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Effective communication is essential for accounting professionals in Singapore during times of disruption and uncertainty — like right now.
But what if communicating with colleagues has never been one of your top strengths?
And what if your staff members are working remotely?
For many accounting professionals, keeping the company informed, especially on the financial health of the organisation, while working at a distance during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging.
Communication is an important and essential part of accounting, particularly when it comes to analysing and sharing critical information with management.
The ability to deliver clear messaging — including through virtual communication — will be just as critical as your business transitions into the next new normal of Singapore.
To improve your communication abilities and set yourself on the path to mastering effective communication throughout your accounting career, consider the following strategies:
1. Communicate more frequently
During times of transition, no amount of communication is too much.
A good rule of thumb is to communicate two to three times more often employees with your remote as you did in person.
For example, if your past practice was updating your in-office team once a week on Monday morning, consider changing the frequency to every other day — Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
To underscore the importance of these additional check-ins, keep calls on time and limit cancellations.
2. Promote virtual communication
Effective virtual communication, particularly video conferencing, is obviously important if your entire accounting team is still working remotely.
Even when some of your employees return to the office, you cannot relax your efforts to help everyone stay connected. Continuing to make all key meetings virtual is one option.
If a meeting must be held on-site, promptly fill in off-site staff on any decisions made pertaining to their projects.
You can do a lot to make virtual communication successful now — and as your finance team transition back to the office. That includes making sure employee communication is not hindered by easy-to-solve tech obstacles.
Learn as much as you can about the collaboration and data-sharing apps your company uses. Aim to become a source of support for helping your colleagues troubleshoot issues when they arise.
And by better understanding how these tools work, you will feel more comfortable using them when communicating with employees.
3. Embrace transparency and straight talk
While it can be tempting to sugar-coat difficult news, that approach can easily backfire. Be as transparent as possible when sharing the latest information about the state of the business. Stick to the facts and avoid speculating, even when asked to.
This does not mean stonewalling, however. You can keep a positive tone to your responses with something like, “I know everyone has this question, but we just do not know yet. In the meantime, we are encouraged at the financial progress the company is making to stabilise because of your efforts.”
4. Listen actively — and with empathy
The ability to listen actively to employees is the mark of a good communicator. If you are the one who is doing all the talking, all the time, then you cannot tune in. And it is more vital than ever that your team members know they are heard and that you take their concerns and questions seriously.
Do not assume you know exactly what your colleagues are feeling. Check in on them individually, asking questions and then listening with an empathetic ear.
What does it mean to listen actively? It means truly focusing on the individual’s words rather than silently formulating a response while they are speaking to you. During video meetings, take note of nonverbal cues. In short, give the other person your full attention.
5. Make yourself available
Also let your colleagues know they can come to you. Institute a virtual open-door policy and make yourself available to hear their concerns and ideas.
By communicating in a two-way fashion, instead of always delivering messages from the “top down,” you will create a sense of trust — and inspire their ongoing support for the company’s efforts to manage change now and moving forward.
6. Paint the big picture
Another way to boost your communication skills in accounting is to help your colleagues understand the connection between finance and the broader strategic goals of the organisation, which may be evolving rapidly right now.
Be quick to offer appreciation and share any wins the team achieves.
Why is communication important in accounting?
Effective management communication is a requirement for accounting professionals guiding their company through any major change. It is also a skill set that many managers need to polish.
So, do not be discouraged if your traditional and virtual communication abilities need some refinement. Now’s an ideal moment to improve how you are communicating with your finance team.