the more pleasant adjectives applied to this bean-counting sub-species of Homo Sapiens. 

Accountants are the French Letters on the Pricks of Progress  is my particular favourite.

I have a relative who used to employ an accountant. He always asked the accountant for advice and then did the exact opposite. He retired several years ago with £5 million in the bank.

Spygun has acquired an unfair reputation for accountant-bashing, so here we go again…….

I have always wondered what makes someone want to become an accountant. When does a youngster realise that he wants to spend the rest of his life reciting “Every debit has a credit”.

Does he make that decision when he realises that he doesn’t have the charisma to suceed as an  undertaker? Is it a personality thing?

They say that an extroverted accountant is one who stares at your shoes instead of his own and that he uses his personality for birth control  – and if you ever want to drive an accountant insane here is what you do: Tie him to a chair and make him watch as you fold up a road map the wrong way.

Jokes such as the following one do nothing to enhance the accountants’ reputation:

A lady went to see her doctor with some worrying symptoms and he examined her.

“I’m sorry,” he said”but it’s bad news. You have only six months to live.”

The distraught woman cried , “Oh Doctor. That’s terrible. What should I do?”

The doctor says, “I advise you to marry an accountant.”

“Will that make me live longer?”

“No,” says the doctor. “But it will seem longer.”

So what can we do  to stop this disgraceful accountant abuse?


The following notes were to appear on our Management Training website but in the spirit of wishing to share new and interesting techniques – here are a few ways with which to deal with an accountant – should you be unlucky enough to be engaged in conversation with one – for instance at a stamp collecting club or line dancing class:

Blink wildly and then close your eyes really tight for an interesting light show
(Amusement Potential: 1-5 minutes)
See a variety of blobs, stars and flashes. Try to make out shapes and see if your subconscious is trying to send you a message 

See how long you can hold a note
(Amusement Potential: 4-20 minutes)
Not that much fun, but it passes the time. Try to beat your own personal best. Inhale deeply and then try and make a noise for as long as you can. Earn extra points for making the accountant laugh  – (No chance!)

 Try to not think about penguins
(Amusement Potential: 1-5 minutes)
This is especially hard, because by trying too much, you remember what you were trying to avoid thinking of. If you try too little, you end up thinking about penguins anyway.

Use your secret mind power
(Amusement Potential: 5-10 minutes)
Pick a passer- by and try to use your mind power to command them do something, like drop their bag or knock into someone. The law of averages dictates that sooner or later one of your mind commands will come true, so you can convince yourself that you really have super human powers and waste even more time trying them out.

Pretend you’re a robot
(Amusement Potential: 1-3 minutes)
Walk , trying to copy the accountant’s  mechanical movements, adding ‘zzzzzt’ sounds with each motion. Pretending to have a motor broken in, say, your left hand can add at least 30 seconds more entertainment.

Scratch yourself
(Amusement Potential: 1-3 minutes)
Go ahead, scratch yourself now. Even if nothing itches, go ahead. Doesn’t that feel pretty good?

Rate his appearance(Amusement Potential: 10-15 minutes)
Award the accountant marks out of ten  for sartorial elegance offering (unsaid) expert criticism over his clothing  (grey or blue), hairstyle ( bald or side-parting) and footwear ( black) choices.
Repeat the same word over and over until it loses its meaning
(Amusement Potential: 1-3 minutes)
Try  to pick a random word from the  “accountant’s drone” that you are listening to and say it aloud to yourself until it becomes a meaningless set of noises. We call that “empathising” with an accountant.

Pinch yourself
(Amusement Potential: 1-3 minutes)
What is pain? Why is it unpleasant? There’s nothing physical about it – it’s all in your mind. Plus, after pinching yourself for a while, boredom will seem nice next to being in pain.

Try to swallow your tongue
(Amusement Potential: 1-2 minutes)
There’s not much to say about this one. It is possible, but really stupid.

Pretend to be a car
(Amusement Potential: 5-10 minutes)
Make appropriate revving noises in your head as you walk along and add a racing commentary as you pass strangers in the street. Use blinking eyes as indicators for extra authenticity.  If you leave the accountant standing while you do this, you will be able to pick up on the conversation on your return. He won’t notice your absence anyway.

Make Star Trek door noises
(Amusement Potential: 1-2 minutes)
Stand by an electric door to a bank or something and make that silly “Scccccccchwop” sound heard whenever people popped on to the bridge to hang with Captain Kirk.

Look at something for awhile, shut eyes, study the after-image
(Amusement Potential: 2-5 minutes)
Another great time waster. It takes about 30 seconds of staring to create an after image, and the image is then viewable for about the same length of time. Fun to combine this one with pushing on your eyes.

Get yourself as nauseated as possible
(Amusement Potential: 5-10 minutes)
Best achieved by looking straight up and spinning around. Try to be so dizzy you can’t even stand up. This is also entertaining due to the “makes boredom seem a lot better” effect (see “Hurt Yourself”).

Invent a weird twitch
(Amusement Potential: 5-10 minutes)
Adopt a bizarre twitch (e.g. flicking your head irregularly, twitching with eye or making sporadic coughing noises). 

Make a low buzzing noise
(Amusement Potential: 15-30 minutes)
Hours of fun ! Keeping a totally straight face and looking nonchalant, make a low pitch humming/buzzing noise and see if the accountant  reacts. He won’t.

And finally………………….How many accountants does it take to change a light bulb?
“Hmmm……..I’ll just do a few numbers and get back to you.”

Office Politics 8 – The Boss Part 2

 A junior from the accounts department sends your Expense Claim form back to you with a note indicating the discrepancy  of 1p between the Happy Eater invoice that you submitted  and your claim . His rather supercilious memo  indicates that the appropriate adjustment should be made  and the form resubmitted. You change the entry on the Claim form and then resubmit it. It comes back another  week later accompanied by a memo from the same accounts junior saying that you omitted to enclose the 50p “Pay and Display” parking ticket which you claimed for. 

At this point, you are having an informal chat with your Boss and he asks you about the self-same junior Accounts clerk.   “ What do you think of young Smith in Accounts?” Admit it – you are tempted to say “ He is a tosser and if he sends my Expenses back just one more time, I shall rip his head off !”  Wrong!

Why did your Boss ask about  Smith in Accounts? There could be several reasons – Smith may have mentioned your sloppiness to his Boss who may have mentioned it to yours.  You may have phoned Smith and conveyed that you have an attitude to junior Accountants and Smith may have complained. Your Boss may have identified Smith as a likely transfer into your Department. Young Smith may be known personally to your Boss. 

Remember, engage your brain before opening your mouth.What you should say to your Boss is “ Smith?  Oh! Well, in my dealings with him, I have always found that he likes things to be right.  A real details man!” Your Boss asks you about the airhead bimbo in Marketing – the one in the miniskirt, 39DD chest and brain between her legs. “ What do you think of little Debbie in Marketing?”  Phrases containing words such as “Rat,drainpipe and up”, “ Give her one”, “Outhouse door in the wind” and “ shag” immediately spring to mind and should be immediately discarded.  Again, your response should be non-committal or, better still pre-empt whatever you feel tempted to say with the phrase “ Why do you ask?” Your  Boss may have screwed the unfortunate Debbie and is fishing to find out what the office grapevine is saying. He may feel that Debbie with her Marketing Degree from Keele University  might have  a place in your Department. He may have found out that you have screwed Debbie. Debbie may have asked for a transfer. She may even be your Boss’s daughter. Beware! If you are Debbie and you are reading this, the advice is that it is OK to flirt with your Boss and maybe to have a drink with him.  However , if you wish to maintain career momentum within the current organisation, keep your knickers on. Do not be misled into believing that screwing your Boss can have a positive effect on your career – very much the opposite. They rarely leave their wives and you will become an embarrassment!       “ I feel that I can really talk to you!”  “ I’ve never felt like this about anyone”,  “ Of course I’ll still respect you” “ My wife and I are only together for the sake of the children” , “ I don’t believe in one-night stands either”  “ I feel different when I’m with you” “ I love you”  “ I wish that we’d met years ago” and similar inventions  work surprisingly often.  They are all lies.Never ever put yourself in a position whereby anyone senior to you shares his fears or problems with you – especially your Boss. If your Boss is having problems with his wife, girlfriend , boyfriend or all three, it is none of your business and  you will be a marked employee. As the journalist said “ I made my excuses and left”

Office Politics 7 – The Boss

        Your progress as an office politician is dependant on how you  get on with the people around you. Unfortunately, no matter how popular you are with them, their contribution to your blitz through the organisation is small compared to the leg-up that you can be given by your Boss. 


“ God created man in his own image” has been true for several thousand years now and it certainly applies to how individuals are chosen by managers. Therefore, if your Boss is a tosser and it was he who hired you, the odds are that you are also a tosser. The converse is also true.


It is a peculiar psychology, but there are few individuals who will select someone who can be a potential danger to them in the medium to short term. It is therefore extremely important that you do not ever allow your Boss to have the impression that you are a threat to him. Your Boss will have surrounded himself with substantial comfort zones and it is up to you to respect those.


For example, your Boss says “Computers. Pah! They are just tools . Don’t believe in them!  Garbage in -garbage out. I’m not keen on them myself! People become slaves to them!”


What a wonderful opportunity! It is immediately apparent to you that your Boss is a technophobe – the sort of Boss who is frightened to even touch the keyboard. If you are a total prat and believe that your Boss has just handed you a wonderful opportunity to belittle him, think again!  There are many Bosses who are dinosaurs  and the last thing that you should attempt is to make your Boss feel inadequate.

 Words like INTERNET ,RAM, ROM, WYSIWYG, DOS,WINDOWS, VISTA IS CRAP etc. are a mystery to him.. Simple phrases such as “ I shall need another 5 gigs to run that application” or “ The low-power standby mode is invoked through the driver software.” are to be avoided.

There are a few words that your Boss knows and they tend to be the following: “ SOFTWARE – although he will not be sure what it is.  DOWNLOADING – that’s an obvious one. FLOPPY DISC – although he is still wondering why it is called floppy because it used to feel hard and he does not know that we don’t use them anymore. “MAINFRAME” is a good one because it is a word he used to hear at meetings and it sounded so Macho. Stick to those words and if your Boss uses any of them incorrectly, ignore it.


Never ever attempt to display your vast knowledge of Computers to  your Boss. It is the equivalent to a young baboon showing its very colourful hindquarters to the grey, toothless , old, debilitated  and not-so-brightly endowed elder. The old baboon will regard you as a threat to his territory. Allow him to wallow in the misty (largely imaginary and second-hand) memories of  “ I remember when a computer like the one on your desk was half the size of this room”. He probably was not even aware of computers when they were that size, but, what the hell……


Computers are important  in the political hierarchy. I have seen Managing Directors order Personal Computers for themselves and their staff according to the Hard Disc  and screen Sizes.

       Do not criticise your Boss to your Colleagues. He will find out. Certainly do not criticise your Boss to his  face. “ I like  a man who speaks his mind” is a lie. It is the biggest management lie. It is up there with ” Of course I’ll let go of your ears” and ” I will still respect you in the morning”  – (and the other one).No-one likes anyone who speaks his mind.  There are lots of failed executives who spoke their mind and who keep on speaking their mind. They ALWAYS end up working for someone 20 years younger than themselves.

Even if your Boss asks you what you think of a colleague and your colleague is a complete waste of space and he puts a Spermatograph off-scale, look for positive things to say.

DO NOT SPEAK YOUR MIND. Plenty of time for that when you are running the place.


Office Politics 6 The first day

Congratulations, you got it. Legally  people can get rid of you with in the first few months without even a verbal warning, so continue to behave yourself for at least that long . The first day is crucial. You are now creating a first impression.  At this very first appearance no actual work is required but let that not make you too complacent.


You are still being observed and assessed but this time it is by your workmates. You want to appear modest, friendly and a team player. How do you do that ?


People will be curious about you.  They  have asked about you, talked about you and have already formed their own ideas about you.  You want to set their minds at rest that you are no threat ( even if you  are). Smile a lot, appear relaxed, crack the occasional clean joke.


Why? Because you have to work with these people. You are joining their team, you are the intruder, even if you are the Boss.  Any change unsettles people. They will be asking:  Why is he here? Why didn’t I get his job? How will  my job change? Will we like him?


You must get rid of their doubts on that very first day. You have to remember that you are the new boy or girl, whatever your rank. Lets say you are a reasonably junior person and there are two of you in the department and a third is hired. On his first day the new boy lets slip that he has a first class Honours degree. You are not going to like him. Let people find out about you gradually. Ask them about themselves, be interested in them . They are certainly interested in you and will discover all of your past achievements without you saying a word.


Do not try to impress people. If you say : “Hi, I’m Fred,” they will like you. Suppose that you offer : “ Hello, I’m the Rt. Hon. Dr. Frederick Dickweed MP, PhD.” Although  they should be impressed they will think you are a wanker, and no amount of subsequent bridge-building will ever change that opinion.


People couldn’t care less about what you have achieved in the past. You went to public school? So what? It’s what you do now that counts.


Don’t be hung up on the trappings of status.  The size of your desk, the proximity of your parking slot to your desk,  the number of filing cabinets, the big leather chair,  they are not important. Too much emphasis on the size of things suggests a little willy complex.


Be a big boy, just get on with it. One of the first things that will happen to you after you are shown your desk is that you will  be taken on a whistle-stop tour  of the photo-copier, the coffee machine, the toilets, canteen and finally you will meet some staff. It gives everyone a chance to look at you and although you are not expected to remember everybody’s name . Try to (immediately) memorise the names of all those who will be working with you in your group or department.

       Low key , modest and approachable are good.  Full-on, oleaginous, creepy and immodest are bad.

Office Politics 5 – The Personnel Manager

This is the one man (or woman) with far more power than his lowly status would suggest. He can make or break you.  Treat him as if he runs the place, he very often thinks he does.  The American version  has evolved into a very different animal to his typically British counterpart. Be aware of this if you are joining a US company because another approach is required.

Your Brit is probably an expressive with a sociology degree, whereas the Yank  has a Masters degree in Business Administration and Human Resources is run as a corporate power-base rather than a homeopathic counselling session. 

Or to put it another way, one  strokes bunny rabbits the other one eats them for breakfast – including the fur. 

Office Politics 4 – The Interview

There was never a truer saying than  “ You only get one chance to create a first impression. “ Make it a good one. Dress the part. Men, if you have a suit, wear it, but only if it is less than 15 years old. Avoid woollies under the jacket as in Mr Nelson Mandela  and pens in the breast pocket are definitely outré. Women, dress smartly, avoid showing too much cleavage unless the Boss is a known sex-maniac and then think seriously  about whether you really want the job.    Make-up is a must, but this is a job interview not a night at the disco. Keep it to a minimum. Men, stay off it altogether – it could send out the wrong signal. Your first, and hopefully only, physical contact with the interviewer will be the handshake. Make it firm. Make it warm. Cold hands signal stress.  Wild enthusiasm is to  be discouraged. There is no need to rip the interviewers arm out of its socket. He will not thank you for it.  “ Hello John, how’s it hanging” is not the correct form of address.  Stick to “How do you do,” which is.                 The hand that you will be shaking will probably belong to someone from the personnel department. A few words about the personnel manager and how he fits into the company may be helpful. Do not underestimate his importance.  The personnel manager knows most of the gossip, he knows  what is going on , he knows where the bodies are buried and eventually he will know  all of your secrets.  LOVE him . Cherish him. Begin to form and cement your relationship with this VIP of the office world. Rule number one: there is no such thing as an “off the record” conversation.  Whatever you say to the personnel manager,  assume that it  will go straight back to the Boss.  This can also work to your advantage, more about that later.At this stage you are just about to sit down for the interview. However, some companies  will already have asked you to take  a psychometric test.  As these are becoming more  prevalent, a word of caution.  You may need to cheat and here is how it is done. You are either putting yourself up as a go-getting achiever ready for responsibility or a figure-loving accountant. We all know people who belong in either group.Look at the job you want and  slip into the skin of someone who will fit the bill. If it’s dynamism they’re after, imagine yourself as the chairman of ICI and do the test as he would. Equally, if  its a clerk’s post then  think of the guy you know at the bottom of the pile and BE  him.   It’s not safe to be yourself unless you are totally confident you are what is wanted. Beware – some tests have catch questions in them, so it is important to be consistent. The psychometric test is important because if it is taken before the interview the personnel manager will have the results in front of him and he will be expecting certain questions to be answered in the appropriate way.   If you pretended that you were the chairman of ICI when you did the test keep acting the part and answer the questions as he would. Don’t waffle. Don’t be scared of the silences. It’s a technique to make you talk.  Say what you need to say and shut up.Body  language also talks. Your interviewer may be trained to look for all sorts of visual clues.  He can tell if you are lying, or unsure .  The rule is keep your hands away from your face at all times.  A tweak of the nose or rub of the ear will tell him you are fibbing on a grand  scale. Sit comfortably.  Don’t hug yourself. You need to look relaxed and open. Maintain eye contact whenever you are speaking . This is especially important when answering a difficult or personal question. If you find this awkward try concentrating on the space between the interviewer’s eyes.Remember, it’s a case of “ I would very much like this job, but it isn’t the end of the world if I  don’t “ i.e., never appear desperate.  Like the woman who formed her lips into a perfect O and said: “ I would do ANYTHING for this job “  She only succeeded in scaring the pants off the interviewer who promptly showed her the door.When YOU get to the door, be wary. This is often the time the interviewer or his assistant will offer to accompany you to the lift. Your guard is down and you blab, blab, blab. Remember, the interview is only over when you are alone at last and ready for a well-earned pint –  only to be partaken of AFTER the event, never before.