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The Soft Skills Series Part 2: Critical communication at all levels

23/06/15

Let’s face it. Accountants aren’t always renowned for having top-notch communication skills, but for those seeking to reach the highest echelons, or even make it as Chief Finance Officer (CFO), getting this right is absolutely crucial.

Workplaces where there is free-flowing communication are usually the most satisfying to work in and employees will get their key information and instruction from their manager. Beyond this, discussing the company’s goals and how employees are contributing to achieving these boost engagement and retention because there is a key vision for the business which is being achieved.

Working with direct colleagues you get on with is a significant boost to morale but other relationships can be more challenging. Where you think someone is being difficult it is often worth exploring internally why you think this and being aware of subtle signals you might be giving off which encourage that behaviour. Skirting around issues and withholding information based on the perceived attitude of the other person can waste that most precious resource – time.

At the Board level it is important that the CFO communicates with senior management, not just with direct peers, so key messages filter down. It is worth noting the leaders rated most highly on their communication skills accept and learn from their mistakes rather than taking a defensive stance.

Translating data and numbers into something meaningful is a given for any finance professional worth their salt. The interpersonal dimension is where high-fliers can stand out from the crowd and is integral for management and dealing with colleagues – right up to the C-suite.

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