Accountants are communicating all of the time. Sometimes this will be on a one to one basis. Other times it might be to small groups. Periodically it will be a full blown presentation to a whole organisation, division or department conference or meeting. It can even be to industry analysts and the media if at a really senior level.
Yet while there are some who really excel in this area, often this is the exception. Over the last 30+ years I have realised just how important communication skills are to career success. It really is one of those skills that you can keep improving. I probably did my first course in this area about 25 years ago and have continued to work on this area.
Of course there are a number of challenges facing accountants in communicating. The first of those is a mindset that they are no good at it. This usually is as a result of a past experience when feedback was negative. Another one is that they tend to love detail and assume everyone does too. Thirdly those receiving the message often believe that accounting and numbers is complex or dull.
So if you are an accountant how can you get better at getting your messages across?
Be clear at the outset what you want to achieve. Every communication has a purpose. You want to achieve something after the communication has happened. Few will take the time to get clear about the goal or purpose.
Think about the other party or parties receiving the communication. What do they like and not like? What is going to have the biggest impact? What style will work best for them?
Be properly prepared. You are probably extremely busy. You might find that you are switching from one thing to the other pretty regularly. If this is the case you have to take the time to be properly prepared. Yes it’s hard to find the time but it will make a big difference to your results.
Be alert and ready to adapt. When you are communicating you get a lot of clues verbal and non verbal as to whether what you are communicating is registering. For example when I first moved to the south coast of England from Scotland I got pretty skilled at identifying when my message did not register. Always be paying attention and be willing to adapt if you need to.
Ask for feedback. People will give you an honest opinion. Sometimes people are reluctant to ask for feedback because they fear what they might learn. My experience has been quite the opposite. Most of the time people highlight strengths you were not aware of as well as things you can improve on.
Act on the feedback you receive. Feedback is powerful if you are willing to act on it. Otherwise it is just wasted time.
The Bottom Line: If you are to be successful in accountancy your communication skills are vitally important. So keep working on them so that you become even better.
Duncan Brodie helps accountants in industry, commerce and the public sector to achieve more career success. He invites you to sign up for his free report The 7 Biggest Barriers To A Successful Career In Accountancy.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.