As an accounting subject matter expert, you already know that technology adoption is an industry standard nowadays. Coupled with the right software, the valuable set of niche skills that you bring to the table sets you apart from the competition. But there’s a missing piece to this puzzle that would add even more value to your firm — fine-tuned soft skills.
No matter how well rounded we think we are, there is always room for personal and professional improvement. (CPE anyone?) Now that tax season is formally behind us, it’s time to hone in on these soft skills and take note on which areas could use some improvements.
I hear you — this isn’t news. But as someone who’s been around a boutique accounting firm their whole life, my mind still wanders to those papers piled up on empty desks and the filing boxes stacked up beneath them. Paper is OUT! And it’s never coming back, good riddance. Better write up that note on your sustainability efforts for your About Us section right after you recycle all those non-sensitive documents.
Being organized isn’t restricted to a tidy office environment. When it comes to managing other businesses and individuals’ finances, planning and attention to detail are key cross-functional capabilities. There’s something to be said for an accounting professional who has mastered the art of multitasking. In that way, being organized is a game-changing soft skill that garners respect and admiration from colleagues and employees alike, but it takes time to practice what form of controlled chaos works best for you.
Your skills and capability to effectively manage and therefore lead should be of utmost importance to your firm’s growth strategy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 4% growth rate for accountants and auditors in this decade, which rivals the average across all occupations. That means that you will soon either delegate leadership responsibilities or step into a managerial role while more and more recent graduates are hired to take on the increasing workload.
Not only do you need leadership skills to motivate and encourage your employees, but your managerial prowess can help hone your hiring process. You want to get the right people in at the right time pending on your firm’s niche and on what direction you want to grow. The ability to detect a good candidate depends on how fine tuned your managerial attributes are and how you use them. I recommend checking out Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s second novel, Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business, for relatable self-development techniques.
I know what you’re thinking — you provide a vital service that anyone in their right mind should be so grateful to have your hands and eyes on. But alas, we are in the 21st century and there will never be a time in the future where patience is NOT the way to lead with people. You see it on social media, television, and beyond. There are a lot of opinions flying around that no one asked for, but here we are trying to sort right from wrong while keeping our heads on straight.
Your core professional capacities are no exception. Nowadays, if you lead a client relationship off on the wrong foot, you could end up with bad PR, ugly reviews, and nasty DMs (that’s direct messages, folks) that leave a lingering stench in your inbox. There’s no time like the present to practice a little patience through existing client communication and lead nurture. Reach out to your clients, check in with them, show them they are people to you and not objects of your firm’s ROI. Now’s the time to think out of the box. Or if you’re at the point in your career where you can hand off the client hand-holding to your staff, delegate, delegate, delegate!
Reflecting on your soft skills has never been more important than in our tumultuous workplace culture today. We need more people persons now more than ever (says a dog person). Don’t let self-serving habits sabotage your professional capacities. Ask for an outside perspective if you're brave enough to accept and adjust to constructive criticism. At Canopy, we will be the first ones to tell you that your work is essential and most appreciated, but in our ever-connected society, sophisticated soft skills are only becoming more and more necessary in professional environments.
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