Thousands of articles and books have been written on leadership development, yet accounting managers are still struggling to find accountants with the soft skills needed in an office environment. The fact is, accounting managers want people on their teams who possess the same attributes as influential business leaders and have a strong grasp on technology. The accounting industry is no longer just about balancing company books and filing tax documents. Accountants need to be tech savvy and have strong communication skills in order to meet their clients' growing demands. Unfortunately, recent research has found that most leadership development programs are ineffective. The question arises as to which type of programs accounting managers can implement that are effective and support better leadership skills.
According to a recent article posted by BusinessWire.com, Brandon Hall Group, a leading global research and analyst firm, recently conducted their Leadership Development Benchmarking Survey, which revealed that 75 percent of companies that participated in the survey feel that their leadership development programs aren't very effective. However, the survey also revealed that the companies that have had programs in place for five or more years, have a specific training strategy, or a higher budget for leadership training are satisfied with their leadership development programs. If you're trying to develop a program for your accounting team that supports better leadership skills, and you don't have a huge budget, it's important to keep your program as focused as possible.
Developing a mentoring program is a great way for accounting managers and business leaders to encourage employees to learn from each other. For example, senior-level finance professionals have an abundance of practical experience. In most cases, they also know a lot about business risks, tax laws, and compliance. Pairing senior-level accountants with junior accountants is a great way for juniors to learn the ropes, as well as the skills needed for job advancement.
Accounting managers can also implement a 360-degree review process. In addition to performing standard employee reviews, allow your employees to complete a review indicating how well you're doing your job. When your junior-level accountants are faced with giving you constructive criticism, they'll be forced to communicate in a professional and effective manner.
In addition to interpersonal skills, accounting managers have to be able to communicate with clients. Unfortunately, those skills aren't often taught to accounting students. However, you can train your junior accountants by taking some time to go over mock calling situations, allowing junior accountants to listen in on client calls, and allowing your team to work together to solve client issues.
It's not always easy to teach people the soft skills they need in a professional environment, but it is possible. With focused leadership programs in place, accounting managers can build a strong team of accountants who have the skills needed to become the company's future leaders.
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